The band played their first performance in December 1977 in Redondo Beach, California.To avoid confusion with another band called Panic, they took on the name Black Flag in late 1978.
This was also the lineup that toured up and down the West Coast for the first time, the version most fans outside of LA first saw.
It should be noted that one of the songs Ron Reyes sang on the Jealous Again EP was "White Minority" which has often been cited as proof of racism in Black Flag or hardcore punk in general.
The band spray painted the simple, striking logo all over Los Angeles, gaining attention from potential supporters, and thoroughly irritating police. There were few opportunities for punk rock bands to perform in Southern California, (Los Angeles club The Masque was the center of the L. punk scene, but was also rather provincial, and didn't often admit bands from outside L. They called club owners themselves to arrange appearances, and plastered hundreds of flyers—usually Pettibon's severe, haunting comic strip style panels—on any available surface to publicize performances.
Dukowski reported that the "minimum (number of flyers) that went out was 500 for a show."Though Ginn was the band's leader, special note should be made of Dukowski's contributions to Black Flag.
As well as being central to the creation of hardcore, they were part of the first wave of American West Coast punk rock and are considered a key influence on the punk subculture.
Along with being among the earliest punk rock groups to incorporate elements of heavy metal (particularly in their later records), there were often overt freestyles, jazz (mainly free jazz), breakbeat and contemporary classical elements in their sound, especially in Ginn's guitar playing, and the band interspersed records and performances with instrumentals throughout their career.They're often regarded as pioneers in the movement of underground do-it-yourself record labels that flourished among the 1980s' punk rock bands.Through seemingly-constant touring throughout the United States and Canada, and occasionally Europe, Black Flag established an extremely dedicated fan base.They played their first show as 'Black Flag' on January 27, 1979, in Redondo Beach. Ginn's brother Raymond Pettibon, stated "If a white flag means surrender, a black flag represents anarchy." Their new name was reminiscent of the anarchist symbol, the insect spray of the same name, and of the British heavy metal group Black Sabbath, one of Ginn's favorite bands.Ginn suggested that he was "comfortable with all the implications of the name." The name was suggested by Ginn's brother, artist Raymond Pettibon, who also designed the band's logo: a stylized black flag represented as four black bars. Black Flag organized their own gigs, performing at picnics, house parties, schools, any place that was available.For the record, "White Minority" was sung by a Mexican (and a Columbian drummer) and Black Flag removed that song from their sets after Reyes left.