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Music

Why David Bowie turned down the chance to work with Red Hot Chili Peppers

@josephtaysom

David Bowie was notoriously picky about the projects he decided to work on. Unless Bowie was fully invested in the idea, he’d decline the request, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers found out the hard way — on several occasions.

Every artist has a list of dream names they would love to collaborate with one day, and you’ll struggle to find anyone who wouldn’t have wanted to team up with the stellar mind of David Bowie. During his career, he was inundated with offers to step into the studio with the likes of Dave Grohl and Coldplay, who all were forced to stare rejection in the face, but nobody got told no by Bowie more times than the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Bowie’s selective approach to collaboration is just a small reason he left behind such a celestial legacy when he passed away in 2016. While he made some occasional creative mistakes along the way, his hit rate was astonishingly high.

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The Red Hot Chili Peppers wanted to delve deep into Bowie’s mind and have him produce a record for them. However, convincing the Starman would prove to be an impossible task. Following Bowie’s death, frontman Anthony Kiedis admitted: “Every record we ever made, we had the band discussion: ‘Who should we get to produce this record?’ ‘I don’t know, we have to try someone new. Let’s get David Bowie!”

He continued: “So in the beginning we would call him, and he would say no, respectfully. Then, later, we would write long e-mails explaining everything, and why it was time for us to really get our ships on—and he always respectfully declined… For two minutes I was heartbroken, and then I would hear Chad Smith play drums, and I’d be like, ‘We’re good, we can go do something else’.”

Adding: “We asked him to produce By the Way, as we were writing By the Way, and then we asked him again for our next record, which was Stadium [Arcadium].”

Remarkably, Bowie isn’t even the person who has turned down working with the Chili’s on the most occasions. Kiedis later admitted that Brian Eno has rejected them eight times, but it’s not changed his glowing opinion on either of them, who he still holds in the highest regard. Kiedis added: “He said no to us like, two or three times, but his mate [Brian] Eno, who we’ve also been asking our entire career to please produce a record for us, has said no eight times. All good. You gotta ask. And by the way, ‘no’ is a reasonable answer. It’s one of a couple of answers you could get, and it’s acceptable.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers have made a habit out of covering Bowie throughout their career, and this version of ‘Starman’ is a fitting exclamation of their love for him. Watch it below.

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