Anthony Kiedis turns 52-years old today, and to celebrate, let’s look at some obscure facts about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the band Kiedis has fronted for over 30 years. As always, you may know some of these things, but you almost certainly don’t know all of them. Now then, onto the fun!
1. Malcolm McLaren almost became their manager — and turned them into a punk band!
It’s probably a good thing this never happened. Malcolm McLaren — best known for managing the Sex Pistols — approached the Peppers in 1985 about becoming their manager. He wanted to turn the band into a straightforward three-chord punk band, with Kiedis as the focal point, and the rest of the band acting as a backup group, and doing wild things on stage. The band was decidedly not interested in this idea. Flea was so horrified he passed out in shock.
2. Comedian Neil Hamburger really seems to have it in for them
Comedian Gregg Turkington — better known as Neil Hamburger — is an icon of what is known as anti-comedy. This could best be described as comedy that’s so bad it’s actually hilarious. But one thing worth wondering is why he’s got it out for the Chili Peppers so much? In this clip, he tells several jokes about the Peppers in a row, mostly focusing on their drug problems. Here’s a favorite:
“What’s the difference between the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Harriet Tubman?
“Harriet Tubman was a heroin to the slaves, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were slaves to heroin!”
Sorry, Peppers fans, but that one kills me. I still wonder why he picks on them so much, though.
3. But Chris Rock is a huge fan — he inducted them into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall Of Fame
Not all comics are anti-Peppers, though. Chris Rock loves the band, and in 2012, he inducted them into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. His speech is hilarious, talking about the time he thought he was going to see Grandmaster Flash, and he saw the Peppers instead (“I thought all white groups wore socks on their d****!”), and giving props to their blend of funkiness and pop sensibility (“If George Clinton and Brian Wilson had a baby, he would be ugly as f***……but he would sound like the Chili Peppers). The speech was both heartfelt, and ridiculously funny, and it was the perfect tribute to the band.
4. The Uplift Mofo Party Plan contains a “Special Secret Song Inside” — and it’s quite ribald.
The Peppers have always had a fondness for raunchy lyrics, but that was especially true in their early years. On 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, the 8th track is listed as “Special Secret Song Inside,” but it’s actual name is “Party On Your P****,” a title that would surely make Prince proud. While sex was always a big topic for the Peppers, they were never as bawdy as this.
5. Dave Navarro was only with the band for one album — and it didn’t go over too well.
When John Frusciante left the band for the first time, shortly after the release of their smash album Blood Sugar Sex Magic, the Peppers were on top of the world. But with Frusciante gone, they needed a replacement guitarist who would fit in with their funk-punk sound. Their choice was Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction. He seemed like a nice fit, with serious chops as a hard rock guitarist, but it never quite panned out. Navarro’s lone album with the Peppers, 1995’s One Hot Minute, received lukewarm reviews, and his relationship with the band ended soon after. The album actually isn’t all bad, with “Coffee Shop,” in particular being a standout track, but the band clearly missed Frusciante. He returned for 1999’s Californication, and it became a huge hit.
6. “She’s Only 18” was based on Anthony Kiedis actually dating an 18-year-old girl.
Famous rock stars dating women far younger than them is nothing new, but the 23-year age difference between Kiedis and Heather Christie was a bit shocking. They began dating when she was 18, thus inspiring the 2006 track “She’s Only 18,” off of Stadium Arcadium. The pair would break up in 2008, but not before having a son together named Everly.
7. When they played Krusty’s comeback special, they were more than willing to change a few lyrics.
The Chili Peppers lyrics are like their children, man! How could you expect them to change for TV? Well, you just have to offer a friendly alternative, like Krusty The Klown did!
“When you say ‘what I got you got to get and put it in you,’ why ‘what I’d like is I’d like to hug and kiss you?”
“Wow, that’s much better!”
“Everyone can enjoy that!”
And so, the comeback special went off without a hitch.
8. “Dani California” was the third part in a continuing story.
It’s pretty much an ongoing joke that Chili Peppers perform A LOT of songs about California, but did you know that “Dani California” is actually the last portion of a three-part song-cycle? It began with 1999’s “Californication,” which mentioned a “teenage bride with a baby inside/gettin’ high on information.” Three years later, on “By the Way,” that same girl would be referenced as “Dani The Girl/who singin songs to me beneath the marquee/oversold.” Finally, “Dani California” would flesh out this character’s story completely. Kiedis has said that turning the saga of Dani into a three-part story was not planned, and simply happened organically:
“When this funky groove came up it struck me as a perfect place to actually tell a story. It sort of revealed itself to me that it’s been the same character, just kind of developing. At first I didn’t realize that I was writing about the same girl.”
So, contrary to popular belief, “Dani California” is not yet another song about the state of California, but actually about a poor Southern girl with the surname of California.
9. Flea went to college to study music in 2008 — and he was a star student!
You wouldn’t think a legendary bass player like Flea would be interested in music lessons, but you’d be wrong! In 2008, he enrolled in the University of Southern California’s music program, where he was a diligent student. Flea stated that he had based his playing on intuition and instinct throughout his career, and was interesting in learning more of the technical aspects of musicianship. It just goes to show you, even the best musicians in the world can always learn something new.
10. Anthony’s father sold drugs to The Who and Led Zeppelin.
In the Kiedis family, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. In Kiedis’s memoir, Scar Tissue, he mentions that his father, actor Blackie Dammett, was a drug dealer to the stars on the Sunset Strip, and among his most famous clients were The Who and Led Zeppelin. Dammett wrote his own autobiography, Lords Of The Sunset Strip, in which he detailed his life as part of L.A.’s party scene in the 60s and 70s. If you’re curious about his acting chops, you can check him out in Meatballs Part II and Lethal Weapon among others.