Ice-T, Tom Morello Bring Rage Against the Machine Into The Rock Hall

Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello was the lone member of the band at 2023’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and in the group’s acceptance speech, called for fans to continue to push for social change the way the band had done in the three decades prior to their induction.

“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 about being inducted into the Rock Hall,” Morello said. “The 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’ve learned from Rage fans is that music can change the world daily.”

Morello, keeping his talking points broad, called for listeners to fight oppression overall and to fight for the planet. “The job we set out to do is not over. Now you’re the ones that must testify,” he said. “If you’ve got a boss, join a union. If you’re a student, start 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 that you didn’t get to see Rage Against the Machine, then form your own band, and let’s hear what you have to say.

“When protest music is done right,” Morello continued, “you can hear a new world emerging in the songs,” Morello said.

Ice-T inducted the group and recalled the band opening for him during RATM’s earliest days. “Right out of the gate. Rage Against the Machine was not a game,” Ice-T said. “In their their career, they did things that impress cats like me. You can’t impress me with normal stuff. You got to impress me with stuff like suing the US State Department for using their music in Guantanomo Bay for torture. Who does that Rage Against The Machine does that? How about 1993, pulling up in Lollapalooza, butt naked with duct tape. Protesting against the PMRC, who does that? Rage Against the Machine does; I respect the hell out of his band.

“If you want to go down in history, you have to make something or break something,” Ice-T continued. “Rage Against The Machine broke every rule in the book just so they could let you know that they were in the building.”

While the other three members didn’t attend, the band issued a joint statement in May when the 2023 Rock Hall class was announced. Noting the “surprising trajectory” that led the band to the Rock Hall, they said, “In 1991, four people in Los Angeles formed a musical group to stand where song and solidarity intersect… A band who is as well known for our albums as we are for our fierce opposition to the US war machine, white supremacy, and exploitation.”

Rage proceeded to list some of these achievements: Dominating alternative radio despite fierce opposition from “right-wing media companies,” shutting down the New York Stock Exchange, suing the U.S. State Department over torture in Guantanamo Bay, funding Zapatista communities, and even pushing “Killing In the Name” to Number One on U.K. radio at Christmas years after its original release. 

“Many thanks to the Hall of Fame for recognizing the music and the mission of Rage Against the Machine,” the band continued. “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.” 


Still, it’s ultimately not that surprising that all of Rage declined to show up, let alone perform (even though they did tour for the first time in 11 years last year). Back in 2015, Rolling Stone asked bassist Tim Commerford about the band’s Rock Hall prospects, to which he quipped: “If Rage gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’ll be interesting to see who shows up. I think it’s pretty obvious. I think there’s somebody who’s going to show up and somebody who’s not going to show up and maybe somebody who’s going to show up with an enema filled with food coloring and shit all over the red carpet.”

Along with Rage Against the Machine, the 2023 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame cast includes Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, and the Spinners. Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, and Bernie Taupin received the Musical Excellence Award; DJ Kool Herc and Link Wray received the Musical Influence Award; and Don Cornelius received the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

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