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Wednesday, April 18, 2007



Pearl Jam
Epic Associated Records, 1991

Track List

1. Once
2. Evenflow
3. Alive
4. Why Go
5. Black
6. Jeremy
7. Oceans
8. Porch
9. Garden
10. Deep
11. Release

As one of the forerunners of the 90's Seattle music scene, Pearl Jam debuted with this album and bursts their way on top of music charts. Often compared to Nirvana, the almbum paved the way to make their sound obviously distinct from the era's grunge chiche. The album was titled Ten in honor of their 'favorite' NBA player - Mookie Blaylock (at one point the band was called by this player's name at the same time, 10 was his jersey number),
became a major hit with the tracks 'Jeremy', 'Alive' and 'Evenflow' and flooded the airwaves which resulted on being overplayed. The rest of the album didn't have that much impact but still brings satisfaction for avid fans like 'Black' and 'Once' which were the tracks I liked most from this album. With Eddie Vedder's outstanding lyrics and the band's captivating music, the album brought forth a new generation of rock at its best. Overall, Pearl Jam's launching pad really elevated rock music to it's highest.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Godsmack is a hard rock / alternative metal band from Boston, Massachusetts, USA formed in 1996. They are often categorized by critics as a nu metal band, but most fans insist otherwise; their music contains very few of the essential nu metal elements.

Alice in Chains is believed to be the primary influence to Godsmack. In early interviews, the band admitted they started off as a tribute band to Alice in Chains. Many believe Godsmack obtained their name from the Alice in Chains song "God Smack" off the album Dirt. In an interview with MTV upon the death of Alice in Chains lead singer Layne Staley, Godsmack frontman Sully Erna stated that Staley "was single-handedly the guy that got me to start singing." Other bands cited by Godsmack members as their primary influences typically include Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Black Sabbath. More recently, Godsmack have attempted to distance themselves from the Alice in Chains comparison with Erna stating in an interview with Matt Ashare, "I've just never really heard that in our music." In that same interview, Erna offers an alternative explanation to the origin of their band name by stating, "It happened at rehearsal when our drummer came in with a big cold sore on his lip. I was making fun of him all day because we had a photo shoot coming up. And then the next day when I came in, I had a big cold sore on my lip. So my guitar player said, See, God just smacked you for making fun of him." Nevertheless, the comparison to Alice in Chains are well documented. Sully Erna's style of singing mirrors that of Layne Staley's while the overall sound of the band's first two albums sound incredibly similar to the sound of Dirt. The logo of Godsmack is similar the sun logo of Alice in Chains. Godsmack also released an album titled "Faceless" which is similar in name to Alice in Chain's first album Facelift. The band even transcended from their heavy sound to a more mellow acoustic sound on their album "The Other Side" in the same manner Alice in Chains did in Jar of Flies.

In 2002, Godsmack received a Grammy nomination in "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" for the song "Vampires" from the album Awake. In 2004, they were opening for Metallica, while headlining with Dropbox in the summer. Then they did acoustic shows for their newly released album The Other Side in the fall of 2004, while still opening for Metallica. In September 2004, Godsmack issued a live DVD titled "Changes" which the band recorded earlier that year. That same month, the group also released "Batalla de los Tambores", a live cut available only via online services such as Apple's iTunes Music Store, Real and Napster. They released their latest album 'IV' on April 25th, 2006.


Like many late-'90s metal bands, System of a Down struck a balance between '80s underground thrash metal and metallic early-'90s alternative rockers like Jane's Addiction. Their dark, neo-gothic alternative metal earned a cult following in the wake of the popularity of such likeminded bands as Korn and the Deftones. Vocalist Serj Tankian, guitarist Daron Malakian, bassist Shavo Odadjian, and drummer John Dolmayan formed System of a Down in southern California in the mid-'90s. They quickly earned a strong following in Los Angeles, largely based on strong word of mouth. A three-song demo began circulating through metal collectors, and their fan base soon spread throughout not only America, but Europe and New Zealand.

