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From the Archives: The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1984

From the Archives: The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1984
The 1984 version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, from left: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Jack Sherman and Cliff Martinez. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

Formed in 1983, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ onstage antics quickly built a loyal following. Late in 1983, original members Jack Irons and Hillel Slovak left — joining another band.

The two remaining members, bassist Flea and vocalist Anthony Kiedis, added guitarist Jack Sherman and drummer Cliff Martinez.

This group portrait accompanied an article by Jeff Spurrier in the Feb. 12, 1984, Los Angeles Times. Spurrier wrote:

“ ‘That Oingo Boingo has a cruel new-wave audience.’

“Flea, who plays bass for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is recalling a show in Pomona where the second-billed Chili Peppers found that the Oingo Boingo crowd didn’t respond well to the Peppers’ brand of high-energy funk. Boos and objects thrown by the audience rained on the musicians throughout the set. As the Peppers prepared to leave the state, Flea turned his back to the hostile crowd and, in a parting gesture, lowered his pants.

“Not exactly the way to win friends and influence people, but winning friends has never been a problem for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the nine months that the band has been together, the power-rapping of vocalist Anthony (Swan) Kiedis and the frenetic stage antics of Flea (who also plays bass for Fear) have made the band a must-see among Hollywood hipsters. …

“Like Hendrix, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have gained a reputation for putting on wild, over-the-top performances that frequently startle audiences and sometimes result in damage to equipment — particularly mike stands. In fact, the Pomona mooning incident was actually pretty tame for the Peppers. At one show, they painted their bodies blue. At another, they came out dressed only in strategically placed socks.

“Says Flea: ‘We do [that sort of thing] because it’s fun, not because it’s a gimmick.’ ”

Flea and Anthony Kiedis are still with the band. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the bestselling bands of all time. They have been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards — winning six. In 2012, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here

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