You Say It's Your Birthday: Rage Against the Machine's Brad Wilk

Today is the birthday of Brad Wilk, the hard-hitting drummer behind

Rage Against the Machine. Known for their highly political Marxist views as

well as their razor-edged mix of rock and rap, Rage Against the Machine

have been turning heads since their first performance in a friend's living

room in Orange County, California. The bandmates -- Wilk, singer Zack De La

Rocha, bassist Tim Bob and guitarist Tom Morello -- soon got together and

self-produced a 12-song demo, which sold more than 5,000 copies. They

signed with Epic not long after and released their major-label debut,

Rage Against the Machine, after winning support through some

second-stage performances at Lollapalooza in 1992.

The band also toured with House of Pain and returned to Lolla in

1993 -- this time in a protest to censorship which consisted of the

bandmates standing together, naked and silent, onstage for 25 minutes. Duct

tape letters on the band's chest spelled out P-M-R-C, which stands for Parental Music Resource Center. By the end of the year their video for "Freedom" was a mainstay of MTV's programming. Meanwhile, Rage had been supporting shows for Rock for Choice, the Freedom of Leonard Peltier, United Farm Workers and Para Los Ninos.

In the spring of 1996, the band released its second album, Evil

Empire, and released a single for "Bulls on Parade." They've been

touring practically nonstop since, including a summer tour with the Wu-Tang

Clan and Atari Teenage Riot. De La Rocha recently sprained his ankle during

his usual onstage antics, but the show has gone on. In addition, Morello

contributed a song to the Spawn soundtrack (working with Prodigy),

and the band's video for "People of the Sun" has been nominated for an MTV

Video Music Award.

Other birthdays: John Stewart, 58; Al Stewart, 52; Dean Ford

(Marmalade), 51; the late Freddie Mercury (Queen), who would have been 51;

Buddy Miles, 51; Loudon Wainwright III, 51; Dave "Clem" Clempson (Humble

Pie), 48; Dweezil Zappa, 28 and Lina Santiago, 19.