The Red Hot Chili Peppers exploded the rock music scene in the 1980s when they arrived with their own brand of funk punk. The guys – Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, and Michael Balzary – knew each other from high school. Their combination of interests in poetry, performance, and music soon enough led to collaborations.
Around that time, punk was emerging as a solid force in Los Angeles and the feisty young musicians joined the fray. After recruiting drummer Jack Irons, the foursome started gigging as Tony Flow & the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. As their live show developed, the musicians took to performing naked albeit with a tube sock covering pertinent parts.
Balzary morphed into Flea and the band morphed into the Red Hot Chili Peppers round-about 1983. Their reputation preceded them and earned a deal with EMI Records. However, Irons and Slovak parted ways in favor of a side project band, What Is This. Guitarist Jack Sherman and drummer Cliff Martinez signed on for the eponymous 1984 debut.
Without the original line-up in place, the band's vibrant live energy was nowhere to be found on the foundering record. Still, they slogged on in an attempt to build a college audience. The next year, What Is This dissolved, freeing up Irons and Slovak to return to the fold.
Adding another layer of funk to the mix, George Clinto produced their sophomore set, Freaky Styley, which still failed to capture the band's essence. Finally, with 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, some traction was gained and continued with 1998's The Abbey Road EP. As things heated up, Slovak overdosed on heroin.
The loss caused Irons to take his leave. Guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith were the next replacements on the roster. The next effort out the gate, 1989's Mother's Milk, made some in-roads on MTV with “Higher Ground,” leading to gold sales certification the next year.
Understanding the importance of their next musical step, the Chili Peppers teamed up with producer Rick Rubin. The result was Blood Sugar Sex Magik on Warner Bros. Records. It was a massive hit, selling more than seven million units in the U.S. on the strength of "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge."
Drug addiction crept in, yet again, and caused Frusciante to leave during a 1992 tour. After a couple of subs failed to make the grade, former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro joined up. Eventually, the guys headed back into the studio to make 1995's One Hot Minute. Though the collection did well enough, it didn't match BSSM's success.
Another line-up change came when Navarro split in 1998 to be replaced by a newly sober Frusciante. With him back on the bill, the Chili Peppers issued Californication in 1999 and found themselves with another huge hit.
Despite getting their groove back, a number of controversies plagued the Chili Peppers over the next few years. Once through those storms, the band went back to work and come out with By the Way in 2002.
A Greatest Hits compilation followed in 2003, then came a new chart-topping double-disc set,Stadium Arcadium, in 2006. An onslaught of touring supported the release and led to an extended hiatus for the group.
By 2009, Frusciante had officially resigned with Josh Klinghoffer stepping up to the plate. He had previously contributed to Stadium Arcadium. In the summer of 2011, the Chili Peppers released I'm with You and hit the road behind it.