The life of Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis has been absurd ever since childhood. His unorthodox experience date back to when he first moved to Los Angeles to live with his father, a decision that ultimately hurtled him into the belly of Hollywood.
Before moving to the ‘City of Angels’, aged 12, Kiedis lived a relatively ordinary lifestyle in Michigan with his mother. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was among the seedy underworld of Los Angeles. He witnessed the beauty of California and the dark, depraved side that you rarely see celebrated in the movies.
The singer’s childhood dalliance with acting was encouraged by his father, who himself had made his way to the city to become a star. However, John Michael Kiedis’ big break evaded him. Instead, he sold drugs to feed his family and his habits.
Kiedis Sr. worked under the pseudonym of Blackie Dammett. He appeared in an episode of Charlie’s Angels in 1977 and fittingly played the role of ‘Drug Dealer #3’ in Lethal Weapon. In contrast, it didn’t take Anthony long to secure a major role.
In his book Scar Tissue, the singer shared his fond memories of mastering the craft of acting. He wrote: “Now it was time for me to enrol in acting school. I took children’s classes with a woman named Diane Hull, and they were wonderful”.
Acting was seemingly a crutch for Kiedis during an otherwise dysfunctional period of his life. Clearly, he had a knack for it too, as his first role came in F.I.S.T. (1978), which starred Stallone as a warehouse worker in Cleveland, and fights for the leadership of his labour union.
For his stage name, Kiedis opted to follow the family lineage. He once explained: “Well, it’s got to be something Dammett, because I’m your son. So Cole Dammett was born. Get it? Cole, son of Blackie”.
While for most teenagers, starring alongside Sylvester Stallone would have been an intimidating experience, Kiedis was built differently. His father’s business dealings had made him a well-connected figure. Anthony met Keith Moon, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Blondie, Talking Heads, and Cher was even once his babysitter. Meeting Stallone was just another day in the life of Kiedis.
In 2011, the singer opened up to Interview Magazine about how his crazed youth prepared him for the limelight. He said, “I never really thought in terms of the concept of being a rock star — being around people like that just seemed like normal day-in-the-life stuff to me.
“Those were just the surroundings I grew up in. I think the concept of rock stardom has turned into something shallow and meaningless. I don’t really believe in that concept anymore of, ‘Oh, you’re a rock star so you can live excessively’ or whatever. There probably hasn’t been a bona fide rock star since the late ’70s.”
Starring alongside Sylvester Stallone combined with everything else he witnessed made Kiedis numb to the idea of fame being this foreign entity, and it’s something that has surrounded him for as long as he can remember.
In the end, acting would prove not to be his calling. After his appearance in F.I.S.T., Kiedis would only act twice again as Cole Blackett, and music soon took a stranglehold on him, which has proved to be irreversible as the decades have gone on.