After leaving the straight-edge Hardcore Punk scene in the 1970s vocalist Henry Rollins (Real Name: Henry Garfield) would join the influential Punk act Black Flag and contributed to some of their most noted works of the time such as Six Pack, an album so extreme that 'M.C.A.' big wig, Al Bergamo tried to stop its release, even though thousands of copies had already been pressed. But Rollins was merely working on his stage persona for he went solo after several more releases with his own Hot Animal Machine in 1987 with Chris Haskett (ex-Surfin' Dave; guitar), Burnie Wandel (bass) and Mick Green (drums). The album proved that as a soloist he was going to be no less uncompromising in his style. Later that same year under the pseudonym Henrietta Collins And The Wife Beating Child Haters he would release the mini album Drive By Shooting, demonstrating just a taste of his dark humor. A solo album titled Big Ugly Mouth had also been released in late '87.
In late 1988 Rollins had officially formed his own band with Andrew Weiss (bass) and Simeon Cain (drums) to release Life Time (1988), produced by Ian MacKaye (of Fugazi). The album set the mold for what would be the Rollins Band sound involving a fero in instrumentation and cut-to-the-quick lyrics few could match. Do It! (1989) was a part live and part studio recording with Sweatbox (1989) following it.
Sweatbox highlighted another one of Rollin's side ventures, his spoken word diatribes put on disc, an element that would later be worked into his Hardcore music. Another similar fashioned live recording followed called Turned On (1990). After a date on the 1991 Lollapalooz a festival, Rollins set about to release The End Of Silence (1992) on new label masters 'Imago/RCA'. Self analyzing, the album allowed Rollins to use the Rock Music structure to release his personal demons in lyric and sound, one such demon was the witness of the recent gunning down of his best friend Joe Cole.
To Henry Rollins the music him and his act expressed was more than simple entertainment or even an expression of himself, but was part of a growing vast empire and the follow-up compilation The Boxed Life (1993), a double set, gave everyone a glimpse at his alter egos. As well as an intense regiment of physical exercise, Rollin's empire now stretched beyond his music and spoken word, but also into publishing by showcasing himself and other independent authors, including his own acclaimed set of short stories Black Coffee Blues (1997). Rollins was quickly becoming a multi-millionaire with his company called 2.13.61 (his birthrate).
In 1994 he and band returned with Weight, an album that saw them at their career height thus far with a 33 U.S. (32 U.K.) chart position; the anger filled Liar being the track of choice on the album by getting a 27 U.K. charting on its own. The album also saw the arrival of Melvin Gibbs replacing the departed Haskins. After this album the band was on hiatus while Rollins expanded his resume to include acting by appearing in Hollywood films The Chase and Johnny Mnemonic, and a cameo appearance in Heat (he had made his very first screen debut with 1991's Kiss Napoleon Goodbye). His efforts were further delayed by an 8-figure lawsuit cast against him by 'Imago' who accused him of signing to 'Dreamworks' before his contract with them had expired, but his claim of retort was that because his distribution by BMG' was dropped the contract was void; nevertheless the follow-up album Come And Burn (1997) was on 'Dreamworks'.
On the change of the Millennium Rollins' dispensed with the rest of his band and teamed up with Jim Wilson (guitar), Marcus Blake (bass) and Jason Mackenroth (drums) to release his Get Some Go Again (2000), a back-to-basics effort that saw him getting angrier with age. The line-up remained for Yellow Blues (2001), Nice (2001), the live effort The Only Way To Know For Sure (2002), and a demo compilation End Of Silence Demos (2002).
The band opened some concerts for X, and played on the first-season finale of The Henry Rollins Show on August 12, 2006.
Haskett, Gibbs and Cain line-up reunited but, according to Rollins, would not become long-term unless the group decided to write new songs.
Former member Jason Mackenroth died on January 3, 2016, in Nevada from prostate cancer.