Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
Formed in the wake of the L.A. punk scene, the Red Hot Chili Peppers combined funk and punk with macho, sexed-up lyrics. (One early track was called “Party on Your Pussy”). The result was a high-octane sound that made the quintet alt-rock favorites in the Eighties, then superstars in the Nineties. But as the Chili Peppers aged, their songs became more laid-back and lyrical, and the band went from flesh-baring firecrackers (a 1992 Rolling Stone cover featured them naked) to respected veterans.
After meeting at L.A.’s Fairfax High School, singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist Hillel Slovak, and drummer Jack Irons formed Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem before changing their name to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They became a popular attraction up and down the L.A. strip, though the early lineup was short-lived as Irons and the Israeli-born Slovak departed to form What Is This? Kiedis and Flea recruited guitarist Jack Sherman and drummer Cliff Martinez prior to releasing their eponymous debut in 1984. The album stiffed; Slovak returned, and the band took to the road, sometimes appearing onstage wearing only strategically placed tube socks.
The funk-heavy Freaky Styley (1985), the last album featuring Martinez on drums, was produced by P-Funk’s George Clinton and featured appearances by funk horn players Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley. The record went largely unnoticed at the time. Irons returned to the band in time for the more rock-oriented The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (Number 148, 1987), which sold better than its predecessor. Any optimism was shattered by the 1988 death of Slovak from a heroin overdose. Disturbed by Slovak’s death and Kiedis’ own heroin problem, Irons quit the band a second time. An interim band with P-Funk guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight and Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro did not take hold. Kiedis recruited a Chili Peppers fan, guitarist John Frusciante, and auditions brought drummer Chad Smith. This version of the band recorded Mother’s Milk (Number 52, 1989). With videos for “Knock Me Down” and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” on MTV, it looked like the Peppers were about to break through.
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