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Rollins Band

In the '90s, Henry Rollins emerged as a post-punk renaissance man, without the self-conscious trappings that plagued such '80s artists as David Byrne. Following Black Flag's breakup in 1986, Rollins was been relentlessly busy, recording albums with the Rollins Band, writing books and poetry, performing spoken word tours, writing a magazine column in Details, acting in several movies, and appearing on radio programs and, less frequently, as an MTV VJ. The Rollins Band's records are uncompromising, intense, cathartic fusions of hard rock, funk, post-punk noise, and jazz experimentalism, with Rollins shouting angry, biting self-examinations and accusations over the grind. On his spoken word albums, he is remarkably more relaxed, showcasing a hilariously self-deprecating sense of humor that is often absent in his music. All the while, he has kept his artistic integrity, becoming a kind of father figure for many alternative bands of the '90s.

Rollins was born Henry Garfield in Washington, D.C., on February 13, 1961. He performed in local hardcore bands as a teenager, and one night when his heroes Black Flag came to town, he leaped up on-stage and began singing with them. Shortly thereafter, when Flag vocalist Dez Cadena decided to switch to guitar, the band invited Rollins to audition, and he became their new lead singer. By the time Black Flag broke up in 1986, Rollins had not only garnered a reputation as one of the fiercest performers in hardcore punk, but had already begun touring as a spoken word performer. Rollins made his recording debut as a solo artist in 1987 with Hot Animal Machine and also issued his first spoken word album, Big Ugly Mouth, that year (as well as the Drive by Shooting EP, recorded as Henrietta Collins & the Wifebeating Childhaters).

Following Hot Animal Machine, Rollins assembled a backing unit, the Rollins Band, which featured soundman Theo Van Ronk, guitarist Chris Haskett, and the former rhythm section of Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn's side project Gone: bassist Andrew Weiss and drummer Simeon "Sim" Cain. Not counting several live recordings made in Holland in 1987, the Rollins Band made their studio debut with 1988's Life Time, followed quickly by the outtakes/live collection Do It. 1989 saw the release of a new Rollins Band album, Hard Volume, and the spoken word set Sweatbox; they were followed in 1990 by the live set Turned On and yet another lengthy spoken word release, Live at McCabe's.

1991 was a pivotal year for Rollins, for better and worse. The Rollins Band inked a deal with Imago that promised much-improved distribution, and they also appeared on the Lollapalooza tour. But in December of that year, Rollins and his best friend, Joe Cole, were held up by gunmen waiting outside of Rollins' L.A. home. Cole was fatally shot in the head; the devastating trauma of the incident never quite left Rollins and occasionally (though indirectly) informed his subsequent work. In 1992, with Human Butt, Rollins began releasing his spoken word albums through 2.13.61, the publishing imprint he'd founded in 1984. In addition to Rollins' own work, both recorded and written, 2.13.61 grew during the '90s to include literary works by rock artists like Exene Cervenka and Nick Cave, plus material by acclaimed authors like Henry Miller and Hubert Selby, Jr., among others. 1992 also saw the Rollins Band debut for Imago with The End of Silence, which some found to be his most focused music yet and gave Rollins his first charting album. The spoken word double disc The Boxed Life appeared in 1993, and toward the end of the year, Rollins Band bassist Weiss was replaced by Melvin Gibbs.

1994 became Rollins' breakout year thanks to the one-two punch of Weight -- the best-reviewed and most popular Rollins Band album to date, which cracked Billboard's Top 40 -- and Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, a double-disc set of readings from Rollins' memoir of the same name that won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording. Additionally, the Rollins Band performed a well-received set at Woodstock '94. With all the increased visibility, Rollins became a genuine phenomenon; Details magazine chose him as their Man of the Year in 1994 and wound up making him a contributing columnist. Primed by appearances on MTV and VH1, Rollins also made his film debut that year in The Chase and went on to appear in movies like Johnny Mnemonic, Heat, and Lost Highway over the next few years.

Unfortunately, Imago was out of business by 1995, leaving the Rollins Band in temporary limbo until they secured a deal with DreamWorks in 1997. In the meantime, Rollins undertook a jazz/poetry experiment with Everything, which featured musical backing by avant-garde luminaries Charles Gayle (saxophone) and Rashied Ali (drums). The Rollins Band debuted for DreamWorks in 1997 with Come in and Burn, which failed to earn the acclaim of the group's previous few albums. Black Coffee Blues appeared the same year, and like Get in the Van, it featured a series of readings from a Rollins book of the same name. In 1998, Rollins released Think Tank, his first true set of non-book-related spoken word material in five years.

