Anthony Kiedis, front man of The Red Hot Chili
Peppers, was born in St Mary's hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A, on 1 November, 1962 to John
Kiedis (also known as Blackie Dammet) and Margaret 'Peggy' Idema.
Anthony's parents divorced in 1968 when he was just five years old,
His father moved to Los Angeles, California. Anthony remained in
Grand Rapids with his mother.
By the time he was 11 years old, Anthony was already out of control,
getting into trouble at school and generally being a little hell
raiser. He had also decided that he would like to go and live with his
father in Los Angeles. His mother was against this until Anthony ran away from home. Despite the fact that he only got as far as his friend's house, his mother made he decision that Anthony was better off under his father's control.
In 1974, at the age of 12, Anthony went to live with his father in
An Introduction to Drugs, Daredevil Stunts, and the forming
of the band
His father introduced Anthony to drugs almost immediately. It started
with marijuana, then went on to Tuinal
and then cocaine. During this
time, Anthony was attending Fairfax High School, where he met up with Michael Balzary (Flea, current Bassist of The Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Hillel Slovak (Former Guitarist of The Red Hot Chili Peppers). Anthony and Flea went on to form
the band in 1983.
Anthony and Flea became good friends, carrying out daredevil stunts
while still at school. One of these was to be a jump from the top of a
building into the swimming pool below. They had their eye on a
suitable building which had a teardrop-shaped pool, the pointed part
of the teardrop being the deepest end. While climbing the building,
they were spotted by someone who shouted to them to come down. Flea
quickly jumped. Anthony heard a splash and followed suit. What he did
not realise was that he had leaped too far out and instead of landing
in the water he hit the edge of the pool with his heels, falling back
into the water in agony. Anthony had broken his back but despite this he managed to pull himself out of he water, after which he spent a month in traction.
At the age of fourteen he had his first taste of heroin,
during an excursion with a friend of his father. They visited a coke dealer's house, where the adults indulged themselves with some white powder. Later, alone in the house, Anthony found some China White Heroin, which he took. Although this was heroin in its purest form,he had a lucky escape and apparently suffered no side effects.
Anthony did not take heroin again until four years later. However, he found the experience of taking the water-downed heroin available to him ultimately disappointing
The Band's First Performance
Garry Allen and his band, Neighbour's Voices, were booked to play the
Rhythm Lounge on Melrose. He asked Anthony, Flea and Hillel if they
would perform one number before his own band played.
Flea and Hillel were a little worried about this. They both knew that
Anthony was not a great singer. Having witnessed Anthony's maniacal
dancing at various clubs, Gary thought Anthony would make a great
Now, all they needed was a name for the band. Anthony suggested 'Tony
Flow and the Miraculous Masters of Mayhem'. The band went down a storm
at their first performance and they were asked back the following
week, this time to perform two songs.
Anthony wrote another song for them to perform called 'Get up and
Jump'. The band performed that and the 'Out in LA' song. Again, the
band was a hit with the audience. They got such a buzz from performing
they decided that it was far too much fun to give up. This meant that
they had to find a proper name for the band. They came up with Red Hot
Chili Peppers. They felt that this suited the band perfectly in terms
of feeling, sensation and energy. And so, the Red Hot Chili Peppers
After this, they did a third gig at the Cathay de Grande1. This venue was different. Unlike the Rhythm Lounge where they played their first two gigs this was a proper live music venue. Although there were not many there at the Cathay de Grande that night (only around 30 people), the band still did well. The only thing to dull the evening was, the trouble Anthony had trouble getting the bands money from the promoter at the end of the evening. They had been guaranteed $200. The promoter wanted to pay them just $40, because there had not been many people in the club that night. Anthony had to 'shake him down' for whatever cash he had on him, which was still very short of what they should have been paid.
A couple of months after the band had began playing gigs, Anthony paid $300 for studio time to record a demo. As you can tell from the price he paid, it was just one of those hole-in-the-wall studios. They recorded six songs which Anthony and Flea took out to different venues to try and get booking. Getting a record deal had not occurred to them.
The next big step
Their next big gig was at the Kit Kat Club. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were headlining the venue. As luck would have it, Lindy Gotez, talent manager, was in the audience. The band had everything for which to play. Lindy became the bands manager. Now all they needed was a lawyer. Flea and Anthony had heard good recommendations for Eric Greenspan. They both went to his office to talk to him. They explained that they had not yet been given a record deal and they had no money. Despite this, Eric agreed to take them on as clients. He told them not to worry about paying him, until they made some money
and he offered a standard 5% deal.
Just as they were offered a record deal from http://www.emirecords.co.uk/loader.html EMI, Jack Irons 2 and Hillel Slovak 3 quit the band, because the other band they played for, What Is This, had gotten a record deal. Lucky the Chili Peppers found a new drummer, Cliff Martinez and guitarist, Jack Sherman. Things were back on track. They began recording their first album with Andy Gill as Producer. Unfortunately, at the same time as the band were enjoying this success, Anthony’s drug taking was spiralling out of control.
A summer Vacation
Every summer, Anthony would take a vacation to Michigan to visit his family, this year proved no different, although it did prove to be quite an eventful summer.
