For a while I’ve been interested in the relationship between Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi, Dischord Records) and his long-time friend, Henry Rollins (Black Flag, Rollins Band, everything else). It’s pretty amazing to me that two people who have had such an influence on punk rock culture and music have a friendship that goes back to their youth. I wanted to find out more so I contacted Ian and he graciously agreed to spend some time talking to me about it. I hope to get Henry’s take on things, too, but we’ll see.
What is one of the first things you remember about Henry?
We grew up in a neighborhood in DC called Glover Park. I grew up on Beecher Street and he lived about two blocks away on W Street. Word got out that there was a kid down on W Street who had a BB gun. And we said to ourselves, “Whoa, we’ve got to check this motherfucker out!” because nobody we knew had a BB gun at that time. So we went down and knocked on the door and there was Henry. He was slightly bigger than me. He was 12 and I was 11. He wore horn-rimmed glasses. We said, “Hey, we heard you had a BB gun.” And he said, “Yeah.” Henry was a latchkey kid. His parents were divorced and his mom worked, so he came home to an empty house. We started going down to hang with him in the afternoons. He had a BB gun – a rifle and a pistol – and he had a little shooting range set up in the basement. There was a cigar box with slots cut in the top that held poker chip targets and behind that was big piece of Styrofoam to protect the wall. The Styrofoam was not that effective. Henry actually went down into that basement a few years ago and could see that the BB dings were still in the wall.
We listened to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Cheech and Chong records. This was 1974. He was a pretty fucking cool guy; maybe a little bit nervous, but I didn’t really know him that well.
Then I went away for a year – my dad had a fellowship at Stanford University. I lived for nine months in California. While I was gone, one of my close friends got into a scrap with Henry. So when I came home I inherited the scrap. I spent the next year terrified of him because he was always trying to beat our asses. He caught up with me one time and threw me against a wall and I realized he could be really fucking scary.
( More about this awesome friendship...Collapse )