Famous musicians Tom Morello and Ike Reilly visit LHS for centennial celebration


Lanie Storiz

Tom Morello and Ike Reilly on stage discussing their memories of LHS.

Wildcat alumni and famous musicians Tom Morello and Ike Reilly came to LHS on Monday, Oct. 9, to speak to students about their experiences in high school  as part of the school’s celebration of its centennial.

During periods four, five and six, students were able to come to the auditorium and hear Reilly and Morello talk about their experiences in high school and how those shaped the men into who they are today. Faculty members Mrs. Kelly Angelos, a counselor, and Mr. Craig Schmidt, an English teacher, moderated the conversation. The auditorium was packed full each of the periods the event was held.

Reilly graduated with the class of 1980. In the span of his four years, he guessed he was only in class about 10 percent of the time. Even though he wasn’t in class much, Reilly still loved reading and writing.

A former teacher, Mr. Osborne, encouraged Reilly to keep reading and writing, as well as to stay in school. Reilly also said that Mrs. Morello, Tom Morello’s mother, who taught social studies, helped him become exposed to the world outside of Libertyville.

Morello graduated two years later with the class of 1982. While in high school, Morello was in every play in his four years, part of the Drops of Ink staff and played in a band called Electric Sheep. While the band had fun practicing in a garage, the rest of the school seemed to “despise” the group, Morello said. He remembered that a classmate tracked him down one day just to tell him that his band stunk.

Reilly and Morello also talked about how their music careers were influenced by high school. Morello started playing guitar when he was 17, and he would spend hours practicing. Morello said he didn’t really find his own unique style until joining the band Rage Against the Machine.  

Reilly started much later, gaining his first record label when he was 38 years old. While he does play guitar, Reilly explained that he uses the guitar to compose songs and lyrics rather than attempting to perfect his ability.

Morello also discussed how the “open culture of bullying” affected him. Morello was the first African-American to reside in Libertyville. He said this was made very clear to him as he grew up, but Morello had support at home and always knew that he was just as capable of doing things as anyone else was. Morello got a job at a renaissance fair one summer, and it helped him understand that people don’t have to be judged on who they are or how they look, which was something different from the experiences he had in high school.

Reilly and Morello also discussed the public education system today. When asked what they think public education needs more of, both of their responses were “money.” Morello now lives in Los Angeles, where he described the public schools as being third-world.  The pair agreed that schools like Libertyville are proof that public education does work; schools just need the correct resources.

Reilly still lives in Libertyville and his fourth child is currently attending LHS. He released his most recent album, “Born on Fire,” in 2015. Morello is currently in a band called Prophets of Rage.

Reilly and Morello said that now, they look back at their high school years and the community of Libertyville with appreciation, more so than they did when they were students.