Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The current lineup w/ ex-drummers Jack Irons & Cliff Martinez
photo courtesy of WNCX in Cleveland 
I was fortunate enough to have attended this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  See my full report for CBS Local Digital here.

One of the highlights for me was the induction of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band I've been a fan of for more than two decades.

I was curious which members of the band would be inducted, and who would show up.  There are basically two classic lineups: first, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, drummer Jack Irons and the late Hillel Slovak on guitar. And second, the most popular lineup, Anthony, Flea, drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist John Frusciante, who quit the band for the second time a few years back. All six of those guys got in.

But I was wondering about the lineup from their first album: Anthony, Flea, drummer Cliff Martinez (who recently scored the film Drive) and guitarist Jack Sherman. Plus, guitarist Dave Navarro, who replaced Frusciante the first time he left, and Josh Klinghoffer, who is in the band now. Oddly, Martinez was inducted but Sherman wasn't.  If their 1984 self-titled debut is considered to be such a milestone in the band's career, why wouldn't everyone from the album be inducted?  I think the answer lies in that Martinez left under good terms, while Sherman was fired, and I think he later sued the band. The thing is, management shouldn't be deciding who is included, they shouldn't be able to re-write that history.

It's weird that Navarro wasn't included.  He only played on one album, 1995's aptly titled One Hot Minute. Not their finest moment to be sure, but it had some great songs, and it's probably equal to their new album, I'm With You. Yet Klinghoffer was inducted, and is the youngest musician ever to be inducted, at age 33. That's also probably thanks to management: if the current lineup isn't all in, it makes it look like they aren't as relevant anymore. The same thing happened with Robert Trujilio who was inducted with Metallica a few years ago, after playing on just one studio album (and by the way, the same folks who manage Metallica manage the Chili Peppers).   I'm guessing the folks from management convinced/bargained/pressured their way to getting their way.  So they're great managers, I guess, and both bands deserve them. I just think it's weird that Jack Sherman and Dave Navarro weren't included.  Things have changed with the Rock Hall: in the Rock Hall's early years, they weren't going to induct Ronnie Wood as a part of The Rolling Stones, because they thought the band peaked before Ron's era (I guess they somehow missed Some Girls).

Anyway, it was too bad that Frusciante didn't show up, but the vibes were great between the current band (who are now on tour) and their ex-drummers. Chris Rock made a great speech about the band. I thought he was a good choice:  I think he made a speech about the Chili's at the MTV VMAs years ago, and it wasn't that good. I figured this was a bigger deal and he'd make up for it, and he did. Of course he was funny but he also respects the band and had a lot to say about them.

Their speeches were lovely and touching. Chad was really humble and remembered to thank former bandmates Frusciante, Navarro and guitarist Arik Marshall (who replaced Frusciante in time for the 1992 Lollapalooza tour, but only lasted a few weeks after that). Flea's speech gave me chills.  When he talked about getting on his knees before every show and being thankful that he gets to perform music for people... wow.  Also, his love for George Clinton was really sweet. As was his story about practicing trumpet for future Guns N Roses drummer Steven Adler's grandmother. When he talked about Hillel Slovak, and his mom, and started crying, I felt myself doing the same a bit. It was also moving to hear him talk about his bond with John Frusciante.  Anthony talked about how Flea and Hillel changed his life, and gave props to Josh.  And then they took it to the stage.

Their performance was awesome, and made me pretty excited to see them... which will happen this Friday night. They played "By The Way," "The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie," and then they were joined by Irons and Martinez for "Give It Away."  After that they invited George Clinton, Ron Wood, Slash, Kenney Jones of The Faces and Billie Joe Armstrong onstage for "Higher Ground."

It really was kind of a bummer that Frusciante didn't show up. I'd read that he felt it was "too soon"; the band is promoting their first album without him, and Klinghoffer is his friend, and his presence would just distract attention from the new band (and whatever John is doing in his own career now). I really wish the band did "Me and My Friends" or something from Hillel's era, especially since his brother was there with the band.

But other than that, what a great moment for the band, and it made me, as a fan, really happy to watch the speeches and the performance.

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