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1983–1984: Early history
Red Hot Chili Peppers were formed in Los Angeles by singer Anthony Kiedis, guitarist Hillel Slovak, bassist Flea, and drummer Jack Irons, all of whom were classmates from Fairfax High School. Originally going under the band name of Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, their first performance was at the Rhythm Lounge club to a crowd of approximately 30 people, opening for Gary and Neighbor's Voices. Inspired by punk funk acts like The Contortions and Defunkt, they "wrote" for the occasion, which involved the band improvising music while Kiedis rapped a poem he had written called "Out in L.A.". At the time, Slovak and Irons were already committed to another group, What Is This?; however, the performance was so lively, that the band was asked to return the following week. Due to this unexpected success, the band changed its name to Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing several more shows at various LA clubs and musical venues. Six songs from these initial shows were on the band's first demo tape.
In November 1983, manager Lindy Goetz struck a seven-album deal with EMI America and Enigma Records. Two weeks earlier, however, What Is This? had also obtained a record deal with MCA. Slovak and Irons still considered the Red Hot Chili Peppers as only a side project and so in December 1983 they quit to focus on What Is This?. Instead of dissolving the band, Kiedis and Flea recruited new members. Cliff Martinez, a friend of Flea's and member from the punk band, The Weirdos, was the new replacement for Irons. The band held auditions for a new guitarist but decided after a few practices that Weirdos guitarist Dix Denney did not fit. Kiedis described the two final candidates, Mark Nine and Jack Sherman, respectively, as a "hip avant-garde art school refugee" and a nerd looking guy with a combed-back Jewfro with an unknown background. Musically Sherman clicked right away with Flea and Martinez and was hired as Slovak's replacement.
The band released their eponymous debut album, The Red Hot Chili Peppers in August 1984. Though the album did not set sales records, airplay on college radio and MTV helped to build a fan base, and the album ultimately sold 300,000 copies. Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, who produced the album "didn't embrace [the band's] musical aesthetic or ideology, argued constantly with the band over the record's sound." Kiedis recalled, that "Andy's thing was having a hit at all costs, but it was such a mistake to have an agenda." Despite the misgivings of Kiedis and Flea, Gill pushed the band to play with a cleaner, crisper, more radio-friendly sound. The band was disappointed in the record's overall sound, feeling it was overly polished and as if it had "gone through a sterilizing Goody Two-shoes machine". The album included backing vocals by Gwen Dickey, the singer for the successful 1970s disco funk group Rose Royce. The band embarked on a grueling tour during which they performed sixty shows in sixty-four days. During the tour, continuing musical and lifestyle tension between Kiedis and Sherman complicated the transition between concert and daily band life. When the tour ended in October 1984, Sherman was fired. Hillel Slovak, who had just quit What Is This?, would re-join the band in early 1985.
1985–1988: Building a following and Slovak's death
George Clinton produced the next album, Freaky Styley (1985). Clinton combined various elements of punk and funk into the band's repertoire, allowing their music to incorporate a variety of distinct styles. The album featured Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley on many of the album's tracks. The band often indulged in heavy heroin use while recording the album, which influenced the lyrics and musical direction of the album. The band had a much better relationship with Clinton than with Gill, but Freaky Styley, released on August 16, 1985, also achieved little success, failing to make an impression on any chart. The subsequent tour was also considered unproductive by the band. Despite the lack of success, the band was satisfied with Freaky Styley; Kiedis reflected, that "it so surpassed anything we thought we could have done that we were thinking we were on the road to enormity." The band appeared in the 1986 skate movie Thrashin' (directed by David Winters and starring Josh Brolin) playing the song "Blackeyed Blonde" from Freaky Styley. During this time the band also appeared in the movie Tough Guys starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas performing the song "Set It Straight" at a Los Angeles nightclub.
In spring 1986, the band decided to begin work on their upcoming album. EMI gave the band a budget of $5,000 to record a demo tape, and the band chose to work with producer Keith Levene from PIL, because he shared the band's interest in drugs. Levene and Slovak decided to put aside $2,000 of the budget to spend on heroin and cocaine, which created tension between the band members. Martinez's "heart was no longer in the band", but he did not quit, so Kiedis and Flea fired him. After the firing of Martinez in April 1986, original drummer Jack Irons rejoined the band to Kiedis, Flea, and Slovak's great surprise, which marked the first time all four founding members were together since 1983. During the recording and subsequent tour of Freaky Styley, Kiedis and Slovak were dealing with debilitating heroin addictions. Due to his addiction, Kiedis "didn't have the same drive or desire to come up with ideas or lyrics" and appeared at rehearsal "literally asleep".
For the band's third album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987), the Chili Peppers attempted to hire Rick Rubin to produce the album but he declined due to the band's increasing drug problems. The band eventually hired Michael Beinhorn from the art funk project Material who was the band's last choice to be their producer. The band's early attempts at recording the album were halted due to Kiedis's worsening drug problems which were so bad that the band briefly fired him. Beinhorn said the band went through hell recording The Uplift Mofo Party Plan due to Kiedis's drug issues and that he was the one tasked to fire Kiedis. Following the band winning the LA Weekly "Band of the Year Award", Kiedis was prompted to get clean in order to continue making music. Kiedis called his mother in Michigan for guidance and she promptly sent him to drug rehabilitation. After being in Michigan for a month, Kiedis called Flea to inform him that he was attending meetings and going cold turkey, no longer getting high. Kiedis said he was informed by Flea that they had auditioned singers and that one was hired but he could tell by Flea's voice that they were not happy with him. A few days later, Kiedis received a phone call from Flea asking him "Do you think you'd want to come back here and maybe play a couple of songs and see how it feels to be back in the band?" Kiedis agreed to return and felt a "whole new wave of enthusiasm" due to his sobriety and wrote the lyrics to "Fight Like a Brave" on the plane ride home.
