The Red Hot Chili Peppers is a Californian rock band that has combined aspects of funk and hip-hop with rock and roll, pioneering funk metal. One critic has summarized their lyrics as “sex, good times, rock and roll and more sex” with some truth, though some of their biggest hits, such as Under The Bridge, have been considerably more introspective.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of their sound is the bass playing of Flea, whose flashy, slap-heavy playing not only provides a groove but is also the source of many musical flourishes. They are also well known for playing bare-chested; in fact, Flea often goes one step further and performs naked on stage.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ label was originally signed to an EMI subsidiary known as EMI Manhattan. Epic Records offered the band a contract where each member would be paid a million dollars, but only if Epic would release them from their contract with EMI Manhattan by paying them off.
Epic and EMI Manhattan hit a wall in negotiations, the deal fell through and the Red Hot Chili Peppers signed with Warner Brothers Records. Their breakthrough record Blood Sugar Sex Magik as well as all subsequent records were released on Warner Brothers Records and were produced by Rick Rubin.
Their earlier work was a fusion of funk and punk rock with a party attitude. After the sobering death of guitarist Hillel Slovak, the Red Hot Chili Peppers would also lose Jack Irons, which would lead to the addition of current members, John Frusciante and Chad Smith. It was after the death of Hillel that the band had their most success.
It wasn’t until 1983, with Flea back on board and a new name – the Red Hot Chili Peppers – that the band began making serious inroads into the music industry.
Despite the absence of Irons and Slovak (who were under contractual obligations to What Is This?), the new group, consisting of Flea, Kiedis, Jack Sherma, and Cliff Martinez, managed to release a self-titled debut.
Soon Irons and Slovak would return, and the Chili Pepper’s set about the ultimately successful task of achieving recognition for their energetic live show.
In 1985 the band released their second album Freaky Styley, produced by George Clinton. Although the album failed to achieve high sales with the album, it was a critically step in the development of the still young Red Hot Chili Peppers. It wasn’t until their third album that the band returned to its Anthem roots and presented its original lineup.
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan was released in 1987 to better-than-expected record sales and featured one of the band’s most legendary songs, “Party on Your Pussy”.
Tragedy struck the band shortly after the release of their next album, the Abbey Road EP when guitarist Hillel Slovak died of an accidental heroin overdose in 1988. Dumbstruck and depressed, the band was on the verge of falling apart after Irons left to come to terms with what had happened.
To replace the two departed members of their band, the remaining Chili Peppers recruited drummer Chad Smith and fan John Frusciante on guitars.