Red Hot Chili Peppers


Red Hot Chili Peppers
By Gillian G. Gaar
Carlton books – £30.00

After co-founders Anthony and Flea, Chad Smith is the longest serving Chili Pepper, a man whom Flea fondly calls ”the lovable behemoth” and my true partner in rhythm… a man who grounds us from floating off into the sissy-boy ether.

A prescient black and white photo of a young embracing Anthony Keidis K and Flea on the cover of this altogether flash’n’fetching book – simply entitled Red Hot Chili Peppers Exclusive Box Set – suggests the fan/reader is in for a photographically bumpy ride.

Never a band to rest on their laurels nor subscribe to the Status Quo wardrobe of denim and erm, denim, Red Hot Chili Peppers have always gone out of their way to confront conformity, which this fully illustrated book (that includes five posters and twelve memorabilia items) reflects: ”For over 30 years now, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been there. They’ve managed to withstand blows that would have felled many a lesser band. Line-up changes. Substance abuse. Death. Yet they’ve always managed to bounce back, recharged, regrouped, and re-energized, just as anxious as their fans to find out what the future has in store for them.”

I first came across the Peppers whilst living in Brooklyn, where a flat mate leant me a couple of live tapes. And it was apparent immediately, that this lot could really play like muvvas; although at the time, they were still a relatively unknown, underground band.

As authoress Gillian G. Gaar goes on to explain, the (ever-changing) foursome have always courted success as if it were second nature: ”One secret to their success is their ability to continually reinvent themselves. Sometimes it’s because they’ve had no other choice, as when they lost a band member. On other occasions, it’s been because they’ve recognised that some kind of change was needed in order to keep the forward momentum going.”

Replete with entertaining drop quotes such as Hillel Slovak’s ”We prefer to be known as bone-crunching mayhem funk” and Anthony Keidis’s ”Even when we’re pissed off with each other we sit in a room and work,” this book is essentially written chronologically – album by album.

Littered with an array of zany colour photos, which in a round-a-bout way, highlights the band’s varying mood swings, temperaments and nuanced changes – whether by choice, necessity or death – Red Hot Chili Peppers Exclusive Box Set is, as always with Carlton, a really well conceived/put together package.

It addresses the issue of all the band’s guitar players, and needless to say, it delves into the lives of the band’s prime protagonists: ”You simply can’t imagine the Red Hot Chili Peppers without Anthony. His swaggering brashness is tempered by a mischievous spirit and a generous slice of self-deprecation – all welcome attributes for the lead singer of a rambunctious and ridiculously energetic, band […]. When he was 12, Anthony moved in with his father, who by now was supplementing his acting career with drug dealing. Father and son became a bizarre double act, hitting nightclubs together, drinking and doing drugs together; even chasing women together.”

If you’re a fan, this book’s no doubt for you.

David Marx


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