Lead singer of protest rockers Rage quits - to pursue career in political protest

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The Independent US

They supported the Zapatista uprising in Mexico and the rights of Third World garment workers. They sang out against police brutality and clamoured for the release of Mumia Abu-Jumal, the former Black Panther now on Death Row for killing a policeman.

They supported the Zapatista uprising in Mexico and the rights of Third World garment workers. They sang out against police brutality and clamoured for the release of Mumia Abu-Jumal, the former Black Panther now on Death Row for killing a policeman.

But one cause Rage Against the Machine, America's most provocatively political rock band, could not bring themselves to back was their own line-up. Yesterday, the four members of the Los Angeles-based band were down to three, after the lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, dropped out to pursue a solo career.

True to character, the reason given was not the usual rock euphemism of "creative differences". In the manner of the everyday revolutionary cell, apparently the leadership structure simply fell apart.

"It is necessary to leave Rage because our decision-making process has completely failed," de la Rocha said. "It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal."

Rage burst on to the scene in 1992 with the song "Bullet in the Head". Earlier this year, they were the focus of political activists at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Their open-air concert passed off peacefully but was dispersed by riot police firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

Band break-up rumours have abounded for months. Earlier this year, they were so split on picking a new manager they each put names into a hat and let their lawyer judge. The winning team, GAS Entertainment, was swiftly fired.

Last month, a tour with the Beastie Boys fell apart, apparently because of de la Rocha's opposition. At the MTV music awards, Tim Commerford, the bassist, was arrested after climbing a scaffold and heckling rival band Limp Bizkit, which, de la Rocha said, left him deeply embarrassed.

But the world has not heard the end of Rage. An album is due in December and the three surviving members have vowed to "rock on".

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