Rage Against the Machine is a 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominee

Rage Against the Machine

Eligible year:
Number of nominations:
Nominated in:
2018, 2019
  • Tim Commerford
  • Tom Morello
  • Zack de la Rocha
  • Brad Wilk

Defenders of social justice who defied sonic boundaries

The name says it all. Rage Against the Machine was a political and musical force that could not be reckoned with. Combining guttural screams, deep funk grooves, and the in-your-face ferocity of punk and metal, Rage fought to end injustice around the globe.


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Every aspect of Rage Against the Machine throttled the status quo. Formed in 1991, the Los Angeles quartet took aim at oppressive systems of power – cultural, political, economic, and otherwise – and did everything they could to ignite a revolution.      

Musically, Rage Against the Machine’s subversion mixed hip-hop, punk, metal, funk, and rock. The band’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 voice who 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 take abrasive effects normally created by hip-hop turntables, samplers, and synthesizers and inserted them 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 ’90s 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.  They forged brazen protest music for the modern world.        

Selected discography: 

“Killing In The Name,” “Bullet In The Head,” “Bombtrack,” “Freedom,” Rage Against The Machine (1992) • “Bulls On Parade,” “People of the Sun,” “Down Rodeo,” “Tire Me,” Evil Empire (1996) • “Guerrilla Radio,” “Sleep Now In The Fire,” “Testify,” “Calm Like a Bomb,” The Battle Of Los Angeles (1999) • “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” “Renegades of Funk,” “Kick Out the Jams,” “Maggie’s Farm,” Renegades (2000) 

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Fan Vote 2019

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Beginning October 9 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. EST on December 9, 2018, fans can cast votes for who they believe to be most deserving of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2019 inductees. Fans will need to login to vote. Voting is capped at one ballot per day.

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