The Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers (originally Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem) were formed after what was supposed to be a one time performance in 1983 by Fairfax High School alumni Michael "Flea" Balzary (bass), Anthony Kiedis (vocals), Jack Irons (drums) and Hillel Slovak (guitar). Later in that same year, after becoming a popular draw in the Los Angeles rock scene, they secured a record deal with EMI.
Irons and Slovak viewed the band as a side project, and left the Chili Peppers shortly before their self-titled debut to focus on their original band which blew according to Slovak, What Is This?. Red Hot Chili Peppers, the band's 1984 debut album, was recorded with replacement members Jack Sherman on guitar and Cliff Martinez on drums. Produced by Gang of Four's Andy Gill, the album did not achieve commercial success. The ensuing tour did not fare much better, with internal fighting between Sherman, Kiedis, and Flea resulting in Sherman's departure, and Hillel Slovak returning.
Parliament-Funkadelic's George Clinton was hired to produce their second album, 1985's Freaky Styley. Cliff Martinez was fired from the band soon after the release of the album, allowing the return of original drummer Jack Irons in early 1986. During this time, drug problems started to become prevalent with the band. At one point Anthony Kiedis left the band due to his heroin addiction, only to rejoin after getting clean. Hillel was also using heroin but managed to keep himself together and stay in the band.
Their next album, which entered the Billboard Top 200, was 1988's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. It was produced by Michael Beinhorn. This was the only album to feature the four original members.
During the supporting tour, the public became aware of Slovak's drug problems after his relapse, which resulted in erratic behavior and botched performances. The rest of the band was upset and annoyed by this, and were on the verge of firing Slovak, but backed out of doing such a thing on the advice of Fishbone lead singer Angelo Moore, who felt and warned the Chilis that firing Hillel would actually bring more bad than good for the benefit of the band. Shortly after the band returned from some performances in Europe on June 25, 1988, Slovak was found dead of a heroin overdose. Jack Irons left the band saying that he didn't want to be a part of something that involved his friends dying. He then went on to drum with Pearl Jam and Eleven.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik, released in 1991.
The band temporarily employed Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro and former P-Funk guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, before replacing them with Chad Smith and John Frusciante to record their next album. Mother's Milk was released in August 1989, and gave the band their first top modern rock hits with their tribute ballad to Slovak, "Knock Me Down", and their cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground". The album reached #52 on the American album charts, the best chart position the band had attained thus far.
In 1990, the group switched labels to Warner Brothers Records. Rick Rubin was hired to produce their fifth album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which would go on to sell seven million copies in the United States alone. The album contained the singles "Give it Away" which won a Grammy award in 1992 for "Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal", "Breaking the Girl", "Suck My Kiss", and "Under the Bridge", a poignant and popular ballad that helped widen the band's audience. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was listed at number 310 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 1992 it climbed all the way to # 3 on the U.S. album charts almost a year after its release.
Success and drug addiction were taking their toll on Frusciante, who abruptly quit the band during the BSSM tour in May of 1992. After the band headlined Lollapalooza festival in 1992 with replacement guitarist Arik Marshall, and briefly with Jesse Tobias of the California based band Mother Tongue in 1993, former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro was brought in as a temporary member.
Dave Navarro first appeared with the band at Woodstock 1994, and a year later appeared on the album One Hot Minute. The album featured the familiar blend of funk, metal, and jazz, but this time showed increased hard rock and psychedelic influences. Although critically dismissed compared to their previous work, mostly due to the lack of Frusciante's more familiar style, the album was a commercial success, selling five million copies internationally and reaching double-platinum status in the United States. It remained on the chart for 55 weeks thereafter.
At the time of the album recording, Kiedis had gone back to using heroin, causing much tension within the band. Dave Navarro would be fired due to 'creative differences' in 1997. Navarro was currently working on a side-project with drummer Chad Smith. According to Kiedis' autobiography, after an incident involving a drugged out Navarro stumbling into practice and falling over backwards on his own amp, Navarro was kicked out of the Chili Peppers. Kiedis said that the above incident should have been comical, but was sad instead.
Californication, released in June 1999.
