Five Great Henry Rollins Moments
For over 30 years Henry Rollins has carved his own unique path through punk and hard rock, and forged a career as an acclaimed spoken word artist, writer, actor, journalist and activist. He also runs his own record label and publishing imprint 2.13.61. Rollins is a powerhouse.
Here are five great moments with Henry.
Black Flag - 'TV Party'
'TV Party' is an uproarious tune from Damaged, the landmark debut album for legendary LA punk band, Black Flag.
When Rollins joined Black Flag as singer in 1981, he became their fourth singer and with Henry out front, they became the defining hardcore band of the era. Known for their inflammatory live performances which often erupted in violent altercations with the audience and run ins with the LAPD, Black Flag’s music distilled the very essence of punk. And their famous symbol, four black flags, represented anarchy.
In Rollins’ book Get In The Van (On The Road With Black Flag) he describes their sound, "All the songs were abrupt and crushing, short bursts of unbelievable intensity. It was like they were trying to break themselves in pieces with the music."
Many bands, including Nirvana, Mudhoney, Tool and Slayer, all consider Black Flag a formative influence.
Rollins Band - 'Liar'
When Black Flag called it a day, Rollins released a couple of solo albums and formed a formidable new band. The Rollins Band‘s muscular and incendiary rock was informed by punk, metal and jazz experimentalism.
They toured relentlessly and seeing them play here in Australia was an intense and physical experience as Rollins brought the full force of his aggression to the stage.
After nine albums with different line ups, Rollins Band ceased activity in 2003. Henry Rollins has since stated that he is avoiding playing music for the time being in order to focus on other challenges.
Rollins parallel interest in performing spoken word is evident is this tune 'Liar' from the Rollins Band album Weight in 1994.
Hard-Ons and Henry Rollins - 'Let There Be Rock'
In 1991 it seemed perfectly fitting that Rollins should join forces with Australia’s legendary punk band Hard-Ons to record this classic AC/DC tune.
The Hard-Ons were big fans of Black Flag and supported Rollins Band on their first tour here in 1988, the first of many times they played together over the years. No doubt they bonded over a great deal of music, including AC/DC.
As Hard-Ons bass player Ray Ahn told Restassuredzine in 2013, "We did one practice together, Henry had worked out the lyrics and brought them on a piece of paper, after a couple of hours we were ready."
It may have come together quickly but there’s no doubt they nailed it.
Henry Rollins, the spoken word performer
Whether relaying an hilarious anecdote or dishing out a furious rant, Rollins has proved himself a formidable and incredibly entertaining spoken word performer. His early work focused largely on stories of touring and band life but these days has broadened to include ruminations on all aspects of life, pop culture and politics.
Now with 17 spoken word albums and ten DVDs released and a non-stop tour schedule, Rollins has found widespread popularity as a biting, humorous and angry commentator.
Rollins has also written 12 books including Black Coffee Blues, Watch Him Die and Eye Scream.
Henry Rollins, the actor
Since the early 1990s Rollins has had a range of acting roles in film and television appearing in Johnny Mnemonic (1995) with Keanu Reeves, Heat (1995) with Al Pacino, David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997), Californication (2007-) with David Duchovny, Hawaii Five-O and Sons Of Anarchy.
His career seems to be gathering momentum with a recent leading role in a new horror film He Never Died. Rollins plays Jack, a guy who struggles with cannibalism. Check him in his gory glory in this on-set interview.
Listen to Henry Rollins, Double J's Artist In Residence, every Sunday from 3pm.