Kiedis rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Los Angeles to record The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Kiedis sat down with Michael Beinhorn to discuss the recording of the album; Kiedis planned to record the album in ten days and write the songs during the recording sessions. Songs began to form quickly, and the album took shape, blending the same funk feel and rhythms as Freaky Styley, with a harder, more immediate approach to punk rock. The album was recorded in the basement of the Capitol Records Building. The recording process for the album was difficult; Kiedis would frequently disappear to seek drugs. After fifty days of sobriety, Kiedis decided to take drugs again to celebrate his new music. His drug use "made a mess of the early recording process", but the band still had an enjoyable time recording the album. The band was musically inspired by the return of their original drummer Jack Irons, who added "such an important and different element to our chemistry." Slovak helped Kiedis record his vocals on the album. In between takes, Slovak would run around the studio out of excitement and say "This is the most beautiful thing we've ever done."
In September 1987, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan was released, becoming their first album to appear on any chart. Although it peaked at only No. 148 on the Billboard 200, this was a significant success compared to the first two. During this period, however, Kiedis and Slovak had both developed serious drug addictions, often abandoning the band, each other, and their significant others for days on end. Slovak's addiction led to his death from a heroin overdose on June 25, 1988, not long after the conclusion of the Uplift tour. Kiedis fled the city and did not attend Slovak's funeral (referenced in the song "This Is the Place" from 2002's By the Way), considering the situation to be surreal and dreamlike. After returning to L.A. following his departure after Slovak's death, Kiedis, Flea, Irons and manager Lindy Goetz had a meeting to figure out what to do next. Irons decided he had to leave the group, saying that he did not want to be part of a group where his friends were dying. Irons, who would battle through years of depression, went on to become a member of Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam in 1994. With Slovak dead and Irons quitting, Kiedis and Flea debated whether they should continue making music, but ultimately decided to move ahead, hoping to continue what Slovak "helped build."
1988–1989: Successful new lineup
After losing two of the original band members, Flea and Kiedis started looking for musicians to fill those spots. Shortly after Irons' departure they chose as Slovak's replacement DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, former member of Parliament-Funkadelic and who at one point briefly filled in for Slovak, when he was temporarily fired. D. H. Peligro of the punk rock outfit Dead Kennedys replaced Irons. Kiedis and Flea had been friends of Peligro for many years and even had a joke band together called Three Little Butt Hairs. With a new lineup set, Kiedis decided to enter rehab to fix his drug problem. Kiedis entered a rehab facility in Van Nuys called ASAP. After two weeks into Kiedis's rehab he was taken by his counselor, Bob Timmons, to finally visit Slovak's grave. Kiedis had no desire to be there; however, Timmons urged him to talk to Slovak. Within minutes, Kiedis had opened up and could not stop crying. Thirty days later, Kiedis left rehab and was ready to resume his career with the band. Three dates into the tour, McKnight was fired, because the chemistry was not there with the other three. McKnight was with the band long enough to record one song, "Blues For Meister" (drums were performed by Jack Irons—bass and drums were recorded before Slovak's death), a song sung by Flea. McKnight was so unhappy about being fired he threatened to burn down Kiedis' house.
Shortly after McKnight's firing, Peligro introduced Kiedis and Flea to a teenage guitarist named John Frusciante. Kiedis actually had met Frusciante a year earlier outside of one of the band's shows. Frusciante was originally directed to audition for the band Thelonious Monster, but Kiedis said that he knew right away that Frusciante would be in his band. An avid Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, Frusciante was, according to Flea, "a really talented and knowledgeable musician. He [Frusciante] knows all the shit I don't know. I basically know nothing about music theory and he's studied it to death, inside and out. He's a very disciplined musician—all he cares about are his guitar and his cigarettes." Frusciante performed his first show with the band in September 1988. The new lineup immediately began writing music for the next album and went on a short tour dubbed the Turd Town Tour, although in November, Kiedis and Flea felt the need to fire drummer Peligro due to his own drug and alcohol problems. Much like McKnight, Peligro did not take the news well. Flea stayed in bed for days after making the decision. Years later, Kiedis said firing Peligro was one of the toughest things the band ever had to do, although Kiedis became a major part of Peligro's road to sobriety, which began right after he was fired.
The Chili Peppers were again without a drummer and were forced to hold open auditions. Denise Zoom, a friend of the band, suggested Chad Smith, claiming he was the best drummer she had ever seen. The band agreed to audition Smith, but he was late and the last drummer to audition. Kiedis recalled the first time he saw Smith by saying, "I spied this big lummox walking down the street with a really bad Guns N' Roses hairdo and clothes that were not screaming I've got style". Smith was a six-foot-three-inch-tall drummer who, according to Flea, "lit a fire under our asses". From the moment they started jamming, Smith and Flea instantly found chemistry. Kiedis said the audition with Smith "left the band in a state of frenzied laughter, that we couldn't shake out of for a half an hour". Smith was so much different from the other three. Kiedis, Flea and Frusciante were heavily influenced by punk rock, whereas Smith's taste in heavy metal music and his biker appearance contrasted with their punk rock views. Kiedis informed Smith he would be hired on one condition: as an initiation to the band, Smith had to cut his long hair. He refused, though Kiedis was not about to argue with the much larger Smith. Smith was hired as the band's fourth drummer in December 1988.