By the end of 1997, the group had signed to American, then distributed by Columbia Records. American/Columbia released the group's eponymous debut album in the summer of 1998, securing the band opening spots on the Slayer and Ozzfest tours. System eventually went gold, and set up the September 2001 release of the even more ambitious Toxicity. System's second effort was another heavy music triumph, shaming the majority of their nu-metal competition and running away with multi-platinum honors. The quartet didn't slow down. Malakian started the eatURmusic imprint and Tankian a label called Serjical Strike; Tankian also collaborated with Armenian avant-garde folk musician Arto Tuncboyaciyan in a project called Serart. In November 2002 System issued the bare-bones but no less powerful odds 'n' ends set Steal This Album!; they also remained politically active.

By 2004, System of a Down was back in the studio with Rick Rubin. The bold result of those sessions was a single, epic album released in two parts. Mezmerize/Hypnotize kept System's furious creativity alive, incorporating the wild vocal melodies, lyrical passion, and rabid structural shifts that had become their trademark. Mezmerize, or part one, appeared in May 2005, while Hypnotize, its final section, appeared later in the year, and both hit the top of the album charts.


Korn's cathartic alternative metal sound positioned the group among the most popular and provocative to emerge during the post-grunge era. Korn began their existence as the Bakersfield, CA-based metal band LAPD, which included guitarists James "Munky" Shaffer and Brian "Head" Welch, bassist Reginald "Fieldy Snuts" Arvizu, and drummer David Silveria. After issuing an LP, the members of LAPD in 1993 crossed paths with Jonathan Davis, a mortuary science student moonlighting as the lead vocalist for the local group Sexart. They soon asked Davis to join the band, and upon his arrival the quintet rechristened itself Korn.

After signing to Epic's Immortal imprint, they issued their debut album in late 1994; thanks to a relentless tour schedule that included stints opening for Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Marilyn Manson, and 311, the record slowly but steadily rose the charts, eventually going gold. Its 1996 follow-up, Life Is Peachy, was a more immediate smash, reaching the number three spot on the pop album charts. The following summer, they headlined Lollapalooza, but were forced to drop off the tour when Shaffer was diagnosed with viral meningitis. While recording their best-selling 1998 LP Follow the Leader, Korn made national headlines when a student in Zeeland, MI, was suspended for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the group's logo (the school's principal later declared their music "indecent, vulgar, and obscene," prompting the band to issue a cease-and-desist order). Their annual Family Values tour also started in 1998, featuring a lineup that consisted of Korn collaborators such as Limp Bizkit and Ice Cube and likeminded artists such as Rammstein. The tour was an enormous success, so much so that it continued on with Korn overseeing the lineup for years after.

Issues followed in 1999, and in typical Korn fashion they debuted their new single in an episode of South Park. The band toured behind the album into the next year, but their efforts were cut short by an injury that took out drummer David Silveria. They hired former Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin to help them finish the remaining shows, and took a short rest before joining a summer tour with Metallica, Kid Rock, Powerman 5000, and System of a Down. (Silveria later returned amid rumors of leaving the band for a fashion career, but these stemmed from some modeling work he had done before his injury.) In the meantime, Fieldy released a gangsta rap album and Davis scored the film Queen of the Damned, but at the end of 2001 the band reunited as a unit and entered the studio. A few shows with Static-X helped iron the wrinkles out of the new material, and by the next summer they had Untouchables ready for release. Korn did a run of Ozzfest dates in support, and the album was another smash hit. The self-produced Take a Look in the Mirror arrived in 2003. Billed by the band as a reconsideration of their sound, the album was accompanied by a tour of smaller venues called "Back to Basics."

In 2005, Welch left the band, evidently due to his newfound Christian faith. But Korn continued, playing shows that summer as a quartet and signing an expansive recording and development deal with Virgin. The following December they released See You on the Other Side, a number three hit that featured a batch of songs co-written with hitmaking production team the Matrix. Live & Rare, an aptly titled disc of live recordings and rarities, was released in May 2006 with the live acoustic recording MTV Unplugged following in March 2007.


