Black Flag, a hardcore punk rock band was formed in 1976 in southern California, largely as the brainchild of the guitarist and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes, [Greg Ginn]?. Black Flag forged a unique sound early on that mixed the raw simplicity of the Ramones with atonal guitar solos reminiscent of John McLaughlin?'s more aggressive work in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Over this could be heard lyrics (mostly written by Ginn) about neurosis and paranoia, themes which did not disappear when Henry Rollins took on the role of lead singer and lyricist in the early 1980s. All of the band's material was released on Ginn's and (original bassist) [Chuck Dukowski's]? independent label, [SST Records]?.
The band was a seminal influence on different trends in punk rock, from hardcore to speedmetal?, and even pioneered the underground capitalism of do-it-yourself record labels that flourished in the 1980s' second generation of punk rock. In fact, [SST Records]? was the label for numerous other important bands, including the Minutemen?, Meat Puppets, Husker Du, Negativeland?, and Soundgarden?.
Throughout their ten-year career as a band, Black Flag's experiences became legendary in the southern California area, chronicled in Henry Rollins' own published diary/memoir, Get In The Van. They were blacklisted by the LAPD and Hollywood rock clubs because of the destructiveness of their fans, and were involved in legal battles once they attempted more mainstream distribution for their records.
In the meantime, their sound, as well as their success, evolved in ways that alienated their early punk audience. They grew their hair long and played longer, slower, more complex, but no less heavy songs at a time when many bands in their milieu stuck to a raw, fast, three-chord format. As a result, Black Flag's discography is varied and more interesting today than much of the hardcore of the 1980s.