The chances of ever breaking eye contact with former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins are tiny and for a good reason. A singer, actor and all-around lover of the arts, Rollins is renowned for being one of the most intense people in music. It is a blessing and a curse. Rollins has established himself as one of the most iconic frontmen ever to have graced the stage and one of the most captivating orators around, thanks to his bellicose character.
Although people, often conservatives and punk gatekeepers, have been offended by Rollins’ refusal to sit on the fence on any topic, this is what has endeared him to the righteous. Rollins’ opinionated nature is what marks him out from the majority of celebrities, and musicians, as today, many in the entertainment world are afraid of voicing their opinions. Whilst this is due to a multitude of reasons, Rollins remains a refreshing voice, using his status for good.
Aside from more political matters, the area where Rollins’ indomitable passion is best put to use is when he discusses music. A real geek when it comes to music, his knowledge on the topic is extensive. He’s music’s resident historian, and it’s through people such as he that we get nuggets of golden information that diverge from the constantly recycled tales we hear time and time again.
In the past, Rollins has shared insight on everyone from Pere Ubu to Jimi Hendrix and Roky Erickson. He’s akin to a musical version of Noam Chomsky or even Bertrand Russell, possessing knowledge of musicians that you wouldn’t expect him to. Duly, you could sit and listen to him talk about music for hours, as it’s always a worthwhile lesson.
Rising from the underground to the status he enjoys today, he invariably has his finger on the pulse and continues to be a respected voice on mainstream and more niche acts.
One figure who he’s shared some incredible praise on is Dave Navarro, alt-metal legends Jane’s Addiction’s resident guitar hero. Whilst Navarro is revered in the rock scene, in the mainstream, he’s constantly overlooked in favour of other guitarists, who may be flashier, but have nothing on his unique style and technical proficiency.
Of his friend Navarro, Rollins said simply: “He’s one of the last great guitarists”. Unsurprisingly, Rollins is bang on the money. Whether it be ‘Stop!’, ‘Been Caught Stealing’, or ‘Mountain Song’, Navarro has given us many moments over the years that confirm his talent. Arguably though, his masterpiece is ‘Three Days’ from Jane’s Addiction’s 1990 album Ritual de lo Habitual.
A long and meandering piece wherein Navarro covers every inch of the fretboard, playing atmospheric picking patterns as well as a couple of blistering solos, if you’ve never heard the track before, you’ll be in agreement that Dave Navarro is a wholly underrated guitarist in the mainstream discussion. Reflecting the degree of his talent, Navarro was the man Guns N’ Roses wanted to replace Izzy Stradlin, but he was too good for that position.
Listen to Jane’s Addiction ‘Three Days’ below.