Anthony had an accident in his mother's car. He had driven to a bar, gotten
drunk and decided to drive home. He kept nodding off at the wheel.
Finally, he veered off the road into some trees. The crash was a bad
one. Anthony was thrown forward with such force that his face broke
the steering wheel. The engine of the car was forced back onto the
front passenger seat. Luckily, a passing motorist happened to be a
paramedic. Anthony was cut free of the car. The accident caused
a broken eye socket, shattered orbital floor and a broken skull. He
had to have re-constructive surgery. A week after the accident he
still managed to play a show with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wearing a face cast.
Not long after thisthe band embarked on their first tour, covering all of America, sixty dates in sixty four days! After the tour, because of some differences and frictions between the band members, they had to let Jack Sherman the guitarist go. They were able to replace him with Hillel Slovak who rejoined them in 1985.
The Second Album
When EMI asked them who they wanted to produce the second album they straight away asked for George Clinton. The band asked him over the phone if he would produce them and they sent him a copy of their record and demo. George agreed.
They went to Detroit to record the new album. Most of the songs were already together before they left for Detroit. They had:
- Jungle Man – Anthony’s ode to Flea
- American Ghost Dance
- Catholic School Girls Rule – about a girl Anthony met on the road
- Battleship – song from original demo
- Never Mind – song from original demo
- Sex Rap – song from original demo
- 30 Dirty Birds – a old camp song from Hillel
They spend a month in Detroit, writing some more songs and recording the album
The original line-up gets back together
During the recording of the second album, it became apparent
that Cliff Martinez's heart was no longer with the band. Flea got the
job of telling him that they no longer wanted him in the band. They
managed to get Jack Irons back. And so, the original line up was back
Sacked from the band
Anthony's drug taking worsened. He had lost all control. The
thing he loved most, the band, was starting to suffer. He couldn't
come up with any songs for their third album. He turned up late for
rehearsal. Even when he did turn up, he often fell asleep.
The band wanted Anthony to leave. Flea got the job of telling him because the two were so close. Much to the amazement of the band, Anthony just shrugged it off. To him, in his current state, it was a good thing that he now had no responsibilities and could go out and get high whenever he wanted.
The only regret he had was about a week later when he heard that the band had been nominated for L.A Band of the Year, at the first annual L.A Weekly Music Awards. Anthony was not going to attend the awards. Coincidentally, he happened to be in the neighbourhood of the theatre where the awards were being held. He walked into
the lobby which was dark and quiet as the show had already begun.
Anthony looked through the doors, trying to find the band. He saw them
sitting up at the front. Just then, they announced that the winner of
L.A Band of the year was 'The Red Hot Chili Peppers'. Anthony was
extremely pleased as he watched the band go to receive their award.
Each member made a little speech. None of them mentioned Anthony.
He couldn't believe it. Not one mention for the three years of hard
work he felt he had put into the band.
Anthony Rejoins the Band
After being asked to leave, Anthony went to stay with his mother in Michigan. Whilst there he managed to get himself clean with the help of a programme run by the Salvation Army
He had been in Michigan a month when he decided to call Flea. Anthony told him all about getting clean, and Flea was happy for him. Flea told him they had hired a new singer but Anthony sensed something in Flea's voice that made him believe that Flea was not happy with the new addition to the band. Lo and behold a few days later Flea called Anthony and asked him if he would like to come do a couple of songs with the band and see how he felt about it. Anthony jumped at
the chance to be back in the band. Two months after being in L.A he
was back to taking drugs. This time it was different. This time he
knew he had a way out if he chose to take it. He believes that this
relapse was due to the fact that he did not have a good support system
in place. He did not know anyone else who was sober. So, in effect,
he was really a 'dry drunk'.
Flea comments on Anthony's Addiction
During at stay in rehab, Anthony had a group meeting with his family and close friends. Flea also went to the meeting. When the counsellor turned to Flea and asked him how he felt about Anthony's addiction, Anthony was fully expecting him to go on about how it mucked up the bands rehearsal times, how inconvenient it was, how Anthony didn't pull his weight. He was shocked when Flea broke down and explained that he was worried that Anthony was going to end up killing himself, and how he didn't want Anthony to die, but he felt all these years that he was just waiting for that ominous phone call. Anthony had no idea that Flea felt that way.
For the third album, they asked Michael Beinhorn to produce. Anthony was doing well writing songs for the album which included
- Fight Like a Brave – a song about Anthony’s drug addiction
- Me and My Friends – a song he’d written with Joe Walters an old friend of his
- Funky Crime – based on a conversation he’d had with George Clinton
- Backwoods – a song about the roots of rock and roll
- Skinny Sweaty Man – an ode to Hillel
- No Chump Love Sucker – another song for Hillel
- Behind the Sun – a song not in the usual style of the Chili Peppers as it had an unusual melodic riff.
