FEBRUARY 21, 2020 by Rachael Contreras

Someone once said that Music is Truth! The truth is music has always been a foundation that guides us. The era doesn’t matter, the fashions don’t matter, the politics don’t matter. Because in the end, truth always prevails…. when we reflect, music always spoke the truth.

The 70’s ushered in a change from the old guard of music to a more progressive sound. Sure when we think 70’s we think disco or what we call Classic Rock. In the mid to ladder 70’s punk rock took hold in jolly ole’ England and bands like The Clash, The Damned and The Sex Pistols were all the rave. The were mad, mad and dangerous to know. At least that was their monakar. On this side of the pond, us Yanks started a movement of our own with bands like Bad Brains,Dead Kennedys, Social Distortion and X. Despite those Titans of punk, one of the most potent names in punk rock history is Black Flag.  Black Flag and punk rock go together like ink to a pen.  If you listen to any style of punk rock, there is no denying that Black Flag has played a big part in its history and evolution.

The band first formed by guitarist and primary songwriter Greg Ginn in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. Ginn has been the only continuous member.  His brother, New York artist Raymond Pettibon, came up with the band name, who also designed the band’s logo: an abstract waving black flag presented as four uneven solid black rectangles (also known as Black Flag bars). The thought was “If a white flag means surrender then a black flag represents anarchy.” This made their name an expression of the anarchist symbol, the pesticide, and a tribute to one of Ginn’s favorite bands heavy metal band Black Sabath, all which they were okay with.

Posers Mockumentary Banner

The rub for those in the know is some people who just like looking cool just wear the Black Flag symbol and don’t actually know a thing about the band or their music. Sadly, that’s the thing about being successful at anything in music, some people love you for the oddest reasons. The bright side, you can distinguish true fans no matter what your genre is because those are the people who buy the music and go to shows.

TV Party from the eponymous EP

Black Flags has six studio albums and licensed merchandise that are still released on Ginn’s label, SST Records. The biggest Black Flag fan debate: Who is the “best” Black Flag singer?  (It’s really a matter of personal opinion but the iconic singer, songwriter, musician, actor, presenter, comedian, activist and all around nice guy / bad-ass, Henry Rollins is the most popular having fronted the band from ’81-‘85.)  Not everyone will agree that it’s okay to like all of the five different singers of Black Flag, but if you do like them all, you’re not missing out.  They each carry with them their own style and sound that can create a whole new aspect to the same lyrics and tempo we enjoy. 

Former lead, Henry Rollins

Black Flag has had a number of line-up changes, but most noticeably in lead vocals.  Their front man list includes Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, Dez Cadena, Henry Rollins and presently professional skateboarder and actor Mike Vallely.

Current lead, Mike Vallely

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery

Mike Vallely is the current lead vocalist.  Mike has openly talked about his life as a professional skateboarder, devoted vegan and his undying love for Black Flag.  When he first heard the song, “Rise Above” as a kid he was hooked!  His passion for the music shines through in each performance of every Black Flag song we all grew up listening to while we sewed patches on our jackets and doodled those four infamous rectangles on our homework as kids. 

Rise Above from the 1981 album titled, Damaged

Not many of us have had the chance to see such a historic band play live, but thanks to the tenacity of Ginn and Vallely and the current Black Flag tour, they make it so not only can we watch them play live… but, we can take our kids to see them and our younger punk rock generation can experience the brilliance that is Black Flag. 

Black Flag is on tour now and will be playing at the all ages show called, “Suburban Clampdown” at the Garden Amp in Garden Grove, CA on Februrary 29, 2020.  With some of their opening acts like Agent Orange, Excel, Shiners Club, Skullcrack, JFA, Kaustik and much more, this is absolutely a show you will not want to miss!  The word is tickets are getting low so grab yours now!





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