Zack de la Rocha is one of the biggest names in alternative music. Widely admired for his passionate political activism, Rocha is known for his trademark socially and politically conscious lyrics. Additional qualities that Rocha is reckoned with are aggressive dancing, frantic rap style delivery, wild stage antics, and fiery speeches, which reflect his views, during many concerts. He rose to fame as the frontman of the band, ‘Rage Against the Machine’. Each of the albums produced by the band has been well received by the audience, the selling of a total of 16 million copies worldwide stands as a testimony of the same. An outspoken advocator for peace and non-violence, he has been a dedicated human rights and civil rights activist and has raised a strong voice, with the help of music, against many political and social issues concerning the world, including the invasion in Iraq. Apart from working with the band, Rocha also serves as the founder for the music project ‘One Day as a Lion’. To learn more interesting and intriguing facts about his childhood, personal life and achievements in the field of music and political activism, scroll down and continue to read this biography.
Childhood & Early Life
Zacar�as Manuel Zack de la Rocha was born to painter, muralist and graphic artist, Roberto ‘Beto’ de la Rocha and Olivia de la Rocha in Long Beach, California. His father played a crucial role in shaping his cultural outlook.
When he was barely one year old, his parents got divorced. He consequently began to live with his mother in Irvine, where she pursued her Ph.D.
He initially played the guitar for the rock band ‘Juvenile Expression’ and later became a part of the band named, ‘Hardstance’, which was renamed ‘Inside Out’. The band enjoyed a large national underground following.
In 1990, as a part of the band ‘Inside Out’, he gave the vocals and played the bass for their debut album titled, ‘No Spiritual Surrender’. This was the band’s first and last album, as they broke up after this.
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In 1991, he began to perform hip hop and freestyle at local pubs. It was during this period that he was spotted by guitarist Tom Morello. Together, they formed the band, ‘Rage Against the Machine’. While Brad Wilk joined them as a drummer, Tim Commerford was recruited to play bass.
In 1992, he gave the vocals for the band, ‘Rage Against the Machine’s’ eponymous debut album. The album was recognised for its meaningful and emotionally charged outlook. Also, it became one of the few albums with a political tone to receive extensive airplay in radio and television.
In 1996, he delivered the vocals for the second album titled, ‘Evil Empire’. The album featured the songs, ‘People of the Sun’, ‘Bulls on Parade’ and ‘Vietnow’. Though the album recorded a major sell-out and was a super hit, it failed to gather much political action.
In 1998, the band came out with their first live compilation album, ‘Live & Rare’. The album included some live and rare tracks. However, it was released only in Japan.
Year 1999 witnessed the release of the band’s third studio album titled, ‘The Battle of Los Angeles’. The album earned a Grammy Award nomination in the category of ‘Best Rock Album’.
Creative differences between the mates propelled Rocha’s abandonment of the band in October 2000. He then embarked on a journey for a solo career. Meanwhile, the band released an album in December 2000, ‘Renegades’ in which he was given the credit as a vocalist as the album included his vocals.
Following the disbanding of ‘Rage Against the Machine’, he started working on a solo album that he had initiated long before. However, the album could not be completed and he started off with his next project with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, but it met with the same fate as its predecessor.
In 2000, he was seen in the British drum bass act group’s song, ‘Centre of the Storm’ from their album, ‘In The Mode’. The following year he also appeared in the song ‘Release’, which was by the hip-hop group, ‘Blackalicious’.
In 2003, in order to protest against the invasion of Iraq, he collaborated with DJ Shadow for the song, ‘March of Death’. The song was released for free online.
In 2005, he began to perform on stage with Son Jarocho band, Son de Madera. Later that year he performed for a benefit concert with the band for the South Central Farmers.
In 2007, he reunited with the band, ‘Rage Against the Machine’ at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in mid-January. By April, the group gave a stage performance for a rally that was organised for fair food supply in Chicago.
In 2008, he formed the group, ‘One Day as a Lion’ with drummer Jon Theodore. They released their debut album in July same year. Joey Karam joined them on keyboards for their live shows only. The group has a definite style, which comprises of rock drumming, electro keyboards, and hip-hop vocals.
‘The Battle of Los Angeles’, the third album of the band ‘Rage Against the Machine’, released in 1999, gained a worldwide appeal and was highly appreciated. It was ranked number 426 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003 and in 2005, the album was ranked number 369 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time..
Personal Life & Legacy
During his teenage years he became a vegetarian. He believes that animals should not go through the process of torture and slaughter.
He is the frontman for the band, ‘Rage Against the Machine’ and is also responsible for co-founding the group, ‘One day as a Lion’.