MADNESS, MASTURBATION, UNDERAGE SEX
THE A-Z OF RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
THE FREAKIEST BAND ON PLANET ROCK
Both Flea and Anthony Kiedis have been known to get in front of the camera, often with no quality control required. Flea’s credits include ‘Less Than Zero’ ‘Back To The Future II’ ‘and …III ‘. ‘The Big Lebowski’, ‘Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas’ ‘The Chase’. Kiedis was also in ‘The Chase’, ‘Point Break’, ‘Less Than Zero’ and, in the late ‘70s, he acted in three films under the pseudonym Cole Dammett-once as Sylvester Stallone’s son.
Kiedis used to be baby-sat by Cher- a friend of his father’s- who would often undress in front of him. “I watched her take off her clothes,” he later said. “All the while feigning to be on my way to sleep. There was a woman’s naked body, and it was long and slender and special and just thrilling.”
Kiedis’ criminal career started early. As a kid, he and his best friend would steal beer and whiskey from supermarkets. They graduated onto searching neighbourhood back yards for weed plants. Soon they were breaking and entering more often, searching for prescription drugs and money. Their most successful heist was stealing $450 from John’s old elementary school, which funded a pound of pot that they dealt.
“When I found drugs, I thought I’d found the greatest thing,” said Flea. “All you need to do is snort this hit up your nose or stick this needle in your arm and you’re a fucking genius. I did heroin, cocaine, psychedelics and I smoked pot every day.” Kiedis’ first experience with cocaine was as a 13-year-old, when one of his father’s friends chopped him out a line. “I started feeling like Superman. I felt like I was seeing God,” he said. Heroin followed a year later at a party when Kiedis took a line of China White by accident: “I loved it.”
The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first gig was an odd one. Flea was asked to put a band together to open a show at The Rhythm Lounge in LA. They managed to write one song-‘out In LA’, dosed up on acid and heroin, then they went on as Tony Flow and he Majestic Masters of Mayhem with Kiedis resplendent in a paisley robe and fluorescent hunting hat. They played their only song, did some synchronised dance moves and, according to Flea, ‘People loved it,’ if you say so, mate.
The band’s habit of getting their cocks put started on their first tour, when Flea – a little worse for wear- pulled his out onstage. As Kiedis put it, “It wasn’t even that obnoxious of a dick pull, more like an exclamation at the end of a song.” The next day, they were chased out of town, while the local paper printed a huge headline saying, “If I had a son like that, I’d shoot him.”
The word, “No,” didn’t seem to be in Anthony Kiedis’ vocabulary in the early days- especially not when there were drugs on offer too. In South Carolina, on their first tour, he was so desperate for coke he went off with a groupie who offered him drugs, but also claimed his dick was a dolphin and her pussy was the ocean. A few days later he hooked up with a girl he claimed was the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. It was only later that he discovered she was only 14, a Catholic school-girl and the daughter of the chief of police.
Slovak was one of Kiedis’ and Flea’s closest childhood friends and, in fact, Flea’s first band was Slovak’s Anthym, also including drummer Jack Irons (later of Pearl Jam). These four original Chilis described themselves as, “four motherfuckers from Fairfax” and used to tear up the Hollywood nightspots, ripped on acid. As the band grew, so did Slovak’s drug use- something he hid from the band- and on June 25, 1988 he died of an overdose.
John Frusciante claims to have been guided by voices his whole life- “I knew I was gonna be a great guitarist. There were voices in my head telling me so.” On leaving the Chilis he claimed, “The voices had been telling me to quit the band.” Then, when he was alone and on drugs, “I had a lot of communication with what you might call ghosts.” Original drummer Jack Irons was also admitted into a mental hospital after the death of first guitarist Hillel Slovak.
Heroin and cocaine use was rife in the Chilis- Kiedis spent most of his late teens shooting both. The frontman would try and hide his coke use from his girlfriend, although she was happy to shoot heroin with him. “I never wanted to shoot just heroin. So when we were shooting heroin in her room, I’d sneak out and do a hit of coke. But she hated it. I can’t imagine the emotional terrorism I inflicted on these people.”
Kiedis was thrown out of the band in 1986 because of his spiralling drug use. Kiedis accepted it, left and headed into drug neighbourhoods to get bombed. He then tried to quit drugs, failed, but was accepted back in the band anyway.
LA is imprinted on the band. Says Flea: “The soul of this city is a huge part of who we are.” Kiedis agreed: “Los Angeles is part of me. This is where I got turned onto the magic of life and music and sex and drugs and movies. It’s the greatest place in the world.”
