Record label executive, photographer, and author, Michael Alago takes readers through this amazing journey that is his life.
‘Who the Fuck is That Guy’? The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago tells the astonishing story of a gay Puerto Rican kid growing up in a Hasidic Brooklyn neighborhood, who got on the subway one day and began a musical odyssey that helped shape the musical landscape across N.Y.C. and around the world.
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.
“Recording with the incomparable Nina was my finest hour”, says Michael, who worked with Simone on her final album, the critically acclaimed ‘A Single Woman’. 2010 saw Alago team up with Cyndi Lauper on her Grammy-nominated album ‘Memphis Blues’, for which he acted as A&R executive.
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 F**k Is That Guy?’ The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago.