Speaking in a new interview with Revolver on the Fan First podcast, the RATM guitarist praised Zack de la Rocha for his "spiritual commitment" to the stage and studio, while crediting him as a "punk rock James Brown".
When asked to share his thoughts on the singer, Morello responded, "In my opinion, he’s the greatest frontman of all-time. He’s the punk rock James Brown. There’s no one in the history of Western music that has the sort of the totality of spiritual commitment on stage and in the studio as that guy.
"And it’s matched with a brilliant intellect, and he’s a tremendous musician as well, and it’s really an unbelievable combination just, feel fortunate to be in a band with him.”
"…And the thing that is one of his great gifts, on top of his startlingly good looks, and hair, and eyes, and all the stuff, you’re like, ‘Are you magical? You’re like a magical being!’" said Morello. "Blessed in so many ways, and a lovely dude."
"Anyway, he had this ability to craft melody, beautiful and ferocious melody out of the ether. And I remember making that first record [“Audioslave“] with Rick Rubin. And Rick‘s like, ‘You don’t understand how lucky you got. I work with a ton of vocalists and it’s difficult to make a great melody. And this guy is just throwing them right and left!’
“Like A Stone, I Am The Highway, no matter what we threw at him – the simplest chord progression, or the most complicated heavy riff, he’d just sit in a chair with a cigarette, and he’s like, ‘OK, that sounds like a great song right there. What’s next?'”
Tom Morello's new album Atlas Underground Fire is out now. Listen to the full interview below: