It took five tries, but rebel rock fuse-lighters Rage Against the Machine finally made it onto the list of inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The L.A. group whose incendiary sound mashed up the force of crunching hard rock with the social conscience and rhythms of hip-hop, the no f’s given attitude of punk and a topical lyrical attack indebted to 1950-60s folk songwriters reacted to the news that they’d gotten the nod in typically strident fashion.
In an Instagram message from the group on Wednesday morning (May 3), they wrote, “It is a surprising trajectory for us to be welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” The note from singer Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Commerford then dipped into their biography as a band formed in 1991 by four people to “stand where sound and solidarity intersect.”
They described themselves as “a band who is as well known for our albums as we are for our fierce opposition to the U.S. war machine, white supremacy and exploitation. A band whose songs drive alternative radio to new heights while right wing media companies tried to purge every song we ever wrote from the airwaves.”
The multi-slide post went on to tick off some of Rage’s career high points: shutting down the New York Stock Exchange for the fist time in its 200-year history when they stormed it to shoot the 1999 video for “Sleep Now in the Fire”; as a group targeted by “police organizations who attempted to ban us from sold-out arenas for raising our voices to free Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Pelteir and other political prisoners; one that sued the U.S. government for their “fascist practice of using our music to torture innocent men at Guantanamo Bay”; funding and organizing delegations to stand with Mexican rebel Zapatista communities to expose the Mexican government’s war on indigenous people and the band that “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 No. 1 spot on the UK charts and have the most downloaded song in UK history (“Killing in the Name”).”
“A band whose experimentation in fusing punk, rock and hip-hop became a genre of its own,” they added. “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.”
RATM released just four albums during their initial 1991-2000 run before reforming for live dates from 2007-2011 and against in 2019 for a series of shows that were first interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by singer de la Rocha’s leg injury.
This year’s other inductees include: Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, The Spinners, DJ Kool Herc, Link Wray, Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, Bernie Taupin and Soul Train host Don Cornelius.
See Rage’s post below.