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|Red Hot Chili Peppers|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California|
|Genres||Funk rock, alternative rock, funk metal|
|Labels||EMI, Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||Ataxia, Fishbone, Jane's Addiction, Parliament-Funkadelic, What Is This?|
|Past members||Hillel Slovak|
|Red Hot Chili Peppers|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California|
|Genres||Funk rock, alternative rock, funk metal|
|Labels||EMI, Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||Ataxia, Fishbone, Jane's Addiction, Parliament-Funkadelic, What Is This?|
|Past members||Hillel Slovak|
Red Hot Chili Peppers (also sometimes shortened to the "Chili Peppers" or abbreviated as "RHCP") are an American funk rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk rock and psychedelic rock. When played live, their music incorporates many aspects of jam band due to the improvised nature of much of their performances. Currently, the band consists of founding members Anthony Kiedis (vocals) and Michael "Flea" Balzary (bass), longtime drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined in late 2009, following the departure of John Frusciante. Red Hot Chili Peppers have won seven Grammy Awards, and have become one of the best-selling bands of all time, selling over 80 million records worldwide. In 2012, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band's original line-up featured guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons, alongside Kiedis and Flea.
Because of commitments to other bands, Slovak and Irons did not play on the band's debut album, The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984). Cliff Martinez was the drummer for the first two records (Irons played on the third), and guitarist Jack Sherman played on the first. Slovak performed on the second and third albums by the band, Freaky Styley (1985) and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987); he died of a heroin overdose in 1988. As a result of the death of his friend, drummer Irons chose to depart from the group. Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist DeWayne McKnight was brought in to replace Slovak though his tenure was short and he was replaced by John Frusciante in 1988. Former Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro was brought in to replace Irons though after a short tenure with the band he was out and replaced by Chad Smith that same year. The line-up of Flea, Kiedis, Frusciante and Smith was the longest-lasting, and recorded five studio albums starting with 1989's Mother's Milk. In 1990, the group signed with Warner Bros. Records and recorded under producer Rick Rubin the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991), which became the band's first commercial success. Frusciante grew uncomfortable with the success of the band and left abruptly in 1992, in the middle of the world tour.
After recruiting guitarist Arik Marshall to complete the tour, Kiedis, Flea, and Smith employed Jesse Tobias though after a few weeks he was replaced by Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction for their subsequent album, One Hot Minute (1995). Although commercially successful, the album failed to match the critical or popular acclaim of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, selling less than half as much as its predecessor. Navarro was fired from the band in 1998. Frusciante, fresh out of drug rehabilitation, rejoined the band that same year at Flea's request. The reunited quartet returned to the studio to record Californication (1999), which became the band's biggest commercial success with 15 million copies worldwide. That album was followed three years later by By the Way (2002), and then four years later by the double album Stadium Arcadium (2006), their first number one album in America. After a world tour, the group went on an extended hiatus. Frusciante announced he was amicably leaving the band to focus on his solo career. Josh Klinghoffer, who had worked both as a sideman for the band on their Stadium Arcadium tour and on Frusciante's solo projects, joined as lead guitarist in 2009 and the band spent the next year and a half recording their tenth studio album, I'm with You, which was released in 2011 and topped the charts in 18 different countries and included a world tour which lasted almost two years. The band followed up that tour with more shows continuing into 2014 including an appearance with Bruno Mars as a part of the halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVIII viewed by a record 115.3 million viewers. The band started production on their 11th studio album in February 2014.
Red Hot Chili Peppers were formed in Los Angeles by Fairfax High School classmates singer Anthony Kiedis, guitarist Hillel Slovak, bassist Flea and drummer Jack Irons. Originally going under the band name of Tony Flow and the Majestic Masters of Mayhem, their first performance was at the Rhythm Lounge to a crowd of approximately 30 people, opening for Gary and Neighbor's Voices. They "wrote" for the occasion, which involved the band improvising music while Kiedis rapped a poem he had written called "Out in L.A.". At the time, Slovak and Irons were already committed to another group, What Is This? however, the performance was so lively, that the band was asked to return the following week. Due to this unexpected success, the band changed its name to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing several more shows at various LA clubs and musical venues. Six songs from these initial shows were on the band's first demo tape.
In November 1983, manager Lindy Goetz struck a seven album deal with EMI America and Enigma Records. Two weeks earlier however, What Is This? had also obtained a record deal with MCA. Slovak and Irons still considered The Red Hot Chili Peppers as only a side project and so in December 1983 they quit to focus on What Is This?. Instead of dissolving the band, Kiedis and Flea recruited new members. Cliff Martinez, a friend of Flea's and from the punk band, The Weirdos, was the new replacement for Irons. The band held auditions for a new guitarist but decided after a few practices that Weirdos guitarist Dix Denney didn't fit. Kiedis described the two final candidates, Mark Nine and Jack Sherman, respectively as a "hip avant-garde art school refugee" and a nerd looking guy with a combed-back Jewfro with an unknown background. Musically Sherman clicked right away with Flea and Martinez and was hired as Slovak's replacement.
The band released their eponymous debut album, The Red Hot Chili Peppers on August 10, 1984. Though the album did not set sales records, airplay on college radio and MTV helped to build a fan base, and the album ultimately sold 300,000 copies. Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, who produced the album "didn't embrace [the band's] musical aesthetic or ideology", argued constantly with the band over the record's sound. Kiedis recalled, that "Andy's thing was having a hit at all costs, but it was such a mistake to have an agenda." Despite the misgivings of Kiedis and Flea, Gill pushed the band to play with a cleaner, crisper, more radio-friendly sound. The band was disappointed in the record's overall sound, feeling it was overly polished and as if it had "gone through a sterilizing Goody Two-shoes machine". The album included backing vocals by Gwen Dickey, the singer for the successful 70's group, Rose Royce. The band embarked on a grueling tour during which they performed sixty shows in sixty four days. During the tour, continuing musical and lifestyle tension between Kiedis and Sherman complicated the transition between concert and daily band life. When the tour ended in October 1984, Sherman was fired. Hillel Slovak, who had just quit What Is This?, would re-join the band in early 1985.
George Clinton produced the next album, Freaky Styley (1985). Clinton combined various elements of punk and funk into the band's repertoire, allowing their music to incorporate a variety of distinct styles. The band often indulged in heavy heroin use while recording the album, which influenced the lyrics and musical direction of the album. The band had a much better relationship with Clinton than with Gill, but Freaky Styley, released on August 16, 1985, also achieved little success, failing to make an impression on any chart. The subsequent tour was also considered unproductive by the band. Despite the lack of success, the band was satisfied with Freaky Styley; Kiedis reflected, that "it so surpassed anything we thought we could have done that we were thinking we were on the road to enormity." The band appeared in the 1986 movie Thrashin' (directed by David Winters and starring Josh Brolin) playing the song "Blackeyed Blonde" from Freaky Styley. During this time the band also appeared in the movie Tough Guys starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas performing the song "Set It Straight" at a Los Angeles nightclub.
