Exactly two things have remained constant about the Red Hot Chili Peppers over their long and successful career: Flea and Anthony Kiedis. The childhood friends have stayed together as their group’s sound and lineup have evolved dramatically over the past three decades.
By our count, the former sock-wearing funk-rockers have gone through eight guitarists, four drummers and 11 lineup changes as they grew into one of the world’s most popular rock bands and expanded their sound to include more melodic pop, rock, and soul influences.
Their history is also marked by numerous members’ battles with drug addiction, most tragically resulting in the 1988 death of founding guitarist Hillel Slovak.
Happily, the band seems to have put this drama behind them, with only one lineup change in the last 18 years and their much anticipated 11th studio album, The Getaway, currently receiving favorable reviews and strong early sales.
You can check out each and every one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ numerous lineup changes below, including the times they counted (sometimes very briefly) members of Parliament-Funkadelic, Jane’s Addiction, Black Flag and Danzig among their ranks.
1983: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, Jack Irons
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were formed by four Fairfax (Los Angeles) High School friends. However, Irons and Slovak reportedly considered the band more of a side project compared to their other group, named What Is This?. So Kiedis and Flea continued without them, at least for a little while.
1985-1986: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Cliff Martinez, Hillel Slovak
Luckily, Slovak had departed his other group and was ready to take his rightful spot in the Chili Peppers. This lineup recorded the band’s second album, ‘Freaky Styley.’ It was somewhere around this time that Martinez allegedly lost interest in the band’s direction, leading to another homecoming…
1986-1988: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, Jack Irons
Jack Irons followed Slovak in returning to the band, reuniting their original lineup. Their third album, 1987’s ‘Uplift Mofo Party Plan,’ was a big step forward creatively and commercially, but Kiedis and Slovak had both sunk deep into drug addiction. Slovak died at the end of the following tour, a tragedy which lead a distraught Irons to quit.
1986-1988: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, D.H. Peligro, John Frusciante
The Peppers’ first attempt at hiring a replacement drummer – former Dead Kennedys basher D.H. Peligro – was also short-lived, but, through him, they did manage to find an important piece of their lineup puzzle with guitarist John Frusciante, whose talent and creativity would help bring their music to its highest heights over the coming decades.
1992-1993: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, Arik Marshall
Suddenly without a guitarist in the midst of promoting their most successful album to date, the Chili Peppers moved quickly, selecting guitarist Arik Marshall to complete the touring cycle for ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik.’ However, when it came time to record a follow-up the band decided to make another change…
1993-1998: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, Dave Navarro
2009-Present: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, Josh Klinghoffer
Frusciante ended his second, 11-year stint with the group under much better conditions than his first departure, amicably choosing to pursue other creative projects. Luckily, the band had a replacement in the wings. Josh Klinghoffer, who had been in their touring lineup since 2007, slid right in and made strong contributions to the band’s 2011 album ‘I’m With You.’