Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer School of Rock ~ Red Hot Chili Peppers

Hey, hey, hey look at that...I'm actually getting to another band in a timely fashion, which truth be told is nothing short of a miracle considering the kind of week it has been.

When I began this series a few years ago now, I wanted to make sure that I didn't just focus on the classic rock pioneers, but included current musicians as well. And then, there is this third category of musicians. You know, the ones like RHCP that weren't here in the beginning, that meshed things in a new way, that came on to the scene and threw people for a bit of a loop with their quirks and then oh yeah by the way, stuck around for over 30 years so far.

Seriously you guys. They've been together for over 30 years. And if that doesn't age you instantly, I'm not sure what would.


I know. I'm still processing that 30 year thing.

Anyhow, let's get to the band....


RHCP formed at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles in 1983. Founding members Anthony Kiedis and Flea are still with the band to this day. The rest of the band has gone through several lineup changes, including one resulting from the tragic overdose of Hillel Slovak.

Photo by James Slovak
Not a band to ever shy away from rampant drug use, they set aside money from gigs and album deals in the early days specifically to cover their heroin and cocaine habits.

Other familiar additions and departures from the band have included the addition of Chad Smith on drums, a hilarious guy who just happens to be one of the best drummers ever. Dave Navarro famously came and went, joining the band as they rocketed to fame in the early 90s, but being kicked out after several contentious years. The current lineup includes Kiedis, Flea, Smith and Josh Klinghoffer.

Photo by Ellen von Unwerth
Always a rock band with a funk edge, they had their first notable commercial success with Mother's Milk in 1989 and went intergalactic with Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991. They hit the scene with a raw sound that was different than the grunge of the time, and they were something different, significantly different than the bands that all came out of garages wearing flannel at the time. The album went on to sell over 15 million copies, working it's way into the background music of an entire generation's life.

Give It Away was the first single released off that album, winning a Grammy.


The album included other well known and loved hits including one that documented the drug use with which they were all so intimately familiar, Under The Bridge.


After several years of struggling with lineups, drugs, creative differences and injuries, RHCP released Californication in 1999, which became their best selling album. The album wasn't just a success with fans, it was a critical success as well, demonstrating a cohesion that the band had been missing for a while.

The video for Scar Tissue in particular was one that seemed to chronicle the story of the band. It wasn't just a song with some pictures, it was a car full of guys on this crazy trip who clearly had a story to tell.


At this point, they've released so many albums and have been touring for so long that it would take me forever to try and chronicle it all. They're in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 2012. They've recorded ten studio albums and have six Grammy's, among all the other awards they have won.

They just released an entire live album on their website and made it available for free download, which you can get here if you are interested. 

My personal favorite song of theirs? This one, from a long, long, long time ago.


And, if you haven't seen the drum off between Chad Smith and his doppleganger Will Ferrell, you need to. It's worth your time, I promise. That, and if you haven't seen the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) nude photo of the band, you should totally go see that too. Here's the link.


RHCP has been around for a long time now, but so have we, the fans they've had from the very beginning. I hope they keep it up forever. Stay funky, stay rocking, stay edgy, stay weird.

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The other bands and artists profiled already, in no particular order.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhhhh! I so used to dig RHCP. I remember them from when I was in elementary school. There was even this other kid, Scott, who was into the band and he kinda reminds me of Anthony Keidis, skinny, long hair.

    30 years they've been together, wow! I'm not far into my 30s so this definitely ages me :)

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