Brad Wilk was born on September 5, 1968, in Portland, Oregon and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His family later settled in Southern California. He started to play the drums when he was thirteen years old. He has cited John Bonham, Keith Moon, and Elvin Jones as his greatest influences. Wilk was a fan of Van Halen in his youth, having seen the band live when he was thirteen.
He is best known as the drummer of the rock bands Rage Against the Machine (1991-2000; 2007-2011; 2019-present), Audioslave (2001-2007; 2017), Black Sabbath (2013), and Prophets of Rage (2016-2019).
"He has a way of making drums sound as though they are speaking directly to me." This is just one of the factors that make Wilk such a great heavy metal drummer. There are very few drummers who can match up to his speed and power. He becomes one with the song.
Wilk started his career as a drummer for Greta in 1990, and helped co-found Rage Against the Machine with Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha in August 1991. Following that band's breakup in October 2000 Wilk, Morello, Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford, and Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell formed the supergroup Audioslave, which broke up in 2007. From 2016 to 2019 he played in the band Prophets of Rage, with Commerford, Morello, Chuck D, B-Real and DJ Lord. He currently plays in the band Rage Against the Machine following their reunion.
Wilk has also performed drums on English metal band Black Sabbath's final album 13. The album was released in June 2013. Wilk briefly played with Pearl Jam shortly after the release of their debut album Ten.
To the end of 2014 until June 2015, Brad Wilk was playing drums on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins along with Billy Corgan, Jeff Schroeder and also Mark Stoermer on bass. On 26 February 2015, while touring Australia with the band, he joined the Foo Fighters on stage at Sydney's Olympic (ANZ) stadium playing drums for a Van Halen cover 'Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love'. On August 3, 2015, Wilk also sat-in with The 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers.