Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Left to right: Anthony, Flea, John and Chad. They don't normally even wear this much.

Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now

Ooh... ooh yeah
—The appropriately titled "Give It Away"

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a world-famous alternative-funk-rock band formed in 1983 in Los Angeles, California. One of the more prominent bands in the 80's funk scene, they exploded in popularity during the 90's and 00's and are considered by some to be a leading force in Alternative Rock. Although Your Mileage May Vary. Their lyrics up to and including their breakout album, 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, can mostly be summarized as "sex, good times, sex, rock and roll and more sex". After that point they grew up some. They were also nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2010, but unfortunately didn't make the cut. They were nominated again as 2012 inductees, and this time were inducted.

The band currently consists of:

  • Vocalist Anthony Kiedis,
  • Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer,
  • Bassist Michael "Flea" Balzary,
  • Drummer Chad Smith.

Former members:

  • Guitarist Hillel Slovak (1983-1984, 1985-1988)
  • Guitarist Jack Sherman (1984-1985)
  • Guitarist John Frusciante (1988-1992, 1999-2007)
  • Guitarist Dave Navarro (1993-1997)
  • Drummer Jack Irons (1983-1984, 1986-1988)
  • Drummer Cliff Martinez (1984-1986)
  • Drummer D.H. Peligro (1988)

Considering that, between them they've probably done enough illicit substances to kill a herd of buffalo (or at least their ex-guitarist Slovak), it's remarkable that they're all still alive. To give you an idea of how much they've done, John Frusciante overdosed on heroin. Twice. And lived. Many of their songs feature nonsensical lyrics, Epic Riffs and references to California (especially references to California).

Their breakout album was 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, on which famous Record Producer Rick Rubin gave them a crystal-clear production and helped them sharpen their mix-and-match funk rock. This led them to a wider audience (thanks to the Epic Riff-filled hits "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge") and critical success, and Rubin has stayed with them ever since. They've since drifted away from their energetic, wacky funk-rock in favor of mellow Psychedelic Rock with heavy influences from XTC and the Beach Boys, leading to charges of They Changed It, Now It Sucks from some of their older fans.

Reactions to their ninth album, Stadium Arcadium, were mixed with some fans liking their new sound and direction and others declaring that for them it wasn't a Red Hot Chili Peppers album.

Their tenth studio album, I'm with You, was released in August 2011. However, John Frusciante has quit to work on his solo career and been replaced by his friend Josh Klinghoffer. This is nothing new for the band however as it is the second time John has quit and they have been through a few line-up changes over the years.

Drummer Chad Smith also plays drums for the hard rock super band Chickenfoot.

Not to be confused with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.


Discography:
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984) 'Get Up And Jump', 'Out in LA', 'Police Helicopter'
  • Freaky Styley (1985) 'Hollywood (Africa)', 'Jungleman', 'Catholic School Girls Rule'
  • Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987) (the only album to feature their initial Kiedis-Flea-Slovak-Irons lineup) 'Backwoods', 'Behind The Sun', 'Organic Anti-Beat-Box Band'
  • Mother's Milk (1989) 'Higher Ground' (cover), 'Knock Me Down', 'Pretty Little Ditty', 'Taste The Pain'
  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991) 'Under The Bridge', 'Give It Away', 'Suck My Kiss', 'Breaking The Girl'
  • One Hot Minute (1995) (only album with Dave Navarro) 'Warped', 'Aeroplane', 'My Friends'
  • Californication (1999) (not to be confused with the unassociated TV show of the same name) 'Scar Tissue', 'Otherside', 'Californication', 'Around The World'
  • By the Way (2002) 'By The Way', 'Dosed', 'Don't Forget Me', 'The Zephyr Song', 'Can't Stop'
  • Stadium Arcadium (2006) (double album) 'Dani California', 'Snow (Hey Oh)', 'Tell Me Baby', 'Desecration Smile', 'Hump de Bump'
  • I'm With You (2011) (first album with Josh Klinghoffer) 'Look Around', 'Monarchy of Roses', 'The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie'
  • The Getaway (2016) 'Go Robot', 'Sick Love', 'Dark Necessities', unannounced 4th single

Compilation and live albums:

  • What Hits!? (1992)
  • Out in LA (1994)
  • Greatest Hits (2003)
  • Live in Hyde Park (2004)

