A fantastic history of Black Flag as well as a great history lesson on the forefathers of american DIY punk rock. This book covers everything - from the beginning of Black Flag to the final days - and most everything in between. Granted, I'm a huge fan of Black Flag, and even have the Raymond Pettibon's iconic Black Flag bars logo inked on my arm - but I have even more respect for what Black Flag did after reading this.
While the author does a great job of interviewing a lot of people around Black Flag (includes some great interviews with Ron Reyes, Chuck Dukowski, Kira & Keith Morris), fans will notice the huge omission that the author was never able to interview Greg Ginn or Henry Rollins.
I've read a good deal of music books over the years, but this is for sure my most favorite.
“People from major labels were afraid to go to Black Flag gigs throughout most of the band’s existence. They treated our gigs as something threatening. I’m sure that it probably was. They probably had reasons to be scared. I think that that’s how times have changed, in a sense. There aren’t enough groups who are scaring the kind of people who work in their offices at these companies.”
"Raymond’s logo cemented the anarchy connection: four thick parallel black bars that resembled a Black Flag rippling proudly in the wind. “I was into politics early on,” he told author Steven Blush. “I was a card-carrying anarchist when I was 14. The Black Flag was a symbol of anarchy; depicting that as pistons seemed to have some visual power, plus convey the actual form of the flag.” It was blunt and brutal in its simplicity, a true design classic that’s every bit as iconic today, sported on the skin of punk rockers across the globe, as it was three decades ago, when Raymond coined it. The image was not only immediately striking, it was also a cinch to replicate, which was crucial to spreading the word on Black Flag.“It was so simple,” says Keith. “Get your spray can of black paint and [indicates spraying a vertical line] 1, [repeat] 2, [repeat] 3, [repeat] 4. And then run as fast as you can. There’s a lot of iconic punk-rock logos: the Dead Kennedys’ DK, the Misfits’ ghoul-skull… the Black Flag was pretty much the easiest one to go out and spray paint on a freeway underpass, on the side of a building that you didn’t like, somewhere that deserved some kind of graffiti."
“And BANG!! the drummer started smashing out a fast, trashy straight four-pattern beat, and the wiry little singer started bellowing and jumping around wildly, and Greg’s body lurched forward as he underwent a remarkable transformation from Jekyll to Hyde. His head shook, eyes flashed and teeth bared maniacally as he began to grind thick chords out of a guitar that, in the shadowy light, could have been mistaken for a chainsaw. Within seconds it was over. Jekyll calmly stepped out of his Hyde as if stepping out of routine nightmare. “I was dumbfounded, shocked; my eyes wide in amazement, my mouth hanging open in disbelief. We played again. ‘1-2-3-4!!’ Jekyll became Hyde, music became noise. Punk rock became a resident of Hermosa Beach. Ten minutes later we had played the entire six-song set twice.”