Red Hot Chili Peppers
Members: Michael Balzary, Chad Smith, John Frusciante, Anthony Kiedis
The Red Hot Chili Peppers formed in 1983 under the name Tony Flow and the Majestic Masters of Mayhem and was originally not meant to be a permanent project. They formed when Anthony Kiedis's (lead vocals) friend Gary Allen from "Gary and Neighbour's Voices" needed a band to open for them. Kiedis said that he wanted to front a band with his two best friends Michael Balzary (who played bass and is commonly known as "Flea") and Hillel Slovak (who played guitar). Jack Irons (drummer for Slovak's group What Is This?) joined the three of them on drums.
Kiedis has said the following about their beginning influences in his autobiography "Scar Tissue": "All of us had latched on to the energy of "Defunkt" and the raw edginess of "Gang of Four" and, of course, the cosmic freedom implicit in "Jimi Hendrix"' guitar playing, so we would channel all those influences. But mainly, we wanted to do something based in funk, because What Is This? had nothing to do with the funk." 'What Is This?' was the band that Slovak and Irons were in and is one of the reasons that the band decided not to take this show too seriously. For them this was a one-off. For this one show they wrote a song entitled "Out in L.A.", which included references to Flea, Slovak, their friend Tree and the many hijinks that Kiedis would get up to in L.A. They performed their song to a 30-odd crowd and were asked by the promoter to play again the following week with new material. They agreed.
The band began to play more frequently and became more serious. They decided upon a proper name, leading Anthony to choose the name of "Red Hot Chili Peppers" since he believed that it had "spice" and once he saw the words "tony flow and the majestic masters of mayhem" on a burning bush while tripping The list of songs they added to their repitoire exceeded past "Out In L.A." and soon included, "Get Up And Jump", "Police Helicopter", "Nevermind" and "Green Heaven". One of the gimmicks that Red Hot Chili Peppers came up with at this time was coming out for encore performances naked, save for strategically-worn socks enclosing their genitalia. Flea said in a writing that it was all apart of their desire to do anything to be seen as entertaining.
The band began to make their name known on the L.A. music scene and landed themselves a record deal with EMI/Enigma. However, Kiedis and Flea received a call moments after hearing about this stating that Slovak and Irons had quit the band. They had gained a RCA record deal with "What Is This" and had chosen to stay in that band. This news was crushing to the two of them but they chose to continue and find replacements for the recording of their first album. They picked up Cliff Martinez as their new drummer and Jack Sherman on guitar. The sessions were done with the confusing mix of the playing styles of the different line-ups, as some tracks were written with Slovak and Irons, while others were with Sherman and Martinez. The lacklustre production of "Gang of Four" guitarist Andy Gill did more harm than good since Gill often had spats with the band during production. Their debut self-titled album, which hit shelves in 1984, was nothing more than a commercial disaster.
The band didn't work with Gill again. In the spring of 1985, the line-up changed again, with Hillel Slovak returning full time (Slovak actually took part in the tour promoting the debut album) and hired the Funkadelic/Parliament maestro George Clinton, who produced their second album Freaky Styley. Although it was also a commercial failure, as Kiedis put in an interview that the album probably only "changed a suburb in Idaho", the band's sound was tighter, Kiedis vocals more commanding, Flea's bass tight enough to the point that he did not overshadow Hillel Slovak's riffs, and Cliff Martinez improved at the funk style of drumming. The album would be the only excessively P-funk release.
Jack Irons returned to the band in 1986 while Martinez went to work as a composer. At the same time, Kiedis, Flea, and Slovak's drug problems grew worse. Their next album The Uplift Mofo Party Plan released in September (1987) was the first and last album with the original line-up of Kiedis, Flea, Irons and Slovak. It turned about to be the Red Hot Chili Peppers' strongest effort at the time, using elements of metal and fusing it with more aggressive funk. Working with producer Michael Beinhorn, the album spurred the Peppers' most recognizable anthem from their underground days "Fight Like A Brave" and considerable controversy with the PMRC due to the title of one song, "Party On Your Pussy". EMI changed the name of it to "Special Secret Song Inside", but later restored the original name in the 2003 remastered release.
