Rage Against the Machine consists of Zack de la Rocha on vocals, Tom Morello on guitar, Timmy C. on bass, and Brad Wilk on drums. Rocha, the son of the political artist Beto, surfaced from the bands Headstance, Farside and Inside Out. Romello, related to the first Kenyan president, first started out in the band Lock Up. Wilk used to play with Eddie Vedder, the leader of Pearl Jam, and Tim Bob, also known as Tim C., was a friend of Rocha.
The band started out in Los Angeles in 1991, playing for their friends. Just two years later, they were signed by Epic. Their success has been accredited to their gripping live shows, and to a self-titled cassette they recorded, which sold over 5,000 copies. The release also created the hit singles 'Bullet in the Head,' 'Killing in the Name,' and 'Bombtrack,' which steered them to tour with Lollapalooza.
RATM wasn't the first to incorporate rap and rock into their music, but what made them stand out were their political lyrics focused on corporate America, cultural imperialism, and government oppression. They supported organizations such as Rock for Choice, the Leonard Peltier Defense Fund, United Farm Workers, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Refuse and Resist, and the campaign to release Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Their second album, Evil Empire, was released in 1996, hitting the charts at number one; it produced the hit 'Bulls on Parade.' RATM and Wu-Tang Clan put on a summer tour in 1997, as well as a benefit concert for Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1999. The Battle of Los Angeles was released the same year and also hit number one and went double platinum.
In 2000, Renegade was released, with covers of songs by many groups including EPMD, Bruce Springstein, Devo, the Rolling Stones, and the MC5. They were also nominated for a Grammy for 'Best Hard Rock Performance' for that album. That same year, Rocha decided to move onto a solo career, but before he left, the band played a provocative show outside the Democratic National Convention. The year's controversy escalated when Tim C. was arrested for disorderly conduct at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Rocha soon left the band and began to associate with DJ Shadow and El-P of Company Flow, while Morello, Wilk, and Tim C. joined together with Chris Cornell, the former front-man of Soundgarden, to form Audioslave in 2001. They released their first album in 2002, while Epic decided to release the highly anticipated album Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in 2003. Audioslave, described as 'the voice of Soundgarden and the power of Rage Against the Machine,' continues to tour all over the nation.