I Am Michael Alago – Breathing Music. Signing Metallica. Beating Death.
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.
Michael Alago is a former rock & roll A&R Executive whose life story is the subject of the Netflix documentary “Who The Fuck Is That Guy?”. He grew up in New York City during the 1970s and 80s, surrounded by artists like David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and the Cro-Mags. His obsession with music led to a 25-year career in the industry, during which time he managed artists like Metallica, Cindi Lauper and Nina Simone. After contracting AIDS and surviving substance abuse, he is now sober and healthy.
Read this article in The Advocate for more on Michael and his book.
Available from Roman & Littlefield
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.