Thomas Baptiste "Tom" Morello (born May 30, 1964) is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist best known for his tenure with the bands Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, his acoustic solo act The Nightwatchman, and his newest group, Street Sweeper Social Club. Tom is also the co-founder (along with Serj Tankian) of the non-profit political activist organization, Axis of Justice, which airs monthly on KPFK 90.7FM in Los Angeles. He is best-known for his use of guitar effects, his innovative guitar solos, his use of tapping, and his heavy riffs. He was ranked #26 in Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."
Tom Morello was born on May 30, 1964, in Harlem, New York, to Ngethe Njoroge and Mary Morello. He is of Irish and Italian descent on his maternal side, and Kikuyu Kenyan descent on his paternal side. His mother was a schoolteacher from Marseilles, Illinois, who earned a Master of Arts at Loyola University, Chicago and travelled to Germany, Spain, Japan, and Kenya as an English language teacher between 1977 to 1983. His father was a Kenyan participant in the Mau Mau Uprising, and served as Kenya's first ambassador to the United Nations. Morello's paternal uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president in Kenyan history. His parents met in August 1963, while attending a pro-democracy protest in Nairobi, Kenya, and Morello was conceived the first night they made love in a hut. After discovering her pregnancy, Mary returned to the United States with Njoroge in November, and married in New York City.
When Morello was 16 months old, Njoroge returned to his native Kenya, and denied his paternity of his son. Morello was raised solely by his mother in Libertyville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. There he attended Libertyville High School, where his mother was a U.S. history teacher. She was the homeroom teacher for Tom's classmate and fellow guitarist Adam Jones, of the band Tool, while teaching at Libertyville. Tom sang in the school choir and was active in speech and drama club; a prominent role was Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream.