(born Henry Lawrence Garfield
; February 13, 1961) is an America singer-songwriter, raconteur, stand-up comedian, spoken word artist, writer, publisher, actor, radio DJ, and activist.After joining the short-lived Washington D.C.-based band State of Alert in 1980, Rollins fronted the California hardcore punk band Black Flag from 1981 until 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 until 2003 and during 2006.
Since Black Flag, 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,
MTV's 120 Minutes
. He had a recurring dramatic role as a white supremacist 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 marriage equality for LGBT couples, World Hunger Relief, and an end to war in particular, and tours overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.
Rollins has since replied that "no, the training was just basically a way to push myself."
Rollins Band and solo releases
Before Black Flag broke up 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, culimnating 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 gunmen belonging to the Venice, CA gang, the Venice Shoreline Crips, outside Rollins's home. Cole was murdered by a gunshot to the head, but Rollins escaped without injury. 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 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. 1998 saw 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 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".