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"I saw Black Flag many times at the old Starwood and used to sit and drink beers with Henry and the lads before they'd go on. The other 'dance room' and bar used to have Rodney playing DJ with Brooke Shields sitting around once in a while with him. Once, Henry dared me to spit a mouthful of beer in her face, so I did. My claim to fame... I spit beer in Brooke Shields' face.
"I have an old collection of the 'Fer Youz' posters we used to hand out to the locals. My favorite Black Flag concert had to be Bases Hall. 1980-82 was a great time to be a punk in LA. We had so much fun watching bands like Black Flag, the Germs, Circle Jerks, Mad Society, X, not to mention all the other's trying to make it. I was at the last Germs Concert the night before Darby Crash died. I'll never forget hanging out at Okie Dogs.
"By 1982 I had left the scene and was a 'punk' roadie for a loud cover band called RockandI that later became Motley Crue. Times does fly and the memory fades... If I knew then what I knew now. Anyway, that's the story and I'm sticking to it.
"Oh and whoever that was that said we used to call it 'skanking' back then rahter than moshing, I sure don't remember that... We just called it 'slamming' and it was one rough ass place to be. Another thing I wonder about is a bunch of people (friends), who called themselves L.A.D.S. Do you know any of them? I'm also wondering if Lynda was THE Lynda who claimed to be my wife for years...ha!"
"I got a story. It was after a Black Flag concert and we had nothing to do
and nowhere to go. Then we happened to see the band at the local Jack In The Box, so we got autographs from them. Out of nowhere, my friend Steve asks Ginn to buy us beer. Nobody was expecting him to say yes, but $40 and a half hour later, we were drunk as hell. THANKS GINN!!!"
"This is kind of a combination of little stories. I bought Damaged like in early 1982. I remember it blew me away so bad that I never got to side two until a month later (which was even better). I truly had never heard anything like that & I was instantly a fan.
"In honor of my ongoing appreciation of Black Flag, here are some dopey stories:
- I was two dollars away from seeing the infamous Everything Went Black reunion show with Henry singing as well as guest spots from Dez & Chavo. My ride left while I was frantically searching my house for the rest of the cash. They were a bunch of assholes, not really my friends. I almost cried I was so upset!
- I actually called up SST and talked to Spot once for awhile, about what, I have no idea. Considering I was this nervous dorky kid, he was really nice to me. Made my day... or month.
- I conned my brother into going to the Valley to, I think, one of Henry's earliest readings ever. This was sometime towards the end of '83. I silk-screened this Misfits t-shirt at school and gave it to Henry, who was pretty nice and not wanting to ruin a good little moment, I soon left him alone. Greg Ginn was there, too, so I bugged him instead. He was like eight feet tall it seemed. At the time I had recently had some silly cartoons printed in Flipside fanzine, one of which was about Flag. I actually had it on me and showed it to him and was really excited about it. Man, he could have been a jerk to me but he was cool, too. Its funny to look back & think about all of this. I remember that I thought Henry was pretty good at the spoken word stuff and was (surprisingly) very funny.
- I finally saw the band at Perkins Palace in Pasadena in early '84. Bill had a KLOS doctored Dio sticker on his drums which I thought was right on... They opened up with the never before heard Obliteration without Henry & they blew me away completely! Then Henry came out & they kicked into Nervous Breakdown & the place exploded. Good show.
"I consider myself lucky to have seen not just Black Flag, but all of the SST bands on several occasions, like the Minutemen, Saccherine Trust, Hüsker Dü, even Redd Kross at the Country Club with Dez on guitar. I saw D.Boon doing an acoustic set where punkers threw stuff at him & he just kept on going. He was awesome. It seems like it was only yesterday. As simple as it sounds, it was all the shit. There hasn't been much shit for a while, if you know what I mean.
"I heard a crazy story about Robo from a friend of mine that's 'in the know', shall we say. He claims that after the Misfits kicked Robo out in '83 or whenever, he moved back to Colombia to run his family's resort hotel.
"One day, the government showed up and demanded a ridiculous amount of money from Robo and his family. Unable to pay, Robo was kidnapped and awoke to find himself buried in the sand up to his neck with the waves rolling over his head. Somehow he escaped and lived to tell the tale.
"This could be complete bullshit, but if it isn't, that's insane, isn't it? Just thought I'd help to spread wild and crazy rumors across the Internet..."
