You Say It's Your Birthday: Henry Rollins

Today is the birthday of one-man whirlwind Henry Rollins

(nee Henry Garfield), who was born in 1961 in Washington, DC. The musclebound

Rollins fronted the highly acclaimed and influential punk band Black Flag, and

currently sings with the Rollins band, runs his own publishing company, writes

poetry and appears in occasional films.

Black Flag was founded by

guitarist Greg Ginn, who cofounded (and currently owns) SST Records. Keith

Morris was Black Flag's original vocalist and Brian Migdol played drums; their

early work was overrun with Ginn's torrential guitars. They released the

Nervous Breakdown EP in 1978 and Jealous Again in 1980 before

Morris left Black Flag to form the Circle Jerks. The band finally came across

Henry Rollins, then a DC skinhead who jumped onstage with the band during a New

York show.

MCA records refused to release Flag's 1981 record

Damaged, and when Ginn released it on SST the ensuing litigation forbade

Blag Flag to use its own name or logo for two years. Ginn won, and vowed never

again to work with major labels. From 1984 to '87 Black Flag was at its most

prolific, releasing five new records, one EP and one retrospective, including

Slip It In and Wasted Again. In 1986 Ginn formed a side band

called Gone and began dissolving Black Flag while continuing to run

SST.

Meanwhile, Rollins took this opportunity to form a new band, naming it

after himself and releasing seven albums, including the Rollins Band debut

Drive By Shooting EP, released in 1987, and their most recent, 1994's

Weight. The band has wrapped an album, Come In And Burn, due for

release this spring. Rollins has also recorded several spoken word albums, like

Big Ugly Mouth and The Boxed Life, based on his humorous and

popular spoken word appearances.

Rollins also owns a book label, 2.13.61

publications (taken from his birth date) and a record label, 213CD. He's

published books of his own prose and poetry, as well as work from Nick Cave,

Swans' Michael Gira and a photo book about Led Zeppelin. On his record label

such disparate artists as Exene Cervenka and Alan Vega can be found. In 1995

Rollins released the book and spoken-word CD Get In The Van, detailing

his life with Black Flag; the CD won a Grammy in 1995. Rollins has had cameos

in a few recent films, including Heat, Johnny Mnemonic and an

ironic stint as a cop in The Chase.

Other birthdays: Tetsuo

Yamatsuka (Boredoms), Gene Ames (Ames Brothers), King Floyd, Peter Tork

(Monkees), Peter Gabriel, Edward John Gagliardi (Foriegner), Peter Hook (New

Order), Tony Butler (Big Country), Les Warner (Cult) and Rob Ellis (who plays

with PJ Harvey). -- Beth Winegarner