Billy Connolly nearly got killed by a gang for the jacket he was wearing

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
3 Min Read

Billy Connolly recently shared a chilling encounter with one of New Zealand’s most notorious biker gangs, the Mongrel Mob. In his new book, “Rambling Man: My Life On The Road,” Connolly recounts the heart-pounding incident during his 2004 World Tour of New Zealand.

Connolly, battling Parkinson’s disease, embarked on a solo motorcycle adventure across the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Clad in a custom-made biker jacket featuring the words “Too Old To Die Young” in Hells Angels-style typography, complete with a skull logo, Connolly found himself in a precarious situation.

“I was out riding by myself one morning in Wellington wearing my jacket when I realised I was being flanked by teamsters from the Mongrel Mob. That’s the largest biker gang in New Zealand, and it has quite a reputation,” he recalled.

Connolly’s Hells’ Angels jacket got him into trouble.

The Mongrel Mob, an organised street gang with over 30 branches throughout New Zealand. The gang is known for its violent history and involvement in drug supply rings. In this frightening encounter, they surrounded Connolly at traffic lights, pulling him into a side street.

Connolly At The Mercy Of Vicious Bike Gang

“One of them asked, ‘Where’d you get your jacket?’ I said, ‘I got it in Los Angeles. A girl made it for me. She got permission from the Hells Angels.’ They were pretty aggressive. They went away and had a little conference. Then they came back and said, ‘That’s okay.’ They backed off and let me go on my way.”

Connolly’s TV crew missed the incident, and he chose not to discuss it on stage, preferring to leave town unscathed. This anecdote adds a thrilling layer to Connolly’s life story, showcasing the unpredictability of his global adventures.

The Mongrel Mob, originating in the 1960s, has a legendary history tied to its rebellious roots in Wellington and Hawke’s Bay. The gang’s expansion, particularly among the Māori community, led to its reputation for violence, notably in Hawke’s Bay. In recent years, the Mongrel Mob has expanded into Australia and Canada.

The Mongrels are one of New Zealand’s infamous gangs.

This revelation comes at a poignant time for Billy Connolly, who has been open about his struggles with Parkinson’s disease. His recent fall and balance issues highlight his physical challenges. Connolly maintains his wit, drawing parallels between his fall and a joke from his stand-up routine. Humorously, he said: “It’s funny, that fall I had when I landed on my jaw reminded me of a thing I used to do on stage. I used to say: ‘I fell out of bed, but luckily my face broke my fall.'”

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