Rollins In London - Part 3 ...
Ok, a shorter story this time. Rollins talked quite a bit about a lot of the
famous people he has met especially over the last year when he has been doing
stuff like working in the film Heat in a scene with Al Pacino. This stuff was
all pretty good, but the one in particular that caught my attention was Meeting
Johnny Cash. I think that this story in particular really ground home the fact
that as much as Rollins may be an internationally recognised cult star, he still
approaches a lot of stuff as if he was just some dumb punker kid, hence his
ability to stand back and laugh at a lot of the Hollywood bullshit that he
Story 3: Meeting Johnny Cash
As you probably are aware, Rollins has set up a record label with Rick Rubin
where they are re-releasing old material that they think is pretty cool etc.
Anyway, Rick Rubin phones Henry up one night and says "Do ya wanna go see Johnny
Cash with me tonight?", and Henry figures that if it's Rick then the seat's will
be good and there'll be free food and good company etc. and he's a real Johnny
Cash fan, has been ever since he was a kid, because let's face it, Johnny Cash
is THE MAN. I mean, they call Frank Sinatra 'the voice' but Johnny Cash is 'the
voice from the pits of hell'. He just opens his mouth and this baritone
hellspawn comes forth and lays waste to all who stand before him. However, JC
is kind of getting on a little and Henry wants to know if he can still kick it.
They get to the gig and Henry ends up sitting between Rick and Tom Petty, so he
has a little chat with Tom who turns out to be a real cool guy, and then sits
back to watch the show. JC comes on and kicks much ass, and does a full two
hour show, not faltering once, and his voice is just straight from another
fucking planet. Henry is totally blown away. At one point JC stops and says,
"You know this new album just wouldn't have happened without my friend Rick
Rubin, and I'd just like to thank him", and the whole audience looks round to
the seat next to Henry, and Rick is sitting in a dark theatre with his
wrap-round shades on, and he nods, once, solemly. Cool motherfucker. Later, Johnny
stops to say, "Maybe some day this next song will be as good as a Heartbreaker
song, Tom", and everyone in the theatre looks at Henry's other side. Henry is,
at the moment totally rocking out.
Afterwards, Rick invites Henry to go and meet Johnny Cash! Obviously Hank jumps
at the chance and wanders off back stage, and meets Joe Strummer, who he kind of
knows. He and Joe start chatting and then Rick takes them up to meet JC who is
just standing around, hanging out. Rick say "Johnny, this is Henry Rollins".
Now JC doesn;t have a clue who Henry is to be honest, but quite remarkably goes,
"Henry, I'd like to thank you for coming on down to watch the show, I sure
appreciate it", and shakes Henry by the hand. Henry flabbergastedly says
something along the lines of it being a complete pleasure. JC then meets Joe
Strummer(JS) in an equally personable open manner, and Henry is struck by how
cool that is. JC has just played his fucking guts out for over two hours, he
proved that he can still kick it, and if anyone had even nearly the right to
pull any of that bow, and kiss my pinkie ring shit, then it would be old JC. But
no, he is totally approachable, and there completely in your face meeting you
like another Joe Blow on the street would. Henry is freaking out over this when
JC and JS start having this conversation. JC says things in his usual laid back
drawl with lots of pauses etc. That's just the way he talks.
JS: Johnny, do you remember the song that I sent you for the new album, you
didn't use it, but what did you think?
JC: Joe, (big pause) I'm sorry, I don't remember it
JS: Well maybe if I sing it to you, then you would
JC: Joe, (big pause) sing that song
At this point Henry is standing back in 'rock and roll bonerville as he
witnesses Joe Strummer singing a song to Johnny Cash.
JC: Joe, that's a damn fine song, I'm going to go and find that song Joe
At the end of this, JC is trundled off to meet some more people and be the
pinnacle of their existance too.
Henry was just blown away by all of this, and was kind of saying that he tries
to be cool but like JC he's just some guy, and if he has a bad day, he doesn't
want to ruin someone else's life over it by fucking them over just for the sake
of it. If you see Henry and he doesn't look busy (unlikely I know) then go and
speak to him, he appreciates you. Honest.
I guess this story just made old Hank seem a bit more normal. I once saw Johnny
Cash striding down a street in Edinburgh up here in Scotland when he was
touring. He was just pouding down the street on his own wearing an ankle length
black raincoat, and big black cowboy boots. People were just standing in awe,
not being able to close their hanging jaws, never mind go up and say Hi. To
find out that someone who just naturally has that sort of impact on people is a
really cool guy is just fantastic. Don't be scared of the people you like, go
up and say Hi. Tell them you appreciate what they are doing.
Only one more story to go. I'm trying to not do the whole gig, but just a few
examples. I'll get the last bit off to you soon.
[Part 4: The Grammies]