The original Blasters consisted of Downey, California brothers Phil (vocals, harmonica, guitar) and Dave Alvin (guitar) along with bassist John Bazz and drummer Bill Bateman. The rare first album, American Music, was released in 1980, recorded in Rockin' Ronnie Weiser's garage. They signed with Slash records in 1981 and released The Blasters later that year. The Blasters featured Gene Taylor on the keys and the dynamic saxophone duo of Steve Berlin and Lee Allen. 1982 saw the release of a live album, Over There, recorded live in London. Non Fiction, their second Slash studio album was released in 1983 and Hard Line, their most recent studio release came out in 1985, without either Steve Berlin (now with Los Lobos) or Lee Allen. The Blasters also appeared in the movie, Streets of Fire and have two songs on the 1984 soundtrack: One Bad Stud and Blue Shadows. Dave Alvin left in 1986, having already branched out in 1983 with The Knitters, featuring future fellow X members, John Doe and Excene Cervenka, and joined X only to leave a short time later to go solo, releasing his first solo album, Romeo's Escape in 1987. The album was produced by Steve Berlin (who also played a little saxophone on the album) and featured Jerry Angel on drums. David Hidalgo of Los Lobos also made a few guest appearances. The Knitters album, Poor Little Critter in the Road, featuring Dave, was released in 1985. He also appears on 1986's X's album, See How We Are. In 1984, he played on two tracks of Gun Club's album, Las Vegas Story.
The Blasters, meanwhile, filled Dave's slot with a long line of replacements: the late Hollywood Fats, aka Michael Mann (previously with the James Harmann Band), Billy Zoom (who, ironically had Dave's slot in X), Greg "Smokey" Hormel, James Intveld,and the current guitarist, Keith Wyatt. John Bazz is still with the band, but drummer Bill Bateman is not, having been replaced by David Carrol and currently, Jerry Angel.
In the late 1980s, the band took a hiatus while Phil pursued his math degree (MA) and some solo work. He has released two solo albums, the second of which includes some songs with the James Intveld lineup Blasters. The first, Unsung Stories, was released in 1986 on Slash and features Sun Ra and the Arkestra along with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Also helping out on a few tracks were Lee Allen and Gene Taylor whose own solo album,Handmade came out in 1986 on Spindletop Records and featured Bill Bateman on drums. He, Gene Taylor, now lives in Austin, Texas and is playing around with Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Phil's second solo album (says Phil, "I made a mistake and needed some money, so I cut a new record...."), County Fair 2000 was released in 1994 on Hightone Records with a supporting cast of thousands. The two songs attributed to the Blasters, County Fair and Blue Line, include the then current lineup of the band with guitarist James Intveld and Jerry Angel on drums. Phil has also been playing with the Faultline Syncopators, creating a more jazzy sound as heard on a few tracks of County Fair 2000.