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Red Hot Chili Peppers

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1980s: EMI Records

A promotional flyer from 1986.


A promotional flyer from 1986.

Red Hot Chili Peppers (originally Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem) were formed after what was supposed to be a one-time performance in 1983 by Fairfax High School alumni Michael "Flea" Balzary, Jack Irons, Anthony Kiedis, and Hillel Slovak. Later in that same year, they secured a record deal with EMI.

Irons and Slovak were committed to their original band, What Is This?, so the sessions for their self titled debut, Red Hot Chili Peppers were recorded with Jack Sherman on guitar and Cliff Martinez on drums. Produced by Gang of Four's Andy Gill, the album did not achieve commercial success. The ensuing tour did not fare much better, with internal fighting resulting in Sherman leaving the band, at which point Slovak returned.

Parliament-Funkadelic's George Clinton was hired to produce their second album, 1985's Freaky Styley. Martinйz left the band soon after the release of the album, allowing the return of original drummer Jack Irons in early 1986.

While the album did garner some attention from college radio, mainstream radio gave it little notice.

Their first album to enter the Billboard Top 200, 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, was produced by Michael Beinhorn. This would be the only album to feature the four original high school friends. Its first single, "Fight Like a Brave", would later be featured on the soundtrack to the video game, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 in 2001.

During the supporting tour, drug problems, which have haunted the band throughout its career, came to public light when Slovak relapsed; resulting in erratic behaviour and botched performances. Shortly after the band returned from some performances in Europe on June 27, 1988, Slovak was found dead of a heroin overdose. When news spread of the death of one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, everyone (including Blackie Dammett, Kiedis' father) assumed it was Kiedis, because of the severity of his addiction. It wasn't until later that they discovered the truth. Anthony couldn't be immediately tracked down, as he was somewhere in Los Angeles, presumably getting high. Anthony himself had such drug problems at that time that he couldn't really comprehend the fact that his soulmate was dead. He explains in his autobiography that at some point there he turned off his brain from all the mess. Some people associated him with being responsible for Hillel's death, Hillel's family said he was the bad influence for him. Even though his best friend just passed away he continued to get loaded on speedballs. He didn't know what else to do. He decided that he was in such bad shape he couldn't attend to the funeral. Together with Ione, his girlfriend at that time, he traveled to a house in a small fishing village in Mexico that Ione's mother had mentioned once. He felt better but after ten days he returned and was again down in the mess that he left. One day Jack Irons called to a band meeting and he explained that "I don't want to be part of something where my friends are dying" He left the band and never came back

The band temporarily employed Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro and former P-Funk guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, later replacing them with Chad Smith and John Frusciante. Mother's Milk was released in August 1989, providing the band with their first top modern rock hits with their tribute ballad to Slovak, "Knock Me Down" [2], and their cover of Stevie Wonder's hit "Higher Ground". The album reached #52 on the album charts, the best chart position yet for the band at that point. Contributing to the ascending to success was Kiedis' girlfriend at the time, Ione Skye, having a lead role in the movie "Say anything", from which the hit "Taste the Pain" was included in the soundtrack. Frusciante proved to be a prodigious and talented guitarist, and that contributed to that album being their breakthrough album. Although it is thought to have been their breakthrough album to the mainstream, the band usually refrains from playing it in live concerts due to John's dislike of the "macho" way he used to play on it. In an 2002 interview, the guitarist stated:

"Way back when I joined the band and when we were recording 'Mother's Milk' the producer pushed me into this metal-funk department and I therefore played mainly hard riffs on the lower e-string. That didn't really come from the heart, however, in those days it seemed to be a good idea. Although I'm not too proud of 'Mother's Milk', it is probably our most influential album. At least back then a lot of people jumped at it. In some instances we simultaneously put five distorted guitar tracks and a piercing solo on top of the bass."

John later said that it was largely the producers decision rather, than his own, to have multi-layered guitar parts, and the "weird experience" he had with layering on 'Mother's Milk' was the reason that he did not layer so much on later albums with the band.


1990s: Warner Brothers Records

1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik


1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Success didn't stop there, and the movie "Pretty Woman" contained the song "Show Me Your Soul," in which Frusciante took his prodigious guitar play to the limits. The group soon moved on to Warner Brothers Records, and in the early months of 1990 Rick Rubin was hired in 1991 to produce their fifth album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which would go on to sell seven million copies in the United States alone. The album contained the singles "Give it Away" which won a Grammy award in 1992 for "Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal", "Breaking the Girl", "Suck My Kiss", and "Under the Bridge," a melodic ballad that propelled the band to superstardom.[3]

The talked-about possible merger and acquisition between Warner Bros. and EMI may in the end put all the RHCP's albums under the same label record company and that might enhance the chances of promoting their earlier albums, produced and marketed under the EMI label.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik was listed at number 310 on the



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