Unlike the stop-start sessions for The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987), where Kiedis would frequently disappear to seek drugs, pre-production for Mother's Milk (1989) went smoothly. The band recorded basic tracks during March and early April 1989 at Hully Gully studios in Silver Lake; songs like "Knock Me Down" were formed from jam sessions without any input from returning producer Michael Beinhorn while "Sexy Mexican Maid", "Stone Cold Bush" and "Taste the Pain" (which was recorded prior to Smith joining and features Fishbone drummer Philip "Fish" Fisher) were written with Peligro. Although there had been stress and conflict during the recording of other Chili Peppers albums, the Mother's Milk sessions were especially uncomfortable due to Beinhorn's incessant desire to create a hit. Frusciante and Kiedis were frustrated with the producer's attitude. In the same month, the Chili Peppers embarked on a short tour to break in the new lineup.
Released on August 16, 1989, Mother's Milk peaked at number 52 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The record failed to chart in the United Kingdom and Europe, but climbed to number 33 in Australia. "Knock Me Down" reached number six on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks whereas "Higher Ground" charted at number eleven; the latter of the two ultimately proved to be more successful, reaching number fifty-four in the UK and forty-five in Australia and France. Mother's Milk was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in late March 1990—it is now certified platinum—and was the first Chili Peppers album to ship over 500,000 units.
1990–1993: Breakthrough, international fame and Frusciante's first departure
In 1990, after the success of Mother's Milk, the group decided they had had enough of EMI and entered a major-label bidding war, ultimately signing with Warner Bros. Records and hiring Rick Rubin to produce their then-untitled fifth album. Rubin, who had originally turned the band down in 1987 because of the members' drug problems at the time, felt the band was in a better place and much more focused. He would go on to produce five of the band's subsequent studio albums. The writing process for this album was far more productive than it had been for Mother's Milk, with Kiedis stating, "[every day], there was new music for me to lyricize."
The band spent six months recording a new album, with long periods of rehearsal, songwriting, and incubating ideas. However, Rubin was dissatisfied with a regular recording studio, and believed that a less orthodox setting would enhance the band's creative output. Rubin suggested the Mansion, a studio in a house where magician Harry Houdini once lived, to which the band agreed. A crew was hired to set up a recording studio and other equipment required for production in the house. The band decided that they would remain inside the Mansion for the duration of recording, though according to Kiedis, Smith was convinced the location was haunted, and refused to stay. He would, instead, come each day by motorcycle. Smith himself disputes this account, and instead claims the real reason he did not stay at the Mansion was because he wanted to be with his wife. Frusciante, however, disagreed with Smith, and said "There are definitely ghosts in the house," and Frusciante felt they were "very friendly. We [the band] have nothing but warm vibes and happiness everywhere we go in this house." Rubin is the current owner of the studio. During production, the band agreed to let Flea's brother-in-law document the creative process on film. When the album's recording was complete, the Chili Peppers released the film, titled Funky Monks. The band was unable to decide on the title of the album, but to Rubin, one particular song title stuck out: "Blood Sugar Sex Magik." Although it was not a featured song, Rubin believed it to be "clearly the best title".
In September 1991, Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released. "Give It Away" was released as the first single; it eventually became one of the band's biggest and most well-known songs, winning a Grammy Award in 1992 for "Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal" and became the band's first number-one single on the Modern Rock chart. The ballad "Under the Bridge" was released as a second single, and went on to reach No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the highest the band has reached on that chart as of 2016, and became one of the band's most recognizable songs. Other singles such as "Breaking the Girl" and "Suck My Kiss" also charted well.
The album sold over 12 million copies. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was listed at number 310 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 1992 it rose to No. 3 on the U.S. album charts, almost a year after its release. The band kicked off their Blood Sugar Sex Magik tour, which featured Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins, three of the era's biggest up-and-coming bands in alternative music, as opening acts.
The unexpected success instantly turned Red Hot Chili Peppers into rock stars. Frusciante was blindsided by his newfound fame, and struggled to cope with it. Soon after the album's release, he began to develop a dislike for the band's popularity and personal problems between Kiedis and Frusciante began to unfold. Kiedis recalled that he and Frusciante used to get into heated discussions backstage after concerts: "John would say, 'We're too popular. I don't need to be at this level of success. I would just be proud to be playing this music in clubs like you guys were doing two years ago.' " The final dates with Frusciante were troublesome and Frusciante was disconnected from the group, often changing the way he played on certain songs, which further got under Kiedis' skin. Unknown to others, Frusciante was also starting his own drug habit at the time and was shutting himself off from everyone except his girlfriend. Frusciante abruptly quit the band hours before a show during the Blood Sugar Japanese tour in May 1992. The band reached out to Dave Navarro, who had just split from Jane's Addiction, but Navarro was involved in his own personal drug battles. The group held rehearsals with Zander Schloss, though after a few days they decided he was not the right fit either. Guitarist Arik Marshall of Los Angeles band Marshall Law was hired to replace Frusciante and the band headlined the Lollapalooza festival in 1992. Marshall would also appear in the music videos for "Breaking the Girl" and "If You Have to Ask", as well as in The Simpsons fourth-season finale, "Krusty Gets Kancelled".
In September 1992, the Peppers, with Marshall, performed "Give It Away" at the MTV Video Music Awards. The band was nominated for seven awards, including Video of the Year, which they did not obtain; however, they did manage to win three other awards, including Viewer's Choice. In February 1993, the band, along with George Clinton & the P.Funk All-Stars and Weapon of Choice, performed "Give It Away" at the Grammy Awards, and the song won the band their first Grammy later that evening. The performance marked the end of the Blood Sugar Sex Magik tour and Marshall's final performance with the band. The band had planned to begin a follow-up to Blood Sugar Sex Magik with Marshall. However, when it came time to play music, Marshall was always busy, so the band decided that Marshall failed to fit with their future plans and he was dismissed.
