Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Henry Rollins’ musical legacy and share your personal memories of him with us in the comments below!
Born: February 13, 1961
Biography: 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. [Read more via AllMusic here]
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