Former Cro-Mags Bassist Defends Himself Over Webster Hall Fight

Jiu jitsu instructor says he wouldn't start fight with 'guys who outweigh the hell out of me'

Harley Flanagan performs with Cro-Mags in 1987.
Stacia Timonere/Getty Images
Harley Flanagan performs with Cro-Mags in 1987.
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Former Cro-Mags bassist Harley Flanagan defended himself recently to New York Natives about the fight backstage at his old band's July 6th show at Webster Hall, during the CBGB Festival.

While Flanagan was initially accused of stabbing members of the band in a dressing room, the way he tells it, he attended the show with the intention of reconciling with singer John Joseph – maybe even playing a few songs. But after entering the backstage area he was jumped by a group of men.

"When I saw that door get pulled shut, I was literally fighting for my life," he said. "I was afraid these guys were going to kick me half to death, roll me down the back steps, and that no one would see it . . . and there would be no witnesses and that would be that . . . And all I could think about was getting home safe to my kids . . . I wanted to save my life, to protect myself, and these guys were trying to do me in."

As for the stabbing, Flanagan told NY Natives he drew a small pocket knife while he was being pummeled and "just tried to punch the first person that was in front of me with it. I wasn't even aiming for any kind of deadly area," he continued, according to the full transcript of the interview, which was excerpted in the NY Natives piece. "It was more just in self-defense to get them fuck off me." Flanagan himself was cut with a knife, he claimed, needing 30 stitches in his leg.

The bassist also mentioned a similar incident in 2007 when his group Harley's War played the New York venue the Continental. He claimed the guys that jumped him at Webster Hall did the same to somebody in the crowd that night, instigating the beef that came to a head earlier this month.

"I had jumped into the fray when the house lights came on and said, ‘Y’all motherfuckers need to cut this shit out, this shit needs to stop,'" he recalls. "I threw myself right in the line of fire and stopped them from pummeling someone at my show, and I remember very vividly them all looking at me, looking at each other."

While he still plays music – he just signed a record deal with Southern Lord – Flanagan noted he no longer has any interest in being a part of any sort of scene. A father who now works as a jiu jitsu instructor, he maintains that he had no reason to start the fight in the first place.

"It makes zero sense for my 145-pound, 5-foot-6 little self, to go into a room with a bunch of guys who outweigh the hell out of me. They’re all like close to 200 pounds or more, 6 feet, whatever the fuck," he said. "What in the hell would inspire me to go and try to launch myself into a fight where I’m completely heavily outnumbered, outgunned and everything else? It makes zero fucking sense."