BIOGRAPHY – Tom Morello

Thomas Baptiste Morello or Tom Morello, as he is more commonly known, is an American guitarist who has been part of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, The Nightwatchman, an acoustic solo act, and Street Sweeper Social Club, his current band. He has also co-founded the non-profit political group Axis of Justice with Serj Tankian of System of a Down. Famed for his guitar effects, unique solos, and use of tapping and heavy riffs, he is a Grammy Award winning musician as well as ranking 26th in Rolling Stone’s greatest 100 guitarists.
Tom Morello was born on May 30 1964 in Harlem, New York to his Irish-Italian mother and Kenyan father who served as Kenya’s first ambassador to the UN, whilst his uncle was Kenya’s first elected president. When Morello was just 16 months, his father returned to Kenya, and Morello was brought up in Libertyville Illinois, attending classes at the local high school with Adam Jones of Audioslave, with whom we was to form the band Electric Sheep in 1984.
From a young age Tom displayed signs of musicianship and political activism; singing in the school choir, acting at the age of 13 as lead singer for a Led Zeppelin cover band, and campaigning for a fictitious anarchist candidate in his school elections. He graduated with honours and enrolled at Harvard as the first ever student from his school. He graduated with a degree in political science in 1986 and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a male stripper to support himself, claiming ‘Brick House was my jam!’ It was Morello who introduced Adam Jones to Tool bandmates, Maynard James Keenan and Danny Carey in LA whilst Morello worked with the Californian Democratic Senator Alan Cranston from 1987 to 1988.
In 1991 Morello formed Rage Against the Machine after his previous band Lock Up disbanded. In 1992 they signed to Epic Records and released their first self-titled album which was followed by a further three. In late 2000 lead singer Zack de la Rocha left and their fourth album ‘Renegades’ was a collection of cover songs from contributing artists.
Following the de la Rocha’s departure the remaining members teamed up with singer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden to form Audioslave. Audioslave produced three albums, of which the first reached triple platinum and the second platinum before the reunion of Rage Against the Machine at the Coachella Music Festival on April 29th 2007 before visiting England to headline the Reading and Leeds festivals in 2008.
During his tenure with Audioslave, Morello played with folk band The Nightwatchman from 2003 onwards. Morello claimed of The Nightwatchman that it ‘is my political folk alter ego.’ His songs have been inspired by the terrorist attacks of September 11th as well as the war in Iraq.
Following the breakup of Audioslave, Morello formed Street Sweeper Social Club in 2007 with Boots Riley of The Coup. In addition to these numerous projects, Morello has recorded with late singer Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, and The Prodigy as well as featuring on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, which features his trademark guitar sounds.