In the spring of 1986, the band decided to begin work on their upcoming album. EMI gave the band a budget of $5,000 to record a demo tape, and the band chose to work with producer Keith Levene, because he shared the band's interest in drugs. Levene and Slovak decided to put aside $2,000 of the budget to spend on heroin and cocaine, which created tension between the band members. Martinez' "heart was no longer in the band", but he did not quit, so Kiedis and Flea fired him. After the firing of Martinez in April 1986, original drummer Jack Irons rejoined the band to Kiedis, Flea, and Slovak's great surprise, which marked the first time all four founding members were together since 1983. During the recording and subsequent tour of Freaky Styley, Kiedis and Slovak were dealing with debilitating heroin addictions. Due to his addiction, Kiedis "didn't have the same drive or desire to come up with ideas or lyrics" and appeared at rehearsal "literally asleep". He was briefly kicked out of the band after the tour, and given a month to rehabilitate.
The band won the LA Weekly "Band of the Year Award," which prompted Kiedis to get clean in order to continue making music. He called his mother in Michigan for guidance, who sent him to drug rehabilitation. After Kiedis completed his stint in rehab, he felt a "whole new wave of enthusiasm" due to his sobriety and wrote the lyrics to "Fight Like a Brave" on the plane ride home. He rejoined Red Hot Chili Peppers in Los Angeles to record the group's next album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987). The Chili Peppers attempted to hire Rick Rubin to produce their third album, but he declined. The band eventually hired Michael Beinhorn, the band's last choice. Kiedis sat down with producer Michael Beinhorn to discuss the recording of the album; Kiedis planned to record the album in ten days and write the songs during the recording sessions. Songs began to form quickly, and the album took shape, blending the same funk feel and rhythms as Freaky Styley, with a harder, more immediate approach to punk rock.
The album was recorded in the basement of the Capitol Records Building. The recording process for the album was difficult; Kiedis would frequently disappear to seek drugs. After fifty days of sobriety, Kiedis decided to take drugs again to celebrate his new music. His drug use "made a mess of the early recording process", but the band still had an enjoyable time recording the album. The band was musically inspired by the return of their original drummer Jack Irons, who added "such an important and different element to our chemistry." Slovak helped Kiedis record his vocals on the album. In between takes, Slovak would run around the studio out of excitement and say "This is the most beautiful thing we've ever done."
On September 29, 1987, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan was released, becoming their first album to appear on any chart. Although it peaked at only No. 148 on the Billboard 200, this was a significant success compared to the first two. During this period however, Kiedis and Slovak had both developed serious drug addictions, often abandoning the band, each other, and their significant others for days on end. Slovak's addiction led to his death on June 25, 1988, not long after the conclusion of the Uplift tour. Kiedis fled the city and did not attend Slovak's funeral (referenced in the song "This Is the Place"), considering the situation to be surreal and dreamlike. After returning to L.A. following his departure after Slovak's death, Kiedis, Flea, Irons and manager Lindy Goetz had a meeting to figure out what to do next. Irons decided he had to leave the group, saying that he did not want to be part of a group where his friends were dying. Irons, who would battle through years of depression, went on to become a member of Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam many years later. With Slovak dead, Irons quitting, Kiedis and Flea debated whether they should continue making music, but ultimately decided to move ahead, hoping to continue what Slovak "helped build".
After losing two of the original band members, Flea and Kiedis started looking for musicians to fill those spots. Shortly after Irons departure they chose as Slovak's replacement DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, former member of Parliament-Funkadelic and who at one point briefly filled in for Slovak, when he was temporarily fired. D. H. Peligro of the punk rock outfit Dead Kennedys replaced Irons. Kiedis and Flea had been friends of Peligro for many years and even had a joke band together called Three Little Butt Hairs. With a new lineup set, Kiedis decided to enter rehab to fix his drug problem. Kiedis entered a rehab facility in Van Nuys called ASAP. After two weeks into Kiedis' rehab he was taken by his counselor, Bob Timmons, to finally visit Slovak's grave. Kiedis had no desire to be there, however Timmons urged him to talk to Slovak. Within minutes, Kiedis had opened up and could not stop crying. Thirty days later, Kiedis left rehab and was ready to resume his career with the band. Three dates into the tour, McKnight was fired, because the chemistry wasn't there with the other three McKnight was with the band however long enough to record one song, "Blues For Meister", a song sung by Flea. McKnight was so unhappy about being fired he threatened to burn Kiedis' house down.
Shortly after McKnight's firing, Peligro introduced Kiedis and Flea to a young teenage guitarist named John Frusciante. Kiedis actually had met Frusciante a year earlier outside of one of the band's shows. Frusciante was originally directed to audition for the band Thelonious Monster, however Kiedis said right away he knew, that Frusciante was going to be in his band. An avid Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, Frusciante was, according to Flea, "a really talented and knowledgeable musician. He [Frusciante] knows all the shit I don't know. I basically know nothing about music theory and he's studied it to death, inside and out. He's a very disciplined musician—all he cares about are his guitar and his cigarettes." Frusciante performed his first show with the band on September 17, 1988. The new lineup started right away writing music for the next album and went on a short tour dubbed the Turd Town Tour although in November, Kiedis and Flea felt the need to fire drummer Peligro due to his own various drug and alcohol problems. Much like McKnight, Peligro didn't take the news well. It was Flea's turn to do the firing and it was worse than the band could have imagined. Flea stayed in bed for days after making the tough decision. Years later Kiedis said firing Peligro was one of the toughest things the band ever had to do, however Kiedis became a major part of Peligro's road to sobriety, which began right after he was fired.
The Chili Peppers were again without a drummer and were forced to hold open auditions. Denise Zoom, a friend of the band suggested Chad Smith, claiming he was the best drummer she had ever seen, that he ate drums for breakfast. The band agreed to audition Smith, however he was late and the last to audition. Kiedis recalled the first time he saw Smith by saying "I spied this big lummox walking down the street with a really bad Guns N' Roses hairdo and clothes that were not screaming I've got style". Smith was a six-foot three-inch tall drummer who, according to Flea, "lit a fire under our asses". From the moment they started jamming, Smith and Flea instantly clicked. The band knew they had their guy. Smith was a hard-hitting musician the Chili Peppers believed they would create a strong relationship with. Kiedis later said the audition with Smith "left the band in a state of frenzied laughter, that we couldn't shake out of for a half an hour". Smith was so much different from the other three. Kiedis, Flea and Frusciante were heavily influenced by the punk rock, where Smith's taste in heavy metal music and biker appearance went against their punk rock views. Kiedis informed Smith he would be hired on one condition. As an initiation to the band, Smith had to cut his long heavy metal looking haircut. Smith refused though Kiedis wasn't about to argue with the much larger Smith. Smith was hired as the band's fourth drummer on December 3, 1988.