[Note: This hasn't been confirmed and I have no way to really do so, but it's a great story... take it as a rumor until further notice. Thanks, Johnny!.]
"The one and only time I saw Black Flag was at the Stone in San Francisco in 1985 or 1986. I can't remember really, things are a little fuzzy. Anyway, my brother, John, (a.k.a. the Big Red Kid) and I got really drunk on some tequila just before the show. I can't remember who was the opening band but they didn't leave much of an impression. Next was Ginn's side project Gone. For those of you who never heard Gone, imagine Jimi Hendrix having a guitar war with Sonic Youth. Rollins would later steal Cain and Weiss from Gone and form the first version of Rollins band.
"I ran across Rollins hiding in a dark corner in a really bad mood. He didn't want to make small talk but was remarkably polite. Well... he didn't tell me to fuck myself or anything.
"Flag came on after Gone and I've never seen so much power on stage before. They came on and just attacked their instruments and pummeled the audience. The place just went nuts. Up until then the only other punk show I had seen was GBH at the Olympic in LA. Black Flag made GBH looked like a great big haired puppet show. They were something else.
"I remember the Kid and I all sitting back to back on the floor in the middle of the slam pit and we would grab and beat up anyone who came to close to us. Like I said, we were all pretty drunk at the time. What I do remember the most that there was this really tall and gaunt figure dressed all in black, with a black skirt on with a sign on their back saying 'Do not touch'. We left that one alone."
"First time I saw Black Flag was at the Pop Shop in Cleveland (underneath the old Agora Theatre) on the My War Tour. Your typical early 80's Black Flag show in that it was just friggin the best music real close up and personal-like. Ever since seeing Decline of Western Civilization, Black Flag was God.
"Anyway, the band was staying with some friends (Jim & Sade) from Cleveland State's radio station (WCSB) just a few blocks from where the gig was. I cruised Sade over to their house just to hang out with everyone. We're driving through this big weedy parking lot next to the house and I ask if it's OK to drive through those weeds or is there a railroad tie or cement divider lurking there or anything. Sade says 'no it's fine, drive through' and sure as shit the front wheels go over what must have been a downed phone pole or something and we're stuck.
"I'm looking at the gear shift and trying to neutral drop into reverse to get over this thing when I hear banging on the hood and look up to see my friend Jim and Henry Rollins leaning into the grill shouting to put it in reverse. So I did and *POP* the car jumps the block and weeee are freeee!"
"While looking at all of these stories I came to realize that, because I was unfortunate to not
be born during this completely manic and magical time, I never got the chance to see the Flag. Should this exclude me from these stories? No I don't think so.
"In the summer of 1999 I was in search of something new. I couldn't stand listening to left over grunge and rap metal just wasn't my thing. I then spent countless hours looking in music stores for something... I didn't know what. After seeing Rollins Band and then seeing the resurected Misfits in the same month, I decided to check out where both bands came from. I then went out and bought the Misfits Collection 2 and Black Flag's First Four Years. As soon as I heard Six Pack, and Nervous Breakdown I knew that I'd found what I was looking for. The disc sounded so brutal and unprofessional, nothing glossy. The energy could have melted my cd player. I remember dreaming of what it would have been like to see the mighty Black Flag, especially when Dez sang.
"I later got to meet Robo and Dez at the Misfits 'M25' shows. All I could say to either of them was, Thanks! I know this isn't like the rest of the memories like the rest of your who got to see Black Flag, but I'm just saying this just so you know, that this is all I have, a memory of buying the album and listening to it at home. Then seeing Dez and Robo play only about five or six Flag songs. Count your blessings. But just know that there are still kids finding this music and taking it as the gospel. So preach on!"
"I know this isn't a real Black Flag memory in the same way that the rest of them are, but I was born 20 years too late. I have a huge appreciation for the late 70's and early 80's punk scene in California and Washington DC, and I wanted to share a story about its endearing power.
"One day I see an old friend of mine walking around in a Black Flag T-shirt (the white one with the bars and logo writing), so I go up to him and start talking to him about it. After a few minutes it becomes apparent to me that he doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't even know that Black Flag is a band. The shirt was a birthday gift from a his sister's boyfriend. He just wears the shirt because he thinks it looks cool. So I talk him into listening to some albums. I let him borrow my copies of Damaged and My War and he seems pretty happy, thinking he's discovered a new band he can brag about liking.
