Tom Morello is the most influential guitar player of his generation, a truly innovative performer who re-defined the boundaries of what it's possible to do with electric guitar with his revolutionary playing on Rage Against The Machine's three studio albums (four if you count the Renegades covers album).
To mark his 50th birthday, here’s five lesser known performances from the great man.
Channelling the spirit of Jimi Hendrix with Bruce Springsteen
Morello and ‘The Boss’ have been buddies for years, since RATM covered Springsteen’s The Ghost Of Tom Joad on their Renegades album: that friendship was cemented when Morello contributed guitar to eight tracks on Springsteen’s High Hopes album. The guitarist has popped up regularly as part of Springsteen’s touring band over the past year, and this collaboration on the album’s title track is nothing short of breath-taking.
Covering Springsteen with Jim James from My Morning Jacket
In 2013 Bruce Springsteen was chosen as the Musicares charity’s Person Of The Year: in tribute, Elton John, Patti Smith, Mumford & Sons, Neil Young and Sting were among those who performed Springsteen’s songs at a star-studded induction dinner. This, though, was the highlight of the night, a spine-tingling version of the title track of Springsteen’s 1995 album.
Turning AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds… into an anti-George Bush protest song
This is a stroke of genius. Recorded for Australian radio station Triple J, this unique take on the AC/DC standard features some of Morello’s most scathing lyrics ever, as he skewers the former US president with a list of his crimes against humanity.
Rocking the block with Cypress Hill on Jimmy Kimmel Live
You might well have forgotten that Morello collaborated with the LA stoner hip-crew on their 2010 album Rise Up: in truth, we had too. But this scorching version of the title track is proof that Morello is untouchable when it comes to channelling the sound of urban dissent with six strings.
Covering Kiss, with Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and Faith No More’s Billy Gould
Like so many other American musicians of his generation – from Trent Reznor and Dave Grohl to Dimebag Darrell and Slash – Tom Morello grew up on the Gods Of Thunder. This little known cut from the 1994 Kiss tribute album Kiss My Ass sees Morello team up with Tool man Keenan, FNM bassist Billy Gould and RATM drummer Brad Wilk for a glorious deconstruction of the Gene Simmons-penned Calling Dr. Love.
And here’s a bonus clip, purely because you don’t see Tom Morello, Slash and Jerry Cantrell onstage together every day of the week. Happy Birthday Mr Morello.