Tom Morello was born on May 30, 1964 in New York City's Harlem district. His mother became the founder of the organization "Parents For Rock And Rap" and his father was formerly a Kenyan guerrilla that later served as Kenyan delegate to the United Nations.
Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Libertyville, Illinois, which was a predominantly white neighborhood. During his time at the local high school, he was active in the performing arts and played the role of Oberon in the school's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". In 1980, the school had mock elections and Tom became the anarchist candidate under the name Hubie Maxwell, getting third place.
That same year, he got his first guitar and formed a band called the "Electric Sheep". One of his bandmates was Adam Jones, who would later become the guitarist for the band "Tool". At this time, Morello's musical taste leaned towards heavy metal.
In 1982, he graduated from high school and enrolled at Harvard University, majoring in social studies. He began focusing more on his guitar playing during his college years and made it a point to practice every day. He received his degree in 1986 and moved to Los Angeles to further pursue music.
In 1988, he started a band called "Lock Up" that was given a record contract through Geffen Records. They released an album called "Something Bitchin' This Way Comes" in 1989 to little fanfare, then broke up.
Morello immediately began looking for a new band and contacted drummer Brad Wilk, who had previously auditioned for Lock Up. They agreed to start a new group, but needed more members. Tom met rapper Zack de la Rocha at a club performance and recruited him as well as his friend, Tim Commerford, who played bass. They called their new group Rage Against the Machine.
RATM produced a twelve song demo tape and attracted the attention of numerous record labels. They signed with Epic Records and released their first album in 1992. After some promotion by touring, the album made them a success and encouraged them to release a second album, "Evil Empire" in 1996. The album managed to win two Grammy awards and showed a unique musical style.
In 1999, they released their third album, "The Battle of Los Angeles". The album debuted as the number one album and went double platinum shortly after. In 2000, they released "Renegades", which was a collection of covers of different bands that the group listened to. Zack left the group that same year at the height of their popularity, citing creative differences.
Tom stuck with the rest of the group, which eventually hired Chris Cornell as a vocalist and took the name Audioslave. Audioslave maintains much of RATM's style and has released two albums, self-titled and "Out of Exile".
Over time, Tom has become known as one of the most skilled guitarists on the music scene. His music features a wide array of guitar sounds, many of which he invented himself by messing around with the electronics in his guitars. He also employs a collection of effects pedals and unique guitars. His innovation led to him being ranked #26 on Rolling Stone Magazine's "Top 100 Guitarists of All Time".
In his spare time, Tom has worked on solo projects such as folk music under the name "The Nightwatchman". His folk music is very political, unlike the music produced by Audioslave. He periodically appears at open mic nights in clubs around Los Angeles to play this very personal music.
Tom has also co-founded an organization with Serj Tankian called the "Axis of Justice", which promotes political unity by musicians. The group calls for movements to create peace and justice around the world and has fought for numerous causes, including abolishing the death penalty.