Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American rock band. The band has a long history of members but until December 2018, lead singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea were the ones who were among the original line up of the band when it was formed back in 1983. The band is seen as one of the best-selling bands of all time and has sold over 80 million records worldwide.
- Hillel Slovak
- Jack Irons
- Cliff Martinez
- Jack Sherman
- DeWayne McKnight
- D.H. Peligro
- Arik Marshall
- Jesse Tobias
- Dave Navarro
- John Frusciante
Los Angeles, California, United States
Funk Rock, Alternative Rock, Funk Metal, Rap Rock
- Capitol Records
- EMI Records
- Warner Bros.
- The band released their first studio album The Red Hot Chili Peppers on August 10, 1984, under EMI and Capitol record labels. The album peaked at number 201 on the US Billboard chart.
- Their 5th studio album Blood Sugar S*x Magik was released on September 24, 1991, which peaked at number 1 spot on Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand’s Music charts.
- Their other albums like Californication, By the Way, Stadium Arcadium, I’m with You, The Getaway, were also huge successes.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Facts
- The band began with the name of ‘Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem’ and members included guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons, alongside singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea.
- Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons did not play on the band’s self-titled debut album in 1984. Slovak performed on the 2nd and 3rd albums, Freaky Styley (1985) and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987).
- Hillel Slovak died from a heroin overdose in 1988. As a result of his friend’s death, Irons chose to leave the group.
- After short-lived replacements on guitar and drums, John Frusciante and Chad Smith joined in 1988. The lineup of Flea, Kiedis, Frusciante, and Smith was the longest-lasting and recorded 5 studio albums beginning with Mother’s Milk (1989).
- In 1990, the group signed with Warner Bros. Records and recorded the album Blood Sugar S*x Magik (1991) under producer Rick Rubin. This album was the band’s first major commercial success, but Frusciante left the band in 1992 in the middle of the Blood Sugar S*x Magik Tour as he grew uncomfortable with the band’s popularity.
- After 2 temporary guitarists, Dave Navarro joined the group in 1993 and played on their subsequent album, One Hot Minute (1995). Although commercially successful, the album failed to match the critical or popular acclaim of Blood Sugar S*x Magik, selling less than half as much as its predecessor. Navarro was fired from the band in 1998.
- After getting out of drug rehabilitation, Frusciante rejoined the band at Flea’s request. The reunited quartet later recorded Californication (1999), which became the band’s biggest commercial success with more than 16 million copies sold worldwide. That album was followed by the 2002 album, By the Way, and then by the double album Stadium Arcadium (2006) which was their first number-one album in America.
- The group went on an extended hiatus after a world tour.
- In 2009, Frusciante announced that he was amicably leaving the band in order to focus on his solo career. Klinghoffer later replaced him. Klinghoffer had previously worked both as a sideman for the band on their Stadium Arcadium tour and on Frusciante’s solo projects.
- The band’s 10th studio album, I’m with You (2011) topped the charts in 18 different countries.
- In 2016, Red Hot Chili Peppers released their 11th studio album titled The Getaway, which was produced by Danger Mouse. It was the first time since Mother’s Milk that the band had not worked with Rick Rubin and topped the charts in 10 different countries.
- The band, Red Hot Chili Peppers was formed in Los Angeles by singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist Hillel Slovak, and drummer Jack Irons. All the members were classmates from Fairfax High School.
- Their first performance was at the Rhythm Lounge club as ‘Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem’ opening for Gary and Neighbor’s Voices in front of a crowd of approximately 30 people.
- Their performances were inspired by musical groups like The Contortions and Defunkt and involved the band improvising music while Kiedis rapped a poem called Out in L.A. At that time, Slovak and Irons were also performing for another group called What Is This? However, their performance was so energetic, that the band was asked to perform the following week.
- After this unexpected success, the band was renamed to Red Hot Chili Peppers and they started performing at various LA clubs and musical venues.
- The band’s first demo tape contained the 6 songs from these initial shows.
- Manager Lindy Goetz struck a 7-album deal with Enigma Records and EMI America in November 1983. However, 2 weeks earlier, What Is This? had also signed a record deal with MCA. Slovak and Irons considered the band as a side project and so they decided to quit in December 1983 in order to focus on What Is This? Kiedis and Flea recruited new members instead of dissolving the band.
- Flea’s friend and the punk band, The Weirdos’ member, Cliff Martinez was the new replacement for Irons.
- The band held auditions to recruit the new guitarist but after a few practices, they decided that The Weirdos guitarist Dix Denney did not fit. Kiedis described the final two candidates, Jack Sherman, and Mark Nine, respectively as a nerdy looking guy with a combed-back Jewfro with an unknown background and a “hip avant-garde art school refugee”. Sherman was hired as Slovak’s replacement as he clicked right away with Flea and Martinez.
- In August 1984, the band released their self-titled debut album, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The album did not set sales records but airplay on MTV and college radio helped them to build a fan base, and the album ultimately sold more than 300k copies. The producer of the album and the Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill didn’t embrace the band’s musical aesthetic or ideology and argued constantly with the band over the record’s sound.
