I Am Michael Alago: Breathing Music. Signing Metallica. Beating Death.

I Am Michael Alago: Breathing Music. Signing Metallica. Beating Death.


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Record label executive, photographer, and author, Michael Alago takes readers through this amazing journey that is his life.

Alago grew up in Brooklyn, New York, 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 NYC 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, he became the assistant music director for legendary nightclubs the Ritz and the Red Parrot. At age twenty-four, he began a storied career as an A&R executive at Elektra Records that started with signing Metallica in the summer of 1984, changing the entire landscape of rock 'n' roll and heavy metal. Alago continued to work in A&R for both Palm Pictures and Geffen Records. He was thrilled to executive-produce albums by Cyndi Lauper, Public Image Ltd, White Zombie, and Nina Simone.

In the late 1980s, he was diagnosed with HIV, which manifested into full-blown AIDS ten years later. He survived to continue his music career, but in 2005, he left music to pursue his other love: photography. Alago went on to publish three bestselling books: Rough Gods, Brutal Truth, and Beautiful Imperfections with German-based publisher Bruno Gmünder. He has 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. In 2017, a documentary directed by Drew Stone and produced by Michael Alex on Alago's wildly successful career in music was released in theaters and on Netflix, entitled Who the Fuck Is That Guy? The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal


Alago, a photographer and an A&R rep at Elektra Records who launched Metallica's meteoric rise, breathlessly tracks his journey, starting with his youth in 1960s Brooklyn. With cowriter Davis-Chanin (The Girl in the Back), he draws readers into his personal life while sharing the intricacies of the music business. Alago gravitates to and shares intimate, sometimes deeply charged moments with icons in both the photography and musical realms such as Patti Smith, Nina Simone, and Robert Mapplethorpe. In a more serious vein, he discusses his HIV-positive status; at other times, he turns breezy, considering his emotional and sexual development as a Latinx gay man. Alago's chatty style should appeal to anyone interested in the music scene or life in a bygone New York—one somehow both more innocent and dangerous. The name-dropping helps establish the vibe, although it can become a bit tiresome; fortunately Alago concentrates on the relationships that mean the most to him. He acknowledges his challenges with cocaine and alcohol abuse and his illness but rejoices in his triumphs, including his long history as a true survivor. VERDICT For those who enjoy memoir, music, or tales of 1970s and 1980s New York.—Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617137259
Publisher: Backbeat
Publication date: 03/25/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 551,587
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.50(d)

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