Unlike the stop-start sessions for The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987), where Kiedis would frequently disappear to seek drugs, pre-production for Mother's Milk (1989) went smoothly. The band recorded basic tracks during March and early April 1989 at Hully Gully studios in Silver Lake; songs like "Knock Me Down" were formed from jam sessions without any input from returning producer Michael Beinhorn. Although there had been stress and conflict during the recording of other Chili Peppers albums, the Mother's Milk sessions were especially uncomfortable due to Beinhorn's incessant desire to create a hit. Frusciante and Kiedis were frustrated with the producer's attitude. In April 1989, the Chili Peppers embarked on a short tour to break in the new lineup.
Released on August 16, 1989, Mother's Milk peaked at number 52 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The record failed to chart in the United Kingdom and Europe, but climbed to number 33 in Australia. "Knock Me Down" reached number six on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks whereas "Higher Ground" charted at number eleven; the latter of the two ultimately proved to be more successful, however, by influencing foreign charts at number fifty-four in the UK and forty-five in Australia and France. Mother's Milk was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in late March 1990—it is now certified platinum—and was the first Chili Peppers album to ship in excess of 500,000 units.
"Give It Away", the first single from the record, combined funky guitar riffs and prominent sexual references with an overall "dryer" guitar sound attributed to producer Rick Rubin.
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In 1990, after the success of Mother's Milk, the group decided they had enough with EMI and entered a major label bidding war ultimately signing with Warner Bros. Records and hired Rick Rubin to produce their then-untitled fifth album. Rubin, who would go on to produce all of the band's subsequent studio albums, originally turned the band down in 1987, because of Anthony and Hillel's drug problems, this time felt the band was in a better place and much more focused. The writing process for this album was far more productive than it had been for Mother's Milk, with Kiedis stating, "[every day], there was new music for me to lyricize".
The band spent six-months recording a new album, with long periods of rehearsal, songwriting, and incubating ideas. However, Rubin was dissatisfied with a regular recording studio, thinking the band would work better in a less orthodox setting, believing it would enhance their creative output. Rubin suggested the mansion magician Harry Houdini once lived in, to which they agreed. A crew was hired to set up a recording studio and other equipment required for production in the house. The band decided that they would remain inside the mansion for the duration of recording, though Smith, convinced the location was haunted, refused to stay. He would, instead, come each day by motorcycle. Frusciante agreed with Smith, and said "There are definitely ghosts in the house", but unlike Smith, Frusciante felt they were "very friendly. We [the band] have nothing but warm vibes and happiness everywhere we go in this house." Rubin is the current owner of the studio known as The Mansion. During production, the band agreed to let Flea's brother-in-law document the creative process on film. When the album's recording was complete, the Chili Peppers released the film, titled Funky Monks. The band was unable to decide on the title of the album, but to Rubin, one particular song title stuck out: "Blood Sugar Sex Magik". Although it was not a featured song, Rubin believed it to be "clearly the best title".
On September 24, 1991, Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released. "Give It Away" was released as the first single; it eventually became one of the band's biggest and most well known songs, winning a Grammy Award in 1992 for "Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal" and became the band's first number one single on the Modern Rock chart
The ballad "Under the Bridge" was released as a second single, and went on to reach No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the highest the band has reached on that chart as of 2011, and became one of the band's most recognizable songs. Other singles such as "Breaking the Girl" and "Suck My Kiss" also charted well.
The album itself was an international sensation, selling over 15 million copies and greatly broadening the Chili Peppers' audience and becoming one of the most iconic albums of its era. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was listed at number 310 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 1992 it rose to No. 3 on the U.S. album charts, almost a year after its release.
The unexpected success instantly turned Red Hot Chili Peppers into rock stars. Frusciante was blindsided by his newfound fame, and struggled to cope with it. Soon after the album's release, he began to develop a dislike for the band's popularity and personal problems between Kiedis and Frusciante began to unfold. Kiedis recalled that he and Frusciante used to get into heated discussions backstage after concerts: "John would say, 'We're too popular. I don't need to be at this level of success. I would just be proud to be playing this music in clubs like you guys were doing two years ago.'" The final dates with Frusciante were a mess and Frusciante was so disconnected from the group, often changing the way he played on certain songs, which further got under Kiedis' skin. Unknown to others, Frusciante was also starting his own drug habit at the time and was shutting himself off from everyone except for his girlfriend. Frusciante abruptly quit the band hours before a show during the Blood Sugar Japanese tour in May 1992. The band reached out to Dave Navarro, who had just split from Jane's Addiction, but who was involved in his own personal drug battles. The group held rehearsals with Zander Schloss, though after a few days they decided he wasn't the right fit either. Guitarist Arik Marshall, of Los Angeles band Marshall Law, was hired to replace Frusciante and the band headlined the Lollapalooza festival in 1992. Marshall would also appear in the music videos for "Breaking the Girl", "If You Have to Ask" and on The Simpsons fourth season finale, "Krusty Gets Kancelled".
In September 1992, the Peppers, with Marshall, performed "Give It Away" at the MTV Video Music Awards. The band was nominated for seven awards including Video of the Year (which they did not obtain), however they did manage to win three other awards, including Viewer's Choice. On February 24, 1993, the band, along with George Clinton & the P.Funk All-Stars and Weapon of Choice, performed "Give It Away" at the Grammy Awards, a song which won the band their first Grammy later that evening. The performance marked the end of the Blood Sugar Sex Magik tour and Marshall's final performance with the band. The band had planned to begin a follow-up to Blood Sugar Sex Magik with Marshall. However, when it came time to play music, Marshall was always busy, so the band decided that Marshall failed to fit with their future plans and he was dismissed.
With Marshall gone, the band decided to hold open auditions (which they considered a huge mess), but which however did lead to an encounter with Buckethead. The band enjoyed his rehearsal even though he claimed to have never heard of them; Flea felt he didn't fit the feel of the band. Still without a guitarist, Kiedis was out one night at a local club and spotted Jesse Tobias of the Los Angeles -based band Mother Tongue. Kiedis felt like he had the right vibe for the band and he was recruited to be the new guitarist after a few auditions. However, his tenure with the band did not last long, with the rest of the band stating that "the chemistry wasn't right". It was at this same time that Chad informed the band that Navarro was now ready to join the band. When offered the spot this time he accepted.
