Today, we are going to learn all about my hero, Henry Rollins.
The man was born 2.13.61 (the name of his own publishing company) to radical, slightly abusive parents. In 1981, after performing as front-man for the Washington D.C band, State Of Alert, Henry jumped on stage one night with his favorite band Black Flag, and the rest is punk-rock history.
Black Flag :
Henry took the stage for the first time, singing “Clocked In”, since he had a five-hour drive back to Washington, D.C., to return to work as the manager of an ice cream store after the performance.
The band was impressed with Rollins’ singing and stage demeanor, and the next day they asked him to become their permanent vocalist. His high level of energy and intense personality suited the band’s style, but Rollins’ diverse tastes in music were a key factor in his being selected as singer; Black Flag’s founder Gregg Ginn was growing restless creatively and wanted a singer who was willing to move beyond simple, three-chord punk.
Rollins enjoyed being the band’s frontman, and earned a reputation for fighting in shows. He later said: “I was like nineteen and a young man all full of steam. I loved to get in the dust-ups.”
Black Flag’s change in musical style and appearance alienated many of their original fans, who focused their displeasure on Rollins by punching him in the mouth, stabbing him with pens, or scratching him with their nails, among other methods. He often fought back, dragging audience members on stage and assaulting them. Rollins became increasingly alienated from the audience; in his tour diary, Rollins wrote “When they spit at me, when they grab at me, they aren’t hurting me. When I push out and mangle the flesh of another, it’s falling so short of what I really want to do to them.”
Rollins Band :
Before Black Flag disbanded in August 1986, Rollins had already toured as a solo spoken word artist. He released two solo records in 1987, Hot Animal Machine, a collaboration with guitarist Chris Haskett, and Drive-by Shooting, recorded as “Henrietta Collins and the Wifebeating Childhaters”.
Rollins also released his second spoken word album Big Ugly Mouth in the same year. Along with Haskett, Rollins soon added Andrew Weiss and Sim Cain, and called the new group Rollins Band. The band toured relentlessly, and their 1987 debut album Life Time was quickly followed by the outtakes and live collection Do It. The band continued to tour throughout 1988; 1989 marked the release of another Rollins Band album, Hard Volume. Another live album, Turned On, and another spoken word release, Live at McCabe’s, followed in 1990.
In 1992, Rollins Band released The End Of Silence, an album that has saved my life many times. Henry’s encouraging anger was a major influence on me in my high school years, and this album was the soundtrack to it.
It even inspired my first tattoo.
The next album, Weight, broke into the Billboard charts for the first time with the hugely ironic hit, Liar. Henry continued releasing albums and collaborations, along with books and spoken word tours all through the following years.
In 2000, he he signed a big deal with Sony Dreamworks records and re-formed the Rollins Band into a more simplistic radio-friendly operation. Henry’s trademark motivational rants were backed by the generic metal band Mother Superior.
I will admit that the first time I listened to the album Get Some, Go Again, I was severely disappointed by the new sound. Until I listened to the album all the way through to the hidden track at the end.
On this secret spoken jazz track, Henry talks about how “sometimes you have to take the fakes for everything they’ve got.” He jokes about the session player that doesn’t even know his name, and ends the album with the punchline, “You’ve always got to keep it real!” and his trademark manaical laughter.
He then released a very great album of out-takes called Yellow Blues from that recording session on his own record label, proving that the Sony album was a joke on the record company.
Throughout the years, Henry has worked together with some of the most interesting artists in modern rock. He pops up on all of those talking head VH1 shows to put his two cents in, and adds his trademark voice and integrity to many projects.
Like this classic song by Tool…
And who could resist this dream-come-true team-up with bass legend Les Claypool on this great song, Delicate Tendrils…
Not to mention his great collaboration with William Shatner himself…
Also, among his many great efforts to Free the West Memphis 3, Rollins put together an entire album of punk superstars covering Black Flag songs to benefit them.
In the 1980s, Henry Rollins produced an album of acoustic songs for the convicted murderer Charles Manson titled Completion. The record was supposed to be released by SST Records, but the project was later canceled due to the label receiving death threats for working with Manson. Only five test presses of Completion were pressed, two of which remain in Rollins’ possession.
Spoken Word :
Ever since the beginning of his career, Henry has toured relentlessly, doing spoken shows on his nights off from the band shows. I have attended many of these, and they always prove to be an interesting look at the world through Henry’s eyes…
No stranger to horror.
At the time of Henry’s greatest self-made success, he sadly lost his best friend in a senseless mugging. The crime has never been solved, and Rollins has consistently dedicated his work to his great friend, Joe Cole.
Here is Rollins remembering his friend’s death in his great spoken word show Talking from the Box :
Movies and TV :
In the early ’90’s, Henry began popping up every where in TV and movies, often playing self-depracating bit-parts in some modern classics.
Who could forget his first starring role as a police officer opposite the martian rockstar Charlie Sheen in The Chase?
More bit parts in Heat, Lost Highway and Johnny Mnemonic followed in the 90’s, as well as a job as a host of the short-lived horror anthology show, Night Visions.
And who could forget his great part as a motivational speaker in the modern horror classic, Feast?
By far, Henry’s best movie role has to be as Sgt. Dale Murphy in Wrong Turn 2 Dead End.
Rollins in full on Rambo mode armed with exploding arrows vs. inbred cannibal hillbillies?
You know I’m in!
At a very young age, Henry started his own publishing company to distribute his own writings and journals to the masses. He also makes it his mission to publish work from writers that otherwise are not likely to be published elsewhere.
Aside from Henry’s books, which I have read all of, I have found several authors who I never would have known about if not for 2.13.61 publications. I am particularly fond of Bill Shields, Hubert Selby Jr, and the writings of Nick Cave.
I reach deep inside myself I rip out a handful of bleeding crackling wires I squeeze the juice out I burn them out I want to see where the truth lies I want to see where it all breaks down I walk down the mouth of every beast I can find So I can see what's at the end That's the only part that interests me The end The rest is all getting there
–from One From None
Rollins for president.
Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.