Along with Limp Bizkit, the Deftones are often considered to be disciples of Korn, but in fact, they've been around for just as long (if not longer). They were also one of the first groups to alternate heavy riffs and screamed vocals with more ethereal music and hushed singing -- spawning a fair amount of imitators in their wake. The group first formed in Sacramento, CA, during 1988, when then high-school students Stephen Carpenter (guitar), Abe Cunningham (drums), and Chino Moreno (vocals) first began to jam together. The young band was able to invest some heavy cash into their equipment setup early on, when Carpenter collected a substantial cash settlement after being hit by a drunk driver. The Deftones began playing out locally shortly thereafter, and went through several different bass players before finding a permanent bassist in the form of Chi Cheng.

Although the group was more heavy metal-based early on, the early '90s saw the Deftones expand their sound even further, obviously inspired by such groundbreakers as Tool, Rage Against the Machine, and Faith No More. A strong four-song demo was completed soon after, and it landed the group a recording contract with Madonna's label, Maverick. Enlisting the services of Soundgarden and Pantera producer Terry Date (who would eventually become a regular producer for the group), the quartet's debut full-length, Adrenaline, was issued in October of 1995. While it wasn't an instant success, the band built a dedicated fan base the old-fashioned way -- by touring relentlessly (both on their own, and opening for such more established acts as Ozzy Osbourne, L7, and their buddies in Korn). With sales of Adrenaline topping sales of 200,000 copies on word of mouth alone, expectations were high for their sophomore release, Around the Fur. Issued in October of 1997, it more than delivered, catapulting the band to the top of the alt-metal heap on the strength of such MTV/radio favs as "My Own Summer (Shove It)" and "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)," as turntablist Frank Delgado expanded the group's lineup to a five-piece.

A seven-track import EP, 1999's Live, was issued as a stopgap release, as the Deftones began work on their third studio effort (Cheng also issued a spoken word release, The Bamboo Parachute, around this time as well). White Pony was eventually released in June of 2000 and proved to be one of the most eagerly anticipated heavy rock releases of the year. The album was another success (debuting at number three on the album charts), and it showed the quintet unafraid to experiment with their sound, as Moreno let such '80s modern rock influences as the Cure and the Smiths seep into the Deftones' sound. (After touring wrapped up for the album, Moreno formed a side project with two childhood friends, Team Sleep, which recorded an album featuring guest vocal appearances by ex-Faith No More singer Mike Patton and ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur). Though Maverick expressed interest in releasing the album through the band's vanity imprint, Tone Def, the LP remained in limbo.

Soon the Deftones reunited to work on new ideas, and enlisted Date again to helm their new album. Eagerly anticipated by both fans and critics alike, The Deftones dropped in May 2003 and spawned the single "Minerva." The quintet then embarked on the Summer Sanitarium shed tour with heavyweights Metallica and Linkin Park. The Deftones ended up peaking at number two on the Billboard 200, and the band took a well-deserved break for rest and side projects. (Moreno, for example, found time to finally release Team Sleep's long-in-the-works album.) In October 2005, the Deftones issued a two-disc set of B-sides and rarities before returning with a new studio full-length, Saturday Night Wrist, a year later.


Atlanta-based Sevendust became one of the rising stars in late-'90s heavy metal with an aggressive blend of bottom-heavy riffs and soulful, accessible melodies. The band, comprised of frontman Lajon Witherspoon, John Connolly (guitar), Clint Lowery (guitar), Vince Hornsby (bass), and Morgan Rose (drums), first appeared in 1995 as Crawlspace, releasing the single "My Ruin" on the Mortal Kombat: More Kombat recording. Shortly thereafter the group changed their name to Sevendust and released their self-titled debut in 1997. Two years later, they issued Home and played over 800 shows alongside groups like Creed and a gig at Woodstock '99. Their angst-ridden third album, the aptly titled Animosity, appeared in fall 2001, and Seasons followed in 2003. In late December 2004 word surfaced that Lowery had left the band, and those rumors proved true the following February when Sevendust announced ex-Snot guitarist Sonny Mayo as Lowery's replacement. (Lowery, a co-founder of Sevendust, eventually surfaced in the hard rock supergroup Dark New Day.) Next, Sevendust's fifth album, appeared in October 2005, with Alpha following in March 2007.


