In a musical move somewhat reminiscent of the 1990’s film Pretty Woman, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello reveals that a sales assistant mocked him when he bought his first guitar. The same guitar that he used on his hugely successful 2018 album, The Atlas Underground.
In an interview with Guitarist Magazine, Morello shares the story. “I had a bad experience when I bought my first $50 Kay,” he said. “The sales rep was mocking me, saying the action was ridiculously high – ‘But I guess you’re not gonna play very extensive leads anyway, are you?’
“I had more than one chip on my shoulder but that stuck with me. That Kay was my main guitar until I got a Gibson Explorer. Then it sat for 30 years at my mom’s house in Illinois.
“Until one day, I sat bolt-upright in bed, went back to Illinois, got that Kay, gave it to my tech, and said, ‘Let’s see what we got here.’
“I actually used it on [2018’s] ‘The Atlas Underground.’ Cheap guitars can be great.
“I mean, my ‘Creamy’ guitar cost $40, and that – through a 20-watt solid-state Marshall practice amp – won Rage our first Grammy for ‘Tire Me’.”
In the same interview about his guitar, Tom Morello opened up about attending Harvard while trying to hit the big time in a rock band.
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“Studying at Harvard while playing rock ‘n’ roll was challenging. It was a pretty significant jump in workload and brain bandwidth.
“I would finish my studies at two in the morning then practice until 6 AM – like it was nothing. Just alone in a stairwell, day after day.
“In my four years at Harvard, I maybe missed two days of practice, through some really debilitating sickness. And then I felt really guilty about missing those two days!”
Though the phrases ‘Rage Against the Machine’ and ‘sweet’ are rarely used in the same sentence, funnily enough, it’s not the first time Morello has shared a sweet anecdote about music and guitars. Earlier this year the passionate guitarist gifted a 10-year-old fan his new Fender Soul Power Stratocaster.