- According to Kiedis, “Andy’s thing was having a hit at all costs, but it was such a mistake to have an agenda.”
- Despite Kiedis and Flea’s doubts, Gill forced the band to play with a crisper, cleaner, and more radio-friendly sound. However, the band was disappointed in the record’s overall sound. According to them, it was overly polished, as if it had “gone through a sterilizing Goody Two-shoes machine”.
- Their debut album included backing vocals by the popular singer for the successful 1970s disco funk group, Rose Royce, Gwen Dickey.
- After the release of the album, the band went on a grueling tour during which they performed around 60 shows in 64 days. During the tour, the continuing lifestyle and musical tension between Kiedis and Sherman complicated the concert and daily band life.
- In October 1984, Sherman was fired and Hillel Slovak, who had quit What Is This? re-joined the band in early 1985.
- In September 1987, the band released The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. It later became their 1st album to appear on any chart. This was a notable success for the band compared to the first 2 albums as it peaked at No. 148 on the Billboard 200 chart.
- Kiedis and Slovak had both developed serious drug addictions during this period. They often abandoned the band, each other, and their significant others.
- On June 25, 1988, after the conclusion of the Uplift tour, Slovak died due to heroin overdose.
- Kiedis did not attend Slovak’s funeral and fled the city. He considers the situation to be surreal and dreamlike.
- After returning to L.A. after Slovak’s death, Kiedis, Irons, Flea, and manager Lindy Goetz had a meeting to decide what to do next. Irons decided to leave the group because he did not want to be a member of a group where his friends were dying.
- Irons later battled through years of depression and went on to become a member of Seattle grunge band, Pearl Jam.
- After Irons left the group, Kiedis and Flea decided to move ahead with the band, hoping to continue what Slovak “helped build”.
- After losing the two original band members, Flea and Kiedis started looking for musicians. After Irons left the band, they chose a former member of Parliament-Funkadelic, DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, as Slovak’s replacement. In the past, Blackbyrd had briefly filled in for Slovak, when he was temporarily fired.
- Dead Kennedys member, D. H. Peligro was recruited as a replacement for Irons.
- Peligro was a friend of Kiedis and Flea and they even had a joke band together named “Three Little Butt Hairs”.
- After the new lineup was decided, Kiedis entered into a rehab facility in Van Nuys called ASAP to fix his drug problem. After 2 weeks, he was taken by his counselor, Bob Timmons, to visit Slovak’s grave. Kiedis did not want to be there, however, Timmons forced him to talk to Slovak. After a few minutes, Kiedis had opened up and he could not stop crying.
- After 30 days later, Kiedis left rehab and resumed his career with the band. Three dates into the tour, DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight was fired from the band because the chemistry was not there with the other three.
- During his time with the band, McKnight recorded a song titled Blues For Meister. McKnight was so unhappy about being fired that he threatened to burn down Kiedis’s house.
- Shortly after McKnight was fired from the band, Peligro introduced a teenage guitarist named John Frusciante to Kiedis and Flea. Kiedis had actually met him a year earlier outside of one of the band’s shows.
- Frusciante was originally supposed to audition for the band Thelonious Monster, however, Kiedis knew right away that Frusciante would be in his band.
- In September 1988, Frusciante performed his first show with the band.
- The band started writing music for their next album and also went on a short tour titled the Turd Town Tour. In November, Kiedis and Flea decided to fire drummer Peligro because of his own drug and alcohol problems.
- Peligro did not take the news well and Flea stayed in bed for days after making the decision. Kiedis later said that firing Peligro was one of the most difficult things that the band ever had to do.
- The Chili Peppers later held open auditions in order to find a drummer for the band. The band’s friend, Denise Zoom suggested Chad Smith and claimed that he was one of the best drummers she had ever seen. The band agreed to audition Chad, but he was the last drummer to audition.
- Musically, Smith and Flea instantly found chemistry. Smith was a hard-hitting musician with whom the Chili Peppers believed they would create a strong relationship.
- According to Kiedis, Smith was very different from the other three members and his audition left the band in a state of frenzied laughter, that they couldn’t shake out of for a half an hour.
- Kiedis, Flea, and Frusciante’s taste in music were influenced by punk rock, whereas Smith’s biker appearance and his taste in heavy metal music contrasted with their punk rock views. Kiedis informed Smith that he had to cut his long hair in order to be hired, but Smith refused.
- In December 1988, Smith was hired as the band’s 4th drummer.
- As of December 2018, the band holds the records for being the most successful band in alternative rock radio history, most cumulative weeks at number one (85), most number-one singles, and most top-ten songs (25) on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers was included into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
- In May 2021, it was revealed that Red Hot Chili Peppers was selling their song catalog to Hipgnosis Songs for upwards of $140 million.
- Visit the band’s official website @ redhotchilipeppers.com.
Featured Image by Warner Bros. / My News Desk / CC BY 3.0