Venerable American biker boss Harry (Taco) Bowman is having a sendoff fit for a king. The beloved 69-year old Bowman, who served as the international president of The Outlaws Motorcycle Club at the end of the 20th Century, his dynamic leadership propelling the club to epic heights, died last week in prison of cancer. He’ll be buried this weekend at a funeral expected to be so big it needs to be held at a county fairgrounds to accommodate all the mourners.

A get-together to honor and remember Bowman at his former Detroit, Michigan Outlaws MC compound drew 5,000 people the day after he passed away at a federal prison hospital on March 3. Bowman’s burial will take place at the Montgomery County, Ohio Fairgrounds in Dayton. Biker club luminaries from around the country have been descending on Michigan for the last week and are now off to Ohio to pay their respects.

Bowman was the face of the Midwest biker underworld in the 1980s and 1990s, the most notorious biker Godfather in the nation and by that point on-par with Hells Angels founder Ralph (Sonny) Barger out in California. His legacy includes the vision to expand The Outlaws brand outside U.S. borders, diversifying its business interests and the escalation of tensions between the club and Barger’s Hells Angels.

Under Bowman’s reign, The Outlaws ramped up their “Angels War,” a feud that has been raging since the early 1970s when Outlaws in Florida executed three Massachusetts Hells Angels in retaliation for a beating of a club member at a 1973 New Year’s Eve party held at the Hells Angels New York headquarters. Exactly two decades later, on New Year’s Eve 1993, Bowman gave an impassioned speech to hundreds of rank-and-file Outlaws inside a Florida hotel suite imploring them to be “rottener,” in their efforts to destroy the Hells Angels.

The edict spurred the murders of a Hells Angels soldier in Chicago and a Hells Angels-affiliate in Rockford, Illinois. Bowman slapped a murder contract on Sonny Barger’s head and the head of Barger’s right-hand man George Christie, even sending a hit team of Outlaws to the west coast to scout kill spots. Just a couple years prior, Bowman and Christie had engaged in a series of peace talks that fell apart in the last hours of negotiations.

Raised in Port Huron, Michigan, Bowman put the Detroit Outlaws on the map in the 1970s with a fierce bravado and unbridled determination. By the end of the decade, Bowman’s power in national club circles was rapidly on the rise and at his urging, the club had opened its first international chapter in Canada.

Upon being elected president of the entire club in a 1984 meeting of Outlaws brass in Joliet, Illinois, Bowman moved the club’s nerve center from Chicago to the Motor City. One of his first moves as new boss was to start launching Outlaws chapters in Europe. Another key policy decision was to augment bread-and-butter drug and prostitution rackets with gambling, loan sharking and extortion.

Indicted by the feds out of Tampa, Florida in 1997, Bowman went on the run from the law for nearly two years, finally getting apprehended in a Detroit suburb in June of 1999. He’d go on to be found guilty of racketeering and murder at a 2001 trial.

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