They’ve performed naked except for ‘socks on cocks’, rocked out underneath the Great Pyramids of Giza and even played Woodstock ’94 dressed as giant lightbulbs, so you already knew Red Hot Chili Peppers were pretty much up for anything. Here are 10 times the band put their own personal stamp on interesting situations…
In 1996, beer brand Molson’s hatched a plan to hold “the northernmost rock concert in history.” with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Violent Femmes set to perform at the icy gig. A little different from your average beer promotion, this event saw approximately 70 prize winners and their guests hop on Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn as part of a four-day Arctic cruise. “We were supposed to play on a Russian icebreaking vessel off Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada,” Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie recalled to The Age in 2019. Unfortunately the weather had other plans, with the sea swells ensuring a swift change of venue. "We put together a makeshift venue in an aircraft hangar in the tundra,” Ritchie explained. “It turned out to be a pretty amazing time.” It’s unknown exactly what the Chili Peppers played at this 1 September show, but it’s likely to have included some of the singles from then-current album, One Hot Minute - the band’s only album recorded with Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro.
In January 2007 it was announced Anaheim Disneyland roller coaster rides Space Mountain in Disneyland and California Screamin’ at the adjacent Disney California Adventure would be exclusively soundtracked by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music. The rides were clunkily renamed Rockin’ California Screamin’ and Rockin’ Space Mountain for the duration of the promotion, which strangely avoided using the Chili Peppers’ cover of Ohio Players’ "Love Rollercoaster". Instead, Space Mountain went with the group’s Stevie Wonder cover "Higher Ground" and California Screamin’ utilised "All Around The World", with the parks provided remixed versions of the tracks to “heighten every twist, turn, rise and drop of the attraction.” The promotion lasted until April, although surely staff hearing the songs on loop all shift are still experiencing PTSD flashbacks…
Hip Hop Hits!
Young MC’s "Bust A Move", which went to number one in Australia in October 1990 (more than a year after its US release), features a funky bass line delivered by none other than RHCP's token Australian, Flea. He also gives an Energiser bunny a run for its money in the accompanying Young MC video, which is appropriate given he’s wearing pants covered in plush toys. The pants also appeared in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1989 video for their Stevie Wonder cover "Higher Ground", although Flea suggested in 2008 they were stolen not long after...
Isn’t It Ironic?
Here’s a question to pose to music-loving friends: what’s the biggest selling album that features members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers? It’s not Blood Sugar Sex Magik or Californication - it’s Alanis Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill. With more than 33 million global sales (16 million in the US alone), the album has outsold Eagles’ Hotel California, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s Born In The USA and The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The 1995 album came out a few months ahead of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ own One Hit Minute release, with newly-inducted Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro and Flea both featuring on the album’s lead single, "You Oughta Know". LA producer Jimmy Boyle, who was keen on giving the track a rockier sound than Morissette initially envisaged, brought Dave and Flea into the session to add their heavier touch. “It was very instinctive,” Flea suggested to Bass Player Magazine in 1996, before slagging off the track’s scratch bass: “I listened to the bass line and thought, ‘That’s some weak shit!’.”
Public Image Ltd (well, almost)!
After leaving Californian hardcore group Fear, and appearing in punk director Penelope Spheeris’ 1984 film Suburbia, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea auditioned for John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten)’s post-Sex Pistols group Public Image Ltd in Los Angeles in 1984. The collective, which was responsible for the influential post-punk albums Metal Box (1979) and The Flowers Of Romance (1981) were impressed by the 21-year-old bassist’s ability. They offered him a spot in the line-up for their forthcoming Japanese tour, but he turned them down due to commitments with his fledgling LA band. “He completely set the place on fire rhythmically,” PiL drummer Martin Atkins noted. “He said he already had a band called Red Hot Chili Peppers, so we spent a couple of weeks trying to get him to give up this ridiculous Chili Peppers thing, which I assured him was going nowhere.” Flea would later reunite with Atkins in his ‘90s outfit Pigface on the track "Divebomber": “we jammed until the two-inch tape ran out,” Atkins said of the reunion.
The Super Bowl!