Navarro first appeared with the band at Woodstock '94. The band opened their set wearing enormous light bulb costumes attached precariously to chrome metallic suits, making it near-impossible for them to play their instruments. Navarro hated the idea but went with it. The performance saw the debut of new songs such as "Warped", "Aeroplane", and "Pea" although the songs were in the beginning stages and the lyrics were very different from the final versions. The band followed up their performance at Woodstock with a brief tour, which included headlining appearances at the Pukkelpop and Reading Festivals as well two performances as the opening act for The Rolling Stones. According to Kiedis, however, opening for the Stones was a horrible experience. While externally, the band appeared to be settled, the relationship between the three established members and Navarro had begun to deteriorate. His differing musical background made performing difficult as they began playing together, and continued to be an issue over the next year. Navarro admitted he didn't care for funk music or jamming. Kiedis was also struggling with his heroin addiction; he had been through a dental procedure in Beverly Hills, in which an addictive sedative, Valium, was used; this caused him to relapse, and he once again became dependent on drugs, although the band wouldn't find out this fact for a while. Navarro's joining and Kiedis's continued drug addiction had a profound effect on the band and the subsequent sound of their next album, One Hot Minute (1995). With Frusciante no longer present for collaboration, songs were written at a far slower rate. Working with Frusciante had been something Kiedis took for granted: "John had been a true anomaly when it came to song writing. He made it even easier than Hillel to create music, even though I'd known Hillel for years. I just figured that was how all guitar players were, that you showed them your lyrics and sang a little bit and the next thing you knew you had a song. That didn't happen right off the bat with Dave." To compensate, Kiedis and bassist Flea took several vacations together, during which entire songs were conceived and with Kiedis often absent from recording due to his drug problems or struggling to come up with lyrics, Flea took a much bigger role in the writing process; coming up with ideas for many songs including full lyrics and even singing lead on his own song, "Pea".
Sample of "Warped", the first single from the album; it incorporated prominent heavy metal riffs and among the darkest lyrics throughout the record.
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Navarro's only album with the band was One Hot Minute, released on September 12, 1995 after many delays and setbacks. Navarro's guitar work had created a stylistic departure in the band's sound, which was now characterized by prominent use of heavy metal guitar riffs and hints of psychedelic rock. The band described the album as a darker, sadder record compared to their previous material, which was not as universally well-received as Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Many of the lyrics written by Kiedis were drug-related, including the lead single, "Warped," which left Kiedis stunned that nobody else in the band picked up on his lyrics that he was using again. Broken relationships and deaths of friends and family also played a major role in the album's darker tone and lyrics. The ballad, "Tearjerker," was written about Kurt Cobain, while "Transcending", which was written by Flea, was about longtime friend, River Phoenix; and the single "Shallow Be Thy Game" took shots at religion. Despite mixed reviews, the album was a commercial success. Selling eight million copies worldwide, it spawned the band's third No.1 single, the ballad "My Friends", and enjoyed chart success with the songs "Warped" and "Aeroplane". This iteration of the band appeared on several soundtracks. "I Found Out", a John Lennon cover, was featured on Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon. The Ohio Players cover, "Love Rollercoaster", was featured on the Beavis and Butthead Do America soundtrack, and was released as a single.
The band began its tour for One Hot Minute in Europe on September 27, 1995 and played 16 shows. A US tour was to follow but was postponed after Chad Smith broke his wrist. The band considered carrying on with the tour even at one point considering Jack Irons as a replacement for Smith but there just wasn't enough time to rehearse with anyone new and the dates were rescheduled for early 1996. The band spent most of 1996 playing shows in the United States and Europe. By 1997, for the first time, the band cancelled many shows. Most of this was again due to problems within the band. Flea at that point was exhausted, tired of playing the same songs each night and was seriously talking about quitting the band while Kiedis had recently been involved in a motorcycle accident which left one arm in a sling and created yet another drug relapse due to his use of painkillers. Even Navarro was back to using drugs. 1997 saw the band playing just one show. This was at the very first Fuji Rock Festival on July 26, 1997. A massive typhoon hit that day but the band played anyway. They played through an 8 song set before having to cut the show short due to the storm. This would be the final show with Navarro and due to Flea's previous comments left many speculating if it was the end of the band.
After making attempts to carry on with Navarro and record a follow-up to One Hot Minute things were not working out and due to Navarro's drug problems and lack of effort in wanting to create new music and chemistry on the road the band felt it was time to part ways. In April 1998 it was announced that Navarro had left the band due to creative differences; Kiedis stated that the decision was "mutual". Reports at the time, however, indicated Navarro's departure came after he attended a band practice under the influence of drugs, which at one point involved him falling backwards over his own amp.
In the years following his departure from the band, it became public that John Frusciante had developed a heroin addiction, which left him in poverty and near death. Frusciante had lost contact with most of his friends. However, Flea always remained in contact, and he helped talk Frusciante into admitting himself to Las Encinas Drug Rehabilitation Center in January 1998. He concluded the process in February of that year and began renting a small apartment in Silver Lake. He acquired many injuries and problems in the years of his addiction, some requiring surgery, including permanent scarring on his arms, a restructured nose, and new teeth to prevent fatal infection.
After Navarro's departure in early 1998, Red Hot Chili Peppers were on the verge of breaking up. Flea told Kiedis, "the only way I could imagine carrying on [with Red Hot Chili Peppers] is if we got John back in the band." Kiedis was surprised and thought there was no way Frusciante would ever want to work with him as the two still had unresolved personal problems from when Frusciante quit in 1992. With Frusciante free of his addictions and ailments, Kiedis and Flea thought it was an appropriate time to invite him back. In April 1998, when Flea visited him at his home and asked him to rejoin the band, Frusciante began sobbing and said "nothing would make me happier in the world." Flea decided to contact Anthony and have him meet with John to try and resolve any personal problems that the two might have had. Flea was relieved to find out that both had no bad blood towards each other and were once again excited to make music together. Within the week and, for the first time in six years, the reunited foursome jump-started the newly reunited Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony Kiedis said of the situation:
|“||For me, that was the defining moment of what would become the next six years of our lives together. That was when I knew that this was the real deal, that the magic was about to happen again. Suddenly we could all hear, we could all listen, and instead of being caught up in our finite little balls of bullshit, we could all become players in that great universal orchestra again.||”|
"Otherside", the third single from Californication, was one of the darkest recordings following One Hot Minute due to Kiedis' continuing drug addiction which considerably affected his songwriting. The track prominently features a sparse guitar arrangement that Frusciante played on a 1955 Gretsch White Falcon.
