10 Albums That Changed Henry Rollins’ Life

KCRW DJ Henry Rollins hosts record store day celebration at Amoeba Music on April 16, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)

By Patrick Prince

To say that Henry Rollins is a music collector is an understatement. He claims to buy something music-related almost every day, especially if it’s a vinyl record. We didn’t ask him for an inventory count, but we trust he has an enormous collection. That in itself is a Goldmine article for another day but we did speak to him about being a curator for the new music site, The Sound of Vinyl. SOV is an interesting story but what we really wanted to know is where the singer-songwriter, poet, actor, comedian, TV and radio host, ex-Black Flag punk icon finds the time?

If that wasn’t enough, we asked him to give us the 10 albums that changed his life.


Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul

My mother had this record. She let me have it so I could destroy it on my bad record player with my awful vinyl etiquette. I don’t know why it hit me so hard, so immediately, but it did. I was in 5th grade and listened to it all the time. I was kind of surprised by that myself. Ike’s version of “Walk On By” is amazing and “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic” is one of the coolest songs ever.


Miriam Makeba, Miriam Makeba

My mother bought this in 1967. She played it all the time and I liked it immediately. Ms. Makeba became one of my alt-moms. It wasn’t a kid’s record but I still liked it, which taught me that there probably no such thing as a kid’s record.

 


Various Artists, Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical
(The Original Broadway Cast Recording) 

I had this record in 4th or 5th grade. It was my mother’s. I knew it was subversive and I probably shouldn’t be listening to it and that’s what made it irresistible to me. Some great songwriting and performances on this album.


Ted Nugent, Ted Nugent

I got this record when I was 15. I heard one of the older guys at school listening to it on a tape deck. I asked him who it was. He said, “Ted Nugent!” like I was the only one in the world who wouldn’t know. I got this album and “Free-For-All” at the same time. I saw the Gonzo tour when it came through Maryland and it showed me how hard a band could kick an audience’s ass.


The Stooges, Fun House 

When I joined Black Flag in 1981, I was handed a couple of tapes and told that I needed to listen to these albums to understand the band I had just joined — and if I didn’t like them, then I would have problems. They were “Fun House” and “Kick Out The Jams” by the MC5. I listened to both and got it immediately. After one listen, I realized that “Fun House” was the greatest rock album ever made and I would never do anything nearly as good. I was right on both counts.



The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat  

The first album is of course fantastic but it was the band’s second album that really grabbed me. There was an intensity about it that I had never experienced before. It’s as good as a record gets.

 


Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced   

As a player, an innovator and young badass, Mr. Hendrix states his case rather well on this album. I identify heavily with the alienation in the lyrics. It’s the first thing that I noticed about his songs.

 


The Doors, Strange Days 

I had the Doors’ first album when it came out, heisted from my mother, and liked it. As a young adult, I connected with “Strange Days” and it made me want to work harder on lyrics, knowing what could be achieved from having listened to “Strange Days” a lot.

 


The Birthday Party, Prayers On Fire 

As I have said many times, there are no bad records or songs by the Birthday Party. “Prayers On Fire” puts the band’s nervy genius on full display in an almost schizophrenic, frenzied dash over the two sides. This album made me understand there were endless ways of going about things musically.


Black Sabbath, Master Of Reality 

Bill Ward and Geezer Butler are one of the greatest, if not undermentioned, rhythm sections in rock. This album not only has Tony Iommi capturing one of the greatest tones ever committed to tape, but Ward and Butler swinging as hard as they’re crushing it. This is a perfectly balanced bit of playing. This is the record I evaluate other rhythm sections by.

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