Murder of Joe Cole

Joseph Dennis Cole (April 10, 1961 – December 19, 1991) was an American actor, writer and roadie for Black Flag and Rollins Band, who was shot and killed in an armed robbery on December 19, 1991.[1]

Murder of Joe Cole
LocationVenice Beach, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DateDecember 19, 1991
Attack type
Murder, robbery
Joe Cole
Joseph Dennis Cole

(1961-04-10)April 10, 1961
DiedDecember 19, 1991(1991-12-19) (aged 30)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Writer, author, actor, roadie
Parent(s)Dennis Cole
Sally Bergeron

Early lifeEdit

Cole was the son of actor Dennis Cole by his first wife, Sally Bergeron.[2] Cole also worked as a roadie for the band Hole, filming the group's 1991 tour performances, and appeared in several films including Raymond Pettibon's The Book of Manson, where he also has a cinematography credit.


Cole and lifelong best friend Henry Rollins were assaulted by armed robbers in December 1991 outside their shared Venice Beach, California, home at 809 Brooks Avenue in the Oakwood district.[3] They had attended a Hole concert at the Whisky a Go Go and were returning home after having stopped at an all-night grocery store. Two armed men, described as black and in their 20s, approached them demanding money. Angry that Rollins and Cole had only $50 between them, the gunmen ordered the two men to go inside their house for more cash. Rollins entered at gunpoint. However, Cole was killed outside after being shot in the face at close range while Rollins escaped out the back door and alerted the police.[4][5] The murder remains unsolved.[2]

In an interview in 1992 with The Los Angeles Times, Rollins revealed he kept a plastic container full of soil soaked with Cole's blood. Rollins said, "I dug up all the earth where his head fell – he was shot in the face – and I've got all the dirt here, and so Joe Cole's in the house. I say good morning to him every day. I got his phone, too, so I got a direct line to him. So that feels good."[4] He is remembered in the Sonic Youth songs "JC" and "100%" on their album Dirty.[6][7] Both the self-titled Rollins Band debut and Hole album Live Through This are dedicated to his memory.[8]

A book of Cole's collected writings, primarily tour journals, was published posthumously by Rollins's publishing company and titled Planet Joe.[9] It describes his time touring in the 1980s, in particular with Black Flag.[10][11] Rollins included Cole's story in his spoken word performances.[12] Cole also appeared in Raves – God's Movie, Volume 1 starring Joe Cole. According to Rolling Stone, after Cole's death, hundreds of hours of interviews Cole had taped with "flamboyant street characters" in Venice Beach were edited into an hour of "primo footage" that the magazine described as "an unflinching look at the American dream gone amok".[13]

In a 2001 interview with Howard Stern, Rollins was asked about rumors that he kept Cole's brain in his house. He stated that he has only the soil from the spot where Cole was killed. During the interview, he also speculated that the reason they were targeted may have been because, days prior to the incident, record producer Rick Rubin had requested to hear the newly recorded album The End of Silence and parked his Rolls-Royce outside their house while carrying a cell phone. Because of the notoriety of the neighborhood, Rollins suspected that this would bring trouble because of the implication that there was money in the home. He even wrote in his journal the night of Rubin's visit that his home "is going to get popped".[14][15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Rollins, Henry (April 11, 2013). "Henry Rollins: Joe Cole and American Gun Violence". LA Weekly. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (November 23, 2009). "Dennis Cole, 'Felony Squad' Actor, Is Dead at 69". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "Punk Rock Band's Road Crew Member Slain". Los Angeles Times. December 20, 1991. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Cromelin, Richard (April 2, 1992). "Singer-Poet Henry Rollins Fuels His Art With Rage". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  5. ^ Baker, Trevor (February 2, 2008). "Still rockin' and Rollins". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  6. ^ Gordon, Kim (2015). Girl in a Band. Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571309368.
  7. ^ Valania, Jonathan (October 18, 1992). "Dirty Deed Led to New Boom for Sonic Youth". The Morning Call.
  8. ^ Brite, Poppy Z. (1998). Courtney Love: The Real Story. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-684-84800-6.
  9. ^ "Planet Joe". Goodreads.
  10. ^ O'Connor, Alan (2008). Punk Record Labels and the Struggle for Autonomy: The Emergence of DIY. p. 32. ISBN 9780739126608.
  11. ^ Ebersole, Stewart Dean; Jared Castaldi (October 2012). Barred for Life. ISBN 9781604863949.
  12. ^ Bromley, Patrick (May 6, 2004). "Henry Rollins: Live At Luna Park". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  13. ^ Neely, Kim (October 14, 1993). "Raves – God's Movie, Volume 1 starring Joe Cole". Rolling Stone.
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on April 6, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2017.

External linksEdit