Henry Rollins

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The Man, The Force of Nature


[takes deep breath] Hulking, tattooed front man of seminal punk band Black Flag and later the Rollins Band, spoken word artist, author of several prose/poetry books, actor, TV and radio host, entrepreneur, outspoken activist, blogger and all-around force of fucking nature. By the age of 30 he had written, sung, performed, acted and published more material in more varied mediums than many artists could aspire to during their entire life. [*gasp*]

Henry is quite intelligent, and despite his imposing physical appearance and manic performance style, he's a nice - even shy - guy and something of a nerd, embracing the internet and other technology at the cutting edge. (This may be because he initially cultivated the whole "physically imposing" deal to cope with rowdy, often-violent Black Flag shows.)

In 1991, Henry and Joe Cole were accosted by a gunman and Henry watched his best friend get murdered in front of him by a gunshot to the head. Henry escaped unharmed, but this event was a considerable influence on his work for some time as reflected in a lot of his writing and spoken word afterward.

Now 51 years old, Henry is still in the same physical shape he's always been and is actively performing, writing, touring and kicking ass as much as ever.

If you'd like to see a full list of everything he's published during his career, your best bet is to visit his official website at http://21361.com/ or go look at The Other Wiki - it's enough to fill a(nother) book.


Tropes embodied by Henry:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Internet rumors persist that Rollins is a closeted Manly Gay, though Rollins himself denies it and says that if he were gay, he would have demolished the closet many years ago.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Rollins was a fan of Black Flag before becoming the band's vocalist. During his first performance with the band, he was merely in the bar to watch them play.
  • Badass - 50 years old, still limitless energy, still publishing and performing and still looks like he could punch through a truck. Does the man ever sleep?
  • Badbutt - As Johnny Rancid on Teen Titans.
  • Berserk Button - Well, everything, really. He realizes that we live in a Crapsack World, and he doesn't let us forget it.
    • One particular think that pushes his berserk button is techno music, having railed against it multiple times. Of course, someone then made a dubstep song using one of his anti-techno rants as a drop.
  • Dark Is Not Evil - In spite of his reputation and overall demeanor, he is generally agreed to be friendly and approachable.
  • Death Glare - So constant that it may just be the way his eyes naturally are.
  • Determinator - How else is it possible for one person to do so much and still claim to be "just warming up".
  • Does Not Like Shoes - You will seldom find a musical performance in which he is wearing shoes.
  • Drugs Are Bad - Due to their effects on friends, he doesn't care much for them.
  • Expecting Someone Taller - Covered in tattoos and muscles with a reputation for kicking large amounts of ass and on the lower side of of average height at about 5'9".
  • Gallows Humor - When he hit his 50th birthday, Rollins commissioned some artwork and photos that confronted the issues of aging head on. This poster [dead link] for a speaking tour shows him in his Superman-esque outfit from the "Liar" video, while The Grim Reaper peers over his shoulder. In two photos taken for a Billboard interview around the same time, one shows The Grim Reaper chasing Rollins, while another shows the singer wearing Depends over the Superman outfit.
  • Genius Bruiser - Rollins is known for being both highly articulate and extremely buff.
  • Hardcore Punk - With Black Flag he helped define the genre.
  • Hot-Blooded - See: Henry Rollins. This really cannot be emphasized enough.
  • Ink Suit Actor - His Batman Beyond character Mad Stan bears a passing resemblance [dead link] to him.
  • Jerkass Facade: As was mentioned in the introduction, he developed the "physically imposing" attitude to cope with the rowdy Black Flag shows.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice - Was it that manly chin that caused him to become the Badass Normal that he is today? We may never know.
  • Lightning Bruiser - The man is big, smart and has performed or published material in just about every medium that exists and done it well. His stage presence is one of a barely-controlled explosion. He will verbally destroy your bullshit with logic and common sense at the drop of a hat and then when you are on the ropes, drop a Precision F-Strike to devastating effect. Good thing he's a Good Guy.
  • Loners Are Freaks - After beating up some bullies, he says that his class mates still felt he was a freak and left him alone. Something of a self-fulfilling trope.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor - Look at him, listen to his music, learn of his reputation and then speak with him for 5 minutes... need I say more?
    • His seeming perpetual rage is based on the fact that he firmly believes most people are better than they realize and he wants you to know it even if it seems he wants to beat it out of you.
  • Mood Whiplash - Most of his stand up shows are like this going from hilarious anecdotes to serious statements on the state of the world.
  • Motor Mouth - Occasionally lapses into this in his stand-up shows.
  • Nerds Are Sexy - He's not just a big guy who yells a lot. Not only does he embrace technology, but he yells at you to take every advantage you can of it for your own betterment. Often sports Nerd Glasses for extra points.
  • One-Scene Wonder - Most of his movie appearances barely rate cameos, and he usually runs away with them.
    • Similarly, he appears in the Def Jam Series only as the leader of the gym where the PC trains. But in multiplayer, he's the strongest character.
  • Perpetual Frowner - A staple of his appearance. When He Smiles, it's shocking.
  • Precision F-Strike, Cluster F-Bomb, NSFW - all staples of his work.
  • Promoted Fanboy - He was simply a Black Flag fan who was invited to sing "Clocked In" with the band at a concert. He's now recognized as the face of the band.
  • Protest Song - Again, see: Black Flag, along with Rollins Band and most of his spoken word works.
  • Too Dumb to Live - Not Henry by any means, but this guy, who thought it was a good idea to mess with him while on stage.
    • Additionally, witness the level head and verbal devastation he uses to completely own this guy, who also thought Henry might be a lot of fun to challenge.
    • Here is yet another epic example of Henry utterly destroying some haters using only the combined powers of his superior intellect, and hatred of squandered potential.
  • Took a Level in Badass - Hard to believe, but as a youth he was skinny and a target of bullying. Then he bought a weight set while in high school and hospitalised one of said bullies (who was three years older than him).
  • Walking Shirtless Scene - Rollins raised eyebrows for sporting a muscle-bound physique and often performing stripped down to a pair of shorts, which did not fit into many people's perceptions of what punks looked like.