In 1998, John Frusciante and Anthony Kiedis made amends after both completing drug rehab. The band reformed with their Mothers Milk line-up to release 1999's Californication. It became a massive success, outselling Blood Sugar Sex Magik and introducing them to a new generation of fans. It is the band's best selling album to date with 15 millions units sold.
The album peaked at #3 in USA and produced three more modern rock hits: the Grammy-winning "Scar Tissue", "Otherside" and "Californication". It also made it onto the modern rock charts with "Around the World", "Road Trippin'" (UK single), and "Parallel Universe", which broke the Top 40 modern rock charts despite not being released as a single. Compared to their previous albums, Californication contained few rap-driven songs. The band went on a nearly two-year tour and featured some of their largest shows, including a Moscow performance in front of 200,000 people and a performance at the controversial Woodstock 1999 festival. At Woodstock 99, the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed Fire by Jimi Hendrix as a tribute to the late rocker who performed at the original Woodstock. The choice of song also held a certain irony, since their set had been interrupted when one of the delay towers of the PA system started burning. In 2001, they released their first concert DVD, Off The Map, which was directed by longtime friend Dick Rude, who also directed the music videos for Catholic School Girls Rule and Universally Speaking.
By the Way, released in July 2002.
The band returned to the studio in early 2001 and released By the Way over a year later, on July 9, 2002. The album, at the time, was their most noteworthy chart debut (with over 700,000 copies sold in first week), emerging at #2 and producing hit singles such as: "By the Way", "The Zephyr Song" , "Can't Stop", "Dosed", and "Universally Speaking" which was only released in Europe as a single and video. It is the most subdued and submissive album they had generated to date, focusing primarily on melodic ballads as opposed to their classic style of rap-driven funk.
The Chili Peppers recorded two new songs, "Fortune Faded" and "Save the Population", for their Greatest Hits album released later that year. To the surprise of many fans, only two songs from By the Way were included in the compilation, Universally Speaking and By the Way. Much criticism was drawn from the absence of Can't Stop, which is considered one of the band's most popular songs. Flea reported minor musical disagreement circulating between himself and John during the recording process.
In 2004, the group released their first full-length live album, Live in Hyde Park; recorded during their performances in Hyde Park, London, due to immensely high attendance rate. In the three evenings they performed, they accumulated an estimated 17 million dollars, making it the highest grossing concert at a single venue in history (knocking the Beatles to number 2). Two new songs were featured on the Album: "Rolling Sly Stone" and "Leverage of Space".
In 2006, they completed their ninth studio album, Stadium Arcadium. Although 38 songs were created with the intention to be released as 3 mini-albums spaced six months apart it was released in May 2006 as a 28-track double album. It was their first album to debut at #1 on the US charts, where it stayed for two weeks, and debuted at number one in the UK Albums Chart and 25 other countries as well. In the album's first week, it sold 442,000 units in the United States alone, and over 1,100,000 worldwide, setting a personal record for one week sales. The record's first single "Dani California," was the band's fastest-selling single, topping the Modern Rock chart in the US, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reaching #2 in the UK. In addition to "Dani California", "Tell Me Baby" reached Billboard's hot modern rock tracks in early July. The songs Storm in a Teacup, Snow (Hey Oh), Tell Me Baby, Stadium Arcadium, If and Especially in Michigan have been featured on ESPN commercials for the 2006 X-Games.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers began a year-and-a-half to two year long international world tour in support of Stadium Arcadium. One of the many legs on this tour will be the band's touring the United States with Gnarls Barkley from mid January to March 2007. The band also toured with The Mars Volta during the first U.S. leg of their tour from early August to early November 2006. Other legs on this world tour so far include stops in Europe from mid April to mid July 2006 as well as the previously mentioned 2nd European leg of the tour from November to mid-December of the same year and in Japan and Australia from mid-late March to mid April 2007.
They won at the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Album and won two American Music Awards for Favorite Band, Duo or Group and Alternative Music.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have recently been nominated for Billboard Music Awards in the categories of modern rock artist of the year, modern rock single of the year (Dani California), rock single of the year (Dani California), and rock album of the year. They also picked up six nominations in the 2007 Grammys.