John Frusciante : biography
1988–1992: First term with the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Frusciante first attended a Red Hot Chili Peppers performance at fifteen and he rapidly became a devoted fan. He idolized guitarist Hillel Slovak—familiarizing himself with virtually all the guitar and bass parts from the Chili Peppers’ first three records. He became acquainted with Slovak; the two spoke months before Slovak’s death and Frusciante’s subsequent joining:
Frusciante became friends with former Dead Kennedys drummer D. H. Peligro in early 1988. They often jammed together, and Peligro invited his friend Flea (bassist of Red Hot Chili Peppers) to join. Frusciante and Flea developed a musical chemistry immediately, with Flea later acknowledging that might have been the day he first played the bass riff to "Nobody Weird Like Me".Mother’s Milk 2003 reissue liner notes Around the same time, Frusciante intended to audition for Frank Zappa’s band, but changed his mind before the final try-out as Zappa strictly prohibited illegal drug use. Frusciante said, "I realized that I wanted to be a rock star, do drugs and get girls, and that I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was in Zappa’s band."
Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, incapable of coping with Slovak’s death, left the group. Remaining members Flea and vocalist Anthony Kiedis regrouped, determined to persevere. The pair added Peligro on drums and DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, formerly of P-Funk, on guitar.Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 234 McKnight, however, failed to connect musically within the group. Flea proposed auditioning Frusciante, whose intimate knowledge of the Chili Peppers’ repertoire astonished him. Flea and Kiedis auditioned him and agreed that he would be a suitable replacement for McKnight, who was promptly fired.Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 239 When Flea called Frusciante with the news of his acceptance into the Chili Peppers, Frusciante was elated; he ran through his house screaming with joy, and jumped on a wall, leaving permanent boot marks. He was in the midst of signing a contract with Thelonious Monster at the time—and had actually been playing with the act for two weeks—but his unanticipated reception into the Chili Peppers prompted him to change his plans.Forsythe, Tom. (February 1991) "Laughing All the Way". Guitar Magazine.
However, Frusciante was not familiar with the funk genre of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound: "I wasn’t really a funk player before I joined the band. I learned everything I needed to know about how to sound good with Flea by studying Hillel [Slovak’s] playing and I just took it sideways from there."Apter, 2004. p. 181 Several weeks into the band’s new lineup, Peligro, whose performance was suffering due to extreme drug abuse, was fired.Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 242 Soon after, Chad Smith was added as the group’s new drummer and the new lineup began recording their first album, 1989’s Mother’s Milk. Frusciante focused on emulating Slovak’s signature style, rather than imposing his own personal style on the group. Producer Michael Beinhorn disagreed, and wanted Frusciante to play with an uncharacteristic heavy metal tone, largely absent from the band’s three preceding records.Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 249 Frusciante and Beinhorn fought frequently over guitar tone and layering, and Beinhorn’s idea ultimately prevailed as Frusciante felt pressured by the producer’s much greater knowledge of the studio. Kiedis recalls that "[Beinhorn] wanted John to have a big, crunching, almost metal-sounding guitar tone whereas before we always had some interesting acid-rock guitar tones as well as a lot of slinky, sexy, funky guitar tones."Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. pp. 239–241
The Chili Peppers collaborated with producer Rick Rubin for their second record with Frusciante, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Rubin felt that it was important to record the album in an unorthodox setting, so he suggested an old Hollywood Hills mansion, and the band agreed.Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 284 Frusciante, Kiedis and Flea isolated themselves there for the duration of the recording. Frusciante and Flea seldom went outside, and spent most of their time smoking marijuana.Dalley, Helen (August 2002). "John Frusciante" Total Guitar. Retrieved on August 27, 2007. Around this time, Frusciante started a side collaboration with Flea and Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins called The Three Amoebas. They recorded roughly ten to fifteen hours of material, none of which has ever been released.