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Despite the band's elation, Frusciante was both mentally and physically torn. Frusciante had not played with the band since his departure and other than his solo albums had not picked up a guitar in years. He had lost his guitars in a house fire from which he barely escaped, and experienced a difficult time resuming his prior life. The group began jamming in Flea's garage and it didn't take long for Frusciante to regain his talent, however, and new songs began to roll out. Frusciante's return restored a key component of the Chili Peppers' sound, as well as a healthy morale. He brought with him his deep devotion to music, which had an impact on the band's recording style during the sessions which produced their next album. Frusciante has frequently stated that his work on Californication was his favorite. On June 8, 1999, after more than a year of production and meticulous practice, Californication was released as the band's seventh studio album. The album ultimately sold over 15 million copies and became the band's most successful recording to date. Californication contained fewer rap-driven songs than its predecessors, instead integrating textured, consistent, and melodic guitar riffs, vocals and bass-lines. The record produced three more number one modern rock hits, "Scar Tissue", "Otherside" and "Californication". Californication gained positive critical acceptance in contrast to its less popular predecessor, One Hot Minute, and was a greater success worldwide. While many critics credited the success of the album to Frusciante's return, they also noted that Kiedis' vocals had also greatly improved. It was later listed at number 399 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
In July 1999, as part of the band's two-year long international world tour in support of their new album, Red Hot Chili Peppers played at Woodstock 1999, which became infamous for the violence that resulted. Some 10 minutes before the show, they were asked by Jimi Hendrix's stepsister to play a cover of her brother's songs. After some hesitation due to not having performed the song in years, the band decided to play his classic "Fire", which they had covered on Mother's Milk. Coincidentally, about two thirds of the way into the band's set, the closing set of the three-day concert, a small fire escalated into full-fledged vandalism and resulted in the intervention of riot control squads. The disruption escalated into violence when nearby property including ATMs and several semi-tractor trailers were looted and destroyed. Kiedis felt that "It was clear that this situation had nothing to do with Woodstock anymore. It wasn't symbolic of peace and love, but of greed and cashing in ... We woke up to papers and radio stations vilifying us for playing 'Fire'." The tour also originated the band's first concert DVD, 2001's Off the Map.
Sample of "By the Way", the first single from the album, which was far more fast paced and contained heavier guitar riffs than most of the songs on By the Way. Frusciante sings backing vocals throughout the chorus and bridge.
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The writing and formation of the band's next album, By the Way began immediately following the culmination of Californication's world tour, in the Spring of 2001. As with Californication, much of the creation took place in the band members' homes, and other locations of practice, such as a recording studio stage. Kiedis recalled of the situation: "We started finding some magic and some music and some riffs and some rhythms and some jams and some grooves, and we added to it and subtracted from it and pushed it around and put melodies to it." Frusciante and Kiedis would collaborate for days straight, discussing and sharing guitar progressions and lyrics. For Kiedis, "writing By the Way ... was a whole different experience from Californication. John was back to himself and brimming with confidence."
Before recording By the Way (2002), the Chili Peppers decided that they would again have Rick Rubin produce the album. In the past, Rubin had given the band creative freedom on their recording material; this was something they thought essential for the album to be unique, and could only occur with his return. Originally the album was headed in a much different direction than the final production. The album started out as a group of fast, hardcore punk songs, which Rubin rejected. Frusciante also wanted a darker, 1980s UK pop/new wave sound mixed in with 1980s hardcore. The recording process was tough for Flea, who felt like an outsider in the band and that his role was being diminished due to a musical power struggle with Frusciante. Flea wanted to create more funk-inspired songs, while Frusciante felt that the band had overused their funk side. Flea considered quitting the band after the album, but the two eventually worked out all their problems.
By the Way was released on July 9, 2002 and produced four singles; "By the Way", "The Zephyr Song", "Can't Stop" and "Universally Speaking". The album was their most subdued album to date, focusing primarily on melodic ballads as opposed to their classic rap-driven funk. Frusciante also concentrated on a more layered texture on many of the songs, often adding keyboard parts, that featured low in the mix, and also writing string arrangements for songs such as "Midnight" and "Minor Thing". The album was followed by an eighteen month-long world tour. The European leg of the By the Way tour produced the band's second full-length concert DVD, Live at Slane Castle, recorded at Slane Castle in Ireland on August 23, 2003. The band released their first full-length live album, Live in Hyde Park; recorded during their performances in Hyde Park, London. More than 258,000 fans paid over $17,100,000 for tickets over three nights, a 2004 record; the event ranked No.1 on Billboard's Top Concert Boxscores of 2004.
In November 2003, the Chili Peppers released their Greatest Hits album, which featured two new songs, "Fortune Faded" and "Save the Population". The two songs were selected out of sessions that generated fifteen tracks and Smith later said the band had hopes to use along with new compositions to create a full album after finishing the tour, but the idea was vetoed by Frusciante because his musical influences and styles had evolved and he wanted to do something new.
In 2006 the band released the Grammy Award–winning Stadium Arcadium produced by Rick Rubin. Although 38 songs were created with the intention of being released as three separate albums spaced six months apart, the band instead chose to release a 28-track double album, and released nine of the ten as B–sides. It was their first album to debut at No. 1 on the US charts, where it stayed for two weeks, and debuted at number one in the UK and 25 other countries. Stadium Arcadium sold over seven million units.
The record's first single, "Dani California", was the band's fastest-selling single, debuting on top of the Modern Rock chart in the U.S., peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reaching No. 2 in the UK. "Tell Me Baby", released next, also topped the charts in 2006. "Snow ((Hey Oh))" was released in late 2006, breaking multiple records by 2007. The song became their eleventh number one single, giving the band a cumulative total of 81 weeks at number one. It was also the first time three consecutive singles by the band made it to number one. "Desecration Smile" was released internationally in February 2007 and reached number 27 on the UK charts. "Hump de Bump" was planned to be the next single for the US, Canada, and Australia only, but due to positive feedback from the music video, it was released as a worldwide single in May 2007.
The band began another world tour in support of Stadium Arcadium in 2006, beginning with promotional concerts in Europe and culminating in a two-month long European tour from late May to mid-July. During this tour Frusciante's friend and frequent musical collaborator Josh Klinghoffer joined the touring band, contributing guitar parts, back up vocals, and keyboards. Klinghoffer's presence allowed the live performances of songs to sound more like the recorded versions, in which Frusciante laid down multiple tracks himself. The group toured North America from early August to early November, returning to Europe later in November for a second leg, that ran until mid–December. The Chili Peppers began 2007 with a second North American leg, this time including Mexico, from mid–January to mid–March. This was followed by April shows in various cities in Australia and New Zealand and concerts in Japan in early June. The Peppers concluded their tour with a third European leg from late June to late August. They appeared at the Live Earth concert at London's Wembley Stadium on July 7, 2007. The band appeared at several festivals, including Denmarks Roskilde festival, Ireland's Oxegen in July 2006, Lollapalooza in August 2006 in Grant Park, Chicago, a subsequent set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California in late April 2007 and in August 2007 they appeared as one of three headliners at the Reading and Leeds festivals along with Razorlight and Smashing Pumpkins.
