I am Michael Alago: Breathing Music. Signing Metallica. Beating Death
Michael Alago with Laura Davis-Chanin
March 25, 2019
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, Rowman & Littlefield.
Contact Andy Reynolds at andy@popularpublicity
01.11.21: Advocate.com – Famed Photographer Michael Alago Reflects on Life in Lockdown
10.26.21: Advocate.com – Gay Music Exec Michael Alago Beat AIDS and Bathed With Nina Simone
08.25.20: Michael Alago on the Feast of Fun podcast
08.06.20: Meet the Gay Record Executive who signed Metallica, Beat AIDS and Took a Bubble Bath with Nina Simone
I am Michael Alago:
Breathing Music. Signing Metallica. Beating Death
by Michael Alago with Laura Davis-Chanin
Michael Alago is the quintessential New Yorker with an “only in New York” story, driven by creativity, instinct and guts. Passionate about music, art and literature, the much beloved music executive and published photographer is known for his extraordinary work with Metallica, White Zombie, John Lydon, the Misfits, Cyndi Lauper and Nina Simone.
In his recently published autobiography, “I Am Michael Alago: Breathing Music, Signing Metallica, Beating Death,” Alago recounts his fearless entry into the punk rock scene as a gay Puerto Rican teen from Brooklyn, the intense music biz career that followed, surviving AIDS in the 90s, his recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, and photographing some of the hottest roughnecks on the planet.
Alago grew up in Brooklyn, in a large, spirited, and devoted Puerto Rican family. Through his early passion for music, art, theater, and photography, he soon found himself rubbing elbows with many Downtown New York City scene makers, from Stiv Bators to Jean Michel Basquiat, Cherry Vanilla and Wayne County to Deborah Harry and Robert Mapplethorpe. As an underage teenager going to Max’s Kansas City, CBGB and various art galleries, Alago also began running the Dead Boys’ fan club.
A few years later, Alago became the assistant music director for legendary nightclubs The Ritz (now Webster Hall), where he booked U2’s first NYC gig, and the block-wide Red Parrot, where he booked numerous acts including Madonna, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Bow Wow Wow, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Divine.
At the young age of 24, he began a storied career as an A&R* (Artists & Repertoire) executive at Elektra Records that started with signing Metallica in the summer of 1984, changing the entire landscape of rock and heavy metal. Alago continued to work in A&R for both Palm Pictures and Geffen Records.
In the late 1980s, Alago was diagnosed with HIV, which manifested into full-blown AIDS ten years later, a diagnosis that equaled death at that time. But with the advancement of medical science and the foresight of a brilliant doctor, he survived and continued his music career.
Alago left the music business in 2005 to focus on his parallel lifelong passion–photography–embarking on an ongoing series of erotically charged portraits, which he continues to this day. With an eye for muscle-bound, tattooed roughnecks, Alago shoots friends, models, and bodybuilders set against the gritty, urbane backdrop that is New York City. As always, it is Alago’s artful juxtapositioning of tough vs tender, nature vs graffiti, beauty vs. beast that continues to make his work instantly recognizable by (100,000+ Facebook) fans worldwide. To date Alago has published three books of photographs: “Rough Gods,” “Brutal Truth,” and “Beautiful Imperfections.”
Alago has also since overcome his longtime addiction to drugs and alcohol. In his clean and sober life, he has reconnected with his family, continues to be a working photographer as well as record producer, and only through the grace of his 12-step program is he able to live this big, beautiful life.
Also available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video is “Who the Fuck Is That Guy? The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago,” a 2017 documentary directed by Drew Stone and produced by Michael Alex.
*A&Rstands for Artists and Repertoire. The is the division of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and the artistic and commercial development of the recording artist. It also acts as a liaison between the artist and the record label.
Back Cover Blurbs
“I’ve known Michael forever, and he is fabulous, so THIS BOOK IS FABULOUS!!! Would I ever lie?” – Danny Fields, American music icon
“Michael Alago was my first genuine connection to the real world of music-he is a key player in the early careers of Flotsam & Jetsam and Metallica. More importantly, he’s a greatly respected, lifelong friend–loved and admired by the people that make up these legendary acts. He’s a fan. We’re all fans.” – Jason Newsted, Musician, Metallica, Vovoid
“Michael has been one of my closest friends in the business for half of my life. His story is a true Hollywood tale of how a gay Puerto Rican man in the world of heavy metal can become a conqueror! Michael is a legend in the world of hard rock, and the heavy metal landscape would look much different if it weren’t for him.” – Gary Holt, Musician, Slayer, Exodus
“Michael Alago is one of the kindest souls I have ever had the honor of meeting. His story truly is, was, and continues to be the epitome of the expression “you can’t make this stuff up.” With his gifted passion and pen-minded appreciation for music, he changed the world and the lives of millions (myself included) forever. I am constantly inspired by him and thank him for sharing his rich life with us: the good, the bad, the ugly, the sacred and the magical. Thank you, Michael. May the result of your suffering and joy bring illumination and comfort to those who are in darkness.” – Jessica Pimentel, Actor, “Orange is the New Black,” Musician, Alekhine’s Gun