Fans Share Their Favorite Henry Rollins Memories
It's Henry Rollins week here at West Coast Sound. In conjunction with Ben Westhoff's cover story interview with our columnist -- who has a new book out of collected L.A. Weekly writings -- we asked our readers for stories about meeting him, and about what his work meant to them.
Credit: Timothy Norris
Our first batch had stories from a writer who credits Rollins with getting him through a near-suicidal patch, and from a woman whose teeth look like the Black Flag bars. Now, here are some more great stories, written by folks whose lives he has touched.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rollins
In 8th grade I strode dramatically into the local bookstore in Greenfield, MA, and informed the lady behind the counter she was going to order me Henry Rollins' book Get in the Van. I was a young, musically uninformed little thing with too much black makeup on and an increasing alienation from my childhood friends. Living in the bubble of a small town, I knew the music I was supposed to enjoy, and I knew I didn't. But like every nerdy girl, I did my research. When I found Henry Rollins, everything changed.
In those pre-Amazon dark ages, I waited weeks to hear if she could "find a copy," intermittently harassing her as I eagerly anticipated the phone call that meant my book was finally here. When it arrived, I devoured it. Each page I paused to stop and reflect on each photo, wishing I took it, wishing I was at the show, wishing I was a part of something -- and with every page, learning. I made lists of his references, the bands he toured with and the books he was reading. Along the way they became part of my language. They helped me find my friends, my community and myself. Without Henry Rollins I would not have immediately found Henry Miller, Bukowski, Raymond Pettibon, the Ramones, the Minute Men, the Birthday Party, Fugazi or Fear. Without him, I wouldn't have followed the plight of the West Memphis Three.
As I grew older and moved around, Get in the Van and the rest of Rollins' ever-expanding catalog went with me as part of my permanent library and so did Rollins himself. I found him on the TV shows I watched and the radio stations I listened to, and his writing never stopped. Whenever I was lost -- to poverty, to procrastination or to artistic block -- Henry Rollins was there, a voice on the radio telling me to just get over it, to just do it, to try. His perseverance and integrity have been the motivational blue print pushing myself and so many others to be better, to try harder, and to actually do the things we talk about doing.
This year, with Rollins as my inspiration, I launched my own publishing company, Repel Industries. With a dog-eared nearly 13-yearold copy of Get On the Van proudly on my shelf and a Rollins-inspired tattoo on my arm, I am very proud to say I am trying. Thank you, Henry Rollins. - Rebecca Peloquin