Unquestionably the most influential guitarist to emerge from the late-'70s/early-'80s U.S. hardcore/punk movement was Black Flag's Greg Ginn. Never afraid to incorporate other musical styles into his playing (namely jazz fusion and Black Sabbathy heavy metal), as well as squealing feedback from his amplifier, Ginn's guitar also served as a defining ingredient in the Black Flag sound as he was the only member to remain in the group from its formation until its demise. Influenced equally by the Grateful Dead and the Stooges, Ginn formed Black Flag in 1977, but the group didn't really start to make a name for itself until Ginn set up shop in Hermosa Beach, California in early 1979, where he began running an electronics supply business called Solid State Transmitters, abbreviated as SST. When Ginn had trouble finding a label to release the band's music, he founded SST Records to release Black Flag's Nervous Breakdown EP. Although members came and went at a steady rate (including singers Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, and Dez Cadena), Black Flag prevailed, building a large and loyal following on the strength of their explosive live show, EPs/singles (including such classics as Jealous Again and Six Pack), and an appearance in the cult classic L.A. punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. Ginn also began to favor a Plexiglas Dan Armstrong guitar, which would soon become a trademark of sorts for both him and the band (despite eventually becoming covered with black tape).
Black Flag began to make a nationwide impact when superfan Henry Rollins signed on as the group's fourth vocalist, which resulted in the group's first full-length album, 1981's Damaged, cited by many as one of the greatest hardcore albums of all time. Although legal red tape would keep Black Flag from issuing a follow-up as quickly as they would have liked (which included Ginn being sent to jail for five days), the band returned more ferocious then ever, with such releases as My War and In My Head, among others. Black Flag also managed to issue a completely instrumental release, Process of Weeding Out, which inspired Ginn to launch his own instrumental project, Gone, resulting in a pair of releases around this time as well, Let's Get Real, Real Gone for a Change and Gone II: But Never Too Gone. Additionally, Ginn launched another side project around this time, October Faction, which included contributions from many other SST artists. Black Flag broke up after a final U.S. tour in 1986, and while many assumed that Ginn would simply play with Gone full-time, he decided to focus on record company work, forming an all-new label, Cruz, while running the Minutemen's former label, New Alliance, as well as SST.
The early '90s saw Ginn return from his exile as he began issuing solo albums, including such titles as Getting Even, Payday, Dick, and Let It Burn, as well as surprisingly relaunching Gone. Ginn has also performed as part of several other acts (Mojack, Hor, Killer Tweaker Bees, etc.), briefly operated a coffeehouse, The Idea Room, and has been known to appear under an alias, Poindexter Stewart, on his own radio program, Screw Radio. In 2003, Ginn staged three Black Flag reunion shows to benefit several cat rescue organizations, though Dez Cadena was the only readily recognizable former member besides Ginn. Ginn moved to Taylor, Texas in 2004 and created a new instrumental band called the Texas Corrugators; he played everything but drums, which were handled by Steve DeLollis. They recorded two albums, Bent Edge in 2007 and Goof Off Experts in 2008. (Live outings included different personnel, with Ginn on bass and guitar, and with guitarist Gary Piazza and New Monsoon's Sean Hutchinson on drums.) Ginn described their live sets as being 100 percent live improvisation incorporating rock, jazz, Latin, psychedelia, and country. In 2010 he changed the group's name to the Taylor Texas Corrugators and released the album Legends of Williamson County on SST. Meanwhile, he continued to release experimental albums under his own name, including 2011's We Are Amused and 2013's Fearless Leaders.
In early 2013, to the surprise of many, Ginn announced he was re-forming Black Flag, with Ron Reyes on vocals and two new members, Dave Klein and Gregory Moore, on bass and drums. The band set out on an international tour, with another Ginn project, Good for You, as opening act. In December 2013, Black Flag released a new album, their first since 1985, titled What The...; both the tour and the album received decidedly mixed notices, and during a show in Australia a few weeks before the release of the album, Reyes was relieved of his duties as singer, with Reyes declaring he'd quit and Ginn's representatives insisting he'd been fired. In 2014, Ginn announced he'd assembled a new Black Flag lineup, with Ginn joined by singer Mike Vallely (who also sang with Good for You), bassist Tyler Smith, and drummer Brandon Pertzborn, with touring and new recordings due in 2014. Ginn also remained busy as a solo artist, issuing the album Gumbo and Holy Water in May 2014. ~ Greg Prato