Red Hot Chili Peppers

  • Alt Rock band formed in 1983 from Los Angeles California. The primary members have been Anthony Kiedis (lead vocals), Flea (born Michael Balzary, bass guitar, backing vocals), and Chad Smith (drums). There have been 8 lead guitarists – John Frusciante had the longest tenure with the band, and currently, the lead guitarist is Josh Klinghoffer.
  • Flea, Kiedis, Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons were schoolmates in high school. They formed a band called Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. They played at a local club, improvising the music while Kiedis rapped a poem he had written. Slovak and Irons were already with another band, but continued to play with this group. They started playing at other venues, and they changed their name to Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • In 1983, they signed a recording contract. The other band that Slovak and Irons played for also had a recording contract, so they left the Chili Peppers. Kiedis and Flea found replacements, and their debut album, the self titled Red Hot Chili Peppers, was released in 1984. The album’s producer argued with the band on the sound – the producer wanted something clean that would play well on the radio, while the band preferred something with raw energy. The record did not chart, though it played on college radio, and the video for the song True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes received play on MTV.
  • Slovak returned to Chili Peppers to play guitar. In 1985, their second album, Freaky Styley, was released. George Clinton of Funkadelic-fame produced this album, influencing the sound, which combines punk and funk. The band was using heroin while recording, which also influenced the sound. While they liked the record, it did not sell well.
  • Their next album was released in 1987 – The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Irons was back with the band, and it was their best seller to date, though none of their singles had charted yet. Kiedis and Slovak were seriously hooked on drugs, making the recording process difficult. Slovak died in 1988 from his addiction. Irons left the band again, not wanting to be with a group where his friends were dying (years later, he became drummer for Pearl Jam).
  • They again found replacements for guitar and drums, and Mother’s Milk was released in 1989. Their music was gaining momentum – this album sold over 1 million copies, and the singles Higher Ground and Knock Me Down reached #11 and #6 on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • In 1991, their breakthrough album was released – Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The album sold over 12 million copies, and Rolling Stone puts it at #310 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The single Give It Away reached #1 on the Alternative Songs list and won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. The song Under the Bridge hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The video won the Viewers Choice Award at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.
  • The band continued to change guitarists and to deal with addiction issues. They were unable to release another album until 1995. The album managed to sell well, with the song My Friends hitting #1 on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • Their best selling album, Californication, was released in 1999. For this album, Frusciante joined the band for the second time as the lead guitarist, and he provided a stabilizing force that the band needed. The album is more melodic than their earlier work. Three songs from the album hit #1 on the Alternative Songs chart – CalifornicationScar Tissue and Otherside. Rolling Stone places the album at #401 on their Greatest Albums list.
  • Their 2002 album By the Way was double platinum in the U.S., and sold nearly 10 million copies. The 2 singles reaching #1 were By the Way and Can’t Stop. 
  • The band’s 2006 album, Stadium Arcadium, was their first to land at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. It won a Grammy for Best Rock Album, and the single Dani California won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance. In addition to Dani California, 2 other songs peaked at #1 – Tell Me Baby and Snow ((Hey Oh)). 
  • Two albums were released in the 10s. Sales are down (with streaming, nobody seems to buy albums anymore), but singles have continued to reach the top of the Alternative songs chart.
  • The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. They joined Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2014. They’ve endured a lot of self inflicted chaos, but 35 years later they remain relevant and very popular. They have a distinctive sound, and can definitely rock! Watch the video to Dani California. How many artists can you name that they transform into in the video?

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