In June 2010, Rage Against The Machine played a free gig in London’s Finsbury Park, as a thank you to fans for getting ‘Killing In The Name’ to number one at Christmas. All 40,000 tickets were snapped up in just three hours.
Rage Against The Machine famously defeated Simon Cowell as they beat out X-Factor winner Joe McElderry for the Christmas No. 1 single. This weekend marks the band’s “victory party to end all victory parties” concert in London, so to celebrate, we’re taking a look back at their career with some facts you might not know about them.
Tom Morello’s great-uncle is the late Joma Kenyatta, Kenya’s first President.
Tom Morello used to be an exotic dancer. He told NME: “When I graduated from Harvard and moved to Hollywood, I was unemployable…at one point, I even worked as an exotic dancer. ’Brick House’ [by The Commodores] was my jam!”
Zack De La Rocha’s father co-founded the influential Chicano art group Los Four. Responsible for murals and public installations across L.A., their work was on display at the Los Angeles College Museum of Art.
While appearing on Saturday Night Live in 1996, bassist Tim Commerford took a U.S. flag, tore it up, and charged into guest host/Republican Steve Forbes’ dressing room, hurling it at his associates. This incident followed Rage’s planned two-song set being cut short after they hung inverted American flags onto their amps.
The band are vocal supporters of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, especially De la Rocha, who has taken several trips to the Mexican state of Chiapas to aid their efforts.
The band name comes from a speech Karl Marx made in which he asked the people to “rage against the machine”.
Tim Commerford is a huge mountain biking fan. He even went as far as to thank all of his bikes in the liner notes for the band’s third studio album, ‘The Battle of Los Angeles’.
Tom Morello’s mother won the the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award in 1987 for her creation of the Parents for Rock and Rap organization.
At age 13, Morello joined his first band as the lead singer of a Led Zeppelin cover band.
Tom Morello, a fan of ‘Star Trek: Voyager’, appeared in the episode ‘Good Shepherd’ where he played Crewman Mitchell. He also played a terrorist in the film ‘Iron Man 2’.
Drummer Brad Wilk first took up drumming at the age of 13, and got his first drum kit a year later.
Tom Morello played guitar for ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ on the limited edition Bruce Springsteen 10” that was released for Record Store Day.
Zach de la Rocha led a march after an anti-war concert at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008.
The artwork for ‘Evil Empire’ is taken from the painting ‘Crime Buster’ by Mel Ramos. The original has a ‘C’ adorning the boy’s chest, with ‘Crime Buster’ written in the banner.
This figure depicted on the cover of the band’s debut album is Thich Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, burning himself to death in Saigon in 1963. He was protesting against the murder of monks by the Vietnamese government.
Tim Commerford’s father was an aerospace engineer who worked on the Space Shuttle, and his mother was a teacher and mathematician.
At Lollapalooza 1993, RATM appeared naked on stage, with only duct tape covering their mouths, as a stand against censorship. They later made another political statement in 2008 when they appeared at a festival in Guantanamo Bay jumpsuits with bags over their heads (while playing ‘Bombtrack’).
RATM entertained thousands of Writers Guild of America writers at the fifth day of their strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in Los Angeles in 2007.