It would seem that the band's third album would be a charm, but the band's drug problems (which drove Rick Rubin away who visited the band during recording of Party Plan) distorted that vision. It also did not help that EMI did very little to market the album, due to the labels confusion with the band's music. However, it managed to peak on Billboard's Top 200 albums at #147.
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan sent the Red Hot Chili Peppers to play in Europe for the very first time as they toured with fellow funk-metal band Fishbone. Problems started to arise. Kiedis and Flea remained clean on tour while Hillel did not and it showed in the performances when Hillel started to repeatedly miss notes and leave shows midway through. By the time the Red Hot Chili Peppers returned to the United States in 1988, Kiedis, Flea, and Irons had enough and wanted to fire Hillel. However, Fishbone frontman Angelo Moore convinced them that doing so would cause more harm than good, thus Hillel remained with the Peppers.
Not due back at the studio for recording the fourth album (the intended The Rockin' Freakapotamus) for another couple of weeks, Hillel Slovak decided to buy heroin from a Los Angeles gang. He overdosed, and with no way to call for help, Slovak died on June 26, 1988. He would not be found until two days later. With him left original drummer Jack Irons, devastated by the death of his best friend.
"MOTHER'S MILK" (1988-1990)
Flea and Anthony decided to continue after emerging from rehab in late 1988. Flea recruited the guitarist John Frusciante, an 18-year-old skilled prodigy who spent 15 hours a day practicing. After drumming replacements and a long list of auditions, they found experienced drummer Chad Smith. Despite Chad's early insistance that he "Only played metal", this line-up would prove to be more stable.
The band restarted sessions and produced "Mother's Milk". Released in 1989, it brought their combination of funk, rap, and metal to the mainstream and it became their first gold album. It included their cover version of the Stevie Wonder song "Higher Ground" and singer Kiedis' song about Slovak and drug addiction, "Knock Me Down", and "Taste The Pain". The band went on a world tour for nine months.
BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK (1991-1992)
The Red Hot Chili Peppers ran into Rick Rubin again not too long after their last show on the Mother's Milk tour. By summer 1991, Rubin found a reportedly haunted house in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles and moved the Peppers in to record their fifth studio album.
Kiedis credits Rubin for not being so controlling over Frusicante compared to Michael Beinhorn on Mother's Milk. The band's sound drastically improved; much more tighter and cohesive, along with Kiedis' vocals. Frusicante was now more free with his guitar, adding blues vibes, Smith was able to incorporate some of his jazz drumming, and Flea expanded beyond slap bass and picking and added melody to his repertoire. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released in 1991. Spurring hits such as the award-winning "Give It Away", "Under The Bridge", "Suck My Kiss", "Breaking The Girl", and "If You Have to Ask", the album sold seven million copies in the United States alone. "Give It Away", an anti-drug anthem, won a Grammy in 1992 and has since became a staple of their live performances.
All was not well after the band finished the album. Frusciante, who had trouble accepting the new life as a bonafide rock star, sank into drug addiction and quit the band during their tour in 1992. After headlining Lollapalooza, an event started by former Jane's Addiction front man Perry Farrell which had the Peppers performing with Arik Marshall, the band suffered through numerous personal problems, including Kiedis having another relapse. After settling down and trying out guitarist Jesse Tobias, the Peppers settled for ex-Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro after numerous attempts to get him to join.
"ONE HOT MINUTE" (1995-1996)
The 1995 album One Hot Minute with Navarro on board saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers venture into a more experimental sound on tracks such as 'Warped' and 'Coffee Shop' and spurred three more hits, 'Aeroplane', 'Shallow Be thy Game', and the touchstone ballad 'My Friends'.
1997 would prove to be a "year of nothing" as Flea calls it. Kiedis and Smith nearly got killed in two separate motorcycle accidents. A typhoon ruined a Peppers performance in Japan (their only show of that year), so all-in-all, the Peppers did very little touring that year and worst of all, they were quickly sinking into rock obscurity. Flea noted in a later interview that he did not like the way the band was conducting its musical direction considering that they were doing more talking than playing in trying out new ideas. Dave Navarro was slipping deeper into a severe heroin addiction when the other band members decided that it would be a good idea to part with him before things went too far. It appeared then and there that the band was dead.
