Spray Paint the Walls in Booklist

Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag

By Chris Keech
October 2011

In the history of punk music, the legendary leaders of this movement that exploded in the late 1970s-the Stooges, the Clash, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols—have gotten the accolades. But it was Black Flag, the “pioneers of American hardcore,” that forged an influential path for every rebellious kid with a dream, a van, and a DIY attitude. Formed in Hermosa Beach, California, in 1978, Black Flag toured America and the world relentlessly “on pennies a day” before disbanding in 1986. New interviews with founding member Gregg Ginn and the band’s controversial, longest-lasting lead singer, Henry Rollins, are notably absent, but their dominating presences loom large. Rollins went on to greater solo success and penned Get in the Van (1994), his own definitive account of his time in the band, which Chick reverently references. Without Black Flag, Chick argues, there wouldn’t be such platinum-selling punk/pop acts as Green Day and Blink-182. It’s a valid argument that’s laid out in gritty, no-holds-barred style in an exhaustive group biography that will delight most punk purists.

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