In February 2007, Stadium Arcadium won five Grammys: Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song ("Dani California"), Best Rock Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocal ("Dani California"), Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package, and Best Producer (Rick Rubin). Rolling Stone's '100 Best Albums of the Decade (2000–2009)' included Stadium Arcadium at # 74.
Following the last leg of the Stadium Arcadium tour, the band members took an extended break. Kiedis attributed this to the band being worn out from their years of nonstop work since Californication (1999). The band's only recording during this time was in 2008 with George Clinton on his latest album George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love. Accompanied by Kim Manning, the band recorded a new version of Shirley and Lee's classic "Let the Good Times Roll". The song would become the last song the band would record with Frusciante.
Kiedis, who had recently become a father, was looking forward to the time off and taking care of his son Everly Bear and possibly creating a short television series called Spider and Son, which was set to recap his autobiography. Flea began taking music theory classes at the University of Southern California, and revealed plans to release a mainly instrumental solo record, that was being recorded in his home; guest musicians include Patti Smith and a choir from the Silverlake Conservatory. Flea also joined Thom Yorke of Radiohead in the supergroup Atoms for Peace. Frusciante continued his solo career and released his solo album, The Empyrean. Chad Smith worked with Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, and Michael Anthony in the supergroup Chickenfoot, as well as on his solo project, Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats. The band planned to remain on hiatus for "a minimum of one year".
In May 2009, Kiedis was honored with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award at the fifth annual MusiCares event for his dedication and support of the MusiCares MAP Fund and for his commitment to helping other addicts with addiction and recovery process. Kiedis' fellow band members, minus Frusciante were on hand to pay tribute and under the name, 'The Insects', Kiedis, Smith, Flea along with Ron Wood, Josh Klinghoffer and Ivan Neville performed a brief set of cover songs.
In October 2009 the band officially ended their hiatus and minus Frusciante, entered the studio to begin writing for their tenth studio album. The band was joined by Josh Klinghoffer, who to the public was still the band's backup touring guitarist, although it was later confirmed, that he was already an official member and Frusciante's replacement with Frusciante having quit the band on July 29, 2009. An official announcement on Frusciante's departure wasn't made until December 2009. Frusciante explained on his MySpace page, that there was no drama or anger about him leaving the band this time, and that the other members were very supportive and understanding. Frusciante said he felt his musical interests had led him in a different direction, and that he needed to fully focus his efforts on his solo career.
The band, with Josh Klinghoffer on guitar, made their live comeback on January 29, 2010, paying tribute to Neil Young with a cover of "A Man Needs a Maid" at MusiCares. After months of speculation, in February 2010 Klinghoffer was officially confirmed by Chad Smith as Frusciante's full-time replacement.
The band officially began recording their tenth studio album with producer Rick Rubin in September 2010. According to Rubin, the band recorded enough material to release a second double album, following Stadium Arcadium but ultimately decided not to. Rubin notes, "it was painful not to share all of the material that we had, but we felt it would be too much. We really wanted it to be twelve songs but it ended up being fourteen just because nobody could agree on which twelve." The recording process lasted until March 2011. Many of the songs were written between October 2009 and August 2010 and according to Flea around 60–70 songs were written in the ten months prior to entering the studio to record the album. Rubin spoke about Klinghoffer and the new music by saying "Josh is fantastic. He played with John Frusciante for many, many years and he actually toured with the Chili Peppers before, so he's sort of part of the extended family. He's stylistically very close to John but has a completely different trip. It sounds like Red Hot Chili Peppers that you've never heard before." According to Kiedis, the writing and process this time around was much different. In the past many of their songs came through jams, but this time around many were thought out and planned thanks to Flea's new knowledge of music theory.
In July 2011, the band kicked off a trio of invitation-only warm-up dates in California. These were the first shows the band played since August 2007 and their first official shows with Josh as their lead guitarist.
I'm with You, the band's tenth studio album was released in the United States in August 2011. The album topped the charts in 18 different countries although failed to provide the band with their second straight number one debut in the U.S. The album was met with mostly positive reviews from the critics. The album's first single, "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" was released a month earlier and went on to become the band's twelfth number one hit single, topping their own record. Kreayshawn was tapped to direct the music video for the single, however due to unknown reasons, the video shot by Kreayshawn went unreleased and a second video directed by Marc Klasfeld was released in its place. "Monarchy of Roses", "Look Around" and "Did I Let You Know", released only in Brazil, followed as singles/music videos. "Brendan's Death Song" would be the next single and released during the summer of 2012.
The band kicked off a month long promotional tour in August 2011 starting in Asia. On August 30, 2011, the band appeared on movie screens throughout the world via satellite from Cologne, Germany performing the entire new album in sequence, minus "Even You Brutus" and adding "Give It Away" and "Me and My Friends". The band officially kicked off the I'm with You Tour on September 11, 2011, the next day, on September 12, they played in Costa Rica. The tour is expected to last into 2013 and be one of the band's biggest to date. All shows from the upcoming world tour will be made available to purchase as downloads through LiveChiliPeppers.com. The North American leg of the tour, which was expected to begin on January 19, 2012, had to be postponed due to a surgery Kiedis went to resolve multiple foot injuries he had suffered through since the Stadium Arcadium tour. The first U.S. leg of the tour, including dates in Canada, kicked off in March 2012 and lasted into June, followed by summer shows in Europe, while the rest of the already scheduled U.S. dates took place in August and then from September through November 2012. Dates in Guatemala, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Latin America followed in January, February and March 2013.
The band was nominated for two MTV Europe Music Awards awards for Best Rock Band and Best Live Artist and nominated for Best Group at the 2012 People's Choice Awards I'm with You was also nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.
The band released 2011 Live EP on March 29, 2012. The EP a free five live song MP3 download through their website. The five songs were selected by Chad Smith from the band's 2011 European live albums, which were released for purchase through their website as well. May 1, 2012 saw the release of digital download only Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Covers EP, which consisted of previously released studio and live covers of artists, that influenced the band. In addition to their newly released live performances, starting in August 2012, the band has put out a collection of singles from the I'm With You Sessions. The singles, which will contain two songs each and total 17 songs will be available on 7" vinyl, digital download and CD. The last single is expected for release in April 2013.
Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez again joined the band during their August 12, 2012 performance of "Give it Away" in Los Angeles. Two days later during a show in Oakland, Josh suffered a broken foot during their performance which will require him to wear a walking boot. He was provided with a chair onstage at the following night's show, but was able to stand during the entire performance. Chad said that Klinghoffer's injury would not affect any of the band's tour dates and joked that Klinghoffer actually plays better since the injury. They made a concert at Santralistanbul, Istanbul, Turkey on September 8, 2012, there was no alcohol sales at the venue.
