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Henry Rollins (1961)

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Henry Rollins is an American singer-songwriter, spoken word artist, writer, comedian, publisher, actor, and radio DJ.

After performing for the short-lived Washington D.C.-based band State of Alert in 1980, Rollins fronted the California hardcore punk band Black Flag from August 1981 until mid-1986. Following the band's breakup, Rollins soon established the record label and publishing company 2.13.61 to release his spoken word albums, as well as forming the Rollins Band, which toured with a number of lineups from 1987 until 2003, and during 2006.

Since Black Flag disbanded, Rollins has embarked on projects covering a variety of media. He has hosted numerous radio shows, such as Harmony in My Head on Indie 103, and television shows such as The Henry Rollins Show, MTVs 120 Minutes, and Jackass. He had a recurring dramatic role in the second season of Sons of Anarchy and has also had roles in several films. Rollins has also campaigned for various political causes in the United States, including promoting LGBT rights, World Hunger Relief, and an end to war in particular, and tours overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.


 early life
Born Henry Lawrence Garfield in Washington, D.C., the only child of Iris and Paul J. Garfield, a World War II veteran, and economist. When he was two years old, his parents divorced and he was raised by his mother in the Glover Park neighborhood of the city.

As a child and teenager, Rollins suffered from depression and low self-esteem. In the fourth grade, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and took Ritalin for several years so that he could focus during school. His mother taught him how to read before he was enrolled in kindergarten; however, due to "bad grades, bad attitude, poor conduct," he was soon enrolled at The Bullis School, then an all-male preparatory school in Potomac, Maryland.

According to Rollins, the Bullis School helped him to develop a sense of discipline and a strong work ethic. It was at Bullis that he began writing; his early literary efforts were mainly short stories about "blowing up my school and murdering all the teachers." Despite the relative affluence of Glover Park, for Rollins "it was a very rough upbringing in a lot of other ways. I accumulated a lot of rage by the time I was seventeen or eighteen."

 music career
 State of Alert

After high school, Rollins attended American University in Washington for one semester, however dropped out in December 1979. He began working minimum-wage jobs, including a job as a courier for liver samples at the National Institutes of Health. Rollins got into punk rock after he and his friend Ian MacKaye procured a copy of The Ramones's eponymous debut album; he later described it as a "revelation." From 1979 to 1980, Rollins was working as a roadie for Washington bands, including Teen Idles. When the band's singer Nathan Strejcek failed to appear for practice sessions, Rollins convinced the Teen Idles to let him sing. Word of Rollins's ability spread around the punk rock scene in Washington; Bad Brains singer H.R. would sometimes get Rollins on stage to sing with him.

In 1980, the Washington punk band The Extorts lost their frontman Lyle Preslar to Minor Threat. Rollins joined the rest of the band to form State of Alert, and became its frontman and vocalist. He put words to the band's five songs and wrote several more. S.O.A. recorded their sole EP, No Policy, and released it in 1981 on MacKaye's Dischord Records. S.O.A. disbanded after a total of a dozen concerts and one EP. Rollins had enjoyed being the band's frontman, and had earned a reputation for fighting in shows. He later said: "I was like nineteen and a young man all full of steam Loved to get in the dust-ups." By this time, Rollins had become the manager of the Georgetown Häagen-Dazs ice cream store; his steady employment had helped to finance the S.O.A. EP.

 Black Flag

In 1980, a friend gave Rollins and MacKaye a copy of Black Flag's Nervous Breakdown EP. Rollins soon became a fan of the band, exchanging letters with bassist Chuck Dukowski and later inviting the band to stay in his parents' home when Black Flag toured the East Coast in December 1980. When Black Flag returned to the East Coast in 1981, Rollins attended as many of their concerts as he could. At an impromptu show in a New York bar, Black Flag's vocalist Dez Cadena allowed Rollins to sing "Clocked In", as Rollins had a five-hour drive back to Washington, D.C., to return to work after the performance.

Unbeknownst to Rollins, Cadena wanted to switch to guitar, and the band was looking for a new vocalist. The band was impressed with Rollins' singing and stage demeanor, and the next day, after a semi-formal audition, they asked him to become their permanent vocalist. Despite some doubts, he accepted, in part because of MacKaye's encouragement. 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 Greg Ginn was growing restless creatively and wanted a singer who was willing to move beyond simple, three-chord punk.

After joining Black Flag in 1981, Rollins quit his job at Häagen-Dazs, sold his car, and moved to Los Angeles, California. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Rollins got the Black Flag logo tattooed on his left biceps and changed his surname from Garfield to Rollins, a surname he and MacKaye had used as teenagers. Rollins was in a different environment in Los Angeles; the police soon realized he was a member of Black Flag, and he was hassled as a result. Rollins later said: "That really scared me. It freaked me out that an adult would do that. My little eyes were opened big time."

