This summer, we reported that Rage Against the Machine were officially getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Now, they’ve officially been inducted, complete with a ceremony presided over by Ice-T.
Tom Morello accepted the award on behalf of Zack de la Rocha, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk, who couldn’t make it to the event. While many were likely disappointed that the band didn’t perform, it was still major that the band decided to accept this award.
As he presented the award, Ice-T talked about when he first met the band in California, and went over some of their major achievements throughout the years. He called out some of their bolder moves over the year, such as suing the U.S. State Department for using their music in Guantanamo Bay during torture and protesting Lollapalooza in 1993 by showing up naked covered in duct tape to piss off the Parents Music Resource Center.
Morello gave an emotional acceptance speech, acknowledging that there was some dissent among the group when it came to winning the award, but ultimately saying it was a great honor.
His speech reads:
“My name is Tom Morellom and I am one quarter of Rage Against The Machine. I am deeply grateful for the musical chemistry I’ve had the good fortune to share with Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford, and Zach de la Rocha. Like most bands, we have differing perspectives on a lot of things, including being inducted into the Rock Hall. My perspective is that tonight is a great opportunity to celebrate the music and the mission of the band, to celebrate the fifth member of the band, which is Rage Against The Machine’s incredible fans. The only reason we are here and the best way to celebrate this music is for you to carry on that mission and that message.
“The lesson I learned from Rage fans is that music can change the world. Daily I hear from fans who have been affected by our music and in turn have affected the world in significant ways. Organizers, activists, public defenders, teachers, the presidents of Chile and Finland have all spent time in our mosh pit. When protest music is done right, you can hear a new world emerging in the songs skewering the oppressors of the day and hinting that there might be more to life than what was handed to us. Can music change the world? The whole fucking aim is to change the world, or, at a bare minimum, to stir up a shitload of trouble.
“When Rage started, we rehearsed deep in the San Fernando Valley. This guy passed by our place regularly and one day asked, ‘What are you guys doing in there?’ We said, we’re a band. He asked to hear us and we said, sure. He came in, sat down. This was the first guy to ever hear the music of Rage Against The Machine. We played him a couple songs. After we finished, we asked him what he thought. He paused, stood up, and said, ‘Your music makes me wanna fight.’
“Throughout history, the spark of rebellion has come from unexpected quarters. Authors, economists, carpenters. But as Salvador Allende said, there is no revolution without songs. So who’s to say what musicians might or might not be able to achieve with revolutionary intent when the bouncing crowd makes the Richter scale shake? Personally, I’d like to thank my wife Denise and my kids, who remind me daily that the world is worth fighting for.
“And thanks to all the musicians and change makers who helped shape the band’s collective vision. Rage has also been fortunate to have so many talented coworkers and co-conspirators who have believed in the band. From Michael Goldstone, the guy who signed us and insisted the first radio single be an unedited song featuring 17 cuss words, to the greatest guitar tech of all time, Slim Richardson, thank you. And thanks, and deep appreciation to the hundreds of others, from those who put up flyers, to those who have moved mountains to amplify the message and the music.
“But what I hear in the music is this: that the world is not going to change itself. But throughout history, those who have changed the world in progressive, radical, or even revolutionary ways, did not have any more money, power, courage, intelligence, or creativity than anyone watching tonight. The world is changed by average, everyday ordinary people who have had enough and are willing to stand up for a country and a planet that is more humane, peaceful and just. And that, and that is what I’m here to celebrate tonight. Fans often ask, but what can I do? Well, let’s start with these three things. One, dream big and don’t settle. Two, aim for the world you really want without compromise or apology. And three, don’t wait for us.
“Rage is not here, but you are. The job we set out to do is not over. Now you’re the ones that must testify. If you’ve got a boss, join a union. If you’re a student, start an underground paper. If you’re an anarchist, throw a brick. If you’re a soldier or a cop, follow your conscience, not your orders. If you’re bummed out, you didn’t get to see Rage Against The Machine, then form your own band, and let’s hear what you have to say. If you’re a human being, stand up for your planet before it’s too late.
“So tomorrow, crank up some Rage, and head out and confront injustice wherever it rears its ugly head. It’s time to change the world, brothers and sisters, or at a bare minimum, to stir up a shit load of trouble. And finally, and finally, a special thanks, a special thanks to my mom, Mary Morello, a retired public high school teacher, a proud Rage Against The Machine fan, and a lifelong radical who turned 100 years old a couple of weeks ago. She’s watching at home tonight, but she asked me to tell you this: History, like music, is not something that happens, it’s something you make.
“Thank you very much.”
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