Red Hot Chili Peppers provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Abbey Road Crossing: The Abbey Road EP
  • Adaptation Expansion: Their cover of The Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster", a Single-Stanza Song in its original version.
  • Alliteration: "Sir Psycho Sexy".
  • Affectionate Parody: The video for "Dani California" features the band singing the song dressed as humorous, but perfectly accurate parodies of rock acts from the 50s (Elvis) up until just prior to the modern day (Nirvana), ending with themselves dressed in their own typical concert attire, their logo hanging prominently in the background.
  • Album Title Drop: 'Uplift Mofo Party Plan' isn't a song on the album but is mentioned in "Fight Like a Brave" & "Organic Anti-Beat-Box Band".
    • Freaky Styley, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, One Hot Minute, Californication, By The Way and Stadium Arcadium all have their own title tracks as well.
  • Alternative Rock
  • Author Existence Failure: The death of Hillel Slovak. Thankfully averted (very nearly) with Kiedis and Frusciante.
  • Black Sheep Hit: "Under the Bridge" was such a different type of song than they usually recorded that Kiedis initially didn't want to put it on the album. Of course, he did and it was a runaway success and possibly their best-known song.
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: "Soul to Squeeze" didn't even make the Blood Sugar Sex Magik track lineup, but became a hit after it was featured on the Coneheads soundtrack.
    • They probably wanted to include it, but it didn't fit. Hence including it on almost every single from the album including its own.
      • Actually, producer Rick Rubin convinced them to drop it in favor of "Under the Bridge".
  • Break the Cutie: "Breaking the Girl"

Twisting and turning
Your feelings are burning
You're breaking the girl

She meant you no harm

Think you're so clever

But now you must sever

You're breaking the girl

He loves no one else

And tidal waves couldn't save the world from Californication.

  • Careful with That Axe: "Torture Me".
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: the Trope Namer
  • Concept Video: Quite a few, with "Californication", "Otherside" and "Dani California" being some of the standouts.
  • Cover Version: "Higher Ground," "Love Rollercoaster," "Search And Destroy," "Fire," "Castles Made Of Sand," and "Subterranean Homesick Blues," among others.
  • Creator Breakdown: Many times when either John or Anthony have slipped into drugs and rehab, but both Anthony and John have now been sober for more than 10 years each, with Anthony having the significant sobriety date of Christmas Eve, 2000.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The whole band to some degree or another, what with the constant fighting and breaking up, the heavy drug abuse and stints in rehab and one of their key members and best friends dying. They got better though.
  • Darker and Edgier: To some extent, One Hot Minute, as it featured a heavier sound and darker lyrics compared with their previous albums.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: the Animated Music Video for "Californication"
  • Distinct Double Album: Stadium Arcadium.
  • Epic Rocking: "Sir Psycho Sexy," "Turn it Again," and "Venice Queen."
  • Funk: Freaky Styley because George Clinton produced it. Blood Sugar Sex Magik with its rhythmic grooves and funk.
  • Garfunkel: While Chad is considered a great drummer, he's the least influential of the band (Anthony writes the lyrics, Flea and John Frusciante write the music, Chad just plays).
    • It should be noted, though, that Chad is highly regarded in drummer circles. He's also liked for being down to earth and for revealing new RHCP information early, even when he not's supposed to.
    • Chad's somewhat more taciturn personality compared to the rest of the band has arguably been important to the band's continued existence. Anthony Keidis notes in his autobiography something to the effect of Chad being the glue that held them together when things got tough.
      • And for looking like Will Ferrell.
        • Chad himself has said a good drummer compliments the rest of the band, not blazes new trails for himself, or something to that effect.
  • Genre Busting: You'll never see a better illustrated example than the music video for "Dani California"
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: "Suck My Kiss".
  • Greatest Hits Album: Two: What Hits?! the biggest hits of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' EMI years (which were not noted for being much of a success, hence the title) and Greatest Hits, a proper hits album featuring their Warner years released a decade later. Both include a song of the other phase ("Under the Bridge" and "Higher Ground", respectively).
    • There are a number of compilations which have 10 tracks that also appear on What Hits!?. EMI licensed these tracks to various budget labels for unknown reasons. They aren't considered canon.
  • Grief Song: "Knock Me Down" and "My Lovely Man" are inspired by guitarist Hillel Slovak's death.
    • "Death of a Martian" is about the death of Flea's dog, Martian.
    • "Brendan's Death Song" is about the death of Brendan Mullen.
    • "Tearjerker" is this for Kurt Cobain, and "Transcending" is this for River Phoenix.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Anthony and Flea.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In an interview about Josh joining the band, Anthony said auditioning doesn't work for them, to which Chad agrees. Chad joined the band through auditions.
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: "Snow ((Hey Oh))" from Stadium Arcadium

Come to decide that the things that I tried
ere in my life just to get high on
When I sit along, come get a little known
But I need more than myself this time

