Morello is best known for his groundbreaking, inventive musicianship as lead guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, one of the most aggressively political and uncompromisingly progressive rock bands in history. It may come as no surprise to learn that Morello was perhaps destined to fan the flames of revolution. Morello’s father was the first Kenyan ambassador to the United States, and his great uncle was the first person ever elected as president of Kenya. Brought up solely by his mother, a schoolteacher in the Chicago suburbs, Morello showed from an early age his talents in music and public performance. Morello was the first person ever from Libertyville, Illinois to enroll at Harvard University.
Despite his academic talents, Morello’s true passion was with music. This is what brought him to Los Angeles in the early 1990s and inspired him to form Rage Against the Machine. Within just a few years, RATM had made a name for itself as one of the most volatile and spectacular live acts on the planet, and Morello was considered by many to be one of the most innovative guitarists of all time. The band’s masterpiece, The Battle of Los Angeles, served as a strong critique of the American political climate and an impassioned push to build involvement in grassroots social activist groups. The band headlined a number of music festivals throughout the decade and released three multi-platinum albums.
With the breakup of Rage Against the Machine in 2000, Morello continued to build up his rock legacy as a member of the supergroup Audioslave, featuring Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. He has also released music as a solo artist under the stage name The Nightwatchman.
Even with his busy touring and recording schedule, Morello continues to make a great deal of time to support a variety of social causes. He founded the organization Axis of Justice with System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian. This group has established a presence in the rock festival circuit to spread a positive message promoting social equality, immigrant rights, and opposition to violence. Axis of Justice has organized a concert series featuring a number of other prominent musicians, including members the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, and MC5. The heart of Morello’s revolution continues to be in community involvement and his message remains clear: Don’t wait for the revolution to come to you. Get involved and you can help change the world for the better.