- Party on your Pussy – which was later changed to Secret Special Song Inside at the request of EMI
- Love Trilogy – one of the bands favourite songs
- The Organic Anti-Beat Box Band
After each album the band always went on tour to promote it, Anthony got the first realizations of how popular the band were, becoming. They had to change to some bigger venues from the ones originally booked, because of he demand for tickets. After the uplift tour each member of the band was paid twenty two thousand dollars. At their previous tour, they only managed three thousand dollars. The KROC asked them to play a promotional show at Palamino Valley. They were well on their way along
the road to success.
The Death of a Friend
Hillel Slovak was just 25 years old when he died of a drug overdose. Anthony was told the news by his girlfriend at the time, Ione Skye. Anthony felt that Hillel’s parents blamed him for their son's death because Anthony had been using drugs from such an early age. He felt this was unfair especially since he had tried to encourage Hillel to get help. He didn’t attend Hillel’s funeral which some thought was in bad taste. Anthony was struggling with his own demons at the time, and thought it was the right decision to make in not attending.
Following Hillel's death, Jack Irons decided to quit the band. He told them that it was not a place where he wanted to be and he didn't want to be in a band where his friends were dying. Anthony and Flea understood and let him go.
They replaced Jack with D. H Peligro and Hillel with Blackbird McKnight. The band went on. Everyone buckled down and Anthony checked himself into rehab. D.H fit in straight away whereas, Blackbird found it much harder. He was not used to working the way the Chili Peppers did, where they all played together. He was more accustomed to working alone. Around this time, Anthony started hanging
around with John Frusciante, a guitarist who had impressed the mighty
Flea. John told Anthony that he had an audition for the band
Thelonious Monster. Anthony drove him to the audition. When Anthony heard he play, he knew straight away that he wanted John to play for the Chili Peppers. Anthony got the job of firing Blackbird and John took up the position of guitarist for the Chili Peppers, a bit of a dream job for John as he was also a big fan of the band. There was just one more change in the line up when D.H’s drug problem started becoming a problem for the band. He was replaced with Chad Smith.
The cover for the 4th album was Anthony’s idea. He had remembered an old poster of Sly and the Family Stone , where Sly was holding the rest of the band in his palm. Anthony’s idea was to have a naked girl holding the band close to her chest. The other band members weren't
sure about this at first, but the cover turned out to be great and
everyone was happy.
Being Chased by the Bigwigs
The band had been with EMI for seven years. Their contract
was coming to an end. This set every major record company on their
tail. Anthony and Flea went to see Chris Blackwell of Island Records. By Chris’s own admission he didn’t have the money to go up against the other record companies. They also went to see Mo Ostin of Warner Bros. They got invited to Mo’s home and spent some time with him there.
While all this was going on they ploughed on with the next album. They asked Rick Rubin to produce. Ruben well known for his work with the beastie boys. They decided to go with Sony Epic, due to the money they were offered.
All Sony had to do now was get them out of their last album due to
EMI. It was supposed to take a few weeks, but the weeks turned to
months and the situation dragged on and on. Anthony got a call from
Mo Ostin of Warner Brothers congratulating him on the deal he'd made
with Sony. Anthony decided after that call he would rather be with
Warner Brothers. He spoke to Flea about it. Flea had also had a call
and felt the same way. They made the arrangements, got out of the
deal with Sony and went over to Warner Brothers. Mo called EMI and and
got them out of their last album.
Under the Bridge
Under the Bridge is a song about Anthony's drug taking and his
connection to the city in which he lives. He wrote it as a poem just
for himself. It is about how he had thrown away so much in his life,
yes he still seemed to have this unspoken bond between him and the
Rick Rubin came across the poem as he was flipping through Anthony's notebook of songs. He told Anthony how good he thought the lyrics were. Anthony was not convinced. He pointed out that it was a slow,melodic song, which was not really the Chili Peppers' sound. Rick told Anthony that he should at least let the other band members see it and get their opinions. Anthony sang the song to them. Later, John helped Anthony to polish the song.
The album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, sky rocketed. I was a blazing
success. Warner Brothers was extremely pleased and started talking
about releasing a second single. The first single was Give it Away.
They went to a gig where the Chili Peppers were to play Under the
Bridge. Anthony was never sure about this song as it was hard for him
to sing. Sometimes he hit the right notes, sometimes, he did not.
When it came time to sing the song, the band started playing. Anthony
missed his cue, but the audience did not. They immediately started
singing what Anthony should have been singing. Anthony apologised to
the executives from Warner. The executives were really excited.
They knew that Under the Bridge had to be the next single because
every person in that audience knew the lyrics.
The tour for the album had to end early because John left the band. He was not well within himself so the band thought it best to let him go. They hired Arik Marshall in his place. John did later rejoin the band.
Through the years, Anthony has struggled with an addiction to both
heroin and Cocaine. He first gave up drugs (went 'clean') in 1988,
after the death of band member Hillel Slovak. Unfortunately, this did not last. Although he has had many relapses, he again gave up drugs on 24 December, 2000.
He has thus far managed to stay clean. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have since released three more albums the latest being 'Stadium Arcadium'.
Anthony has also starred in several film roles, firstly as Sylvester Stallone's
son in F.I.S.T (1978),Jokes my Folks Never told me
(1978), Rough Guys (1986), Less than Zero (1987),
Point Break (1991),and finally in The Chase (1994)