With Marshall gone, the band decided to hold open auditions, which they considered a mess, but which did lead to an encounter with Buckethead. The band enjoyed his rehearsal even though he claimed to have never heard of them; Flea felt he did not fit the feel of the band. Still without a guitarist, Kiedis was out one night at a local club and spotted Jesse Tobias of the Los Angeles-based band Mother Tongue. Kiedis felt that Tobias had the right vibe for the band, and he was recruited to be the new guitarist after a few auditions. However, Tobias' tenure with the band did not last long, with the rest of the band stating that "the chemistry wasn't right." It was at this same time that Smith informed the band that Navarro was now ready to join the band. When offered the spot this time, Navarro accepted.
In August 1993, the non-album single "Soul to Squeeze" was released and featured on the soundtrack to the film Coneheads. The song reached number 1 on the Billboard US Modern Rock chart.
1994–1997: Transitional period
Dave Navarro (pictured)
replaced Jesse Tobias as guitarist in 1993
Navarro first appeared with the band at Woodstock '94. The band opened their set wearing enormous light-bulb costumes attached precariously to chrome metallic suits, making it near-impossible for them to play their instruments. Navarro hated the idea but went with it. The performance saw the debut of new songs such as "Warped," "Aeroplane," and "Pea," although the songs were in the beginning stages and the lyrics were very different from the final versions. The band followed up their performance at Woodstock with a brief tour, which included headlining appearances at Pukkelpop and Reading Festivals as well as two performances as the opening act for The Rolling Stones. According to Kiedis, however, opening for the Stones was a horrible experience. While externally, the band appeared to be settled, the relationship between the three established members and Navarro had begun to deteriorate. His differing musical background made performing difficult as they began playing together, and continued to be an issue over the next year. Navarro admitted he did not care for funk music or jamming. Kiedis was also struggling with his heroin addiction; he had been through a dental procedure in Beverly Hills, in which an addictive sedative, Valium, was used; this caused him to relapse, and he once again became dependent on drugs, although the band would not find this out until later.
Navarro's joining and Kiedis’ continued drug addiction had a profound effect on the band and the subsequent sound of their next album, One Hot Minute (1995). With Frusciante no longer present for collaboration, songs were written at a far slower rate. Working with Frusciante had been something Kiedis took for granted: "John had been a true anomaly when it came to song writing. He made it even easier than Hillel to create music, even though I'd known Hillel for years. I just figured that was how all guitar players were, that you showed them your lyrics and sang a little bit and the next thing you knew you had a song. That didn't happen right off the bat with Dave." To compensate, Kiedis and bassist Flea took several vacations together, during which entire songs were conceived and with Kiedis often absent from recording due to his drug problems or struggling to come up with lyrics, Flea took a much bigger role in the writing process; coming up with ideas for many songs including full lyrics and even singing lead on his own song, "Pea".
Navarro's only album with the band was One Hot Minute, released in September after many delays and setbacks. Navarro's guitar work had created a stylistic departure in the band's sound, which was now characterized by prominent use of heavy metal guitar riffs and hints of psychedelic rock. The band described the album as a darker, sadder record compared to their previous material, which was not as universally well received as Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Many of the lyrics written by Kiedis were drug-related, including the lead single, "Warped," which left Kiedis stunned that nobody else in the band picked up on his lyrics that he was using again. Broken relationships and deaths of friends and family also played a major role in the album's darker tone and lyrics. The ballad, "Tearjerker," was written about Kurt Cobain, while "Transcending", which was written by Flea, was about longtime friend, River Phoenix; and the single "Shallow Be Thy Game" took shots at religion. Despite mixed reviews, the album was a commercial success. Selling eight million copies worldwide, it spawned the band's third No. 1 single, the ballad "My Friends", and enjoyed chart success with the songs "Warped" and "Aeroplane". This iteration of the band appeared on several soundtracks. "I Found Out", a John Lennon cover, was featured on Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon. The Ohio Players cover, "Love Rollercoaster", was featured on the Beavis and Butthead Do America soundtrack, and was released as a single.
The band began its tour for One Hot Minute in Europe in 1995 and played 16 shows. A US tour was to follow but was postponed after Chad Smith broke his wrist. The band considered carrying on with the tour even at one point considering Jack Irons as a replacement for Smith but there just was not enough time to rehearse with anyone new and the dates were rescheduled for early 1996. The band spent most of 1996 playing shows in the United States and Europe. By 1997, for the first time, the band cancelled many shows. Most of this was again due to problems within the band. Flea at that point was exhausted, tired of playing the same songs each night and was seriously talking about quitting the band while Kiedis had recently been involved in a motorcycle accident which left one arm in a sling and created yet another drug relapse due to his use of painkillers. Even Navarro was back to using drugs. 1997 saw the band playing just one show. This was at the very first Fuji Rock Festival. A massive typhoon hit that day but the band played anyway. They played through an eight-song set before having to cut the show short due to the storm. This would be the final show with Navarro and due to Flea's previous comments left many speculating if it was the end of the band.
After making attempts to carry on with Navarro and record a follow-up to One Hot Minute, things were not working out, and due to Navarro's drug problems and lack of effort in wanting to create new music and chemistry on the road, the band felt it was time to part ways. In April 1998 it was announced that Navarro had left the band due to creative differences; Kiedis stated that the decision was "mutual". Reports at the time, however, indicated Navarro's departure came after he attended a band practice under the influence of drugs, which at one point involved him falling backwards over his own amp.
1998–2001: Return of Frusciante and new-found popularity
In the years following his departure from the band, it became public that John Frusciante had developed a heroin addiction that left him in poverty and near death. Frusciante had lost contact with most of his friends. However, Flea had always remained in contact and helped to convince Frusciante to admit himself to Las Encinas Drug Rehabilitation Center in January 1998. He concluded the process in February of that year and began renting a small apartment in Silver Lake. He had acquired many injuries and problems during the years of his addiction (some requiring surgery), including permanent scarring on his arms, a restructured nose, and an oral infection which led to his teeth being removed and replaced with dental implants.