Soundgarden made a place for heavy metal in alternative rock. Their fellow Seattle rockers Green River may have spearheaded the grunge sound, but they relied on noise rock in the vein of the Stooges. Similarly, Jane's Addiction were too fascinated with prog rock and performance art to appeal to a wide array of metal fans. Soundgarden, however, developed directly out of the grandiose blues-rock of Led Zeppelin and the sludgy, slow riffs of Black Sabbath. Which isn't to say they were a straight-ahead metal band. Soundgarden borrowed the D.I.Y. aesthetics of punk, melding their guitar-driven sound with an intelligence and ironic sense of humor that was indebted to the American underground of the mid-'80s. Furthermore, the band rarely limited itself to simple, pounding riffs, often making detours into psychedelia. But the group's key sonic signatures -- the gutsy wail of vocalist Chris Cornell and the winding riffs of guitarist Kim Thayil -- were what brought them out of the underground. Not only were they one of the first groups to record for the legendary Seattle indie Sub Pop, but they were the first grunge band to sign to a major label. In fact, most critics expected Soundgarden to be the band that broke down the doors for alternative rock, not Nirvana. However, the group didn't experience an across-the-boards success until 1994, when Superunknown became a number one hit.

For a band so heavily identified with the Seattle scene, its ironic that two of its founding members were from the Midwest. Kim Thayil (guitar), Hiro Yamamoto (bass), and Bruce Pavitt were all friends in Illinois who decided to head to Olympia, WA, to attend college after high school graduation in 1981. Though none of the three completed college, all of them became involved in the Washington underground music scene. Pavitt was the only one who didn't play -- he founded a fanzine that later became the Sub Pop record label. Yamamoto played in several cover bands before forming a band in 1984 with his roommate Chris Cornell (vocals), a Seattle native who had previously played drums in several bands. Thayil soon joined the duo and the group named itself Soundgarden after a local Seattle sculpture. Scott Sundquist originally was the band's drummer, but he was replaced by Matt Cameron in 1986. Over the next two years, Soundgarden gradually built up a devoted cult following through their club performances.

Pavitt signed Soundgarden to his fledgling Sub Pop label in the summer of 1987, releasing the single "Hunted Down" before the EP Screaming Life appeared later in the year. Screaming Life and the group's second EP, 1988's FOPP, became underground hits and earned the attention of several major labels. The band decided to sign to SST instead of a major, releasing Ultramega OK by the end of 1988. Ultramega OK received strong reviews among alternative and metal publications, and the group decided to make the leap to a major for its next album, 1989's Louder Than Love. Released on A&M Records, Louder Than Love became a word-of-mouth hit, earning positive reviews from mainstream publications, peaking at 108 on the charts, and earning a Grammy nomination. Following the album's fall 1989 release, Yamamoto left the band to return to school. Jason Everman, a former guitarist for Nirvana, briefly played with the band before Ben Shepherd joined in early 1990.

