Special thanks to

 Like more than a few of his colleagues in the music business, one can never accuse Rage Against the Machine guitarist, Tom Morello, of being an activist poseur. This guy’s the real deal, and he’s been proudly swimming up stream and standing up for his convictions from the very beginning, no small feat for a kid who at one point believed himself to be, in his own words, “the only anarchist in a conservative high school.” Born on this day in 1964, Morello’s father, Ngethe Njoroge, took part in the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya before becoming Kenya’s first ambassador to the United Nations. (Morello’s paternal uncle was Kenya’s first elected president). His Irish-Italian mother, Mary, was a schoolteacher from Marseilles, IL who received her Masters degree from Loyola University in Chicago. She was well-traveled before her son was born, having spent time teaching English in Germany, Spain, Japan and in Kenya, where she met Tom’s father at a pro-democracy protest in Nairobi in August 1963. After learning she was pregnant, Mary and Njoroge made their way back to America before their son was born. Njoroge, however, moved back to Kenya and denied paternity of his son shortly after he was born, leaving Mary a single mother the Chicago suburb of Libertyville. Growing up, Morello proved to be extremely intelligent, creative and expressive kid. He especially loved music, and at 13 joined his first band as the singer in a Led Zeppelin cover band. He soon bought a guitar, and that’s when his zeal for music really exploded. A fan of KISS, Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper and many of the heavier acts of the day, Morello started his own band called Electric Sheep. The other guitarist in the band was his classmate, future Tool axeman Adam Jones. Morello attended Libertyville High School, and it was here where his left leaning – make that far-left leaning – politics really began to take root and flourish. He went so far as to campaign for a faux anarchist candidate in the school’s mock elections. After graduating with honors, Morello moved to Boston to study political science at Harvard University, where he received his Bachelors of Arts degree in 1986. After college Morello headed to Los Angeles where he quickly found himself struggling to make ends meet – so much so that one of the jobs he took was as an exotic dancer. “When I graduated from Harvard and moved to Hollywood, I was unemployable,” Morello told “I was literally starving, so I had to work menial labor – I even worked as an exotic dancer. [The Commodores’] ‘Brick House’ was my jam! I did bachelorette parties, and I’d go down to my boxer shorts. Would I go further? All I can say is thank God it was the time before YouTube! You could make decent money doing that job – people do what they have to do.” In 1987, Morello found work in the office of Democratic Senator Alan Cranston, a position that at first excited him, but then disillusioned him, especially after seeing the amount of time the Senator actually spent doing little more than soliciting contributions from fat cats. “It just made me understand that the whole business was dirty,” Morello said. “He had to compromise his entire being every day.” All the while, Morello kept his nose to the musical grindstone. After a two-year stint in the Geffen-signed band Lock Up, Morello was eager to form a new band. One night he found himself in an L.A. club and was blown away after hearing the freestyle rapping of Zack de la Rocha, who Morello promptly asked to join his new band. Former Lock Up drummer, Brad Wilk, was enlisted, as was Zack’s childhood friend, bassist Tim Commerford. They dubbed themselves Rage Against the Machine, and the chemistry was instantaneous and palpable. They were loud, aggressive, extremely talented, and their lyrics were explosive and subversive. They instantly touched a nerve with their growing fan base, and after just a year of playing the club circuit in Southern California, Rage were signed by Epic Records. They quickly released their self-titled debut, which climbed to #45 on the Billboard 200 (#1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart), and just like that, there was a loud new voice on the scene, angrily championing the disenchanted and disenfranchised, while simultaneously exposing the corrupt “machine” for all that it is.

This Day in Music News: May 31st  THE GUITAR SOCIETY


Tuesday, May 31, 2011    12:01 AM

Brought to you by ThisDayinMusic.comBorn on this day:
1948, John Bonham, drummer, Led Zeppelin
1952, Karl Bartos, Kraftwerk
1964, MC Darryl ‘D’ McDaniels, Run-DMC
1965, Steve White, drums, The Style Council

1961, Chuck Berry opened Berry Park,  an amusement complex near St Louis. The park had it’s own zoo, golf course and ferris wheel.

1968, working on what will become “The White” album. The Beatles add overdubs of bass and vocals on “Revolution.” After numerous overdubs have been added, the final six minutes of the song evolved into chaotic, jamming, with Lennon repeatedly shouting “alright” and Yoko Ono speaking random phrases. The jam becomes the basis for “Revolution 9,” and this session is the first that Yoko attends.

1969, Jimi Hendrix was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, on sale for 35 Cents.

1975, during a press conference held at the 5th Avenue Hotel in New York City to announce The Rolling Stones forthcoming American tour, the Stones themselves came down the street playing live from the back of a flat-bed truck.

1976, The Who gave themselves a place in the Guinness book of Records as the loudest performance of a rock band at 120 decibels, when they played at Charlton Athletic Football ground. For more on this story, see This Day in Music Spotlight.

1977, the BBC announced a ban on the new Sex Pistols single “God Save The Queen” saying it was, “in gross bad taste.” And the IBA issued a warning to all radio stations saying that playing the single would be in breach of Section4:1:A of the Broadcasting act. The single reached #2 on the U.K. chart

The opinions, views, and ideas expressed are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Gibson Guitar Corp. or the Gibson Family of Brands or the guitar society. Send all thoughts, comments, disagreements, and rants to All e-mails will be considered for publication


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