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40 Years of Red Hot Chili Peppers Musical History | 60 Minutes

Rock bands are delicate instruments. The creative strain, the clash of egos, the hardships of the tour, none of them scream stability. Add drugs, death, and demons, and you’re in for a breakup (or breakdown). So how do you explain the durability of Red Hot Chili Peppers? They started out in his 80s and were an LA underground band until they broke through, hopping between genres like funk, punk, rock and rap. As we first showed him last year in February, 40 years later, stadiums around the world continue to sell out. It’s been rocking and relatable for far longer than anyone expected, especially much longer than they themselves expected.

Red Hot Chili Peppers have warned that there are no boundaries on stage. All the intensity, the improvisation, and the happy chaos, they’re a band that’s as pleasing to the ear as it is to the eye. We saw them at the Nashville and Austin City Limits festivals. It is the final destination of one of the most successful tour years to date. Total revenue exceeded $200 million. As amazing a fact as this: founding members were celebrating their 60th anniversary…

John Wertheim: Happy Birthday!

Free: Thank you!

John Wertheim: You’re going there, there will be 80,000 people who know every language.

Free: yes

Jon Wertheim: After all these years, can you make sense of it?

Flea: It feels like a phenomenon with our band, but that’s what I do – every time I make a new record and tour, I look at the audience. It’s kind of puzzling. As far as I can see, it’s like an acne-faced teenager going insane.

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It’s Michael Balzary, widely known as Flea, of course. He played bass in a quartet that included drummer Chad Smith, 61, guitarist John Frusciante, 53, and lead singer Anthony Kiedis, 60, who was born within weeks of Free. there is

In Los Angeles, I met them at their early hangout, The Roxy on the Sunset Strip. So they said: they connect with each other.

Free: Just like how jazz players play or how basketball players play, they telepathically know when to go, when to move, and when to do what.

John Frusciante: We all support each other at the same time. That’s it, it’s different for each person. I always think of the bass as the lead instrument. Flea doesn’t see it that way.

John Wertheim: Do you consider him a lead instrument?

John Frusciante: Oh yeah. So, I think of each song like a bass solo (laughter) I’m there, I’m there to support it.

To understand their enduring appeal, start by listening to a list of 40-year-long bangers that slice through an incredibly broad spectrum of music. But that’s only a partial explanation. It’s also a torrent of talent. Frusciante is widely considered to be one of rock’s greatest guitar heroes, Chad Smith is considered one of the great drummers of today, and Flea’s name is synonymous with bass virtuosity. There is no clear mastermind behind their psychedelic circus, although this may be the band’s secret superpower.

John Wertheim: What do you call yourself?

Anthony Kiedis: What do you say…I don’t call myself anything. I call myself a band member. On good days, musician and songwriter.

Jon Wertheim: Are you buying a frontman?

Anthony Kiedis: The Red Hot Chili Peppers have three frontmen, and we always have one frontman behind us. Mr Chad Smith.

Jon Wertheim: The physicality of what you do really amazes me, doesn’t it?

Anthony Kiedis: We love being on stage for two hours and going crazy. nobody wants to lose it.

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Anthony Kiedis

Jon Wertheim: So what happens on stage? Describe it from your point of view.

Free: It’s a sacred time for me. So when I am on stage, I will do my best no matter what. I want to physically express all those emotions. I would like to pay tribute to all the great entertainers of the past. I want to honor Frank Sinatra and Iggy Pop and Jimi Hendrix and the Xavier Cugat Orchestra, you know what I mean, like–

Jon Wertheim: The true lineage is-

Free: And John Coltrane.

John Wertheim: Do you consider yourself to be in this continuum?

Free: Yes. And having that vision is a big part of why the Chili Peppers have been able to sustain for so many years, and for us, at least for ourselves, we are still relevant and vibrant. I think you feel that you are full of

Still based in the greater Los Angeles area, which is also the city they live in, the City of Angels, they’re not just from the area, they’re from the area. Kiedis is a local must on his motorcycle. Free, at Lakers games and retro rides.

John Wertheim: Is this your town?

Flea: Yeah, look, I’m an LA boy. in my life. I know this town inside and out. All the little cracks and sidewalks.

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John Frusciante

Their story begins on the pavement of Hollywood. Not Hollywood of movie stars lining the palm trees, but shady movie stars of the 70s. Flea spent his childhood in New York before heading west with his mother. Anthony Kiedis is a transplant from Michigan who lived with his father. Neither, strictly speaking, had any siblings. Long before they became bandmates, Kiedis and Flea were best friends at Fairfax High School.

John Wertheim: Where did friendship come from?

Anthony Kiedis: We both come from broken homes, a little peculiar homes, unconventional homes. And really, we wanted to get into trouble. For example, how much trouble can you get into without going to jail?

Flea: We were just little street urchins, petty thieves, running around the streets, trying so hard, so desperate to figure it out. How can we be important? My relationship with Anthony runs deep for me. I remember it my mother told me She says, “Michael–“You came home–you said, ‘I–Mommy, I met someone I’d never been able to talk to like that before.'” I felt like I heard it.

