While Balzary and Slovak showed great musical promise (on trumpet and guitar, respectively), Kiedis focused on poetry and acting during his high school career. During this time, Slovak taught Balzary how to play bass, while the duo encouraged Kiedis to start putting his poetry to music, which he soon did. Influenced heavily by the burgeoning L.A. punk scene (the Germs, Black Flag, Fear, Minutemen, X, etc.) as well as funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly & the Family Stone, etc.), the trio began to rehearse with another friend, drummer Jack Irons, leading to the formation of Tony Flow & the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, a group that played strip bars along the sunset strip during the early ’80s. It was during this time that the quartet honed their sound and live act (as they stumbled across a stage gimmick that would soon become their trademark — performing on-stage completely naked, except for a tube sock covering a certain part of their anatomy). By 1983, Balzary had begun to go by the name ‘Flea,’ and the group changed their name to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Peppers released their self-titled debut in 1984.. Their next album, 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. The album was the group’s first to make an impression on the charts, and they followed it up a year later with stopgap five-track release, The Abbey Road EP, in 1988. But just as the world was warming up to the Peppers, tragedy struck when Slovak died from a heroin overdose on June 25, 1988. The new-look Chili Peppers hit pay dirt straight away, as their first album together, 1989’s Mother’s Milk, became a surprise hit due to MTV’s exposure of their videos for a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’ and a song about their fallen friend Slovak, ‘Knock Me Down,’ as the album was certified gold by early 1990. The group knew that their next release would be the most important one of their career, so they moved into a mansion-turned-recording studio with producer Rick Rubin to work on what would become their most successful release yet, the stripped-down Blood Sugar Sex Magik (their first for the Warner Bros. label). The album became a monster hit upon its September 1991 release (going on to eventually sell a staggering seven million copies in the U.S. alone), as it spawned such hits as ‘Give It Away’ and the group’s first Top Ten single, ‘Under the Bridge.’
After a layoff of four years, the Peppers’ much-delayed follow-up to BSSM was released in 1995, One Hot Minute.
The group’s reunion album, 1999’s Californication, proved to be another monster success, reconfirming the Chili Peppers as one of alternative rock’s top bands. They returned to the studio in November of 2001 and by the summer of 2002 they had a new album ready to drop, By the Way. Warner Brothers released a Greatest Hits compilation in 2003, followed by a chart-topping two-CD album of all-new material, Stadium Arcadium, in 2006