American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and political activist. Thomas Baptiste Morello was born May 30, 1964. in Harlem, New York, and raised in Libertyville, Illinois, Morello became interested in music and politics while in high school. He attended Harvard University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies. Morello’s paternal great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president in Kenyan history. His parents met in August 1963 while attending a pro-democracy protest in Nairobi, Kenya. His father, Ngethe Njoroge was a Kenyan participant in the Mau Mau Uprising and served as Kenya’s first ambassador to the United Nations.
Mary returned to the United States with Njoroge in November and married in New York City. However When Morello was 16 months old, his Father Ngethe Njoroge returned to his native Kenya and denied his paternity of his son. Morello was raised by his mother in Libertyville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. There, he attended Libertyville High School, where his mother was a U.S. history teacher. She was the homeroom teacher for Tom’s classmate and fellow guitarist Adam Jones, of the band Tool, while teaching at Libertyville. Morello sang in the school choir and portrayed Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
At age 13, Morello joined his first band; a Led Zeppelin cover band as the lead singer. At this same age, Morello purchased his first guitar. Around 1984, Morello first started studying the guitar seriously. He had formed a band in the same year called the Electric Sheep which featured future Tool guitarist Adam Jones on bass. The band wrote original material that included politically charged lyrics. None of the songs composed by the Sheep contained solos; soloing was a skill that Morello began learning in college. He has said that he was profoundly influenced by Run-D.M.C, and Jam Master Jay in particular. This influence can be heard in songs like “Bulls on Parade” where his guitar solos mimic a DJ scratching. Additionally, the Bomb Squad and Public Enemy has had a large impact on his musical style.
At the time, Morello’s musical tastes lay in the direction of hard rock and heavy metal, particularly Kiss and Iron Maiden. As he stated in Flight 666, he is a huge fan of Piece of Mind, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. He cited Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath as one of his biggest influences as a riff writer. Morello developed his own unique sound through the electric guitar. Later, his musical style and politics were greatly influenced by punk rock bands like The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and Devo, and artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
Morello developed leftist political leanings early, and has described himself as having been “the only anarchist in a conservative high school”, and has since identified as a nonsectarian socialist. In the 1980 mock elections at Libertyville, he campaigned for a fictitious anarchist “candidate” named Hubie Maxwell, who came in fourth place in the election. He also wrote a piece headlined “South Africa: Racist Fascism That We Support” for the school alternative newspaper The Student Pulse. Morello graduated from high school with honors in June 1982 and enrolled at Harvard University as a political science student that autumn. Morello graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies. He moved to Los Angeles, where he supported himself, first by working as an exotic male stripper. He went by the moniker of Tom “Meat Swinger” Morello.Adam Jones, his high school classmate, moved to Los Angeles as well; Morello introduced Jones and Maynard James Keenan to Danny Carey, who would come to form the band Tool. From 1987 to 1988, Morello worked in the office of California Democratic Senator Alan Cranston
After his previous band Lock Up disbanded in 1991, Morello met Zack de la Rocha, and the two founded Rage Against the Machine together. He also drafted drummer Brad Wilk, who he knew from his band Lock Up, where Wilk unsuccessfully auditioned for a drumming spot. Zack then convinced his childhood friend Tim Commerford to play bass. in 1992 Rage Against he Machine released their self titled debut album. In 2000 in Los Angeles during the Democratic National Convention, Rage Against the Machine performed outside the Staples Center to a crowd numbering in the thousands while the Convention took place inside. The Los Angeles Police Department subsequently turned off the power and ordered the audience to disperse. In late 2000, after Commerford’s stunt at the VMA’s, the disgruntled de la Rocha quit the band. Rage Against the Machine performed their last concert at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Although Rage Against the Machine disbanded in October 2000 after de la Rocha departed amid disputes over the direction of the band, their fourth studio album, Renegades, became a collection of cover songs from artists such as Bob Dylan, MC5, Bruce Springsteen and Cypress Hill. Their last album, titled Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium was releasd in 2003 it featured, an edited recording of the band’s final two concerts on September 12 and 13, 2000 at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and DVD release of the last show plus a previously unreleased music video for “Bombtrack”.
After disbanding, Morello, Wilk and Commerford went on to form Audioslave with then-former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and released three albums as well as a DVD from the band’s concert in Cuba. After de la Rocha left Rage Against the Machine, the remaining bandmates began collaborating with former Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell at the suggestion of producer Rick Rubin. The band released their eponymous debut album on November 19, 2002. It was a critical and commercial success, attaining triple-platinum status. The band released their second album, Out of Exile, in 2005. they also released a DVD documenting their trip as the first American rock band to play a free show in Cuba. The band’s third album, Revelations, was released in the fall of 2006. As of February 15, 2007, Audioslave have broken up as a result of frontman Cornell’s departure due to “irresolvable personality conflicts”.
The band reunited with Zack de la Rocha and resumed their previous band, Rage Against the Machine. On April 29, 2007, Rage Against the Machine reunited at the Coachella Music Festival and played seven more shows in the United States in 2007 (including their first non-festival concert in seven years at the Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin), and in January 2008, they played their first shows outside the US since re-forming as part of the Big Day Out Festival in Australia and New Zealand. In August 2008 they headlined nights at the Reading and Leeds festivals. The have also headlined Lollapalooza in Chicago. In 2008 the band also played shows in Denver, Colorado and Minneapolis, Minnesota to coincide with the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, respectively. In July 2011, Rage Against the Machine played at L.A. Rising, a concert formed by the band in Los Angeles, Alongside Muse and Rise Against.
As of 2016, Morello is a member of the supergroup Prophets of Rage. Morello was also a touring musician with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. He also created an acoustic solo side project called The Nightwatchman which is described as a political folk alter ego and gives nim an outlet to express his political views while playing music. He has performed at open mic nights with friends for some time. Morello is also the co-founder (along with Serj Tankian) of the non-profit political activist organization Axis of Justice, which airs a monthly program on Pacifica Radio station KPFK (90.7 FM) in Los Angeles.