Anthony Keidis is one of the most underrated rock vocalists of the modern age. A thumping performer when given the chance to rock out, Keidis is also capable of turning in a more touching rendition whenever he pleased. Perhaps the most perfect vision of this vulnerability can be seen on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song ‘Under The Bridge’ and when you isolate Keidis’ vocals, the beauty comes to the fore.
Keidis has had a wild life. His father, Blackie Dammett, was well known as a drug dealer to the stars in Los Angeles and Keidis was an understudy of sorts. It meant that many of the singer’s rock star stories arrived before he even picked up a mic. But, when he did eventually pick up that mic, he became one of the most interesting lead singers of the ’90s and beyond.
‘Under The Bridge’ is a song written by Keidis to highlight the loneliness and despondency he felt while struggling with his addiction to heroin. It was an affliction he shared with RHCP’s guitarist John Frusciante and the pair were clearly bonded by mutual harrowing experiences as they’ve enjoyed many touching performances of the song together.
Keidis said of the song, which has gone on to become a mainstay of the band’s performances and iconography, “the loneliness that I was feeling triggered memories of my time with [former girlfriend] Ione and how I’d had this beautiful angel of a girl who was willing to give me all of her love, and instead of embracing that, I was downtown with fucking gangsters shooting speedballs under a bridge.”
The best place to hear the beauty of this song is through Keidis’ vocal performance. Though John Frusciante’s guitar has a way of speaking more loudly than any other instrument in the song, when you remove them all and focus instead don Keidis’ words you can hear the very soul of the track.
Frusciante and Keidis’ dual on this song is beguiling and touching but it is with the vocals that we can scrape away the guff and focus, instead, on the poetry at the very beating heart of the track. It’s one of their best and shows of Keidis’ Midas touch. Listen below to Anthony Keidis isolated vocal on Red Hot Chili Pepper’s classic ‘Under the Bridge’.