Given NSYNC, Gloria Estefan and The Black Eyed Peas have all been garnered US Super Bowl halftime shows, it seems quite shocking the live juggernauts Red Hot Chili Peppers have never been given a headline slot. Nevertheless, in 2014 the Chili Peppers made a three-minute guest appearance alongside Bruno Mars at the XLVIII Super Bowl in East Rutherford, New Jersey. After Mars delivered high energy versions of his hits "Locked Out Of Heaven" and "Treasure", the pocket-sized soul star introduced the Chili Peppers for a three-minute romp through Blood Sugar Sex Magik's single "Give It Away". Some viewers later complained Flea and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer were miming as they thrashed about, with drummer Chad Smith weighing into the debate by suggesting all acts in the Super Bowl are forced to perform to backing tracks. They weren’t the only protests about the performance, with some closed-minded folk also riled by frontman Anthony Kiedis performing shirtless! As some sort of consolation, RHCP would have at least been happy the performance attracted the highest ever Super Bowl audience, with more than 115 million viewers.
In 2018, education became a little more exciting for the students at Viewpoint School in Calabass, California: Red Hot Chili Peppers dropped by for a surprise Halloween performance. Using a laughably small sound system, the band still manage to make 2002 single "Can’t Stop" sound pretty damn cool while dressed as a skeleton (Flea), a mask-wearing school student (Anthony Kiedis), Guy Fawkes in papal robes (Chad Smith) and cheap suit/green wig combo (Josh Klinghoffer). Granted, since the majority of the kids in the auditorium would have been born after Stadium Arcadium was released, the anachronistic event was probably akin to Abraham Lincoln rocking up to spit some Xxxtentacion rhymes, but surely the teachers loved it at least. It’s not reported whether Smith’s kids, who attended the school, were embarrassed or thrilled by their dad’s appearance.
The Big Screen!
It’s well-known Anthony Kiedis plays a pig-tailed meathead surfer who roughs up Keanu Reeves and breaks his board in 1991’s Point Break, but less is written about Flea playing Marty McFly (Michael J Fox)’s nasty boss in 1989’s Back To The Future II. Hidden under some sickly prosthetics to play the character in a prospective 2015, Needles ropes the beaten down McFly into a dodgy white collar deal via a workplace call on the flatscreen TV. Heck, it’s like they pre-empted COVID-19 Zoom conferences more than 30 years ago! Of course, Kiedis was the first of the Chili Peppers to appear in a Hollywood film, popping up as Sylvester Stallone's son in 1978’s F.I.S.T.
Multi-Genre Guest Appearances!
With a 35-year recording career, it’s hardly surprising all members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers have appeared on albums by some of music’s most iconic names. Flea joins Tom Waits on the battalion stomp of 2011’s Bad As Me track "Hell Broke Luce"; returning guitarist John Frusciante recorded guitar for Johnny Cash’s Rick Rubin-produced covers "Heart Of Gold" and "Personal Jesus" and Anthony Kiedis provides vocals on Dr John’s 1994 track "Shut D Fonk Up". Flea also appears on Mick Jagger’s 1993 solo album Wandering Spirit, Chad Smith drums on Dixie Chicks’ 2006 release Taking The Long Way and Dave Navarro features on Nine Inch Nails’ Further Down The Spiral remix "Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)". Then there are the band’s multiple supergroup appearances, including Chickenfoot (Chad Smith with members of Van Halen), Rocket Juice & The Moon (Flea with Blur’s Damon Albarn and late Fela Kuti percussionist Tony Allen) and Atoms For Peace (Flea with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, producer Nigel Godrich and acclaimed session drummer Joey Waronker). And we haven't even touched on surreal collaborations with Wu-Tang Clan, actress Traci Lords and The Clash's Joe Strummer...
Celebrity Lookalike Showdowns!
In 2014 an ongoing joke about US actor Will Ferrell’s resemblance to RHCP’s Chad Smith came to a head on a Reddit Ask Me Anything session with the comedian. “The truth of the matter is there is no Will Ferrell,” he joked. “Only Chad Smith.” After the pair's drum-off battle on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, a number of charity events featuring Smith and Ferrell were held. Even Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins, The Police’s Stewart Copeland and Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood became involved in this particular event:
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