Last billboard on Sunset Strip
While Joe lived in squalor at the infamous church in Hermosa Beach, The Last had a billboard on Hollywood's glitzy Sunset Strip...

The first half of the year was spent recording their first album, L.A. Explosion. After its completion, the band started gigging once again, and became a mainstay in the LA scene.

Joe was living in an abandoned church in Hermosa Beach along with members of Black Flag, Redd Kross, and the Descendants. Known simply as "The Church," the building was owned by a group of hippies who rented out many of the rooms to local punks after earlier attempts at making the building an arts & crafts center failed. (Click here to read an interview from Slash about the church with Joe, Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, and Steve & Jeff from Redd Kross.)


Black Flag at Polliwog ParkOne of the more hilarious Church-related events of 1979 came in July when, somehow, Black Flag was booked to play an open-air concert at Polliwog Park in nearby Manhattan Beach - part of a series of "concerts in the park" which consisted mainly of jazz-type combos and big bands. In attendace, along with a handfull of actual fans, were the curious and a large crowd of families and children, no doubt expecting another sedate show as in previous weeks. This Sunday, they were in for a shock as Black Flag took to the stage and played a kick-ass set. Early into the set, most families took their kids and left, but not all. Many of the children that remained seemed to be enjoying themselves, happily throwing parts of their picnic lunches towards the stage. My favorite moment: in between songs, Keith Morris announces, "I feel sick. I think I'm gonna throw up!" He spots a small child sitting up front, next to the stage. "All over this little kid!" he continues, hunched over the child, pretending to vomit. The bemused kid just looked up at Keith and smiled. A classic moment - friggin' hilarious. Later, Robo, their drummer, gave me a ride back to the Church from the Park, where there was held another great party featuring Black Flag. In this picture, I believe that is Dez Cadena and Ron Reyes - future Black Flag singers - wrestling in front of singer Keith Morris. Photo by Spot.Fear flyer


Joe: "Between June and October of that year we went from the quintesenntial opening band to becoming one of the highest drawing bands in the city. Pop & Punk were merging - KROQ would play one of our surf/pop type songs, new wave kids would go to a show, discover slamming, and next week they would have done alarming things to their hair and be listening to far more dangerous groups. We were, in short, a halfway house between "safe" new wave and the more dangerous, creepy crawly world of the L.A. punk underground that was about to explode."


In November, Jack Reynolds quit the band, much to his and Joe's later regrets. John Frank, who had previously sat in on previous recording sessions with the band, joined as the official drummer. Jack played the drums for power, while John was more adept technically and had a more stylistic approach.