“I am Michael Alago,” a Music Industry Veteran’s Story About Changing the Landscape of Heavy Metal, Battling Addiction and Beating Death

“I am Michael Alago,” by Michael Alago with Laura Davis-Chanin, is Available via Backbeat Books

“I am very excited to finally have my book available,” Alago says. “A lot of hard work was put into this project, and it brought back a lot of memories of great times and the lowest times.”

Alago can be credited with changing the landscape of heavy metal – and rock ‘n’ roll as a whole.

The quintessential New Yorker with an “only in New York” career, Alago is passionate about music, art, and literature, legendary music executive and published photographer. He is also known for his extraordinary work with MetallicaWhite ZombieJohn LydonCyndi Lauper and Nina Simone.

In I am Michael AlagoAlago shares his successes in the music industry, such as signing Metallica to their first major label recording contract, while battling 1970s and ‘80s stereotypes, addiction and life-threatening illness.
“Extraordinary life, any way you look at it,” wrote heavy metal bible BraveWords.

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 NYC scene makers, from Stiv Bators to Jean Michel BasquiatCherry 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 and the Red Parrot. “I met Michael in 1980,” says Jerry Brandt of The Electric Circus/The Ritz. “He walked into my office at The Ritz and I knew instantly that his kid was going to do great things.”

At age 24, 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 LauperPublic Image LtdWhite Zombie, and Nina Simone.

In the late 1980s, Alago was diagnosed with HIV, which manifested into full-blown AIDS 10 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. In 2005, he left music to pursue his other love: photography. Alago went on to publish three bestselling books: Rough GodsBrutal Truth and Beautiful Imperfections with German-based publisher Bruno Gmünder. 

Photo: Carol Friedman


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. Who the Fuck Is That Guy? The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago, a 2017 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, where it is now in its third year. The film is also now available on Amazon Prime Video.

Michael Alago was my first genuine connection to the real world of music,” says bassist Jason Newsted“He is a key player and lynchpin in the early careers of Flotsam and Jetsam, and Metallica, and more importantly; 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.”

I am Michael Alago was co-written with Laura Davis-Chanin. I am Michael Alago is available via AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionIndieBound and Rowman & Littlefield.


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