"I see him again a few days later, with the CDs in his hand, and he tells me:"
"That was perhaps the scariest music I have ever heard. How can you listen to shit like that all the time?"
"Since that day I've never again seen him wear that shirt. A good ending to a strange tale."
"I first saw Black Flag in 1982 at the infamous Starlite Ballroom in Philadelphia. Before that event I had been into the punk/new wave thing for a while, but didn't really know about the whole hardcore deal. We had heard of the noise monster known as Black Flag and so me and my pals went up to the Starlite - which was located in an extremely fucked up neighborhood named Kensington, which was essentially a white ghetto, the citizenry of said area were not too pleased with the invasion of freaks who periodically invaded their turf.
"Dez was singing that night, and Henry opened up with his band SOA. The DC posse was in full effect, and at that time they were favoring the more ultra-violent approach with spike bracelets and actual spurs on their combat boots. They had come up to make an impact on the Philly crowd.
"Arriving at the venue, I definitely felt a cultural tide shift in effect, and I was on the wrong side. Not sure if it was a Hare Krishna convention (skinhead thing was not happening in Philly just then) or a ROTC meeting - I definitely felt a chill up my spine. This dread was intensified by the sporadic outbursts of conflict between Philly and DC youth. Nothing major, you understand, just a bit of turf-claiming. This of course changed when the local Kensington roughnecks decided to enter the fray and take on EVERYBODY!! This little war went on for a while until the cops came and once again decided to take on... EVERYBODY! Reports are sketchy , but it ended with a few arrests from what I remember.
"This was not quite as traumatic an event as a subsequent Dead Kennedys show at the Starlite where a firecracker was thrown into the crowd on the sidewalk resulting in someone's foot being severely mutilated. Oh well, such are adolescent memories.
"Anyway I saw Flag a whole bunch in the next couple of years - when SST was the cultural bandwagon of the day. Philly was in between New York and DC, so we used to have a whole lot of bands coming thru. Saw Hüsker Dü, Meat Puppets, Black Flag and the Minutemen in so many combinations, that I can't really remember who played what where or when. But I can tell you it was a major blast."
[Note: A couple of things are kinda off here: first, Henry joined
Black Flag in 1981, therefore he wouldn't have been performing with his old band the next year. Also, Dez wouldn't have been singing anything but backup by then as Henry replaced him full-time on vocals by Autumn 1981. Also, I don't believe SOA ever played with Black Flag even when they were together. From Rollins' accounts, he'd gone to see Black Flag in both NYC and Washington before he joined the band. He never makes any mention of having opened up for them. I'm sure some of the rest is fairly accurate, but I just wanted to mention a few details...]
"My name is Ron, I used to be in Black Flag about a million years ago. I heard that the Misfits are coming to Vancouver soon with Dez and Robo!! Man I haven't seen these guys in centuries.
"I'm not doing any punk rock these days but life is still a blast. I got married about 15 years ago and got blessed with four kids along the way. But the most amazing thing that has happened was when Jesus met me on the road to ruin (man, too bad about Joey and Dee Dee...) Life has been one amazing ride ever since. Now I'm preaching on Sundays with all the zeal that used ta drive me in my Black Flag days. God does have a sense of humour.
"I really appreciate your enthusiasm with keeping alive the history of Black Flag. They were definitely one of punk rock's most influential bands and it was a real privilege to be a small part of their history. I still see young guys (who weren't even alive back then) on the bus or at the mall sporting Black Flag shirts and or the 4 bars tattoos and I always get a chuckle over it. People always get a jolt of surprise when they find out I was part of the early punk rock thing especially if they know me now.
"When I first told my pastor he thought it was great. I remember getting a call from him. He was in England attending a conference or something and he got into a conversation with some of his friends about music and so he rocked their world with the news that he had a friend in his church that was in Black Sabbath!?!? Being in England of course they all must of had a laugh so he called me to confirm. I told him that it was Black Flag and not Black Sabbath but I'm not sure it made any difference to him and so the legend grows."
"In November of '84 I was living in LA, a pissed off 14 year old punk at the best show I've ever seen (to this day!) It was at the Hollywood Palladium to see the Ramones with Black Flag and the Minutemen. I missed the Minutemen that night, but Black Flag I saw... they put on a phenomenal set that night. The line up consisted of Rollins, Ginn, Kira, and Stevenson and they played with more energy and stamina and fury and motherfucking honesty than any band I've ever seen since. Their set was a long one as well. The Ramones were in top form and played forever (heh heh). NOT that that was bad...
