Rage Against The Machine
"It is a surprising trajectory for us to be welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1991 four people in Los Angeles formed a musical group to stand where sound and solidarity intersect. We called ourselves Rage Against the Machine.
A band who is as well known for our albums as we are for our fierce opposition to the US war machine, white supremacy and exploitation
A band whose songs drove alternative radio to new heights while right wing media companies tried to purge every song we ever wrote from the airwaves
A band who shut down the NY Stock Exchange for the first time in its history
A band who was targeted by police organizations who attempted to ban us from sold out arenas for raising our voices to free Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier and other political prisoners
A band who sued the US State Department for their fascist practice of using our music to torture innocent men in Guantanamo Bay
A band who wrote rebel songs in an abandoned, industrial warehouse in the valley that would later dethrone Simon Cowell ’s X Factor pop monopoly to occupy the number 1 spot on the UK charts and have the most downloaded song in UK history
A band who funded and organized delegations to stand with Mexican rebel Zapatista communities to expose the Mexican government’s war on indigenous people
A band whose experimentation in fusing punk, rock and hip hop became a genre of its own
Many thanks to the Hall of Fame for recognizing the music and the mission of Rage Against the Machine. We are grateful to all of the passionate fans, the many talented co-conspirators we’ve worked with and all the activists, organizers, rebels and revolutionaries past, present and future who have inspired our art."
-Brad, Tim, Tom & Zack
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Official Ballot Bio
The greatest rock & roll is the voice of change, and Rage Against the Machine shook the foundations of the status quo – lyrically, sonically, and philosophically. The band mixed hip-hop, punk, metal, funk, and rock in an entirely new way. They took aim at oppressive systems of power – cultural, political, and economic – and set a new standard for how to ignite a revolution through the power of music.
Formed in 1991, the Los Angeles quartet’s self-titled 1992 debut and 1996’s Evil Empire ushered rap-rock into the mainstream and established Rage Against the Machine as a powerful force that harnessed strength from defying sonic boundaries. Zack de la Rocha’s stinging, hip-hop-inspired vocals drew on his days fronting a hardcore band. The rhythm section of bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk heightened the urgency of de la Rocha’s delivery with deep, heavy grooves grounded by a pummeling backbeat – no rhythm section could maximize volume while staying in the pocket more skillfully. Guitarist Tom Morello took the rap-rock hybridization further than contemporary groups. He used pedals, toggle switches, and alternative tunings to incorporate effects normally created by hip-hop turntables, samplers, and synthesizers into the language of heavy metal through Rage’s driving riffs and iconic solos.
Rage Against the Machine were part of a musical tradition indebted to the MC5, the Clash, and Public Enemy. While plenty of 1990s rock bands supported social justice issues, Rage Against the Machine’s rebellious politics stood head and shoulders above. Onstage and off, the band members gave a voice to the powerless, calling out local and global inequalities and railing against censorship, corporate cronyism, and government overreach. Their lyrics were smart and pointed; “Freedom” highlighted the plight of Leonard Peltier, an imprisoned Native American leader, while “People of the Sun” showed solidarity with tyrannized Mexican citizens. Even today, their lyrics remain relevant. “Killing in the Name,” a stark indictment of racism and police brutality, still resonates deeply in cities across America. Rage Against the Machine forged brazen protest music for the modern world.
“Killing in the Name,” “Bullet in the Head,” “Bombtrack,” Rage Against the Machine (1992) • “Bulls on Parade,” “People of the Sun,” Evil Empire (1996) • “Guerrilla Radio,” “Sleep Now in the Fire,” “Testify” The Battle of Los Angeles (1999) • “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” “Renegades of Funk,” Renegades (2000)
Inductees: Tim Commerford, Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk
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