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 this playing (namely jazz fusion and Black Sabbath-y heavy metal) as well as squealing feedback from his amplifier, Ginn's playing also served as a major ingredient to the Black Flag sound as he was the only original 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, CA, in early 1979, where he began running an electronics supply business. It was during this time that the phrase "SST" was coined (an abbreviation for Solid State Tuners), which would eventually be used for the name of Black Flag's record label.
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 Nervous Breakdown and Jealous Again), 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 big-time Flag fan Henry Rollins signed on as the group's fourth vocalist, which resulted in the group's first-ever full-length album, 1981's Damaged, considered by many as one of the greatest hardcore albums of all time. Although legal 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 alongside other acts (Mojack, Hor, Killer Tweaker Bees, etc.), briefly operated a coffee house, The Idea Room, and has been known to appear under an alias, Poindexter Stewart, on his own radio program, Screw Radio. In 2003, Ginn put together a new version of Black Flag (he and Cadena were the only recognizable names) to perform benefit shows for several different Cat Rescues.