"Anyway, after the show my friends and I emerged from the Palladium to the sight of LAPD's riot squad advancing on the crowd. We went absolutely apeshit! Cops were beating on and arresting kids left and right, and the kids were fighting back. I managed to get a Schlitz 32 ouncer bottle over a plexiglass shield and sent a shower of glass into and onto a cops face when it shattered on his helmet. My friend and I escaped down Sunset Blvd. without getting busted, but he slipped in a puddle of pink clam chowder looking puke and slid through it a coupla feet! We got safely home, though.
"The next Monday at school (one of the rare occasions where i actually went), I found out that some of the other guys who went (there weren't many punks at my school), had been arrested and one guy was hurt really badly. I don't want to sound like a psycho - I've seen some great shows - but that was the best show I've ever seen!
"At that time,we were pissed, we were alienated, and we fought back. Being a punk back then (and I wasn't even really a punk, just a freaked out sociopath with a taste for good rock'n'roll) was saying 'All right motherfuckers, here I am. Fuck you!' Often the challenge was met with the desired confrontation.
"To me, Black Flag embodied that spirit more than any other band. All the others were trying to fit in to some genre niche or something. Not them, though... So there were a couple other sincere bands (like Flipper,for instance) but not many. 'Nuff said"
"I went to see Black Flag at a bar called the Channel in Boston. I think it was a Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1985. A buddy and I loaded the trunk of my 1975 Triumph Spitfire with two cases of Goebels beer and two bottles of cheap wine. Cheap wine goes with cheap beer. We got there early so we could drink a bit before the show.
"About an hour before the show, we were well liquored up-we started to get wrapped a little too tightly. My friend threw an empty wine bottle into an empty parking lot and it shattered. Soon we were assailed by the 230 lb. biker working the door of the Channel. After a few words he grabbed me by my neck. I quicky sent him to his knees with a jab from my right thumb into the soft area about 1.5 inches below his adams apple. Once there I grabbed his windpipe and began a peace negotiation in good faith. Soon a squad of Boston Police arrived. They gave my buddy and myself a pass and let us drive out of there. We never saw the show. It would probably have been anti-climatic after that. Was a shame."
"I was fortunate enough to see Black Flag several times. The first was at Club Doobee in Lansing, MI in March 1981 along with the Fix and the Necros (Michigan/Ohio bands). Their sound and fury blew me away, and they were very down to earth people as well. Dez was still the singer at this point. I saw them one more time in Detroit at Bookie's in the spring of 1981, it was sometime during the phase in which Henry was with them but not yet on stage. As much as I admire Henry as a frontman and performer, I still think Dez had a better voice.
"These early experiences seeing Black Flag, as well as our getting to know members of the Fix and Necros and hearing about what was going on particularly in LA and DC, was the impetus for us starting our band Violent Apathy in Kalamazoo, MI. which played around the Midwest from 1981 to 1984. Kenny Knott, who was the singer of Violent Apathy (and who currently fronts a band called the Monokulators), brought together a group of people forming a student organization at Western Michigan University called Students for Progressive Action (SPA) with a goal of using WMU facilities for shows. Although SPA was a student group on paper, it was actually a diverse group of WMU students, Kalamazoo College students, high schoolers, and locals that were into the new punk sounds. Between 1982 and 1986 SPA, brought a plethora of international and regional groups to Kalamazoo including the Misfits, Minor Threat, Articles of Faith, Scream, Discharge, Minutemen, Naked Raygun, Butthole Surfers, Circle Jerks, Samhain, Negative Approach, and Black Flag.
"Black Flag played in Kalamazoo 4 times. The first was in the summer of 1982 at Don Neal's (slightly before SPA), with Saccharine Trust and Violent Apathy. Henry was singing by then, with Dez on 2nd guitar. I remember that a couple of band members (Chuck and Greg, maybe??) stayed at my apartment and that they were very friendly and low-key people. There followed three SPA shows. In the fall of 1984 (I think) the Kira/Bill band (Slip It In era) played in an large old gymnasium at WMU. It was incredibly tight and the acoustics in the gym worked great for the band. There was a large and active crowd. I don't know if Saccharine Trust opened, but for some reason I do think I talked some with Joe Baiza that night so maybe they did.
