Harley Flanagan, who founded the legendary hardcore band the CRO-MAGS at the age of 14 and toured with the band for some twenty years, was arrested in New York City on July 6 on charges of attacking several members of the new CRO-MAGS lineup during the CBGB Festival. Flanagan, who had been a panelist at one of the event's seminars, allegedly attempted to attend the concert of his former band. Neither Harley Flanagan nor Parris Mayhew, the two founding members of the band, is still in the CRO-MAGS.
According to news reports, William Berario, 45, was slashed above the eye and bitten on his cheek, and Michael "The Gook" Couls, 33, was cut on his arm and stomach during the incident, which happened around 8:30 p.m. Flanagan was seen in photographs posted on BoweryBoogie.com being wheeled from the venue by EMTs. He was reportedly taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for a broken leg and was charged with second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
New York Natives published an interview with Flanagan yesterday in which Harley claimed that he was invited to the Webster Hall gig and had a VIP pass which he used to enter the venue. He said he went there with "the best of intentions" hoping to mend years of bickering and make the fans happy. After he was invited to the backstage dressing room, he said that instead of being welcomed, as he expected to be, he was jumped by a group of men.
CRO-MAGS vocalist John Joseph has now released the following "response" to Harley's version of events:
"[Harley's] been watching too many sci-fi movies.
"First off, Harley was NOT invited to the show. He was told repeatedly by CBGB [Festival organizers] NOT to come. (I have all the texts and e-mails to CBGBs and security.) He was given a CBGBs laminate to attend another event ('American Hardcore' screening) and then used it to sneak into the show. And if he wanted to talk and resolve things, as he claims, why didn't he come before doors where we could [have] taken care of any beef he had? No, he just wanted to come on the stage during show and try and do something to gain press — well, he got his press alright.
"At 6 p.m. [Harley] texted Louise (CBGBs) and asked her what time we were going [on]. She didn't respond, but warned me. To which I alerted security to let them deal with it, [as] I had a show to do. He showed up 20 minutes before [and] hid in the crowd outside our dressing room door with a backpack and a KNIFE, never knocking on our door and saying, 'Yo, guys... can we talk?' He was also heard ranting outside that he was putting a stop to us playing his music (his music?). And while sitting outside our door told someone else that said to Harley that he doesn't care about the beef he attends both HARLEY'S WAR shows and CRO-MAGS shows, that he was just a fan of the music. Harley's response: 'Yeah, well, fuck you. Some shit's about to go down, so if you don't wanna be involved, keep fucking walking.' He also told people initially that I was in the dressing room when it all went down, making it look like I set him up when a thousand people saw me on stage ready to play.
"Look here's the bottom line: Security was told to come up and they never did. So knowing this dude always carries weapons and his plan was obviously to use the laminate to gain access to the stage while we played and hearing what he was ranting that night, also remembering the whole Dimebag Darrell [late PANTERA/DAMAGEPLAN guitarist who was killed on stage] situation, as we were on stage about to go on, he was asked to come in the dressing room by Mike. When Harley was grabbed to be searched for weapons, the fight ensued and those three took him down where he pulled a knife and began stabbing people. When the security finally arrived, he wouldn't drop the knife and THEY banged him up, not those three. Again, dozens of witnesses.
"Look if you got beef, a show with women and children on stage ain't the place to bring it. I believe those three stopped a much worse situation where perhaps kids could have got hurt who were on stage. And no one snitched — I refused to talk to the cops. Unfortunately for [Harley], it's a criminal case so no one has to press charges 'cuz he did that shit in a public venue. We have a way of dealing with matters — it's called 'street justice.' You pull a knife, I pull a pipe and smash your face in. And I did have a pipe on stage, by the way, knowing this dude can't really fight and always has a weapon, as I said.
"DMS are not thugs, so for the new jacks who weren't even around long enough to remember their past and said that — keep your mouths shut. For the last 10 years plus, they have been security at shows stopping violence, even promoting the Black N' Blue Bowl and other events where there is NEVER violence. If they had been doing security that night, Harley would have never got in and ALL of this could have been avoided. And only Mike is DMS, not the other two, and anyone who REALLY knows him (not you keyboard commandos talking crap anonymously) will attest to the fact that he's the nicest dude in the world and NEVER starts trouble. The other one is a veteran who tried to get the knife away from Harley. The other just a friend of the band. And Mike (Harley's replacement) was the one who got stabbed first.
"Bottom line, [Harley] was told not to come, he showed up right before we went on, he made threats and then he stabbed people. End of story.
"We will make up the show with SICK OF IT ALL as we are discussing another date now, but I wanted to set the record straight.
"Sure, obviously anyone who knows the past (it's all in my book, 'The Evolution Of A Cro-Magnon') knows [Harley] has a problem with me. He talks shit all the time — I do not. But he knows my bell and where I live. He NEVER rang it once. I told him we can go to the East River and resolve any issues. He refused. So if you wanna believe all the lies and B.S. that dude posts on [Facebook] — your choice. The truth is an entirely different thing, though. Your sympathy should lie with those who got stabbed, not the dude who did the stabbing and caused this whole problem. So stop gossiping and move on — that's what we are doing.
"See you in the pit.
"Peace and PMA."
Friends and fans of Harley Flanagan have set us a defense fund to help cover his attorney fees. Donations for the fund can be made here.
The family of Mike "The Gook" Couls has set up a donation fund via PayPal to help absorb the extraordinary expenses accrued from having been stabbed multiple times and hospitalized — with no insurance. More information is available at this location.