Casual Red Hot Chili Pepper fans will probably know the band for Californication, their punchy, stadium oriented album from 1999. The album features their classic line-up, but it’s far from the only line-up that has toured under the Red Hot Chili Peppers banner.
Vocalist Anthony Kiedis has performed on every album, anchored by Flea’s fiery bass playing, but the band has been a portal for guitarists and drummers over the years. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer’s name features besides John Frusciante‘s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making him, at 32, the youngest person inducted into the hall.
Hillel Slovak helped form the band, but he didn’t play on their first album The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Israeli-born musician had re-joined the group in time for their second album, Freaky Styley, and his presence clearly made an impact on Kiedis, who paid tribute to him.
“I wish Hillel hadn’t missed out on that first recording in the first year,” he said. “We did some TV shows in 1984 and I look at them now and think: ‘Damn, I wish Hillel would have been there for that. He was a creator of the band. That was his baby’”.
Slovak died from a heroin overdose aged 26 in 1988. His death made an impact on the other bandmates, although drummer Jack Irons took it hardest, and quit the band. By the time the band recovered enough to record Mother’s Milk, they had found a more permanent substitute in Chad Smith, who has been recording and touring with the band ever since.
“Anyway, it was meant to be the way it was meant to be and it all fleshed out the way life goes,” Kiedis continued. “But Hillel’s still there in our hearts, whether it’s 30, 40, 50, 60 or even 100 [years].”
In an interview with NME, Flea and Kiedis discuss Frusciante’s return to the outfit. Frusciante had left the band on two occasions: He quit following the immense success of Blood Sugar Sex Magik but re-joined in time for Californication. Frusciante departed for a second during the Millenium, partially to focus on electronic music and he rejoined for the second time in 2019.