RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS are one of the biggest rock bands of all time.
Singer Anthony Kiedis, 49 today, bassist Flea, also 49, drummer Chad Smith, 50, and new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, 32, are about to make rock history, announcing a live date next year at Knebworth.
They will join a list of bands to play on the famous estate in front of more than 100,000 fans that includes Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and Oasis.
But the American rock giants, who have a huge affinity with the UK, have made a few costly mistakes along the way because of their dedication to performing live.
Frontman Anthony knocked back the chance to invest in superstar graffiti artist Banksy, who now sells his work for millions, because he was “in tour mode”.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with The Sun he told how he had kicked himself ever since about the decision.
He said: “I met Banksy years ago and made the mistake of not buying his art when I met him.
“It was offered to me. I was in the tour mode of, ‘Got to get to soundcheck’ and whatever.
“But I appreciate it nevertheless and I’m happy for him and the wave that he’s created.
“It could have been a big investment, but these things happen.
“But yeah, there’s good art everywhere, all over the world.
“My surfing friends, Sage Vaughn and Michael Muller, just had a little exhibit in Soho, London, at the Lazarides Gallery.
“Another British artist I admire, Charming Baker, had a show nearby. His is very soulful-looking stuff.”
The sleeve of the Chilis’ most recent album, I’m With You, was designed by Turner Prize winner Damien Hirst – who has become close friends with the band.
Anthony explained: “He did the album sleeve for us, so thank you Damien. He did an amazing job. It was reasonable, we got the bro rate.”
Flea added: “Damien actually made me a bass, a butterfly bass, it’s a beautiful thing.
“It’s not a piece of art to hang on a wall. The whole new album I play on it. This bass is kind of heavy for live — I don’t play Fenders that much live — but it’s beautiful.
“He did our album cover, we just asked him and he said yes. Not a bad call for us with him saying yes.
“He’s an artist I admire and respect, but beyond that he’s just someone I like as a human being.”
I met the band in Paris, shortly before they hit the stage at the Bercy Arena on their current tour, to talk about their huge UK dates next year.
As well as Knebworth, they will play their first big outdoor gig in the north-east, at Sunderland FC’s Stadium Of Light.
Surf-dude Anthony knows his waves — and has considered taking on some of the north-east’s beaches.
He said: “Britain has good waves, it’s just really cold. Just north of Newcastle there’s a great wave spot, but you have to be a polar bear to take it on. Who knows?”
The UK is a big deal for the band and talking about the dates Flea, who is one of the best characters in music as well as one of the best musicians, said: “Hell yes man, I’m ready to do it. England is a place where it’s always been exciting for us to go.
“For any American band, you grow up loving all this English music. And to go over there, you feel like you have to honour all this.
“Like we’re going to do this Knebworth thing, like Zeppelin played it, you know what I mean.
“It’s just awesome. We’re going to do our best to play our hearts out, to let go of our brains and be animals, let the music flow and give every fibre of our being to the process. I just wanna explode. I’m going to brutalise Knebworth, like a wildebeest let out of a cage that hasn’t eaten in six months.”
Another British connection is that Flea has been recording recently with Thom Yorke from Radiohead, and Damon Albarn.
He said: “I love the sense of community in music with different people. I’ve been really fortunate through all of my life as a musician to play with great musicians.
“It’s like in the Sixties, all musicians played with each other, it was like, ‘Let’s do it’.
“Now everyone’s kind of segregated in to their little businesses — this is our thing, and we’re cool, and we have these haircuts over here, so we don’t play over there, whatever, we play this style of music. It’s all bull**** man. Get out and play some music with human beings, who cares about styles or anything — it’s music.
“Like I wanna go to Africa and play with Africans, I wanna go to England and play with Thom Yorke.
“I’ll play with anyone. Of course, there are certain people who I really admire and respect as musicians.
“And I am drawn to them because of their commitment and their willingness to use their energy to create something beautiful.
“That’s really exciting for me. Damon and I are doing a really good thing right now. I’m really proud of what we’re doing. We’ve done some beautiful recordings. We’re playing some shows in a couple of weeks. I respect him a lot as a musician. He doesn’t have boundaries, he’s willing to do anything and I’m excited to play with him, I love him. I just like being around people that I respect.”
It isn’t just art and music where the band have a UK connection. In yet another link with these shores, Flea’s brother-in-law is British.
He became family thanks to a wild night out in London back in 1983.
Flea explained: “It’s all down to the first time Anthony and I came over to London. We came to England in 1983, with our first demo tape.
“We had done a few shows and his father bought us two round-trip tickets to London, so we came and ended up staying in a youth hostel.
“You weren’t allowed to be out after 10pm, you had to be in bed. But we just opened up the window and climbed out.
“We went out, we were looking for trouble. We were at a bus stop to just get on a bus and go anywhere and see what happens.
“We met a guy at the stop who was our age and sort of drunk, so we started talking to him.
“He was like, ‘I’ve just come from this party, come with me I’ll take you to this party’.
“We went, everyone was drinking, smoking hash, pretty girls.
“We were like yeah, they were our age — we were 20 at the time because I remember we had our 21st birthdays on that trip.
“We met this one guy who we hit it off with. He said we could come and stay at his house.
“So we went and got our stuff from the youth hostel, went and stayed at this guy’s house, slept on his floor in a flat in Catford.
“We stayed there for a couple of weeks, had a lot of fun, smoked a lot of hash, hitchhiked around. Visited (Somerset market town) Castle Cary, had a lot of fun.
“And then, three or four years later or something, he came to LA and I was on tour.
“I didn’t even know. He went to my address and knocked on my door. I wasn’t there but my sister was living next door.
“He said he was looking for Flea, he had met me in England.
“She said I was on tour and they started chatting. Anyway, they fell in love and got married. Now it’s like 25 years later and they have a 13-year-old daughter and they’ve been married for 20 years. I consider myself actually English.”
So much so, the die-hard LA Lakers basketball fan actually has another team in his life — football’s Sheffield Utd.
He said: “My team is Sheffield United. The Blades man, go Blades.
“The truth is I don’t really know a lot about it but I love the game. The soccer that we have in America is not on a par.”
The Chilis play Knebworth Park on June 23 next year and the Stadium Of Light on June 24. O2 customers can get Priority Tickets, hospitality and hotel packages, 48 hours before general release
Printed in today’s (November 1st 2011) edition of The Sun newspaper; transcript from The Sun website: Source