The band made Forbes' World's 25 Highest-Paid Musicians for 2012 list placing at number 19 and taking in $39 million for I'm with You and the tour to support it. The tour made $33,911,873 in 2012 which was ranked 15th on Billboard's annual Top 25 Tours list.
During the band's 2011–13 I'm with You tour they saw many historic milestones come and go including the 30th anniversary of the band's formation along with the 10th anniversary of By the Way, 20th anniversary of Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 25th anniversary of The Uplift Mofo Party Plan studio albums. Despite these milestones in the band's history, little to no mention of them was made by the band during the tour and no special performances were given on their behalf. While early 90's peers such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam re-released their classic breakthrough albums from that era to celebrate their anniversaries, Blood Sugar Sex Magik received little to no recognition or re-mastered re-release with Kiedis stating that he would rather look forward than backwards.
Following the I'm with You World Tour, the band set out on another small tour consisting mostly of festivals in the United States however the tour expanded to dates in South America as well for November. Flea along with Chili Peppers touring percussionist, Mauro Refosco spent the band's break keeping busy with their side-project Atoms For Peace, who had many dates throughout the world scheduled from July to November 2013. On May 11, 2013, the band performed a special concert in Portland, Oregon for the Dalai Lama as part of the Dalai Lama Environmental Summit. According to the press release "The musical element of this event is intended to be a display of joyful celebration and an inspiration to future generations to care for our planet. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been great supporters of the Tibetan cause, of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and of the need to work to protect and preserve our environment."
It was announced on January 10, 2014 that the Chili Peppers would be joining Bruno Mars as performers at the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show on February 2, 2014. The Super Bowl halftime show was the most watched in the history of the Super Bowl. A record 115.3 million viewers tuned in which passed the record 114 million who watched Madonna perform two years earlier. The band's performance was met with mixed reviews and heavy criticism from fans, the media and even musicians towards Flea and Klinghoffer for not plugging in their instruments and playing to pre-recorded music. Flea gave a lengthy response through the band's website stating it was a NFL rule for bands to pre-record music due to time and technical issues and that the band heavily weighed their options before committing to the performance ultimately deciding to perform because it would be fun and a once in a lifetime opportunity. He said Kiedis' vocals were completely live and the band pre-recorded "Give it Away" during rehearsals. Bruno Mars' backing band also performed to pre-recorded music but largely escaped the negative reaction the Chili Peppers faced. Smith also confirmed that over the past ten years, all musicians who have performed the halftime show have used pre-recorded music.
In a February 7, 2014 interview with fans on reddit, Chad Smith confirmed that the band would begin working on the new album starting the week of February 10, 2014. He also stated that the band hopes to one day release a box set of the unreleased songs from the band's 2003 studio sessions which produced songs for their Greatest Hits album and were featured on their Live in Hyde Park album.
On October 21, 2014, Flea was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine saying 'We've been able to "establish a new language" within the group.' With the group beginning work on their new record, this new connection is making everything easier and the process is moving smoothly. "We've been writing and rehearsing, rolling up our sleeves, getting in the studio and doing it," the bassist says. "We're nearly finished writing. We'll go in the studio sometime in the next couple of months." As for the direction of the as-yet-untitled songs, he says, "It's cool. It's super danceable, funky shit and some real introspective, pretty stuff. It feels good, man, and it's fun to play it." Although Flea wouldn't offer a timeline for the album – "I don't want to say something and be off," he says – he's optimistic for how it's coming along. "I would hope that in a year from now, we have a record out and we're on a world tour," he says.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012 by actor/comedian Chris Rock, who is a longtime friend and fan of the band. The induction line-up was Kiedis, Flea, Smith, Klinghoffer, Frusciante, Slovak, Irons and Martinez. Despite recording one album with the band, Dave Navarro and Jack Sherman were the only two former recording band members not inducted for reasons unknown (although it is rumored that only original and current members and those who played on multiple records qualify for induction). At 32, Klinghoffer was the youngest artist ever to be inducted into the hall of fame passing Stevie Wonder, who was 38 at the time of his induction. Frusciante did not attend the ceremony. Smith said "We asked him, he said, 'I'm just not really comfortable with that, but good luck and thanks for inviting me.' He's the kind of guy, I think, that once he's finished with something he's just on to the next phase of his life. The Chili Peppers are not really on his radar right now." Former guitarist Jack Sherman spoke out about the band's induction blaming the band for not including him or former guitarist Dave Navarro by saying he was told only original members, current members and those who played on multiple albums were eligible for induction. "It appeared to be a politically correct way of omitting Dave Navarro and I for whatever reasons they have that are probably the band's and not the Hall's," Sherman also said "It's really painful to see all this celebrating going on and be excluded. I'm not claiming that I've brought anything other to the band ... but to have soldiered on under arduous conditions to try to make the thing work, and I think that's what you do in a job, looking back. And that's been dishonored. I'm being dishonored, and it sucks." The band performed three songs, including "By the Way", "Give it Away" and "Higher Ground", which included Irons and Martinez on drums. It was the first time Kiedis and Flea had performed with Irons in 24 years and Martinez in 26 years. To end the ceremony, the band was joined by George Clinton, Michael Hampton, Slash, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones for a performance of "Higher Ground".
On the date following their Hall of Fame induction, the band performed a free concert in downtown Cleveland, Ohio in support of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. The requirement for getting into the concert was agreeing to volunteer for the Obama 2012 phone bank. The event quickly met its capacity limit after being announced.
In 2012, three of the bands albums Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Californication, and By the Way are ranked among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time ranked at 310, 399, and 304 respectively.
"Knock Me Down", the first single from Mother's Milk, exemplifies a stylistic divergence away from the band's typical punk and funk rock into a more alternative territory. The track was originally intended to be a duet between guitarist John Frusciante and vocalist Anthony Kiedis but was mixed in a way, that Frusciante's voice is more prominent.
"Under the Bridge", the second single from Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was a reflective and melodic composition, that would go on to become one of the defining songs of the 1990s.
The third single from By the Way combined rapidly sung verses and textured, multi-layered guitar riffs. Frusciante sings backing vocals throughout.
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Red Hot Chili Peppers' musical style is characterized as funk rock, alternative rock and funk metal, with influences from hard rock, psychedelic rock and punk rock. The band's influences include Defunkt, Parliament-Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix, The Misfits, James Brown, Gang of Four, Bob Marley, Big Boys, Bad Brains, Sly and the Family Stone, Ohio Players, Queen, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley, Deep Purple, The Beach Boys, Black Flag, Ornette Coleman, Led Zeppelin, Fugazi, Fishbone, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, Santana, Elvis Costello, The Stooges, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Devo, and Miles Davis.