Before concerts, as the rest of the band tuned up, Rollins would stride about the stage dressed only in a pair of black shorts, grinding his teeth; to focus before the show, he would squeeze a pool ball. His stage persona impressed several critics; after a 1982 show in Anacortes, Washington, Sub Pop critic Calvin Johnson wrote: "Henry was incredible. Pacing back and forth, lunging, lurching, growling; it was all real, the most intense emotional experiences I have ever seen."

By 1983, Rollins' stage persona was increasingly alienating him from the rest of Black Flag. During a show in England, Rollins assaulted a member of the audience; Ginn later scolded Rollins, calling him a "macho asshole." A legal dispute with Unicorn Records held up further Black Flag releases until 1984, and Ginn was slowing the band's tempo down so that they would remain innovative. In August 1983, guitarist Dez Cadena had left the band; a stalemate lingered between Dukowski and Ginn, who wanted Dukowski to leave, before Ginn fired Dukowski outright. 1984's heavy metal music-influenced My War featured Rollins screaming and wailing throughout many of the songs; the band's members also grew their hair to confuse the band's hardcore punk audience.

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." During the Unicorn legal dispute, Rollins had started a weight-lifting program, and by their 1984 tours, he had become visibly well-built; journalist Michael Azerrad later commented that "his powerful physique was a metaphor for the impregnable emotional shield he was developing around himself." Rollins has since replied that "no, the training was just basically a way to push myself."

 Rollins Band and solo releases

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, both former members of Ginn's side-project Gone, 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.

Rollins and Weiss released Fast Food For Thought, an EP by their one-off side project Wartime in 1990. It was sonically in many ways more reminiscent of Weiss's work with Ween than the Rollins Band. The music, while heavy and driving, had a distinctly psychedelic bent, culminating in the final track, a cover of "Franklin's Tower" by The Grateful Dead. Early pressings were simply credited to "Wartime" while later releases added the phrase "featuring Henry Rollins" to the cover.

1991 saw the Rollins Band sign a distribution deal with Imago Records and appear at the Lollapalooza festival; both improved the band's presence. However, in December 1991, Rollins and his best friend Joe Cole were accosted by two armed robbers outside Rollins's home. Cole was murdered by a gunshot to the head, Rollins escaped without injury but police initially suspected him in the murder and detained him for ten hours. Although traumatized by Cole's death, as chronicled in his book Now Watch Him Die, Rollins continued to release new material; the spoken-word album Human Butt appeared in 1992 on his own record label, 2.13.61. The Rollins Band released The End of Silence, Rollins's first charting album.

The following year, Rollins released a spoken-word double album, The Boxed Life. The Rollins Band embarked upon the End of Silence tour; bassist Weiss was fired towards its end and replaced by funk and jazz bassist Melvin Gibbs. According to critic Steve Huey, 1994 was Rollins's "breakout year". The Rollins Band appeared at Woodstock 94 and released Weight, which ranked on the Billboard Top 40. Rollins released Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, a double-disc set of him reading from his Black Flag tour diary of the same name; he won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording as a result. Rollins was named 1994's "Man of the Year" by the American men's magazine Details and became a contributing columnist to the magazine. With the increased exposure, Rollins made several appearances on American music channels MTV and VH1 around this time, and made his Hollywood film debut in 1994 in The Chase playing a police officer.

In 1995, the Rollins Band's record label, Imago Records, declared itself bankrupt. Rollins began focusing on his spoken word career. He released Everything, a recording of a chapter of his book Eye Scream with free jazz backing, in 1996. He continued to appear in various films, including Heat, Johnny Mnemonic and Lost Highway. The Rollins Band signed to Dreamworks Records in 1997 and soon released Come in and Burn, but it did not receive as much critical acclaim as their previous material. Rollins continued to release spoken-word book readings, releasing Black Coffee Blues in the same year. In 1998, Rollins released Think Tank, his first set of non-book-related spoken material in five years.

By 1998, Rollins felt that the relationship with his backing band had run its course, and the line-up disbanded. He had produced a Los Angeles hard rock band called Mother Superior, and invited them to form a new incarnation of the Rollins Band. Their first album, Get Some Go Again, was released two years later. The Rollins Band released several more albums, including 2001's Nice and 2003's Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. After 2003, the band became inactive as Rollins focused on radio and television work. During a 2006 appearance on Tom Green Live!, Rollins stated that he "may never do music again" a feeling which he reiterated in 2011 when talking to Trebuchet magazine. In an interview with Culture Brats, Henry admitted he had sworn off music for good - "... and I must say that I miss it every day. I just don't know honestly what I could do with it that's different."

 personal life
Rollins stated in a 1998 interview with NY Rock, "I don't want a wife and I don't want kids. I'm 36 and if I met a woman of my own age and married her, I'd also be marrying her former life, her past."

Rollins dated fellow KCRW-DJ Liza Richardson

Rollins has been close friends with musician Ian MacKaye since childhood.