After Navarro's departure in early 1998, Red Hot Chili Peppers were on the verge of breaking up. Flea told Kiedis, "The only way I could imagine carrying on [with Red Hot Chili Peppers] is if we got John back in the band." Kiedis was surprised and thought there was no way Frusciante would ever want to work with him again, as the two still had unresolved issues from when Frusciante quit in 1992. With Frusciante free of his addictions and ailments, Kiedis and Flea thought it was an appropriate time to invite him back. In April 1998, when Flea visited him at his home and asked him to rejoin the band, Frusciante began sobbing and said "nothing would make me happier in the world." Flea decided to contact Kiedis and have him meet with John to try and resolve any personal issues that the two might have had. Flea was relieved to find out that neither had bad blood towards one another and both were excited to once again make music together. Within the week, for the first time in six years, the reunited foursome jump-started the newly reunited Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony Kiedis said of the situation: "For me, that was the defining moment of what would become the next six years of our lives together. That was when I knew that this was the real deal, that the magic was about to happen again. Suddenly we could all hear, we could all listen, and instead of being caught up in our finite little balls of bullshit, we could all become players in that great universal orchestra again."
Despite the band's elation, Frusciante was both mentally and physically torn. Frusciante had not played with the band since his departure and other than his solo albums had not picked up a guitar in years. He had lost his guitars in a house fire from which he barely escaped, and experienced a difficult time resuming his prior life. Nonetheless, the group began jamming in Flea's garage and it did not take long for Frusciante to regain his talent; new songs began to roll out. Frusciante's return restored a key component of the Chili Peppers' sound, as well as a healthy morale. He brought with him his deep devotion to music, which affected the band's recording style during the sessions which produced their next album. Frusciante has frequently stated that his work on Californication was his favorite. In June 1999, after more than a year of production and meticulous practice, Californication was released as the band's seventh studio album. The album ultimately sold over 16 million copies and became the band's most successful recording to date. Californication contained fewer rap-driven songs than its predecessors, instead integrating textured, consistent, and melodic guitar riffs, vocals and bass-lines. The record produced three more number one modern rock hits, "Scar Tissue", "Otherside" and "Californication". Californication gained positive critical acceptance in contrast to its less popular predecessor, One Hot Minute, and was a greater success worldwide. While many critics credited the success of the album to Frusciante's return, they also noted that Kiedis's vocals had also greatly improved. It was later listed at number 399 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
In July 1999, as part of the band's two-year-long international world tour in support of their new album, Red Hot Chili Peppers played at Woodstock 1999, which became infamous for the violence that resulted. Some 10 minutes before the show, they were asked by Jimi Hendrix's stepsister to play a cover of her brother's songs. After some hesitation due to not having performed the song in years, the band decided to play his classic "Fire", which they had covered on Mother's Milk. Coincidentally, about two thirds of the way into the band's set, the closing set of the three-day concert, a small fire escalated into full-fledged vandalism and resulted in the intervention of riot control squads. The disruption escalated into violence when nearby property including ATMs and several semi-tractor trailers were looted and destroyed. Kiedis felt that "It was clear that this situation had nothing to do with Woodstock anymore. It wasn't symbolic of peace and love, but of greed and cashing in ... We woke up to papers and radio stations vilifying us for playing 'Fire'." The tour also originated the band's first concert DVD, 2001's Off the Map.
2001–2007: Continued success
The writing and formation of the band's next album, By the Way began immediately following the culmination of Californication's world tour, in spring 2001. As with Californication, much of the creation took place in the band members' homes, and other locations of practice, such as a recording studio stage. Kiedis recalled of the situation: "We started finding some magic and some music and some riffs and some rhythms and some jams and some grooves, and we added to it and subtracted from it and pushed it around and put melodies to it." Frusciante and Kiedis would collaborate for days straight, discussing and sharing guitar progressions and lyrics. For Kiedis, "writing By the Way ... was a whole different experience from Californication. John was back to himself and brimming with confidence."
Before recording By the Way (2002), the Chili Peppers decided that they would again have Rick Rubin produce the album. In the past, Rubin had given the band creative freedom on their recording material; this was something they thought essential for the album to be unique, and could only occur with his return. Originally the album was headed in a much different direction than the final production. The album started out as a group of fast, hardcore punk songs, which Rubin rejected. Frusciante also wanted a darker, 1980s UK pop/new wave sound mixed in with 1980s hardcore. The recording process was tough for Flea, who felt like an outsider in the band and that his role was being diminished due to a musical power struggle with Frusciante. Flea wanted to create more funk-inspired songs, while Frusciante felt that the band had overused their funk side. Flea considered quitting the band after the album, but the two eventually worked out all their problems.
By the Way was released in July 2002 and produced four singles; "By the Way", "The Zephyr Song", "Can't Stop" and "Universally Speaking". The album was their most subdued album to date, focusing primarily on melodic ballads as opposed to their classic rap-driven funk. Frusciante also concentrated on a more layered texture on many of the songs, often adding keyboard parts, that featured low in the mix, and also writing string arrangements for songs such as "Midnight" and "Minor Thing". The album was followed by an eighteen-month-long world tour. The European leg of the By the Way tour produced the band's second full-length concert DVD, Live at Slane Castle, recorded at Slane Castle in Ireland in August 2003. The band released their first full-length live album, Red Hot Chili Peppers Live in Hyde Park; recorded during their performances in Hyde Park, London. More than 258,000 fans paid over $17,100,000 for tickets over three nights, a 2004 record; the event ranked No. 1 on Billboard's Top Concert Boxscores of 2004.