Flea and Kiedis became close friends with two other outcast classmates, guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons. While his friends are working on their music career, Kiedis is trying to make it as an actor first, and, fun fact, he’s appearing in an after-school special. Eventually, though, Kiedis joined his friends’ band. At first he didn’t even sing. he was rapping

Anthony Kiedis: A lot of it had to do with hip-hop and Grandmaster Flash. I never thought of myself as a very melodic person. But in that moment, I thought, “Oh, you can be in a band just by telling a story. You don’t necessarily have to be Al Green and be in a band.” It was a ticket to think, “I can do this.”

They called themselves the Red Hot Chili Peppers, after an early 20th century jazz band. Within a year they had a record deal. From the beginning, they ran full throttle and no brakes.

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red hot chili peppers

Anthony Kiedis: We had a lot of musical influences ranging from hardcore, be-bop jazz, crazy progressive rock, hip-hop, but the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, Richard Pryor, Red Fox was there too. You know comedy and silly.

Jon Wertheim: Fuse them —

Anthony Kiedis: Let me fuse.

Jon Wertheim: What does it leave you with?

Anthony Kiedis: A group of do-or-die boys willing to risk everything to enjoy the moment.

At the same time, they have always taken their work seriously.

Jon Wertheim: How do you guys write and build your songs? How is this work?

Anthony Kiedis: John and Flea are the most prepared and come in saying, ‘I have this idea’.

John Frusciante: Flea and I used to have confrontations.

Jon Wertheim: What is a faceoff?

John Frusciante: We need a section. For example, say you have a verse and want a chorus. In the old days, we would do that to each other, and it all started with a dirty look at each other. We then went to another room. Then we come in and each person plays their own section for the others.

Free: Either go home and think about it, or do it right there and then.

Flea: I’m going to go head-to-head from now on, and the job will be over.

Anthony Kiedis: Can you tell me what I love about the showdown? They risked their ideas. And no one cares what’s best for the song.

Jon Wertheim: How do you find the balance between commitment to your work and proud sillyness?

Free: We are just being who we are. Well, we have discipline. we work sincerely. we are stupid we’re weird

Chad Smith: We are entertainers. we are entertainers.

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Chad Smith

Like all entertainers, they have to work hard to keep their peak. they practice they generate. It keeps its shape. Chad Smith replaced Jack Irons in 1988.

He joked that the band used to have groupies. Now we have technical support and a physical trainer.

John Wertheim: How are you feeling at this point?

Chad Smith: Pretty good for an old gentleman. I want his men to know he’s back. The engine runs like a well-tuned machine. It gives them a lot of confidence and they can just paint like the drum kit is like a canvas. And they will paint on it.

John Frusciante plays all the time and likes to warm up for four hours on concert days.

Flea is a converted, jazz-trained and accomplished trumpeter who is constantly innovating when it comes to bass, as he showed us in his home studio in Malibu.

Nomi: So there’s this kind of plucking motion, like walking between two different fingers.

Free: And to play with a thud (BASS), hit your thumb.

Flea: I hit it so hard that it split the callus on my thumb and left a cut on my thumb. And I found a way to fix it by pouring superglue in there.

The band also faced the kind of physical challenge that wasn’t so easily hacked, especially sobriety. Original guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988.

Frusciante, who eventually replaced him, has professed a deep commitment to hard drugs, especially heroin. He left the band twice and then rejoined.

As for Anthony Kiedis, he said he’s working hard to combat his various addictions. Cliche: sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll? He hammered out this trio of his and spoke about it in his 2004 memoir, sticking to his candor.

Jon Wertheim: Just as music changes, so do cultural norms. Especially when you look back at his 70’s and her 80’s, especially the antics and behavior of women, it wouldn’t pass now. how do you handle that?

Anthony Kiedis: Wow. I’m not going to blame it on different times, cultural landscapes, or how societies view people. If I do something stupid, I will be stupid today and vice versa. Hopefully I can fix it along the way.

There may be another secret to the band’s longevity. Good things are good, just as bad things are bad. Oh my God, Red Hot Chili Peppers have evolved without concessions. By attacking them rather than simply playing their instruments, they have sometimes endured and survived. I don’t hear the coda. I can’t see the end.

Jon Wertheim: It’s not just a list of hits from 20 or 30 years ago. This is an important, vibrant and creative undertaking.

Free: Yes, it takes diligence. It requires sacrifice. we work we write we never stop. This is our purpose. Well, we are humble. we are students we care we want to grow we want to learn

Jon Wertheim: Not all artists feel that way.

Free: All good things are.

Produced by Jon Hamlin and Carla Vaccaro. Broadcaster Elizabeth Germino. Edited by Peter M. Berman and Aisha Crespo.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/red-hot-chili-peppers-60-minutes-transcript-2023-06-18/ 40 Years of Red Hot Chili Peppers Musical History | 60 Minutes

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