  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Shallow Be Thy Game".
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Some of the older songs featuring Kiedis' rapping can be hard to understand.
  • Intercourse with You: Most of their songs are about this in one way or another.
    • Surprisingly averted on "Californication", which actually has more to do with cultural homogenization.
    • Nearly every song on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but their seven-minute "Sir Psycho Sexy" is arguably this taken Up to Eleven. Averted with that album's "Give It Away", which is actually about giving away possessions. Well... semi-averted anyway.
    • Pretty much averted on every album made after 1991.
  • Lampshade Hanging: What Hits!? was a collection of songs that weren't quite hits.
  • Lighter and Softer: By The Way (and the subsequent albums, depending on whom you ask) is often seen as this by hardcore fans.
  • Listing Cities: "Around the World"
  • Long Runner Lineup/Revolving Door Band: The Kiedis-Frusciante-Flea-Smith line fits fifth type of the former due to fitting the latter so well.
  • Loudness War: The Californication album's shitty mastering got even non-audiophile consumers to complain.
    • Even the ballad "Scar Tissue" was downright deafening.
    • What makes the case of this album particularly Egregious is that even the vinyl mix was ruined - apparently, it was run through a digital dynamic range processor before being mastered for vinyl, which is usually mixed from analogue sources. The CDs of future RHCP albums were also brickwalled, but the vinyl mix of at least Stadium Arcadium was made from a pristine analogue mix by audiophile favourite Steve Hoffman that basically cancelled out all the CD version's flaws. With Californication, listeners don't have that option with any of the commercially available versions, so the whole thing is basically Ruined FOREVER. There is, however, an unmastered version making the rounds on the Internets that does not have the clipping problems. This is one of those cases where the album can basically only be truly appreciated through piracy.
    • It's worth noting that One Hot Minute was pretty loud too, especially for its day. Not Californication levels of awful though.
  • Magick: for some reason spelled this way on Blood Sugar Sex Magik
  • Metal Scream: "Around the World" has one of these in the intro, and another partway through the song.
    • There are a few in "Give It Away" as well.
  • New Sound Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik perfected their funk-rock fusion. Californication unveiled RHCP v2.0, which became more and more of a melodic rock band than a pure funk-rock band.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Averted HARD by Flea, being one of the most popular bassists of the modern day.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The video for "Otherside"
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Flea (more serious fans may know his name is Michael Balzary).
  • Pep Talk Song: "Fight Like a Brave"
  • Porn Stache: Anthony grew one for the I'm With You era. It's awesome.
  • Pretty Boy: Josh Klinghoffer. Even with a beard he still looks incredibly effeminate.
  • Punny Name: Name of their 7th studio album, Californication.
  • Rap Rock: Much more so in their earlier days. Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" was a profound influence on Kiedis' songwriting.
  • Record Producer: Rick Rubin, the long runner.
  • Recurring Character: "Dani", a character referred to in the lyrics of three of the band's post-1999 songs (coincidentally, all of them were hits for the band): "Californication", "By the Way" (where she is first mentioned by name) and the aptly titled "Dani California", which focuses on her. There's also the taxi driver who kidnaps Anthony in "By The Way", who later reappears in the video for "Universally Speaking" by way of a Chekhov's Gun
  • Refrain From Assuming: Some of the songs aren't named after the chorus, e.g. 'By the Way'.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Though these aren't their only lyrical tropes, a rather large number of their songs, especially in The Eighties and Nineties, are about at least one of the three.
  • Shout-Out: The video for "Dani California" features the band dressing in the style of several other bands, and in some cases even doing an homage to one of the band's videos. Most blatant during the line "Gone too fast," when Kiedis is dressed like Kurt Cobain.
  • Special Guest: The horn section featured on Freaky Styley included George Clinton and James Brown alumni Maceo Parker on sax and Fred Wesley on trombone. Freaky Styley itself was produced by George Clinton.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: "Knock Me Down" (sung by Anthony and John in unison) and "Pea" (sung by Flea).
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: RHCP has quite a few of these, for example: "If", "Porcelain", "This Velvet Glove" (to an extent), "Dosed", "This Is The Place", "I Could Have Lied" and "Breaking the Girl"
  • Ode to Sobriety: "Snow" and "Knock Me Down" are type 3.
  • Once a Season: Or (nearly) once an album: an ode to deceased guitar player Hillel Slovak ("Knock Me Down" from Mother's Milk; "My Lovely Man" from Blood Sugar Sex Magick; "This is the Place" from By the Way)
  • The Other Darrin: Six drummers and eight guitarists have been official members of the band.
  • The Something Song: "The Zephyr Song", "The Greeting Song", "Bicycle Song"
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Hustle Me, Bitch. from "Look Around".
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Me and My Friends", and arguably "Behind the Sun".
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Invoked at the end of "Can't Stop", with a board reading: "Inspired by the 'One-Minute Sculptures' of Erwin Wurm". Wurm is an Austrian modernist artist/photographer whose works revolve around unusual situations, like the ones the band protagonizes in said video.
    • Also "Otherside"; it's supposedly modeled after German art films, but whether it's a straight use or a parody is debatable.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Constantly. Hell, they used to play naked with only socks to cover their junk.
    • Frusciante's become more modest since his return; he has nasty scars from his heroin days and usually covers up as a result.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Too many to count.