Vocalist Anthony Kiedis provided multiple vocal styles. His primary approach up to Blood Sugar Sex Magik was spoken verse and "rapping". Complemented with traditional vocals, he helped the band maintain a consistent style. Nevertheless, as the group matured, starting with Californication (1999) the group reduced the number of rapped verses. By the Way contained only two rap-driven-verse/melodic chorus form. Kiedis' more recent style was developed through ongoing coaching.
Original guitarist Hillel Slovak's style was strongly based on blues and funk. Slovak was primarily influenced by hard rock artists such as Jimi Hendrix, KISS and Led Zeppelin. His playing method was highly based on improvisation, a style commonly used in funk music. He also was noted for his aggressive playing style; he would often play with such force, that his fingers would "come apart". Kiedis observed, that his playing evolved during his time away from the group in What Is This?, with Slovak adopting a more fluid style featuring "sultry" elements as opposed to his original hard rock techniques. On The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987), Slovak experimented with genres outside of traditional funk music including reggae and speed metal. His guitar riffs would often serve as the basis of the group's songs, with the other members writing their parts to complement his guitar work. His melodic riff featured in the song "Behind the Sun" inspired the group to create "pretty" songs with an emphasis on melody. Kiedis describes the song as "pure Hillel inspiration". Slovak also used a talk box on songs such as "Green Heaven" and "Funky Crime", in which he would sing into a tube while playing to create psychedelic effects.
Guitarist John Frusciante's musical style has evolved over the course of his career. His guitar playing employs melody and emotion rather than virtuosity. Although virtuoso influences can be heard throughout his career, he has said that he often minimizes this. Frusciante brought a more melodic and textured sound to albums such as Californication (1999), By the Way (2002) and Stadium Arcadium (2006). This contrasts with his previous abrasive approach in Mother's Milk, as well as his dry, funky and more docile arrangements on Blood Sugar Sex Magik. On Californication (1999) and By the Way (2002), Frusciante derived the technique of creating tonal texture through chord patterns from post-punk guitarist Vini Reilly of The Durutti Column, and bands such as Fugazi and The Cure. He originally intended By the Way to be made up of "these punky, rough songs", drawing inspiration from early punk artists such as The Germs and The Damned. However, this was discouraged by producer Rick Rubin, and he instead built upon Californication's (1999) melodically driven style. During the recording of Stadium Arcadium (2006), he moved away from his New Wave influences and concentrated on emulating flashier guitar players such as Hendrix and Van Halen.
Current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer's style employs a wide range of unconventional guitar effects and vocal treatments. In his debut Chili Peppers album, I'm With You (2011), he focused heavily on producing a textured, emotional sound to complement the vocals and atmosphere of each song. He has stated that he is a huge fan of jazz and funk, which shows itself in many of the album's tracks.
Flea's electric bass style is an amalgamation of funk, psychedelic, punk, and hard rock. The groove-heavy, low-tuned melodies, played through either finger–picking, or slapping, contributed to their signature style. While Flea's slap bass style was prominent in earlier albums, albums after Blood Sugar Sex Magik have more melodic and funk–driven bass lines. He has also used double stops on some newer songs. Flea's bass playing has changed considerably throughout the years. When he joined Fear, his technique centered largely around traditional punk rock bass lines, however he was to change this style, when Red Hot Chili Peppers formed. He began to incorporate a "slap" bass style, that drew influence largely from Bootsy Collins. Blood Sugar Sex Magik saw a notable shift in style as it featured none of his signature technique but rather styles, that focused more on traditional and melodic roots. His intellectual beliefs, on how to play the instrument, were also altered: "I was trying to play simply on Blood Sugar Sex Magik because I had been playing too much prior to that, so I thought, 'I've really got to chill out and play half as many notes'. When you play less, it's more exciting—there's more room for everything. If I do play something busy, it stands out, instead of the bass being a constant onslaught of notes. Space is good."
Drummer Chad Smith blends rock with funk. He mixes funk, rock, metal and jazz to his beats. Influences include Buddy Rich to John Bonham. He brought a different sound to Mother's Milk, playing tight and fast. In Blood Sugar Sex Magik, he displays greater power. He is recognized for his ghost notes, his beats and his fast right foot. MusicRadar put him in sixth place on their list of the "50 Greatest Drummers Of All Time", behind Mike Portnoy, Neil Peart, Keith Moon, Rich and Bonham.
Through the years, Kiedis' lyrics covered a variety of topics, which shifted as time progressed. Early in the group's career, Kiedis wrote mostly comical songs filled with sexual innuendos as well as songs inspired by friendship and the band members' personal experiences. However, after the death of his close friend and band mate Hillel Slovak, Kiedis' lyrics became much more introspective and personal, as exemplified by the Mother's Milk (1989) song "Knock Me Down", which was dedicated to Slovak along with the Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991) song, "My Lovely Man".
When the band recorded One Hot Minute (1995) Kiedis had turned to drugs once again, which resulted in darker lyrics. He began to write about anguish, and the self mutilating thoughts he would experience as a result of his heroin and cocaine addiction. The album also featured tributes to close friends the band lost during the recording process including Kurt Cobain on the song "Tearjerker" and River Phoenix, on the song "Transcending".
After witnessing Frusciante's recovery from his heroin addiction, Kiedis wrote many songs inspired by rebirth and the meaning of life on Californication (1999). He was also intrigued by the life lessons, that the band had learned, including Kiedis' experience with meeting a young mother at the YMCA, who was attempting to battle her crack addiction while living with her infant daughter.
On By the Way (2002), Kiedis was lyrically influenced by love, his girlfriend, and the emotions expressed, when one fell in love. Drugs also played an integral part in Kiedis' writings, as he had only been sober since December 2000. Tracks like "This Is the Place" and "Don't Forget Me" expressed his intense dislike for narcotics and the harmful physical and emotional effects they caused him. Stadium Arcadium (2006) continued the themes of love and romance; Kiedis stated, that "love and women, pregnancies and marriages, relationship struggles – those are real and profound influences on this record. And it's great, because it wasn't just me writing about the fact that I'm in love. It was everybody in the band. We were brimming with energy based on falling in love." I'm With You (2011) again featured Kiedis writing about the loss of a close friend this time in the song "Brendan's Death Song", a tribute to club owner Brendan Mullen who gave the band some of their earliest shows and showed support to them throughout their career.
Themes within Kiedis' repertoire include love and friendship, teenage angst, good-time aggression, various sexual topics and the link between sex and music, political and social commentary (Native American issues in particular), romance, loneliness, globalization and the cons of fame and Hollywood, poverty, drugs, alcohol, dealing with death, and California.
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