Guitarist Dave Navarro once posted himself masturbating on the internet. “Once you’ve seen a picture of a person masturbating how much deeper can you go?” he reasoned. He wasn’t the only Chili Peppers interested in self-pleasuring. Anthony Kiedis used to spank off to ‘National Lampoon’ magazine as a teenager. “I would abuse every magazine I could, especially in high school, when it would become almost a contest to see how many times you could jack off in one day, and what implements you were incorporating into the process.”
Nudity and the Chili Peppers have always been linked. Soon after signing their first record deal, Flea and Kiedis demanded to meet their bosses at EMI. When they were told they were too busy in a meeting, they stripped off and ran into the board-room. Kiedis recalls: “We ran and jumped up on the table, hooting and hollering. Then we realised it wasn’t just men at that meeting…”
The Chilis haven’t been shy in offering their services to other musicians. Flea’s credits include work with Johnny Cash, Alanis Morissette, Jewel, Tricky, Mick Jagger, The Mars Volta and Porno For Pyros. Kiedis has worked with Dr John and tricky while Frusciante has found time to tuck eight solo albums under his belt as well as collaborate with Johnny Cash, The Mars Volta and Ziggy Marley.
‘Mother’s Milk’ was the band’s first platinum album and, since then, every album they’ve released has gone at least double platinum. Not bad for a band who were set up just to be, as Kiedis put it, “The complete and utter perpetrators of hardcore, bone-crunching mayhem- sex thugs from heaven.”
There’s been a long history of quitters in the Chili Peppers- from original drummer Jack Irons to John Frusciante. It was Frusciante’s departure that hurt most. Mid-way through a Japanese tour on May 7, 1992, the guitarist woke his tour manager in the middle of the night to demand his passport so he could fly back to the US. He told the band he, “Cannot do justice to what we’ve created.” Twenty four hours later, he was gone. Enter Dave Navarro.
When working on their first album with producer Andy Gill, Kiedis discovered his notes on the Chilis’ songs. Next to ‘Police Helicopter’ Gill had simply written, “Shit.” Flea and Kiedis would regularly desecrate his control room, writing, “Fuck you! We hate you”” on everything they could. Flea once shat in a pizza box and presented it to Gill. “How predictable,” was Gill’s response.
“The socks on cocks?” said Kiedis when explaining exactly what the band’s fascination for adorning their genitals was. “The first time that we ever did it onstage was at the Kit Kat Klub which was a strip club. Everyone talked about it afterwards.”
The Chilis’ artist of choice is Dutch skin artist Henk Shiffmacher, a man once thrown out of the army for being mentally unstable. He’s responsible for most of the band’s tattoos, most notably the tribal eagle on Kiedis’ back. “I still want more,” says Kiedis. “It’s beautiful to watch them grow old and fade.”
UNDER THE BRIDGE
The song that made the band megastars was written by Kiedis in the fall-out after Hillel Slovak’s death. Sitting in his car one day, he felt an unbearable loneliness and claimed he felt just as Slovak must have done before he died. It was centred around the bridge in downtown LA where Kiedis would try to score drugs with his friend Mario, a Mexican gangster.
Kiedis lost his virginity to one of his dad’s girlfriends at 11. Sitting in the legendary Rainbow bar with his dad and his girlfriend, he wrote a note to his father saying, “I know this is your girlfriend, but I’m pretty sure she’s up for the task so can we arrange a situation where I end up having sex with Kimberly tonight?” The deal went ahead, “I think subconsciously it was probably something that always stuck with me in a weird way,” Kiedis said later. No shit.
The list of women the Chili Peppers have dated reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of models. Kiedis wins out, counting Heidi Klum, Ione Skye, Mel C and (reportedly) Madonna. “I’ve slept with a couple of girls who have slept with Ione Skye,” he once said. “I’ve been in bed with a girl and she’ll be like, ‘You know, the last person I had sex with was your ex-girlfriend.’ I’m like, ‘Well, you don’t say!’,”
During an early gig in Chicago, Kiedis dove into the crowd, still singing. Suddenly, one of the girls in the crowd pulled down the singer’s trousers and started giving him a blow job in the middle of the crowd. “I appreciated the gesture,” he said, “but didn’t have the time or the inclination to have sex right then, I wanted to rock the place out.”
Guitarist Dave Navarro once graffitied a love note on a wall to singer Fiona Apple on her dressing room wall. It said, “Fiona, have fun, DN”, this all would have been fine except he used his own blood as ink. “I wanted to leave her a message which came from my heart. Literally,” he explained.
THE ZEPHYR SONG
One of the Chili’s biggest ever UK airplay hits, this single from ‘By The Way’ was a paean to escape and flying away on the wind. It also, handily, starts with a Z.