By this point, Rollins felt that his partnership with the Rollins Band had run its course, as their music grew more experimental and less unremittingly intense. He had been producing a Los Angeles hard rock trio called Mother Superior and wound up inviting the band -- guitarist Jim Wilson, bassist Marcus Blake, and drummer Jason Mackenroth -- to back him as a brand-new incarnation of the Rollins Band. The first fruits of this new collaboration were released in 2000 as the album Get Some Go Again. It was followed in 2004 by Weighting. A new spoken word release, Rollins in the Wry, followed in 2001, culling performances from Rollins' residency at the L.A. club Luna Park during the summer of 1999. Another live album, The Only Way to Know for Sure, appeared in the summer of 2002. Three volumes of Talk Is Cheap, taken from a two-night stand in Sydney, Australia, were released in 2003 and 2006. A fourth volume followed in 2007, this time recorded at San Jose State University in California. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

tpayne95
Seen Rollins at the Odeon in Cleveland a few years back. KILLED IT!!!
Love H R, listening to his music & spoken word since his days with Black Flag.
Henry has always been my favorite .
No denying this dude is my all time favorite got my black flag tattoo in his honor
My favorite !!!!
norske92
Eat a brick a s**t...
kitrina_b
Wish he would go back to recording music more, spoken word is OK but I think his real talent is in song writing as he has a unique style, similar to Morrison minus the drugs.
Rollins is an interesting character but his music ain't that great
Henry Rollins saved my life!
ebonycarter2 1
This band has been one of the best..Whenev e r feeling down..put on the Rollins Band..
HENRY ROLLINS FOR PRESIDENT!!
Why isnt there his spoken word on pandora.
DO IT!!!
madmonkey419
Rollins Rulzzz. ( Proceed with Thrashing.)
henry is the man!
gatkinson80
Rollins is (in my opionion)a mediocre singer, but one HELLUVA performer... Great frontman for the allmighty Flag, and a really interesting and entertaining spoken word performer.
mtcanneries
IF YOU'RE NOT PISSED OFF,YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!!! ! ! !
I would follow this man to the end of the Earth.
Taught me how to be!
Rollins lyrics always spoke to me. His music will always be my favorite. I don't care about anything else but the music. I am not a musician, so I don't care how good they are or aren't. I will fight to the death over what this band has meant to me through all points in my life.
Rollins...wh y sooooo angry...rela x bro....you'l l get there one day.
Saw Black Flag in concert a few times, Rollins is a genius and an awesome entertainer!
Rollins is just not a good musician. He talks a lot over some over rated blues guitar. He was originally a roadie/super fan for BF.
He's turned into a liberal cry-baby but I can't refute his music being great up to The End of Silence. I particularly like Henrietta Collins and the Wifebeating Childhaters.
actually 2.13.61 is Henry's birthday
the name of Rollins' publishing company, 2.13.61, is Joe Cole's birthday
I saw Henry open for RHCP in Frankfurt, Germany back in 1992. Freakin intense!
The End Of Silence Album was refreshing to hear because there is still O.G. music out there to be found!!Failu r e , M o n d o Generator etc!!!!
I will be going to see Mr.Rollins in Tampa (Clearwater) in march and like every other time I have seen him with the band or just doing his spoken word material I will leave enlightened.
There is obviously not enough ppl into music that actually matters and not just the same ole' crap written by amateurs who have not lived enough to have anything to say. If your into real music go buy every Rollins album you can find and go see him live when he comes to your town.
The realest mofo in the industry, hands down!
wheir can i get the good stuff live in australia
Rollins Band kicks a**, but his spoken word stuff is even better, if you're in the mood for that sort of thing (especially seeing it live).
d.musolino
i agree that black flag is kick a** but rollins is chill to
Henry Rollins is a certified bad a**.
rollins band saved me from insanity!!!! ! he is GOD!!!!!!!!
bromide01
I had the double live album. It was bought around Christmas at an old record store that doesn't exist anymore. It smelled of old cardboard and the selection wasn't great all of the time. Now we enter the end times.
Rollins suck, black flag was good but rollins sucks
no, he doesn't.
because David Byrne sucks!!!!
idostuff
why so harsh on david byrne?

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