Michael Alago Q&A
A&R EXEC MICHAEL ALAGO SIGNED METALLICA & WHITE ZOMBIE AND WORKED WITH NINA SIMONE, JOHN LYDON, CYNDI LAUPER AND OTHERS.
Rock Hall Film Series goers will get to take a ride through the life of Michael Alago, a gay Puerto Rican New Yorker who signed a slew of musical acts, including Metallica, on Wednesday, May 16 for a film screening of his fabulous journey. We got a chance to speak with Alago prior to his Rock Hall visit on the 16th where he'll be a special guest for a Q&A to follow the screening. - RSVP OR BUY YOUR TICKET FOR THE SCREENING NOW
Rock Hall: What drew you to punk rock and metal as a child?
Michael Alago: I was drawn to punk rock and metal as a very young person because of the energy and attitude of the music. In going to punk and metal shows I found a community of like-minded people there so the social scene was really cool and felt like family.
RH: How did you first enter the CBGB/Max's Kansas City world? Did you face any obstacles being an early part of the scene?
MA: As a teenager I found out about the Village Voice newspaper and checked all the music listings and whatever sounded interesting to me i just went and saw.
The only obstacle which never came to be was that I was underage, perhaps 16 years old, and I never bothered to get a fake ID like so many of friends. I just crossed my fingers and prayed I would never get carded at the front door of any of the clubs I wanted to go to. It being a very different New York City in the late 1970’s and things were a lot looser, I never got carded.
RH: What are some of your favorite memories from your A&R days?
MA: One of my favorite memories from my A&R days was seeing Metallica at Roseland Ballroom and signing them to Elektra records Summer of 1984. I knew from the get-go that it was a very auspicious moment and that they were a force to be reckoned with. 35 years later they are bigger and better than ever and that makes me very proud.
Having said that i had worked as an A&R executive for about 25 years so there are many wonderful moments that I had with everyone from Nina Simone to John Lydon and Cyndi Lauper. The juicy details will all have to wait until my memoir is published by BackBeat books Spring 2019.
RH: What's it like seeing your documentary as the subject of the film?
MA: When I first saw the documentary about my life titled Who The F**K Is That Guy?" The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago directed by Drew Stone I was taken aback and felt a bit shy and embarrassed hearing all these artists and friends talking about me. Then I slowly started to feel proud about my accomplishments and grateful that it got documented.
RH: What was your strongest character suit working in the music industry?
MA: I think my strongest character trait working in the music business was my brutal honesty no matter the situation.
RH: Is there anything else you want to do now in life?
MA: In my current life I continue to work with musicians, take photographs and travel a bunch. It all feels good to me. I am currently writing my memoir too.
RH: Who do you hope is affected by your documentary?
MA: I don't think one can ever predict who will be affected by this documentary, but when I commited to discussing my life I knew that if I wanted the film to be effective I had to take a no-holds-barred approach and attitude and be an open book and talk about everything from music to addiction and recovery, my health issues and best of all survival.
So in telling the whole truth I guess I was hoping to affect a wide range of people who related to my story of strength and hope and following my dreams and never giving up.
RH: What parts of your story didn't make the film but you feel are important to share?
MA: I was thrilled I got to share a wide range of strories in the film, and what didn’t make the film because of time restraints will be in my 2019 memoir I AM MICHAEL ALAGO…breathing music, signing Metallica and surviving the AIDS crisis. It will be published by BackBeat books.