Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube Mix of music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

One of the primary influences on the late 1990s Funk Metal sound was originated in the mainstream by California's Red Hot Chili Peppers. Formed in the early 1980s by bass player Flea (Michael Balzary, 1962), guitarist Hillel Slovak (1962-1988), and drummer Jack Irons (1962), the high school friends performed in L.A. under the name Another School.

After adopting the name Red Hot Chili Peppers, taken from the nickname for Louis Armstrong's 1920s jazz quintet, the trio became a four-some by officially adding vocalist Anthony Kiedis (1962) who had frequently joined them on-stage. Kiedis and Flea had been friends since the age of 15, Kiedis was an aspiring actor attending UCLA, and Flea, the son of a jazz musician was an aspiring trumpet player.

But after years spent in the creative swirl of Southern California's art and music scene they decided their efforts were best invested in the outrageous frat-party, funk-thrash sound they were developing. Although their first release in 1984, Chili Peppers, gained little attention, their live performances were drawing high numbers of people curious to see their on-stage antics which featured a wardrobe consisting of nothing more than several well-placed tube socks.

Beyond their seemingly irrepressible adolescent energy, it was Kiedis's sexually charged rhyming lyrics delivered in a rapid fire rap/singing style combined with the bands intensely primitive sexuality that enticed audiences.

The band's second release Freaky Styley in 1985, featured production and creative assistance from Parliament's George Clinton, and signified the bands dedication to pure Funk. The combination of funky bass rhythms and the emerging sounds of west coast thrash metal was the innovation that led to their eventual success, however, the band was now confronted with problems more serious than unimpressive record sales.

Drug problems that continued to resurface eventually claimed the life of guitarist Hillel Slovok after the 1987 release, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, and although the album was hailed critically as a major breakthrough, the band was in jeopardy. John Frusciante (1970) was added to replace Hillel, and drummer Jack Irons left to eventually join Pearl Jam. After the dramatic personnel changes in 1989 the Chili Peppers recorded Mother's Milk which featured the hugely successful cover of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground. Two years later the Red Hot Chili Peppers had released the album that would hurtle them into mainstream popularity, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

The album was highlighted with chart topping singles such as "Give it Away" and "Under the Bridge," a ballad about Kiedis' struggle with heroin and the tragedy that claimed the life of the band's former guitarist. In 1992, the Chili Peppers were scheduled to headline that summers Lollapalooza tour, but a series of personal conflicts within the band threatened to destroy them at the height of their success. Among several short-lived members of the ever-changing Chili's line-up was guitarist Dave Navarro (formerly of Jane's Addiction) who stuck around for the 1995 platinum release One Hot Minute.

After nearly two decades of perfecting their unique hybrid of funk, punk, rap, and metal, the Red Hot Chili Peppers enjoyed a long lasting resurgence in popularity with their 1999 release "Californication."

A current discography of music by Red Hot Chili Peppers appears on AllMusic.

Page author: A.E.