Review of Dave Thompson’s unofficial biography of RHCP: True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS: TRUE MEN DON’T KILL COYOTES
Dave Thompson Virgin, £5.99
Red Hot Chili Peppers did it the old-fashioned way. They played their first show as the Miraculously Majestic Maestros Of Mayhem at Hollywood’s Rhythm Lounge in the spring of ’83. That debut performance lasted less than three minutes and the Peppers proceeded to make slow work of their slog to the top.
By the time their fifth album, BloodSugarSexMagik, went platinum in 1992, the Peppers had paid their dues, by shagging their way around America’s dives, losing guitarist Hillel Slovak to heroin and barely surviving frontman Anthony Kiedis’s voracious appetites.
“We’re not just cocks in socks,” Kiedis complains early in this unauthorised biography but the Peppers’ high-testosterone, Animal House-style has proved both calling card and Achilles heel. This biography is not the kind to offer critical insights into the band’s idiosyncratic sexual creed and is most illuminating when exploring their roots in West Hollywood’s Fairfax High, most irritating when padding the tale with digressions on LA punk, rap or the P.M.R.C.
The band rarely speak for themselves but this exhaustive account does measure the price that they’ve paid for combining hard work, punk anarchy and sexual exhibitionism. Film director John Waters may have summed up the Chili Peppers as “hip, young, rich and nude” but Thompson makes them seem much older – if not wiser.***