Alejandro Ramírez Casas was born in Havana to Cuban parents on October 9, 1958. Soon after, he relocated to the United States to live with his mother and his Norwegian stepfather, who changed the family's name to "Jourgensen." Jourgensen's stepfather Ed was a stock car driver, and mechanic for Formula One driver Dan Gurney. Jourgensen was raised in Chicago, Illinois and Breckenridge, Colorado, and was a fan of artists such as Liberace, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Can, Kraftwerk, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Kitty Wells, Buck Owens, George Jones, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis.
Jourgensen eventually attended the University of Illinois - Chicago, after briefly enrolling at both the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Colorado. He worked as a radio DJ after college until he decided to pursue a career as a professional musician.
Jourgensen formed Ministry in 1981 after leaving Special Affect, a new wave/synthpop band (notably including Frankie Nardiello, founding member (as Groovie Mann) of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and drummer Harry Rushakoff of Concrete Blonde). Early singles by Ministry and Jourgensen's other projects were released on Wax Trax! Records. He also produced Skinny Puppy's Rabies album. During that time, Jourgensen befriended Nivek Ogre, who later toured with Ministry.
The band broke into the mainstream with 1992's Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs album. One of its tracks, "N.W.O.", was nominated for a 1993 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, losing to Nine Inch Nails' "Wish". However, its next album, Filth Pig (1996), divided their fan base, leading to a commercial decline that became evident when Warner Bros. Records dropped them from the label in 2001.
Ministry's next albums, Rio Grande Blood (2006) and The Last Sucker (2007), as well as the 2006 Revolting Cocks album Cocked and Loaded, were released on Jourgensen's new record label, 13th Planet Records, which he formed after falling out with the mainstream agendas of major industry labels.
At the specific request of director Stanley Kubrick, Jourgensen appeared with Ministry in the film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. He related his conversation with Kubrick in an interview:
Well, first of all, I hung up on him. I thought it was a crank call. His secretary was calling and I was like, 'Yeah, right.' Click. And then he called back personally and then talked to me, and I was just freaked out. I mean, who wouldn't be freaked out? Here's this eccentric American God living in the countryside of England, and he's calling me up in Austin, Texas, and saying he wants me to do the music for his film and he wants me to be in his film and he's famous and all that. I didn't even believe it.
Ministry continued its involvement with the film project after Kubrick's death, and Jourgensen revealed that after initial tension, he and Steven Spielberg enjoyed a friendly relationship, with two compositions appearing on the soundtrack: "What About Us" and "Dead Practice".
A number of his songs also appear in other films, such as Wicked Lake (2008)—produced by Fever Dreams and ZP Studios—for which he composed the entire soundtrack that was released on his own 13th Planet record label—he also makes a small appearance in the film as an art school teacher.
In a November 2008 issue of Hustler Magazine, Jourgensen announced that Ministry was officially finished, as the band "[took] up so much time" and releasing new albums was difficult. He also explained that he was responsible for six other bands and could complete seven albums within a year when he was not working on new Ministry material. However, despite Jourgensen's insistence that Ministry would never return, a reunion was announced on August 7, 2011. A new album, entitled Relapse, was released on March 26, 2012.
In 2016 March, Jourgensen noted he has a project with Arabian Prince; this collaboration was later confirmed for a new Ministry album.
Revolting Cocks, also known as RevCo, is an American industrial rock band that began as a musical side-project for Richard 23 of Front 242, Luc Van Acker, and Jourgensen. The band took their name after being involved in a fight in a Chicago bar in 1983: Jourgensen, Richard 23 and Van Acker, celebrating the formation of their new band with a few drinks, ended the evening in a brawl, with bar stools thrown through the windows. As he ejected the trio, the owner — a man who Jourgensen recalls was named Dess — shouted, "I'm calling the police! You guys are a bunch of revolting cocks! " The trio decided to use the name for their band.
The band have changed lineups several times. RevCo currently features Jourgensen (guitars, keyboards, programming, background vocals, producer), Josh Bradford (vocals, background vocals), Sin Quirin (guitars, bass, keyboards) and Clayton Worbeck (keyboards, programming, mixing, bass). Their seventh album Sex-O Olympic-O, which was produced by Jourgensen at his studio, was released on his 13th Planet label in March 200. The follow-up album Got Cock? was released in March 2010 on the same label.
During the late 1980s, Jourgensen started short-lived a side project named 1000 Homo DJs, under the pseudonym Buck Satan. 1000 Homo DJs released two singles, including a cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut." Also in 1989, Jourgensen was involved in Acid Horse, a collaboration between the members of Ministry and Cabaret Voltaire. In 2015, Jourgensen announced that he started "a speed metal project" named Surgical Meth Machine with engineer and longtime collaborator Sam D’Ambruoso.
Jourgensen and Paul Barker of Ministry worked as a music production team under the names Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan, producing their own work as well as other Wax Trax! Records acts. Jourgensen also produced music for Reverend Horton Heat, Skinny Puppy, Dessau, Skrew, Rigor Mortis, The Blackouts, and DethRok. Jourgensen's recording complex for the 13th Planet label was located within his former home in El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Jourgensen's singing style has varied throughout the years. In the first album as Ministry (With Sympathy), he sang with a fake British accent, which he regrets. Inspired by The 13th Floor Elevators, Jourgensen started utilizing vocal effects beginning with The Land of Rape and Honey to distort his voice using Eventide. In 2006, starting with Rio Grande Blood, Jourgensen switched to a more thrash metal approach.
Jourgensen was married to Patty Marsh from 1984 to 2002 and has a daughter, Adrienne, from the marriage, who was born on April 13, 1985. In July 2014, Jourgensen announced that he and his wife of 12 years, Angelina Lukacin, who cofounded the 13th Planet record label, were divorced. They married on September 6, 2002. The divorce was initiated on April 28, 2014 and finalized on July 17, 2014.
Jourgensen's autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen, was released in July 2013.
In 1995, police raided Ministry's Texas headquarters and Jourgensen was arrested for possession of heroin. He received a five-year probation sentence. Jourgensen was dependent upon heroin for twenty years. Jourgensen's second wife, Angelina, helped him kick his heavy drug (heroin, methadone, crack, pills) habit, and as of 2013, he limited his intake to beer, wine and marijuana.
Jourgensen almost lost his arm and foot in two separate incidents, the first due to a spider bite, the second the result of a hypodermic needle wound.
Jourgensen is known for playing a multitude of instruments throughout his professional career. It includes guitars, bass, violin, banjo, keyboards, piano, trumpets and drums to name a few. However, he claims he is "not really good at any of them." He said, "I'm jack of all trades and master of none. But I can collage bits and pieces together musically."
Throughout the years, Jourgensen has amassed a large number of tattoos. In 2012, he underwent facial piercings after a bet with his daughter Adrienne; she called him a "pussy" for not having any piercings while Jourgensen called her the same thing for not having any tattoos. They then decided to have their tattoos and piercings done respectively to create a "pact." He had 16 facial piercings done in one sitting.