A one-of-a-kind phenomenon in rock and roll, the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s carved a unique lane in ‘80s music with their energetic fusion of funk and hard rock; but after cop-ing with a string of challenges and outright tragedies, the group transcended their niche with a series of sound-broadening LPs to become one of the world’s biggest bands. Formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1983, by vocalist Anthony Kiedis, guitarist Hillel Slovak, bassist Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary and drummer Jack Irons, the Chili Peppers se-cured a recording contract with EMI Records in surprisingly short order; then they proceeded to build a small, but dedicated following with their self-titled debut album (1984) and George Clinton-produced sophomore effort, ‘Freaky Styley’ (1985). Not until their third album, ‘The Uplift Mofo Party Plan’ (1987), though, did they even scrape the bottom of the Billboard charts, heading off on a successful tour before almost losing it all when Slovak perished due to an accidental heroin overdose on June 25, 1988. Luckily for Flea and Kiedis, they eventually found a dazzlingly talented young guitarist named John Frusciante to take their friend’s place and, after replacing the departed Irons with new drummer Chad Smith, achieved a career-salvaging breakthrough with 1989’s ‘Mother’s Milk.’ The Chili Peppers topped this by fulfilling every ounce of their long-hinted-at potential — and then some — with ’91’s multi-platinum, Rick Rubin-produced ‘Blood Sugar Sex Majik,’ which yielded a wealth of mainstream singles, including ‘Give it Away’ and ‘Under the Bridge,’ and elevated the group to globe-trotting arena headliners. Sadly, Frusciante too soon succumbed to substance abuse, and, amid other disillusionments about rock stardom, he quit the Chili Peppers in May of 1992, forcing them to hastily recruit guitarist Arik Marshall for that summer’s already booked run with Lollapalooza. The band would spend the remainder of the decade in a state of constant upheaval and transition: working briefly with guitarist Jesse Tobias before writing, record-ing and touring behind 1995’s disappointing ‘One Hot Minute’ with former Jane’s Addiction guitar slinger Dave Navarro, who would himself depart from the group by 1998. Fortunately, once again, Frusciante was by this time emerging from his own battle with heroin and agreed to rejoin the Chili Peppers for what amounted to a triumphant career comeback via 1999’s ‘Californification.’ The uncharacteristically subdued, but still warmly received, ‘By the Way’ followed in 2001, and the once-again hit-packed, Grammy Award-winning ‘Stadium Arcadium’ (2006) also kept the Red Hot Chili Peppers flying high. So much so that not even the second, significantly less traumatic departure of Frusciante in 2009 (blamed on amicable musical differences) has thus far soured the Chili Peppers’ remarkable career revival, which continued with the installment of guitarist Josh Klinghoffer prior to 2011’s ‘I’m with You’ album.
- Selected Discography: ‘The Uplift Mofo Party Plan’ (1987), ‘Mother’s Milk’ (1989), ‘Blood Sugar Sex Majik’ (1991), ‘Californication’ (1999)
- Related Artists: Fishbone, Jane’s Addiction, Chickenfoot, Pearl Jam
- Further Reading: 10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs