Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave’s Tom Morello is a legend. The Fender Telecaster-toting genius has contributed as much to society off-stage as he has in the studio. Aside from being a true icon in terms of guitar-playing and sound, he is a heavily politicised mind, which always bleeds into his work, both musical and otherwise.
This is unsurprising given just how politically minded Rage Against the Machine is as a band. A Harvard University graduate, Morello has done everything from co-founding grassroots organisation Axis of Justice alongside System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian to helping rescue female guitarists in the now war-torn Afghanistan.
He’s a man who is driven by a strict code of ethics. Even if you disagree with his politics, you have to commend just how unwavering his dedication to righteous causes that he believes in supporting. A fascinating figure whose takes are always incredibly perceptive, Morello’s opinions are some of the most cogent in all of rock, something that nobody can deny.
Whilst we could talk for hours about Morello’s political leanings and his take on the American political machine, we are a music publication, so let’s focus on his opinions on the world of music.
Across his career, Morello has spoken at length about his favourite records, bands and guitarists, but back in 2019, he revealed some even rarer nuggets of information.
These revelations came while making an appearance on Sean Stewart’s On The Phone podcast. When asked to pick his favourite frontmen of all time, Morello discussed the typically calculated way of reaching his conclusion before revealing his picks.
He explained: “We played a game, my friends and I would go to the Rainbow Bar (in LA) earlier, we’d play the game Mount Rushmore: you take any category, anything, it could be like best guitar players, best frontmen, worst guitar solos of all time on a hit record.”
Of this drunken game, he said: “You come up with a top-four, and then you spend a lot of time laughing your butts off on that one.”
Then he revealed what we all wanted to know: “Here’s one of my Mt. Rushmores of my career: I’ve had a great fortune of playing in bands with great frontmen – Zack de la Rocha, Chris Cornell, Bruce Springsteen, and now Chuck (D) and B-Real – I’ve got a five-headed hydra of Mt. Rushmore for my frontmen, I feel very fortunate.”
Of his picks, we shouldn’t be too surprised. A self-aware character, Morello’s acknowledgement that he has played with five of the most iconic frontmen of all time is brilliant. In fact, one would argue that Morello is perhaps one of the luckiest musicians out there.
To be able to share a stage with five great leaders, all from differing spheres of music, is not only a remarkable feat, but it’s a testament to both Morello as a musician and a man.
Listen to Tom Morello discuss his life below.