Red Hot Chili Peppers: Still Givin’ It Away

When you think of true California rock, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) are one of the first bands to come to mind. They’re a funk-rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983, and their music combines an eclectic mix of alternative rock, funk, punk rock and psychedelic rock for a truly unique sound.

The original line-up was vocalist, Anthony Kiedis, bassist, Flea, guitarist, Hillel Slovak, and drummer, Jack Irons, but has changed a few times over the years. The first album featured Jack Sherman on guitar and Cliff Martinez on drums as Slovak and Irons both had previous commitments to other bands they had to fulfill. Both original members appeared on the band’s 3rd album, but sadly, Slovak died of a drug overdose on June 25, 1988; and Irons, devastated, left the band. Other past members include DeWayne McKnight, D. H. Peligro, Arik Marshall, Jesse Tobias, Josh Klinghoffer, and Dave Navarro. The current line-up is Kiedis, Flea, drummer, Chad Smith, and guitarist, John Frusciante.

Over the course of their 35+ year history, the band has released 11 albums: The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984), Freaky Styley (1985), The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987), Mother’s Milk (1989), Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991), One Hot Minute (1995), Californication (1999), By the Way (2002), Stadium Arcadium (2006), I’m with You (2011), and The Getaway (2016). The band really hit their stride with Blood Sugar Sex Majik, spawning hits like Give It Away and Under the Bridge.  They currently are ready to record a new album, which has been delayed by the onset of Covid-19.

The band considers themselves “genre-neutral,” and Flea stated in a 2006 interview, “For all the styles that have come and gone through-out our career, we never really aligned ourselves with any of them; we were never part of any movement. At one time, people put us together in a category with Fishbone and Faith No More, but we were always different from those bands, and they were always different from us.”

But the band has not been without their struggles, both on and off-stage. Over the years, there have been various sexual harassment charges, with Kiedis being convicted of indecent exposure and sexual battery in 1989 after he exposed himself to a woman following a show in Virginia.

Drugs and alcohol have also taken its toll on the band. After Slovak’s death, the other members of the band have all struggled with heroin and cocaine addiction, which have, at times, also fueled their lyrics. Anthony Kiedis has been the most vocal on the subject, having gotten clean, then relapsing several times in the 80s and 90s. Finally, on Christmas Eve 2000, Kiedis walked into a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, spiritually defeated and emotionally drained. He announced himself as a newcomer and was met with a warm welcome. He has not left since. There are many accounts of regular folk being surprised to see him in a meeting, sharing his story, unedited and acting like any other recovering dope fiend. In his own words, “It’s easy to be a junkie.” Drummer Chad Smith, bassist Flea, and guitarist John Frusciante have also had multiple rehab stays before finally getting sober.

RHCP are all staunch environmental activists and have participated in a number of different campaigns aimed at helping their cause. Kiedis also acts, having been in movies such as Point Break, and was one of the faces for a Marc Jacobs ad campaign.

One rumor that I sincerely hope comes to fruition is that Kiedis is/was developing a series based on his very unconventional upbringing in Los Angeles. The show was expected to be loosely based on much of Kiedis’ autobiography, and titled Spider and Son. The series would center on Kiedis’s relationship with his father, Blackie Dammett, who sold many drugs and mingled with rock stars on the Sunset Strip, all while aspiring to get into show business. Could be a very interesting biopic!

Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]