Show more

  Played TV shows  




Name Duration Released
Wide Stance Sitter 02:36 01/04/2008
Indie 103 Party 06:24 01/04/2008
What I Am 02:33 01/04/2008
Kids 05:36 01/04/2008
Adrian 03:38 01/04/2008
Sex Ed 05:41 01/04/2008
Nature’s Wild 05:57 01/04/2008
Mandelaism 10:03 01/04/2008
Invasion Force 01:49 01/04/2008
Van Halen 14:50 01/04/2008
Horses 03:32 01/04/2008
Bush, of Course 13:00 12/2004
First On the List 05:05 12/2004
Warming Up the Spleen 06:35 12/2004
Unleash the Compassion! 35:46 12/2004
Sermonizing From the Mount 05:28 12/2004
Spina Bifida Boy 08:23 12/2004
Let's Go To Mars 05:17 12/2004
A Love Story 16:43 13/01/2004
War's Greatest Hits Vol. 1 22:53 13/01/2004
Your Anger Manager 15:13 13/01/2004
Brick 02:41 2004
Day of the Bed 03:57 2004
Maya 04:55 2004
Music Boy 01:45 2004
Johnny Hartman 03:41 2004
Visiting Los Angeles 10:39 2004
Accident 03:00 2004
Coma Season 01:46 2004
Disintegration 08:27 2004
Kalifornia Dreaming 03:54 2004
Eugene Gant 01:05 2004
Parthenope 02:58 2004
No Shore, Pt. 1 03:18 2004
Polaroid 02:14 2004
Stalingrad 01:37 2004
A River In Egypt 15:27 23/01/2003
It's Kiss! Pt. 1 38:37 23/01/2003
Drowning In the Swim of Things 13:39 23/01/2003
Early Retirement 18:44 23/01/2003
Getting It Together 02:48 23/01/2003
Happy Birthday 05:52 23/01/2003
Boyz In the Adulthood 18:13 23/01/2003
Spazz Mit Microphone 12:44 23/01/2003
Gyrlz2womyn 02:31 23/01/2003
Hello, I Am Old 13:58 23/01/2003
Getting Snippy With It 06:48 23/01/2003
What We Know About You 04:18 23/01/2003
Worcester Mass. 02:10 28/02/2001
Jr. Pilot League 06:09 28/02/2001
Canadians Are On the Move! 01:58 28/02/2001
I Smell A Ratt 07:44 28/02/2001
Mars Needs Aryans 08:07 28/02/2001
The United Colors of West LA 09:20 27/02/2001
Never Again 03:25 27/02/2001
Language 03:25 27/02/2001
Future Parents 06:38 27/02/2001
Clintonese 02:03 27/02/2001
Men In Make Up 06:06 27/02/2001
Journal 04:17 27/02/2001
Maturity 09:47 27/02/2001
Death To Poets 00:59 27/02/2001
Intro 03:11 27/02/2001
Israel 08:03 27/02/2001
Rite Aid 04:58 27/02/2001
Eric the Pilot 11:05 05/05/1999
Vegas 00:34 22/09/1998
The Gay Thing 13:51 22/09/1998
Weatherman 02:14 22/09/1998
El Niño 02:30 22/09/1998
World Peace 02:58 22/09/1998
Television 12:43 22/09/1998
Airport Hell 14:35 22/09/1998
How I Got Here 02:22 22/09/1998
Everything 12:36 1996
Jet Lag 03:40 1993
Airport Courtesy Phone 02:22 1993
Airplanes 07:52 1993
Bone Tired 03:59 1993
The Odd Ball 01:26 1993
Strength-Pt.1 11:11 1993
Love in Venice 05:37 1993
Funny Guy 12:17 1993
Hating Someone's Guts-Pt. 1 05:48 1993
Smokin' the Filter 17:16 1992
Kicked In the Ass By Adventure 02:13 1992
Adventures of An Asshole 52:03 1992
Fun With Letterman 02:50 1989
Riding the Bus 06:25 1989
Getting Home 07:16 1989
Hack Writer 04:40 1989
Tough Guys Talk Dirty 15:29 1989
Friction Pt. 1 14:09 1989
Santa Cruz Pig 06:36 1989
First Class 06:43 1987
Black and White 03:01 1987
Move Right In 02:43 1987
New Age Blues 04:48 1987
Ghost Rider 02:27 1987
Touch and Go 08:31 1987
Hot Animal Machine 1 03:01 1987
Short Story 07:19 1987
Man and a Woman 03:59 1987
Hiya Handsome 04:52 1987
Crazy Lover 02:33 1987
Dehumanized 05:28 1987
There's a Man Outside 03:13 1987
Boy On the Train 07:47 1987
New York Story 05:45 1987
Lost and Found 02:04 1987
Peach 08:52 1987
Change 07:31 1987
Followed Around 02:48 1987

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Henry Rollins", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.