Get in the Van

Get in the Van

Get in the Van is a memoir by singer, writer, and spoken word artist Henry Rollins first published in 1994 by, Rollins' own company, 2.13.61 Publications. The book is composed of journal entries that Rollins kept while he was lead singer of the band Black Flag from 1981 to its breakup in 1986. Other text includes reminiscences of times when he had yet to start, or had lapsed in, his journal-keeping.

Sections of the book were read and recorded by Rollins and released as a 2-CD set, which won a Grammy in 1995 for Best Spoken Word Album.


The entries begin in Spring of 1981, and documents the time surrounding Rollins’ personal introduction to and joining of Black Flag. From here, Rollins recounts a string of violent shows, long hours on the road, and abuse by police while immersed in the poverty-stricken Bohemian lifestyle the band maintained. A major part of 1982 is dedicated to the band’s first tour of England, which Rollins paints as a mostly ugly affair. As the narrative continues, Rollins describes the band as being alienated by its audience and alienates himself from the band. July 12, 1986 is the final entry. Following it is an afterword by Rollins describing the effects his experiences with Black Flag had on him and the time immediately following the band’s breakup.

Photos are prominent in the book and include work by Glen E. Friedman, Ed Colver, and Naomi Peterson as well as flyers by Ginn's brother, Raymond Pettibon, and drawings by a member of Black Flag's crew called Davo. The cover photo — taken by Gary Leonard — depicts a squad of Los Angeles police officers marching on a show featuring The Ramones and Black Flag on November 17, 1984. The back cover features a photo from a February 19, 1983 show in Berlin, Germany at the SO 36 club, depicting everyone — band and crowd — singing along to the song "TV Party" after the PA was turned off. Peter Gruchot was responsible for the picture.

An appendix of Black Flag line-ups and tour dates, starting with Rollins’ joining, is included.

econd edition

A re-issue of the book was made available in late 2004. It includes extra journal entries, artwork and two afterwords, dated 1994 and 2004. One of the afterwords mentions a journal authored by Joe Cole and published by 2.13.61 titled Planet Joe which offers an alternate recount of the same dates as the Rollins offering.

Rollins states, in the introduction, that he began work on compiling the book some time in 1990. He also explains that many of the journal entries were written while living in The Shed, a construct in the back yard of Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn’s parents’ house.

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