Kiedis and Flea started to see Frusciante in rehab. In 1998 Flea often started to jam once again with Frusicante. It would be in the summer of that year that they would be reunited and the Peppers made a couple of appearances including at the 930 Club in Washington, D.C. and opening for Pearl Jam who donated twenty minutes of stage time.
Kiedis, Flea, Frusciante, and Smith wrapped up recording for what would be their most successful album at the time, Californication, which would end up going platinum 13 times. With a subdued funk sound, more distortion and more Hendrix influences, it is considered by latter-day Chili Peppers fans as their finest work. Hits from the album include, "Around the World", with their trademark funk-rap; "Otherside"; the melodic "Californication", and the Grammy Award-winning "Scar Tissue", "Road Trippin'", and the radio-hit, punk-funk-alternative rocker "Parallel Universe", which made it to #37 despite never being released as a single.
"BY THE WAY"/GREATEST HITS (2002-2004)
Following further touring of their smash album Californication and picking up the Grammy for best rock song for "Scar Tissue", the Peppers sat down to record their eighth studio album, By The Way. The recording process was supported with the concentrated effort of Anthony Kiedis to get rid of his painful on-and-off-going heroin addiction, a habit he has overcome since 2001. The album was in great contrast to previous Chilis albums, containing more soaring melodies than their more typical funky grooves. The song "By the Way", a more typical Peppers song with a strong chorus and a groovy bassline in the verse, soon became very popular. Its success was followed by the release of the single "The Zephyr Song", a very pop-similar song, and then the hit "Can't Stop", a funky song that relates more to the roots of the band.
In 2003, the band released its Greatest Hits as an album. The album consisted of 14 songs from Mother's Milk to By The Way as well as 2 new songs, "Fortune Faded" (also released as a single) and "Save the Population".
In the summer of 2004 the band embarked on a tour of Europe, playing in stadium-sized venues, their first tour with venues of this magnitude. New songs were revealed at these shows to the delight of fans, including "Leverage of Space", "Rolling Sly Stone" and "Mini-Epic". The shows performed at Hyde Park, London were recorded and compiled to form the band's only live album to date: Live in Hyde Park with support from the legendary James Brown and Chicks on Speed (who were bottled out of stage) the audience saw a show that will live with the best of their memories. The album was released very quickly--about a month and a half--after these shows, and included two of the new songs: "Leverage of Space" and "Rolling Sly Stone". The songs included on the album draw heavily from the albums Californication and By the Way with no material included from before Blood Sugar Sex Magik and no material from One Hot Minute (Frusciante never plays Navarro's material live). The concerts held in England by the Chili Peppers have gone into the record books for making the most money from a music concert event.
STADIUM ARCADIUM 2005-
In 2005 they completed their ninth studio album, Stadium Arcadium. Although 38 songs were created - intended to be released as 3 mini-albums spaced six months apart - it was released in May 2006 as a 28-track double album. The first disc in the set is titled "Jupiter", while the second is called "Mars", and each contains 14 songs.
The album debuted at #1 - becoming their highest charting album to date - and has thus far also produced a #6 pop single in "Dani California" and a number 1 hit on the Modern Rock chart.
1984 - Red Hot Chili Peppers
1985 - Freaky Styley
1987 - The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
1989 - Mother's Milk
1991 - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
1995 - One Hot Minute
1999 - Californication
2002 - By the Way
2006 - Stadium Acardium
1988 - The Abbey Road E.P.
1992 - What Hits!?
1994 - Out in L.A.
2003 - Greatest Hits
2004 - Live in Hyde Park
Psychedelic Sexfunk Live from Heaven (1990) - live
Positive Mental Octopus (1990) - music videos
Funky Monks (1991) - making of Blood Sugar Sex Magik
What Hits!? (1992) - music videos
Off the Map (2001) - live
"By the Way" (2002) - music video single
Greatest Hits and Videos (2003) - music videos
Live at Slane Castle (2003) - live