Maniacal Mondays: The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Looking back at their nearly 30 year long career, it's amazing the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still standing. Original members Anthony Kiedis (vocals and upper body flexing) and Flea (bass and general mayhem) have held down the fort while a rotating cast of players have come and gone around them. While drummer Chad Smith has earned his keep as the band's sole time keeper since the late 80s it's arguably on again, off again guitarist John Frusciante who has added more to the group's signature sound than any other member since he first joined the band for the 1989 release Mother's Milk. Frusciante hopped onboard after the death of original Chili's guitarist Hillel Slovak from a heroin overdose, an addiction Frusciante himself has struggled with over the years.
After the release of the hugely successful Rick Rubin produced Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991 the Peppers were tossed full-on into the mainstream spotlight, a position Frusciante despised. At the height of the album's success he announced he was leaving the band, completely overwhelmed by the level of fame the Chili's had found and his growing dependence on various narcotics. In quick succession replacement guitarists Arik Marshall and Jess Tobias came and went before the band settled on Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction as a permanent member. With Navarro came a drastic change in the Chili's sound, influenced by Navarro's heavier style of playing. Where Frusciante was a much more subtle player with occasional flourishes of melodic noise, Navarro had a far more generic sound which wasn't always cohesive with the Chili's overall vibe. Topping it off was Navarro's disdain for 'jamming' during the group's songwriting sessions, and once the band finished touring behind 1995's One Hot Minute Navarro, along with his LA metal influenced douche-baggery, was fired.
Cue the return of Frusciante for 1999's Californication, 2002's By The Way, and 2006's Stadium Arcadium. By far the Frusciante Peppers are the line-up I prefer, but unfortunately all good things must come to end as once again Frusciante quit the band in 2008. Currently the Red Hot Chili Peppers are in the studio with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer with a planned album release for early 2011, and Frusciante continues to work on his own solo projects.
From the By The Way album, here's Can't Stop, live from 2006.