Michael Alago signed Metallica, booked the Ritz & more — documentary on Netflix, Q&A at Coney Island Baby
If you hear the name Michael Alago and you ask yourself, “who the fuck is that guy?”, you’re in luck because heavy music filmmaker and musician Drew Stone has a documentary that answers that very question. It’s called Who the Fuck Is That Guy? The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago and it’s streaming on Netflix now.
To give you a bit of a spoiler, the Brooklyn-raised Alago went from publishing a fanzine dedicated to the Dead Boys in the late ’70s to booking then-new NYC venue The Ritz (now known as Webster Hall, which is about to reopen under new ownership) to getting a job at Elektra and signing Metallica and White Zombie to their first major-label deals. He was also openly gay at a time when heavy metal often had a homophobia problem, but Alago says “My sexuality was never a problem with any artist I ever worked with.” Here’s some more background via Variety‘s review:
Michael Alago’s career trajectory could only have taken place in the ‘70s, where he began hanging out as an underage teen on the CBGB/Max’s Kansas City circuit, publishing a xeroxed fanzine dedicated to the Dead Boys, before getting hired off the street at 19 by Jerry Brandt as his assistant at the just-opened the East 11th Street nightclub The Ritz (now Webster Hall). He eventually became the club’s booker, where he hired Public Image Ltd. for an infamous 1981 riot where the band played behind a curtain with projected images and refused to come out, as beer bottles rained down on the stage and a riot spilled onto the streets quelled by police on horseback. That began Alago’s three-decade-plus friendship with a pugnacious John Lydon, one of the film’s talking heads, who offers the following endorsement, “He stands really rigidly in my very small collection of very important people that don’t lie.”
Brandt recommended Alago to Elektra head Bob Krasnow, and the ambitious 22-year-old immediately made his mark by signing Metallica to their first major-label deal after hearing a homemade cassette (which he shows on screen) and seeing them at a Roseland Ballroom show. From there, he landed in the New York office of Geffen Records, where he brought in a young indie-metal band named White Zombie, which emerged out of the same post-punk hardcore scene as director Stone’s band Antidote.
Variety also points out that the film addresses some heavier topics in Alago’s life like his brush with death after being diagnosed HIV positive and his struggles with addiction, but also mentions that Alago has been clean and sober since leaving the music industry in 2004. In the time since them, he published a poetry book with Life of Agony’s Mina Caputo called Night Blooming Jasmine Will Never Smell The Same and a series of Rough Gods photography collections published by Bruno Gmunder. You can read more about the film here or just fire up Netflix and watch it now.
If you want to know even more about who the fuck Michael Alago is, get over to NYC club Coney Island Baby this Thursday (2/28) for a live interview between Alago and American Hardcore author Steven Blush as part of Blush’s “The Art of the Interview” series. It’s FREE and starts at 7:30 PM but you do have to RSVP. Doors open at 7. More info here and flyer below.
Watch the Who the Fuck Is That Guy? trailer below too:
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Drew Stone is also the director of The New York Hardcore Chronicles Film which is currently free to watch on Amazon Prime.