In November 2003, the Chili Peppers released their Greatest Hits album, which featured two new songs, "Fortune Faded" and "Save the Population". The two songs were selected out of sessions that generated fifteen tracks and Smith later said the band had hopes to use along with new compositions to create a full album after finishing the tour, but the idea was vetoed by Frusciante because his musical influences and styles had evolved and he wanted to do something new.
In 2006 the band released the Grammy award-winning Stadium Arcadium produced by Rick Rubin. Although 38 songs were created with the intention of being released as three separate albums spaced six months apart, the band instead chose to release a 28-track double album, and released nine of the ten as B-sides. It was their first album to debut at No. 1 on the US charts, where it stayed for two weeks, and debuted at number one in the UK and 25 other countries. Stadium Arcadium sold over seven million units.
The record's first single, "Dani California", was the band's fastest-selling single, debuting on top of the Modern Rock chart in the U.S., peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reaching No. 2 in the UK. "Tell Me Baby", released next, also topped the charts in 2006. "Snow (Hey Oh)" was released in late 2006, breaking multiple records by 2007. The song became their eleventh number one single, giving the band a cumulative total of 81 weeks at number one. It was also the first time three consecutive singles by the band made it to number one. "Desecration Smile" was released internationally in February 2007 and reached number 27 on the UK charts. "Hump de Bump" was planned to be the next single for the US, Canada, and Australia only, but due to positive feedback from the music video, it was released as a worldwide single in May 2007.
The band began another world tour in support of Stadium Arcadium in 2006, beginning with promotional concerts in Europe and culminating in a two-month-long European tour from May to July. During this tour Frusciante's friend and frequent musical collaborator Josh Klinghoffer joined the touring band, contributing guitar parts, back up vocals, and keyboards. Klinghoffer's presence allowed the live performances of songs to sound more like the recorded versions, in which Frusciante laid down multiple tracks himself. The band was the musical guest for Saturday Night Live, which aired in May 2006 with featured host Tom Hanks. The group toured North America from August to November, returning to Europe in that same month for a second leg, that ran until December. The Chili Peppers began 2007 with a second North American leg, this time including Mexico, from January to March. This was followed by April shows in various cities in Australia and New Zealand and concerts in Japan in June. The Peppers concluded their tour with a third European leg from June to August. They appeared at the Live Earth concert at London's Wembley Stadium In July 2007. The band appeared at several festivals, including Denmarks Roskilde festival, Ireland's Oxegen in July 2006, Lollapalooza in August 2006 in Grant Park, Chicago, a subsequent set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California in April 2007 and in August they appeared as one of three headliners at the Reading and Leeds festivals along with Razorlight and Smashing Pumpkins.
In February 2007, Stadium Arcadium won five Grammys: Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song ("Dani California"), Best Rock Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocal ("Dani California"), Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package, and Best Producer (Rick Rubin). Rolling Stone's '100 Best Albums of the Decade (2000–2009)' included Stadium Arcadium at No. 74.
2008–2009: Hiatus and Frusciante's second departure
Following the last leg of the Stadium Arcadium tour, the band members took an extended break. Kiedis attributed this to the band being worn out from their years of nonstop work since Californication (1999). The band's only recording during this time was in 2008 with George Clinton on his latest album George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love. Accompanied by Kim Manning, the band recorded a new version of Shirley and Lee's classic "Let the Good Times Roll". The song would become the last song the band would record with Frusciante.
Kiedis, who had recently become a father, was looking forward to the time off and taking care of his son Everly Bear and possibly creating a short television series called Spider and Son, which was set to recap his autobiography. Flea began taking music theory classes at the University of Southern California, and revealed plans to release a mainly instrumental solo record, that was being recorded in his home; guest musicians include Patti Smith and a choir from the Silverlake Conservatory. Flea also joined Thom Yorke of Radiohead in the supergroup Atoms for Peace. Frusciante continued his solo career and released his solo album, The Empyrean. Chad Smith worked with Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, and Michael Anthony in the supergroup Chickenfoot, as well as on his solo project, Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats. The band planned to remain on hiatus for "a minimum of one year".
In October 2009 the band officially ended their hiatus and minus Frusciante, entered the studio to begin writing for their tenth studio album. The band was joined by Josh Klinghoffer, who to the public was still the band's backup touring guitarist, although it was later confirmed, that he was already an official member and Frusciante's replacement with Frusciante having quit the band in July 2009. An official announcement on Frusciante's departure wasn't made until December 2009. Frusciante explained on his MySpace page, that there was no drama or anger about him leaving the band this time, and that the other members were very supportive and understanding. Frusciante said he felt his musical interests had led him in a different direction, and that he needed to fully focus his efforts on his solo career.
2010–2014: Klinghoffer replaces Frusciante and I'm with You
Josh Klinghoffer (pictured)
, who acted as backup touring guitarist for the band in 2007, replaced John Frusciante
in 2009 as the band's full-time guitarist
The band, with Josh Klinghoffer on guitar, made their live comeback in January 2010, paying tribute to Neil Young with a cover of "A Man Needs a Maid" at MusiCares. After months of speculation, Klinghoffer was officially confirmed by Chad Smith as Frusciante's full-time replacement in February.
The band officially began recording their tenth studio album with producer Rick Rubin in September. According to Rubin, the band recorded enough material to release a second double album, following Stadium Arcadium but ultimately decided not to. Rubin notes, "it was painful not to share all of the material that we had, but we felt it would be too much. We really wanted it to be twelve songs but it ended up being fourteen just because nobody could agree on which twelve." The recording process lasted until March 2011. Many of the songs were written between October 2009 and August 2010 and according to Flea around 60–70 songs were written in the ten months prior to entering the studio to record the album.