"The last two times the Flag played in Kalamazoo were not as good. There was a show at WMU in the summer of 1985. I think Tom Troccoli's Dog opened and they struck us at the time as really sucking. One thing I do remember from that night is that the WMU police for some reason went into the band's dressing room and were questioning them about some vitamins and a bong. Apparently Kenny overheard them say 'Is this your bong, Mr. Garfield?', which had us laughing over the irony on a couple of levels.
"The last time Black Flag played Kalamazoo was during the summer of 1986 at Club Soda. It was near the end for them. Henry and Greg and whoever the other two were then (C'el??) I remember Gone opening and Greg seeming more enthusiastic about that than Black Flag. There were two shows, an all ages followed by a 21 and over. The shows were not well attended (in contrast to previous Flag appearances that drew large crowds) and paying the guarantee basically bankrupted SPA which as I recall we thought was OK because everyone by then was pretty tired of it anyway.
"I believe that Black Flag did an incredible job of bringing hardcore to the small towns around America and that they were a catalyst for many independent musical movements that still exist in some ways even today."
"I'm a photographer doing a retrospective of my work from 1982- present, and I'm
writing a narrative to accompany it. One of my subjects is Rollins, when he was with the Flag in '82. The story I'm telling has to do with the fact that they were booked at Mabel's, a club in Champaign, IL that had recently been hit with a new 21-and-over drinking law. Even though tons of local kids had bought tickets for the show, Mabel's declared it a drinking show and those kids were rightfully pissed.
"Rollins and Flag caught wind of this and offered to play an all ages show if somebody could find them a place to play, but at a few hours notice that was tough. Some kid whose dad taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign talked his dad into letting Black Flag play at their house. I'm trying to find somebody who was
actually there to fill in a few gaps in my story (namely, who was the guy? I'm certain the dad ended up running for political office later under a very progressive agenda). I didn't go to that show, I was able to go to the drinking show and thought it would be rude to take up space at the underage show. By the way, the drinking show was intense, turned me from a passing "TV Party" fan to a die-hard Rollins and Flag follower. "
[Note: If anyone has any info on that show and who set it up, shoot me a line so I can send the info to Veronica. Thanks!]
"I was in high school in the late 70's - early 80's. I was at the infamous Black Flag/DOA show at the Whiskey. I remember the standoff of hundreds of police and punkers at opposites corners after the gig got closed down. At some point when the punkers would not dissipate, the police just started running at us. We all ran towards our cars, etc. Friends got clubbed, car windows got broken out and some got hauled away to jail. It was one of the radest gigs I ever went to (short of Baces Hall, but that's another story all together).
"I remember seeing the whole thing on the news the following night with my parents. I wonder whether you or anyone has the wherewithal to figure out how to get the news footage of that almost riot. I would love to see it. I have old punker publications that have still photos, but it's not the same."
"In 1981 Black Flag came and lived with us for a while. Greg and Chuck were
friends with my roommate Malissa, and they had recently been kicked out of their place. Malissa suggested they move in with us since the house was huge and lots of kids lived there. When Greg spoke to me about moving in, he offered to pay fifty dollars a month in rent. I teasingly suggested that I'd rather have five percent of their album profits... to which Greg, grinning, answered:"
"You'd be smarter to take the fifty bucks..."
[Note: Aimee put together a book that was released in October, 2002 with a bunch of punk stories, anecdotes, etc. If you want to check it out, go to www.punkrockmemoir.com!]
"I saw another San Diego story posted. It seemed right on target with the
goings on in those days, however, my best Black Flag show was when Chavo was singing for them. It was the summer
of '79 at the Lions Club. They played with Middle Class, Eddie and the Subtitiles, and
(I think) UXA. That was right before Chavo quit and they were tight! This was before the San Diego scene got so lame,
and before Black Flag got lame.
"I saw Black Flag at the Cuckoo's Nest the first night Rollins sang for them. I had seen him
down the street at a doughnut shop before the gig and I wondered what that bald skateboarder was trying to be in those Vans?
In my opinion Black Flag just fucking sucked when Rollins came on board. His songs sucked and he is just
a giant fucking poseur. I still wish he would go back east and sing for SOA.
Anyway, CHAVO IS GOD and Rollins sucks!"
More to come...pics, links, and essays about the band! Feel free to suggest things or just write!
I'm still considering moving this site to a different locale sometime in the near future. Please keep your eyeballs peeled if you can and help me with the transition and updating them silly search engines...
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