“Harley Flanagan’s incredible story is not just the history of New York hard core, of which he is a founding father, but a history of New York itself,” wrote dear friend and fan, Anthony Bourdain, for the cover of Harleys recently-published memoire, Hard Core: Life of My Own.
Raised in Europe and on New York’s gritty Lower East Side among iconic figures like Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hell, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, Andy Warhol and the Clash, Harley began his own musical career at age 11, performing at legendary hangouts like Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs, as the drummer for the classic NYC Punk band, the Stimulators.
By the early 80s Harley founded the seminal Hardcore band, Cro-Mags, writing the majority of their music and channeling his powerful survival instinct into the blistering soundtrack and storyline for the 80’s and 90’s.
Dave Grohl, among others, has often said there would be no Metallica, Green Day or Foo Fighters without the Cro-Mags. In March 2019, Harley was featured among America’s punk pioneers and the U.K.’s most notorious bands in PUNK, a four-part docuseries on EPIX from executive producer John Varvatos and punk music legend Iggy Pop.
In a world searching for authenticity- it doesn’t get any more real than Harley. His ever-growing popularity with audiences outside of the Punk and Hardcore world, is a testament to the ORIGINS of alternative music and lost histories from the visionaries who created it.
At his core, there is a softer side of Harley. He spends hours responding to kids and adults who reach out to him on social media in their darkest hours. In his podcasts and posts, he is an advocate for mental health and an inspiring voice for PTSD. He is a loving father, devoted husband, outstanding friend and is in the process of creating a foundation that supports animal charities and underprivileged kids.
He is a 2nd degree blackbelt under Master Renzo Gracie and has been a BJJ practitioner since Renzo first arrived in New York in the mid-1990s. He has been teaching–and now directing–the kids’ program at Renzo’s flagship academy in NYC for the last 10 years.
Harley Flanagan is on fire these days! Between the Cro-Mags appearing with The Misfits, to completing the Cro-Mags first album in nearly 20 years, to scoring his first feature film – and acting in it, as well–at 52 he says “I feel stronger, happier mentally, spiritually and physically then I have in years, and I am looking forward to the future.”