In July 2011, the band kicked off a trio of invitation-only warm-up dates in California. These were the first shows the band played since August 2007 and their first official shows with Klinghoffer as their lead guitarist.
I'm with You, the band's tenth studio album was released in the United States in August 2011. The album topped the charts in 18 different countries although failed to provide the band with their second straight number one debut in the U.S. The album was met with mostly positive reviews from the critics. The album's first single, "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" was released a month earlier and went on to become the band's twelfth number one hit single, topping their own record. Kreayshawn was tapped to direct the music video for the single; however, due to unknown reasons, the video shot by Kreayshawn went unreleased and a second video directed by Marc Klasfeld was released in its place. "Monarchy of Roses", "Look Around" and "Did I Let You Know", released only in Brazil, followed as singles/music videos. "Brendan's Death Song" would be the next single and released during the summer of 2012.
The band kicked off a monthlong promotional tour in August 2011 starting in Asia. In August 2011, the band appeared on movie screens throughout the world via satellite from Cologne, Germany performing the entire new album in sequence, minus "Even You Brutus" and adding "Give It Away" and "Me and My Friends". The band officially kicked off the I'm with You Tour in September 2011. On the next day they played in Costa Rica. In December, the band was hired by Roman Abramovich for a reported £5m to perform at his New Year's Eve celebration at his estate on the Caribbean island of St Bart's, and the show included a special appearance from Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals as they played a rendition of "Louie Louie" together. The tour lasted into 2013 and was one of the band's biggest to date. All shows from the upcoming world tour were made available to purchase as downloads through LiveChiliPeppers.com. The North American leg of the tour, which was expected to begin in January 2012, had to be postponed due to a surgery Kiedis went to resolve multiple foot injuries he had suffered through since the Stadium Arcadium tour. The first U.S. leg of the tour, including dates in Canada, kicked off in March and lasted into June, followed by summer shows in Europe, while the rest of the already scheduled U.S. dates took place in August and then from September through November. Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez again joined the band during their August 12 performance of "Give it Away" in Los Angeles. Following the I'm with You World Tour, the band set out on another small tour consisting mostly of festivals in the United States however the tour expanded to dates in South America as well for November. Flea along with Chili Peppers touring percussionist, Mauro Refosco spent the band's break keeping busy with their side-project Atoms For Peace, who had many dates throughout the world scheduled from July to November 2013.
The band was nominated for two MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Rock Band and Best Live Artist and nominated for Best Group at the 2012 People's Choice Awards I'm with You was also nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.
The band released 2011 Live EP in March 2012. The EP a free five live song MP3 download through their website. The five songs were selected by Chad Smith from the band's 2011 European live albums, which were released for purchase through their website as well. In April, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following month saw the release of digital download only Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Covers EP, which consisted of previously released studio and live covers of artists that influenced the band. In addition to their newly released live performances, starting in August 2012, the band started to put out a collection of singles from the I'm with You Sessions. The singles, which contained two songs each and total 17 songs were made available on 7-inch vinyl, digital download and CD. All of the singles were eventually released together as I'm Beside You LP in November 2013 as a Record Store Day exclusive.
The band concluded the I'm with You World Tour in April 2013. The tour ranked 15th on Billboard's "Top 25 Tours" list of 2012. Following the end of the tour, the band headed back out on the road the next month for another lengthy tour which included their first ever shows in Alaska, Paraguay, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
The Chili Peppers joined Bruno Mars as performers at the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show in February 2014, to which a record 115.3 million viewers tuned in. The band's performance was met with mixed reviews from fans, the media, and even musicians towards Flea and Klinghoffer for performing to pre-recorded music; Flea responded that it was a rule for bands to pre-record music due to time and technical issues, and that the band agreed because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He said Kiedis's vocals were completely live and the band pre-recorded "Give it Away" during rehearsals.
In June 2014 the band wrapped up their tour which began in May 2013; since September 2011 they had played 158 shows on their two tours, the longest span of touring in their history without a real break. 2012-13 Live EP was released in July 2014 through their website as a free download. Like the 2011 Live EP, five songs were selected by Chad Smith from the band's tour as a way to announce the official conclusion of the tour.
2015–2017: The Getaway
In November 2014, Anthony Kiedis announced that the band would be returning to the studio in December to record their newly written album. He said that he hoped for the album to contain 13 songs; however, it is likely they will "put 10 more songs on top of that". A few days later in an interview with David Fricke, Kiedis confirmed that Rick Rubin would not be producing the band's next record and for the first time since 1989 they would work with someone else. Flea broke the news on Twitter in January 2015 that Danger Mouse would be the producer. The following month Flea suffered a broken arm during a skiing trip which delayed the recording of the album for over six months. In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Kiedis gave an update on the band's next album. The following month, Chad Smith posted in a video to a fan page on Twitter saying that he expected the new album to be finished in May or June 2016 which would be around the same time that the band would be in the midst of their summer festival tour. In December 2015, Flea said that the album was recorded and they were waiting on Kiedis to track the vocals. Kiedis gave an update two months later in February 2016 saying they were near completion of the album. Chad Smith posted an image on Twitter in March 2016 stating that work has begun with Nigel Godrich mixing the new album. The following day it was reported that Elton John would appear on the album. The band announced in May that "Dark Necessities", the first single from their upcoming album, would be released on May 5. On that same day, it was announced that the band's eleventh album would be titled The Getaway, and would be released in June. Kiedis in a 2016 interview on BBC Radio 2 said of the album that lyrically many of the songs were influenced by a two-year relationship that fell apart like a nuclear bomb. "Dark Necessities" became the band's 25th top-ten single on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, a record they hold over U2 who currently has 23 top-ten singles.
