CRO-MAGS Frontman Blasts Former Bandmates, Says He Was 'Respected' During His Stay At Rikers Island

July 24, 2022

CRO-MAGS founder Harley Flanagan, who in 2018 filed a suit against his former bandmates John Joseph and Mackie Jayson regarding ownership of the CRO-MAGS name, told Erin Micklow in a recent interview that he has repeatedly reached out to Joseph and Jayson about a possible reunion of the group's classic lineup.

"Those of you who have been following my social media for any period of time, you'll see that I have made a lot of attempts over the years to try to get all those fucking guys to come to the table and have some sort of a conversation," he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

"The truth is everybody in that band got fucked; we all got stiffed. That's a lot of the reason why everybody kind of started turning on each other. When you have nothing and you're getting ripped off and robbed and fucked over, it's, like, desperation makes people desperate. You start fighting over crumbs; you start thinking everybody's getting over.

"I tried to get these guys to come to the table, see if maybe we could have done some sort of shows or at least come to terms with each other and maybe try to fight the legal battle together to try to get the albums back or this and that," he continued. "And you know what? It just got to a place where none of these guys wanted to try; nobody really wanted to put in the effort or to even try to be friendly.

"I've tried. I can't force other people to get along. And me, I just wanna play music; I wanna tour. This is what I do. And if those guys don't wanna fucking be involved, I can't force 'em. And after a while, it's kind of insulting, when you're offering people an olive branch over and over again. They're, like, 'Fuck you.' It's, like, 'You know what? Fuck you, man. I'm done. I'm actually quite happy without you. I feel like my life has been better since you've been gone.' So it's, like, 'Fine. Don't let the door hit you in the ass.'"

Harley also touched upon the July 2012 incident when he was arrested in New York City on charges of attacking several members of the CRO-MAGS 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. The brawl saw Flanagan stabbed and arrested after being jumped at Webster Hall. This led to charges of felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon, along with a brief stay at New York City's most notorious prison Rikers Island before those charges were dropped.

"They invite me backstage and have these fucking fake thugs, like seven of 'em, jump me," Harley said. " I wound up putting three of them in the hospital. I fucking got stabbed. I had, like, 40-something stitches. And then they tried to sue me for fuckin' 'em up. And then fuckin' John, my buddy John, goes in the newspaper and says, 'He's a skinhead. He's a Nazi. He hates black people. He's a snitch.' That motherfucker's, like, putting a target on me. I'm, like, 'Dude, I'm in motherfuckin' Rikers Island. You're basically saying, 'Hello everybody. Go get this guy.'' So I've got this black dude, Smoke, he comes in my cell, he hands me a newspaper with me in it, and says, 'That's you?' And I'm, like, 'Yeah.' And I'm reading all this shit. I'm, like, 'Damn, John. Not only did you have these jerkoffs fucking jump me because you were too much of a chickenshit to fucking put your hands on me yourself. Then now, that shit failed, and you wanna try to get some rando fuckin' con to fuckin' put a hit on me so that they can have a little bit of clout?'"

Asked what happened during his stay at Rikers Island, Harley said: "Nothing happened. I was respected. Everybody knew what I did. Everybody saw me on the news. They were, like, 'This guy fucked three dudes up. He got jumped.' I was respected."

In April 2019, Joseph and Jayson reached an agreement with Flanagan over the rights to the CRO-MAGS name. At the time, it was announced that going forward, Joseph and Jayson would perform as CRO-MAGS JM while Flanagan would get to use the CRO-MAGS name for his own version of the band.

When Flanagan, who founded the CRO-MAGS at the age of 14 and toured with the band for some 20 years, sued members of the group for allegedly using the CRO-MAGS name without his permission, he claimed that CRO-MAGS was his idea when he formed it back in 1981. Flanagan filed a lawsuit against the then-most recent lineup of the group — including Joseph — in part for copyright infringement, saying he trademarked the "Cro-Mag" name for recording in 2010 and for merchandise in 2009 and then again in 2017.

According to the New York Post, Harley claimed in the lawsuit that the other members of the CRO-MAGS took over the band around 2002 when "Flanagan's first son was about to be born… and Flanagan had to stop touring to help with the baby."

A decade ago, Joseph told the New York Post he and Flanagan started the band together in the early '80s, but Flanagan continually took all the credit for himself. McGowan claimed the situation got so bad, Flanagan pocketed every cent from their 1986 tour. "That caused me to lose my apartment and be homeless in 1987," John said. "I lived hand to mouth."

In a separate interview with The New York Times, Joseph said that Flanagan "has been a negative thorn in the side of this band forever."

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