Soundgarden's third album, 1991's Badmotorfinger, was heavily anticipated by many industry observers as a potential breakout hit. Though it was a significant hit, reaching number 39 on the album charts, its success was overshadowed by the surprise success of Nirvana's Nevermind, which was released the same month as Badmotorfinger. Prior to Nevermind, Soundgarden had been marketed by A&M as a metal band, and the group had agreed to support Guns n' Roses on the fall 1991 Lose Your Illusion tour. While the tour did help sales, Soundgarden benefited primarily from the grunge explosion, whose media attention helped turn the band into stars. The band was also helped by the Top Ten success of Temple of the Dog, a tribute to deceased Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood that Cornell and Cameron recorded with members of Pearl Jam. By the spring release of 1994's Superunknown, Soundgarden's following had grown considerably, which meant that the album debuted at number one upon its release. (A year before its release, Shepherd and Cameron released an eponymous album by their side project, Hater.) Superunknown became one of the most popular records of 1994, generating a genuine crossover hit with "Black Hole Sun," selling over three million copies and earning two Grammies. Soundgarden returned in 1996 with Down on the Upside, which entered the charts at number two. Despite the record's strong initial sales, it failed to generate a big hit, and was hurt by grunge's fading popularity. Soundgarden retained a sizable audience -- the album did go platinum, and they were co-headliners on the sixth Lollapalooza -- but they didn't replicate the blockbuster success of Superunknown. After completing an American tour following Lollapalooza that was plagued by rumors of internal fighting, Soundgarden announced that they were breaking up on April 9, 1997, to pursue other interests.


Only a handful of musicians have been able to catch their zeitgeist and watch their music resonate far beyond their fan base into the culture at large. Despite the best efforts of demographers and businesspeople to manufacture such phenomena, they always come as a surprise to everyone, especially the artist. Kurt Cobain's legacy and mystery have continued to reverberate, long after his moment overwhelmed his capacity to cope.

A native of Aberdeen, WA, whose parents divorced when he was eight, Cobain found solace from familial and cultural dysfunction in music -- first the Beatles, then metal, then the hardcore-punk subculture. His first bands, Fecal Matter and the (redundantly) Stiff Woodies, reflected the punk gross-out ethos of rejecting yourself before anyone else can and becoming so offensive that selling out seems impossible. When Nirvana coalesced (Cobain on guitar and vocals, Chris Novaselic on bass, Chad Channing on drums) and released its first album, Bleach, in 1988, the band had already progressed to something beyond punk. Recorded for a mere $600, the album sounded as good as anything could for that amount of money. Indeed, it sounded better than most albums recorded for vastly greater sums, separating Nirvana from the lo-fi punk pack right out of the chute. Bleach became a moderate hit on college radio and the underground/DIY circuit.

The lyrics make no attempt at narrative. They create moods with images, and those moods are mostly tortured, ranging from angst to defiance and back again. The vocals create an unfathomable depth and are clearly the work of someone who has not erected the normal neurotic defenses against the nasty world. "Floyd the Barber" turns the old Andy Griffith Show into a den of child molesters, with the child ending up "smothered in Andy's butt." Punk humor, yeah, but also a critique of idyllic small-town America. Cobain illustrated a long list of other horrors: his own body; his inability to communicate; everyone's bad motives (including his own); and a malicious, utterly confusing adult world that offered relief only in alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs. These were the themes of his life. The only thing missing was a killer hook.

Picking up drummer Dave Grohl and jumping from Sub Pop to Geffen, where the band notched up the sonics to A-level with producer Butch Vig, Nirvana delivered the killer hook on "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nevermind's first single proved to be the song of the decade. Overnight, the hair bands of the '80s knew what it felt like to be Frankie Avalon when the Beatles landed at Idlewild. Everything underground came upstairs and became "grunge" (with flannel shirts as the new uniform of corporate rock), and everything previously upstairs went out the door.

The killer hook is a stuttering chord progression similar to the stuttering chord progression in Boston's "More Than a Feeling," a hit 15 years earlier, utterly transformed through Nirvana's trademark loud/soft dynamic and dark, surreal mood. Following Ezra Pound's call to arms, Cobain made it new. Following the Talking Heads' dictum, he stopped making sense. And he stopped making it in a way that made total sense to those who shared his alienation. It was like the James Dean of Rebel Without a Cause, the Bob Dylan of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," the Eddie Cochran of "Summertime Blues," and the Johnny Rotten of "Pretty Vacant" had been rolled into one shy kid with beautiful eyes and unwashed blond hair. And if there was any doubt about the meaning of the mulatto/albino/mosquito/libido nonsense, there was the video, the most riveting three minutes in the history of MTV. At last, high school portrayed as the pep rally in hell that it is. Millions of postÐeducation-stress-disorder survivors immediately identified. The rest of the album is a relentless run of monster riffs and monstrous imagery, all punched along by arguably the greatest rock rhythm section since Led Zeppelin.

