Flea 24th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Flea attending the 24th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Date: 4th April, 2009 

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Information: Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall at this ceremony and Flea was their presenter. 

 Flea gave a 10 minute long speech about Metallica, their music and how he first heard the band and was blown away by their passion and music (transcript below). Flea later joined Metallica in a jamming session on-stage with Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Page and Joe Perry for ‘ Train Kept A Rollin’  

Photos were taken of Flea as he arrived and on the red carpet; others during the award ceremony (some screen caps havealso  been included of the video of Flea giving his induction speech for Metallica), the celebrity close of ceremony jam and also a couple of pics of Flea backstage.

Speech Transcript

(Note: I have tried to make this as accurate as possible; in a couple of places editing out of swearing, etc. made it hard to record exactly what Flea said)

To induct Metallica into the RHCP Hall of Fame, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea!


In a 1984, sometime 1984, I was on tour with my band, in the middle of America somewhere, it was around 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, we’re all crammed into our van with all our equipment, it was raining outside, we’re tired, been on the road and this music comes on the radio and I couldn’t believe that it f***king existed; it was like I had been living in this normal world where I knew what everything was that came on the radio and all of a sudden my mind was being blown by this beautiful violent thing that was unlike anything I had ever heard before in my life. That’s right, I was just riveted to the radio and all I could do, I was just starring at the radio, just saying, I was like what the f***, holy shit! There was Anthony, I was like dude this is amazing! I was totally flawed by this music; I just didn’t know what to make of it- it had loud guitars, that hollering, fast as lightning but it wasn’t punk rock, but it wasn’t heavy metal, but it was precise, and explosive and it was heavy, but it was quick on its feet, it stood by itself and it was standing boldly, it was aggressive and intense and had these really wild and bizarre rhythm changes but it still held together as a (blip/ f***ing good?) song. I was singing along with it by the end, though it certainly wasn’t using any conventional pop song pattern that I had ever heard. I don’t know what it was, I didn’t know what it was, but the only thing I knew for sure is that it was a mighty thing. That song was ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ [Cheers from audience] Yeah!  And it opened up my mind to the mighty force of nature that is Metallica. As time went by I discovered the genre of music known as speed metal, trash metal, whatever you want to call it and I heard lots of other bands tapping a similar vein but none of them came close to putting it all together like Metallica. Some might have more virtuosity, some might be crazier and some are just really good and interesting bands but whatever the intangible elements are that make a band the best, Metallica has them. They are for real. You can put all of the best musicians in the world together  in a room to create your dream fantasy band and it doesn’t mean  that the sparks will fly when they start playing together, there are divine forces at work that make magic things happen and in the rare instances when that magic happens in a band, it’s not something you can add up as regular math, it’s a cosmic chemistry and it is inexplicable; if it was merely a matter of a listing certain ingredients to make the amazing band, then anyone could do it, but that is impossible because it is truly a wholly magical and (bleep) thing and it only happens when the spiritual powers that be say so. So if you ask, why does it rock, the answer to that question to quote the great Louis Armstrong, is if you have to ask, you will never know.

When started Metallica in 1981, they didn’t really take your typical path to success. I don’t know if massive stardom and selling a zillion records was on their minds when they were getting the ball rolling, but if they were aiming to become one of the most successful rock bands of all times that they have become, they sure were going about it in a kooky way; in the world of three minute long catchy pop songs that dominated the radio, these Metallica guys were writing and playing 10 minute long songs that blasted your face off. I don’t think they were sitting around wondering how they could be a bunch of fancy rock stars, I just think they wanted do some rocking; I think their motivation was, and is, pure. The fact that they have connected with the world in the way that they have, is phenomenal. They have become a household name with music that is anything but mainstream; this is outsider music, and for it to do what it has done, is truly mind-blowing.

Well, umm, one thing I know for sure is that they must have been thinking they were going to break into Casey Casems (?) Top 40 Count Down on their debut record, ‘Kill ‘Em All’, they were really going straight for the hit single with the song ‘Anaesthesia Pulling Teeth;’ I gotta to tell you a five minute bass solo is the ticket to commercial success, and you know, errm um, being a bass solo [sic] myself, that song is one of the greatest moments in rock history for the electric bass guitar!

Cliff Burton was an outstanding, superb, deep and wicked virtuoso of a bass player, umm. In rock music the majority of bass solos you hear are self-indulgent, overly technical, show- offy and mostly kinda boring, you know, umm, every Cliff Burton bass solo I’ve ever heard is a soulful, psychedelic head-banging expression that rocks your world, trips your brain out, and gets the house rocking; a beautiful piece of music played by an awesome rocker of a young man, a masterpiece of a human being. And when I hear him play, I hear dude that knew his sh*t (?), and a bass musician who delved into it with all the love and passion that is obvious in his playing. The worst tragedy that could ever happen to anyone, in my opinion, is that when they die, they never sang their song that was inside of them, they never gave the gift that was inside of them but the beautiful opposite of that, is that when you, if you pass away, you know you sang your song, you gave your gift, which is what Cliff Burton did, then that is the greatest accomplishment that I could ever hope for anybody. The space that he created in the history of music will last forever, no one else can ever fill it, he was one of a kind and I can never listen to any Metallica record without thinking of him. It is clear that the gift he gave lives on it that band’s music, be he live or be he dead.  And I say, God bless Cliff Burton, he rules.

When I hear Metallica, I get this feeling that they are doing something they have to do, like that there is there is this feeling wound up in them so tight, that they have to let it out, let that thing uncoil, that is has to be released; an infinite well of sadness, a hell of a lot of pain and anger, but mostly a lot of love for the process they have created for releasing this stuff.  It is always really absurd to me, when I hear people speak of heavy music, angry aggressive music, as being negative, unhealthy for children and so on, blah blah blah. Firstly the playing of ferocious music is the healthiest release of anger for the performer of it, it is alchemy, it is a metamorphosis, it is turning something potentially and a source of misery into something beautiful, something rocking and something uplifting for the band and for the audience. The traditional of pain and hurt being a muse for great art is one of the greatest rites of passage for any artist and that which touches us most deeply. Anyone who has ever been to a Metallica show and banged their head, and thrown up the devil horns, has been a part of something great for humanity. All of those kids that are shown  rocking so hard to the brutal beat of Metallica, have come together for those couple of hours for something and as healthy as any spiritual exercise,  any group meditation, any love in, anything. Umm… You know, it is uplifting and it brings people together. You know I love all music but what I say Metallica has done has as much to bring people together, to bring joy into their lives as any hippy piece of love music ever has. For the people who give it up and get rocked by Metallica, the world is a lot less of a lonely place. For when a person gets rocking to their music anything else disappears and that person is just one with the rock; it is an inexplicable awesome thing and I bow down to it.

Metallica’s career is a huge dynamic thing and they have done it all, they have worked their way up from nothing, written and rocked the jams that rocked the world. Metallica is f**** (?), their music is bitchin’, it is unbelievable. The thing is they continue to rock on, whatever gets thrown at them they persevere and they get stronger, they are a family. And it is as intense and inventive as ever, if you’re gonna have a rock n’ roll hall of fame, and if you are going to be disciplined and really strict about only ever allowing bands in it that have been true originals and that without question single-handedly furthered the evolution of the art form of rock ‘n’ roll music, that pushed the envelope of what rock music is and that inspired countless others to try and follow others in their footsteps on the new trail they blazed, then by that strictest criteria, you gotta have Metallica in it.

Metallica rules! Metallica is the heavy (?). James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo, Jason Newsted and Cliff Burton, it is my sincere honour to induct you all into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame.”

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