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Pop Culture

In 1993, punk icon Henry Rollins urged MTV viewers to stop being fans and make their own music

He used Nirvana as the perfect example of being “inspired” instead of "awed.”

Henry Rollins whants you to pick up a guitar and play.

The rock music scene changed in a big way in the early ‘90s; spandex-clad glam rockers were kicked to the curb by a new group of alternative-rock acts that were rooted in the D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) ethics of the late ‘70s, early ‘80s punk movement.

MTV served up videos to the new movement via “120 Minutes,” a nightly video show featuring the latest alternative rock, punk and indie acts. A frequent host of the show was Henry Rollins, the former singer of punk icons Black Flag who later created The Rollins Band.

One night, Rollins dispensed some essential D.I.Y. advice for the kids watching at home. He asked them to be inspired by the acts they saw on MTV, not awed by them.

"Instead of being awed by all these people with their wonderful hair and airbrushed faces, you can also go out and get yourself a guitar, learn some rudimentary chords and play yourself,” Rollins said. “You can be awed into submission to where you will sit and be a fan for the rest of your life instead of being someone who does.”

Rollins tied his advice to Nirvana's approach that completely changed rock music.

Henry Rollins says don't be awed, be inspired on MTV 120 Minutes (1993.01.31) Black Flag

"That's why you should learn the lesson from Nirvana,” Rollins continued. “You can be a mere mortal on the planet, not be the big attractive, perfectly-styled guy, have a greasy T-shirt and an attitude, pick up a guitar and actually make some meaningful music. You figure half these boneheads can't read and they can play a guitar. You stand a really good chance."

Rollins then pointed out that people can easily be "freaked out" when they see a genius like Picasso or Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Instead, they should choose to be "inspired" by their work to create their own art for the world to enjoy.