Genuinely ambivalent about success and his own musicality, Cobain avoided the issue and got married to Courtney Love, Hole's front woman, who modeled herself after Sid Vicious' notorious girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Rather than wait for the followup to the massive success of Nevermind, Geffen collected outtakes and demos and released them as Incesticide, in 1992. Cobain's singing generally lacks the depth he achieved on Bleach and Nevermind, and the killer hooks were simply more standard punk fare. Not bad, not transcendent. His rant in the liner notes is a must-have for any fan in search of clues.

In Utero, produced by Steve Albini, shows Cobain careening wildly between screaming dissonance, with all the needles in the red ("Scentless Apprentice"), and the irresistible hooks that made Nevermind a masterpiece ("Heart-Shaped Box," "All Apologies"). If you time the album, the dissonance would probably outweigh the melody by a factor of three to one -- but the dissonance is compelling. The imagery again reveals someone who can't be anything but nakedly vulnerable and is wondering what he's doing in this world ("Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back").

Amid reports of Cobain's heroin problem and suicide attempts, Nirvana recorded its second masterpiece, Unplugged in New York, in December 1993. Perhaps it's a cliche that the true test of songwriting is to play a song without a loud band bashing away behind you and if it still sounds good with just an acoustic guitar, you know you've got a great song, but Cobain proved this cliche and displayed the scope of his talent with the stark drama of his ravaged yet strangely innocent voice. He also demonstrated an uncanny ability to pick cover songs, giving the Meat Puppets a moment of deserved aboveground fame ("Lake of Fire" is hilarious and haunting) and Lead Belly his only MTV airtime (the stunning "Where Did You Sleep Last Night").

Could Cobain have revolutionized folk music the same way he had rock? Yeah, but we won't see it. He shot himself on April 5, 1994, leaving millions of fans bereft, desperate to understand, and wanting more of the talent that had flamed out so quickly. Cobain's estate has been a mess ever since, with band members Grohl and Novaselic feuding with Love about what should be released. The 1996 live album From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah captures the Dionysian essence of the band, adding dimension of energy where none seemed possible. The 2002 greatest-hits compilation is a sad reminder of the definitive box set that may never come. The songs feel starkly ripped from context without the surrounding dissonance, while the one new cut, "You Know You're Right," is a powerhouse -- it's not quite "Teen Spirit," but what is? Pray for the survivors to settle their issues. (CHARLES M. YOUNG)

From the 2004 The New Rolling Stone Album Guide


White Zombie was an American industrial groove metal band named after the 1932 Bela Lugosi film. Their musical style was sample-heavy, based around groovy riffs and Rob Zombie's snarling vocals. The samples that filled their records were mostly from obscure horror films, but used creatively to create a kind of carnival-freakshow vibe.

Rob Zombie, still known at this time as Rob Cummings, supported himself through multiple jobs, including working as a cycle courier. Most famously, he was a production assistant on Pee-wee's Playhouse, but he also worked as a designer on pornographic magazines. At this time, he became involved with Shauna Reynolds, another up-and-coming designer. Together they shared a love of classic horror and sci-fi, heavy music and the weirder corners of American underground culture. They decided to form a band that would draw upon all these influences and White Zombie was formed. Rob took vocals and the name Rob Straker (later to Rob Zombie), while Reynolds became the bassist and was known as Sean Yseult. They became the only constants in the often-fluctuating band line-up.

White Zombie best showed their signature style on their final two studio albums, White Zombie - La Sexorcisto and White Zombie - Astro-Creep: 2000, where higher production values better enabled their sample/riff style.

In 1998, Rob Zombie founded his own label, Zombie-A-Go-Go, signing surf and horror acts like The Bomboras and The Ghastly Ones, as well as compiling the mix album Halloween Hootenany. He was managing the new band of his brother Michael, now known as Spider One, the punk-tinged Powerman 5000, but also looked to his own solo career.

