Age against the machine: Tom Morello turns 60

Disney/Jennifer Pottheiser

Tom Morello has officially been raging against the machine for six decades.

The guitar icon was born May 30, 1964 -- 60 years ago Thursday. Growing up in Libertyville, Illinois, with his activist mother, Morello quickly developed leftist politics while also experiencing the racial divide between him and his mostly white neighbors and classmates.

Morello also had an early love for music, and met future Tool guitarist Adam Jones in high school. After graduating from Harvard, Morello moved to Los Angeles, where he linked up with vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk to create Rage Against the Machine.

Distilling Morello's passion for music and activism into one platform, Rage Against the Machine was a fiercely political band that conveyed its message through a combination of metal, rap, funk and other genres. As a guitarist, Morello employed a unique style that was compared to scratching a turntable.

Rage Against the Machine released their self-titled debut album in 1992. The record is certified triple-Platinum by the RIAA and spawned the signature Rage song "Killing in the Name."

Rage released two more albums, 1996's Evil Empire and 1999's The Battle of Los Angeles, before breaking up in 2000. They reunited in 2007 and continued to play shows until going on hiatus in 2011. A third reunion was announced in 2019 and lasted until January 2024, two months after Rage was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In between Rage tenures, Morello, Commerford and Wilk formed Audioslave with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. They also played together in Prophets of Rage alongside rappers Chuck D and B-Real.

Morello's other projects include a solo career, both under his own name and with his acoustic The Nightwatchman moniker, and playing in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 6:00AM by Josh Johnson Permalink