In February 2016, "Circle of the Noose", one of the band's most sought-after unreleased songs and the only song recorded with Dave Navarro for the follow-up album to One Hot Minute before he was fired from the band, was leaked to the internet. The rough mix was recorded in March 1998. Dave Navarro, who in 1997 said it was one of the greatest songs he ever played on, tweeted "WOW what a trip down memory lane" in response to the leak. Three days following the leak of the unreleased Navarro era song, the band played "Aeroplane" live for the first time since 1997, making it the first One Hot Minute song besides "Pea" (a song featuring only Flea) to be performed by the Chili Peppers since Navarro's departure from the band.
In May, the band released "The Getaway", the title track on their upcoming album, on their YouTube channel. While not a single (it was originally the band's choice to be the first single until they went with "Dark Necessities" at the suggestion of Danger Mouse), the song was made available for purchase the following day and was also being given away as a free download for those who pre-order the new album. The music video for "Dark Necessities", directed by actress Olivia Wilde, was released in June 2016. "Go Robot", the song management and the band's label originally wanted as the first single, is expected to be the second single released from the album. "We Turn Red" was released on the band's YouTube page on in the same month.
The Getaway made its debut at number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart however failed to dethrone Drake who had the number one album for eight consecutive weeks. The Getaway outsold Drake its opening week with album sales of 108,000 to 33,000 (actually placing him at 4th in sales for the week) though due to album streaming, Drake managed to top the band for the top position in the charts. In July 2016, the Live In Paris EP was released exclusively through the music streaming website Deezer. "Go Robot" was announced as the second single from The Getaway. In the same month, the band members started to post images from the set of the music video. The Getaway was re-issued on limited edition pink vinyl in September, as part of 10 Bands 1 Cause. All money from sales of the re-issue will go to Gilda's Club NYC an organization that provides community support for both those diagnosed with cancer and their caretakers. It is named after comedian Gilda Radner.
The band kicked off the headlining portion of The Getaway World Tour in September with the North American leg, featuring Jack Irons, the band's original drummer as an opening act on all dates, beginning in January 2017. Dave Rat, the band's sound engineer since 1991, announced that following the band's show of January 22, 2017 he would no longer be working with the band. "I truly love Flea, Anthony, Chad, Josh and all my dear and close friends I consider family both on the road now and those that have moved on to other adventures over the years. I am pretty happy to say that I have dedicated significant time documenting touring with Peppers in journals but also have thousands of amazing photos spanning decades of smiles and challenges" Rat said.
The Getaway World Tour concluded in October 2017. The tour consisted of 151 shows lasting a year and almost five months. In December, the band headlined the Band Together 2 Benefit Concert at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Money raised from the concert goes to the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund which since 2005 has raised $150 million to educate, employ, house and support those in need in the Bay Area.
2018–present: Upcoming twelfth studio album and second return of Frusciante
Work on a new album was announced in September 2018, with plans to release it sometime in 2019. The recording was delayed due to the Woolsey Fire; the band performed a benefit show for fire victims on January 13, 2019.
The band performed "Dark Necessities" with rapper Post Malone at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards on February 10, 2019. The band made an appearance in Malone's music video for "Wow" which was released in March 2019.
The band returned to the road in February 2019 for a month long tour featuring their first headlining shows in Australia in twelve years, including their first ever show in Tasmania, which was briefly halted due to a power outage. On March 15, 2019, the band performed in Egypt at the iconic Pyramids of Giza, making the band among a very limited group of artists to have been allowed to perform at the pyramids. The performance was live streamed on YouTube, and Facebook. On June 28, 2019, the band performed an unannounced private show in East Hampton, New York which was livestreamed on the internet. On July 12, 2019, the band played a four-song show for the kids at Edwin Markham Middle School in Watts, Los Angeles. The band performed in Abu Dhabi on September 4, 2019 as part of the UFC 242 event Abu Dhabi Showdown Week. UFC president Dana White said that he is a huge fan of the band and that vocalist Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea are huge UFC fans.
On October 26, 2019, photographer David Mushegain posted on Instagram that a documentary on the band was in the works and that he just previewed it with the band with Chad Smith replying that he was excited to show the world the documentary. Josh Klinghoffer (under the pseudonym of Pluralone) released his debut solo album, To Be One With You, on November 22, 2019. The album features appearances by Flea and former Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons. On November 2, 2019, the band performed at a charity event at the Silverlake Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. This would be the band's final show with Klinghoffer. Two days later, during a book signing event, Flea confirmed that the band's next album would be released at some point in 2020.
On December 15, 2019, the band released a statement via their Instagram that after 10 years, they had split with Klinghoffer and that John Frusciante was rejoining the band:
“Josh is a beautiful musician who we respect and love. We are deeply grateful for our time with him, and the countless gifts he shared with us. We also announce with great excitement and full hearts, that John Frusciante is rejoining our group. Thank you."
The band's first three shows with Frusciante will be on May 15, 2020 at the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, AL, and May 22 at Napa Valley California's Bottlerock Festival and May 24 at the Boston Calling Music in Boston, MA.
On January 8, 2020, in an interview with Rolling Stone, drummer Chad Smith confirmed that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been working on a new album with Frusciante: "The festivals are the only shows booked. For now, we'll mostly be concentrating on new songs and writing a new record. We're all real excited to make new music."In an interview released on January 18, 2020 by Ultimate Guitar, Josh Klinghoffer spoke briefly for the first time about his departure from the band. Klinghoffer said that he couldn't go into detail about his departure but when asked if there was any hard feelings between him, the band or Frusciante he responded by saying "I don't think so. Not from me."