Original is the best way to describe the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the 1980's, they created an intoxicating new musical style by combining funk and punk rock -- as well as an exhilarating live show. Despite group controversy and numerous setbacks, the Southern Californian Chili Peppers have earned the title of one of the most enduring bands of the past two decades.
Fronted by lead signer Anthony Kiedis, the original lineup consisted of bassist Michael Balzary, guitar player Hillel Slovak, and drummer Jack Irons. The four musicians met at Los Angeles' Fairfax High and brought together diverse roots. Influenced heavily by the burgeoning L.A. punk scene (the Germs, Black Flag, Fear, Minutemen, X, etc.) as well as funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly & the Family Stone, etc.), the trio began to rehearse with another friend, drummer Jack Irons, leading to the formation of Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, a group that played strip bars along the sunset strip during the early '80s. It was during this time that the quartet honed their sound and live act (as they stumbled across a stage gimmick that would soon become their trademark -- performing on stage completely naked, except for a tube sock covering a certain part of their anatomy). By 1983, Balzary had begun to go by the name "Flea," and the group changed their name to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Tragedy struck the band after the release of the Abbey Road EP when Slovak took an accidental heroin overdose and died in June. Deeply upset, Irons left, while the band recruited John Frusciante and Chad Smith for guitar and skins duty. After the release of Mother's Milk, the single 'Knock Me Down' was released as a tribute to Slovak. For the commercially successful Blood Sugar Sex Magik they hit Top 40 stride. Producer Rick Rubin, usually associated with the harder end of the metal and rap spectrum (Slayer, Danzig), nevertheless brought out the band's first ballads, including the classic US number 2 hit single 'Under The Bridge'.
Frusciante left in May 1992 and was replaced by a succession of guitarists, before Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction) joined in time to participate in the recording of One Hot Minute, released in 1995. The band enjoyed another transatlantic hit two years later with 'Love Rollercoaster', taken from the soundtrack of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. Navarro left the band in 1998 and was replaced by ex-member John Frusciante. Having endured various personal upheavals, it was encouraging to hear the band in such good shape on 1999's US/UK Top 5 album, Californication, featuring stand-out tracks such as 'Scar Tissue' (a US Top 10 single), 'Parallel Universe', and 'Easily'. By The Way was a collection of mellow and slower paced numbers, very much in the style of 'Under The Bridge'.
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