Stevie ChickSpray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag

Omnibus, 2010

by Greg Renoff on May 17, 2013

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Pop Music] Scholars commonly trace the rise of the punk rock movement of the mid-1970s to two cities and two bands, New York’s Ramones and London’s The Sex Pistols. In Spray Paint the Walls: The Black Flag Story (Omnibus, 2010), however, journalist Stevie Chick convincingly argues that Black Flag, and Los Angeles, the city that that spawned the seminal group, deserve a place alongside these more storied locales and bands. Chick, who interviewed everyone from early fans to former band members for this engaging book, skillfully traces Black Flag’s development from its suburban garage-band beginnings through its popular peak in the early 1980s, when the Los Angeles Police Department regularly sent officers outfitted in riot gear to disrupt Black Flag’s tumultuous performances and to undermine the growing power of the city’s – and the nation’s – punk movement. Still, as Chick shows, a band whose members at times seemed willing to go to war with everyone and everything surrounding them ultimately fought their most intense battles within their own ranks.

Stevie Chick is a London-based author, journalist, sub-editor and lecturer. He’s written for such storied publications as The GuardianMelody MakerMojoNME and Rolling Stone, and is the author of three books: Spray Paint The Walls: The Black Flag Story, Ninja Tune: 20 Years Of Beats & Pieces, and Psychic Confusion: The Sonic Youth Story. He can be reached through his blog or through his Facebook page.

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