After huge opening week sales of his first solo album, Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe (1998) that dwarfed those of any White Zombie release, it was announced that the band had split up. Bassist Sean Yseult left to form female horror-rockers Famous Monsters and, later, Rock City Morgue. Rob Zombie went on to continued success with his solo music project, and new acclaim as a successful film director.


Few rock groups of the '80s broke down as many musical barriers and were as original as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Creating an intoxicating new musical style by
combining funk and punk rock together (with an explosive stage show, to boot), the Chili Peppers spawned a slew of imitators in their wake, but still managed to be the leaders of the pack by the dawn of the 21st century. The roots of the band lay in a friendship forged by three school chums, Anthony Kiedis, Michael Balzary, and Hillel Slovak, while they attended Fairfax High School in California back in the late '70s/early '80s. 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.

Word spread quickly about the up-and-coming band, resulting in a recording contract with EMI. But before the Chili Peppers could begin work on their debut, Flea and Kiedis were dealt a disappointing blow when both Slovak and Irons announced that they were leaving to focus more on another band they were in, What Is This. With replacement members Jack Sherman (guitar) and Cliff Martinez (drums) filling in, the Peppers released their self-titled debut in 1984. But the absence of the two original members showed, as the album failed to capture the excitement of their live show. While the album didn't set the world on fire sales-wise, the group began to build a dedicated underground following with college radio buffs. By 1985, What Is This was kaput (after issuing a single self-titled album), as Slovak and Irons returned back to the Peppers, resulting in the George Clinton-produced Freaky Styley. While the album was an improvement over its predecessor, it still lacked the fire of the band's in-concert experience, a problem that would finally be solved with 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.

In the wake of Slovak's death, Irons left the group for the second and final time, while Kiedis (who was also battling drug addiction at the time) and Flea decided to soldier on. After a new lineup consisting of former Parliament guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight and former Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro didn't work out, the duo found worthy replacements in newcomers John Frusciante and Chad Smith. 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."

But not all was well in the Chili Peppers camp. Like his predecessor, Frusciante had become addicted to hard drugs, and abruptly left the band mid-tour in early 1992. Undeterred, the band enlisted new member Arik Marshall, and headlined Lollapalooza II in the summer. When the band returned to the studio to work on their sixth release overall, it quickly became apparent that Marshall didn't fit in, and was replaced by Jesse Tobias. But before Tobias could record a note with the group, he was handed his walking papers as well, and former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro signed on. After a layoff of four years, the Peppers' much-delayed follow-up to BSSM was released in 1995, One Hot Minute. While the album was a sizeable hit, it failed to match the success and musical focus of its predecessor, as it became apparent during the album's ensuing tour that Navarro wasn't fitting in as well as originally hoped, and left the band in early 1998.

After Frusciante had left the group, he released a pair of obscure solo releases, 1995's Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt and 1997's Smile from the Streets You Hold, yet rumors circulated that the guitarist was homeless, penniless, and sickly with a death-defying drug habit. After checking himself into rehab and putting his demons behind him, Frusciante emerged once again refocused and re-energized, and promptly accepted an invitation to rejoin the Peppers once more. 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. The band put in a quick guest appearance on Fishbone's Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx before hitting the road to support the album. The following months found the band getting involved in bizarre situations and controversies. First, their refusal to play songs from One Hot Minute during the tour was an unpopular decision with some fans and a sore spot for Dave Navarro. Next, they reignited a personal feud between Kiedis and Mr. Bungle singer Mike Patton by refusing to play a series of European concerts with Bungle. Patton responded with a "tribute" show for the Peppers, where Bungle mocked their stage moves, faked shooting up heroin, and imitated Kiedis' comments about Patton. They also played the ill-fated Woodstock '99 festival, where their headlining performance was met with piles of burning rubble and a full-scale riot. Tours with the Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam brought them into the next year without problems, but they stepped off the road after a planned stop in Israel was halted due to security worries. 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. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide