Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Stefan Brending)

Music

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea reveals the greatest guitarist he knows

Bassist and trumpet player Flea, as well as being a constant part of one of the world’s leading bands, is also a presence on Twitter, often politely answering fans when he’s asked an honest question. And when Reverend and the Makers tweeted to ask who is the greatest guitarist he knows, Flea simply replied: “Frusciante”.

Frusciante has performed on five albums that Flea’s band Red Hot Chili Peppers have released to date, but in the eyes of thousands of RHCP fans, he is the ultimate guitar player that the band has ever boasted. It doesn’t hurt that he performed on Blood Sex Sugar Magik and Californication, two albums that have risen through the ranks to become two of the most epochal albums of their generation.

Ultimately, the guitar hooks and melodic countermelodies are among the strongest in the band’s canon, and it just goes to show that Frusciante’s influence lasted beyond the realm of a guitarist passing in and out of the band.

Flea is one of only two constant members – the other being vocalist Anthony Kiedis – and he has locked in with several guitarists and drummers. Granted, Chad Smith has been a band mainstay since 1988, but it’s been harder for the group to hold onto a permanent guitarist.

Most recently, Josh Klinghoffer filled in on guitars and keyboards, until Frusciante re-joined in 2019. His guitar prowess has been described as “zen-like” by The Smiths and Modest Mouse musician Johnny Marr, and Frusciante’s decision to return to the fold was seen by some as a curious decision, especially when he had the freedom to explore any genre he wished as a solo artist. Indeed, he left the band in 2009, because the Chili’s limited his creative palette, both as a person and an artist, creating a more propulsive form of performance.

But according to Flea, his place in the band is well earned, and deserving of the praise he regularly receives. Flea later stated that the guitar player is one of the most accomplished and far-reaching voices of his generation, bringing Red Hot Chili Peppers to newer, grander heights. “Not only was he a great musician, he was also a thoughtful, supportive team player – a communally-minded, kind and intelligent person,” said Flea. “But artistically, in terms of being able to speak the same [musical] language, it was easier working with John.”

Frusciante currently worked with Red Hot Chili Peppers on their newest album, creating a hypnotic racket that reveres and extends the soundscapes spearheaded by the band. The Kiedis-fronted outfit have always been as much guitar-led as they are melody led, or bolstered by the fury of the bass guitar in question.

Where it builds up, the Frusciante lineup is widely considered to be the classic iteration of the band name (or, brand name, if you will). But clearly, his guitar hooks have made an impression on the world, as his own bandmate has pencilled him as the best guitarist he knows. That’s high praise for a bass player who has also worked in close collaboration with Thom Yorke.