I’ve always respected Black Flag (and bands like Minor Threat/Sex Pistols/The Misfits for that matter) for managing to keep its name/image in the pop-culture lexicon long after the band quit playing and in spite of the fact it never had much mainstream success. Black Flag has been a non-band longer than its members played music together and you still see those iconic four black bars on T-shirts (and patches and tattoos) the backs of teenage punkers everywhere. From a marketing perspective, that’s impressive, no?
Juxtapose those thoughts with what happens when Greg Ginn starts suing old band members (again) over use of the logo/name.
One questions if there’s any punk ethos left in this world. The quick answer is there probably wasn’t any there to begin with. Ginn no doubt feels this is a matter of lively hood, and he has that right. Still, it comes off as petty, especially to fans, who don’t care who owns the rights to some logo or name. They for sure don’t want to start choosing sides. They just want to hear the songs or buy the shirt or whatever. Locally, the story matters because Ginn (who is suing Henry Rollins and those in the current band Flag) is also seeking an injunction against Flag’s current tour, which is scheduled to play Strummer’s Aug. 23.
(On a side note: The venue just announced Girl in a Coma will be in town Sept. 16. Excited.).
Of course, after reading Ryan Holiday I can’t help but wonder if/hope that this is a ploy to get Black Flag back in front of the media … which, if that’s the case, worked like a charm.
If nothing else, the story led me to this super awesome video series on the history of punk-band logos. The Black Flag story explains a lot about the current situation, actually. Check it out below.