The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The band consists of founding members Anthony Kiedis and Michael "Flea" Balzary, longtime drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined in late 2009, following the departure of John Frusciante. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have won seven Grammy awards.
The roots of the band lay in a friendship forged by three school chums, Anthony Kiedis, Michael Balzary, and Hillel Slovak, while they attended Fairfax High School in California back in the late '70s/early '80s. While Balzary and Slovak showed great musical promise (on trumpet and guitar, respectively), Kiedis focused on poetry and acting during his high school career.
The band didn't actually form until 1983, the Kiedis-Flea-Slovak threesome joined by drummer Jack Irons. They played their first gig as Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem
The Red Hot Chili Peppers didn't achieve real mainstream success until the release of Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991, but by that point they'd been together for nearly a decade. During the 1980s the California group merged funk with hip-hop, punk and psychedelia on classic LPs like Freaky Styley and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan,
But it seems Hillel had already made the decision to start using drugs again, if he had not already done so. On the 27th June 1988, Hillel scored some smack and returned to his apartment in a complex known as ‘Malaga Castle’ and overdosed. Hillel’s body was found on the Monday following his death when a concerned friend called in to see him; he was hunched over the painting he had been working on; it had a whole burned into it from Hillel’s final cigarette
In the wake of Slovak's death, Irons left the group for the second and final time, while Kiedis (who was also battling drug addiction at the time) and Flea decided to soldier on. After a new lineup consisting of former Parliament guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight and former Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro didn't work out, the duo found worthy replacements in newcomers John Frusciante and Chad Smith. The new-look Chili Peppers hit pay dirt straight away, as their first album together, 1989's Mother's Milk, became a surprise hit due to MTV's exposure of their videos for a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" and a song about their fallen friend Slovak, "Knock Me Down," as the album was certified gold by early 1990.
When the group was reborn in 1999 with ''Californication,'' the old manic energy had mellowed into an appealing restlessness. Instead of furious bass riffs and squealing guitar parts, the new Red Hot Chili Peppers emphasize loosely tangled instrumental lines.
Part of the band's appeal remains its manic demeanor, particularly Flea, who when he isn't chopping at his bass, kicking like a chorus girl or tumbling like a stunt man, is mooning the audience or regaling it with one of his scatological between-songs haikus.
In 2004, the band’s lead singer and front man Anthony Kiedis, with help from author Larry Sloman, chose to release a riveting tell-all book revealing first hand details about his eccentric life and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ rise to fame. The New York Times best-seller, which was poetically named “Scar Tissue”, divulged several fascinating and little known firsthand accounts about the band’s formation and its several members.
Frusciante, whose tenure in the band was interrupted by problems with heroin addiction through the 90s (it led to an oral infection so bad he had to have all his teeth removed and replaced with dental implants), left for good in 2009. And so today Kiedis, also 48, is paired with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer in the suite across the hall from Flea and Smith.
An intriguing little known fact about the band’s bass guitarist, Michael “Flea” Balzary, is that he had accompanied River Phoenix to The Viper Club, a bar that is owned by Johnny Depp, on the tragic night of the young actor’s death. Not only was the famous bassist a witness to the heartbreaking events, which took place that night, but he was also present in the ambulance that transported River Phoenix to the hospital as well