John Frusciante has seen global success but has often been the most underrated player in many circles. Imagine knowing how to play every Jimi Hendrix song at the age of 11 and by 18 years old joining one of the most successful bands in history?
Then realizing you don’t want to do it that way after all. He has Crashed and burned, lived in total madness in the Darkest corners of life, and then re-emerged Incredibly as if his life was written by the most mystical of authors.
He came into my worldview with his second work with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers 1991 release “Blod Sugar Sex Magik”. Somehow I had skipped over his first work “Mother’s Milk”.
I suppose it was phases of my listening and other phases of what my friends had played at their many house parties. We played the album twice in a row and all decided this man was the Baddest of the decade beginning. John’s playing was everything.
Few finer records or players have ever existed. Calling on Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, and his own sounds the wailing blistering licks and delicate, perfectly placed parts were that of a Sonic Master Painter.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away [Official Music Video]
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Live)
The tensions of years of overwhelming success and excess began to show and there was intense Love/Hate going between Frusciante and Kiedis which became increasingly apparent. Their performance on Saturday Night Live was evidence to the world.
John didn’t want to do the Rock Star thing anymore and was slipping, somewhat unknowingly and also in large portion purposeful rebellion.
During the First song, Kiedis hit a point of frenzy, falling and writhing around, then when getting back to his feet he may have accidentally kicked John. John’s perception seemed that it had to be intentional. His response was to retaliate by simply Howling through the end of song two that night.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Under The Bridge Saturday Night Live 1992
He had developed a massive drug habit, Ironically taking on the demons that had killed the founding guitarist Hillel Slovak, who John had taken over as the new boy.
He Played 2 shows in Japan in 1992 and then promptly exited the band to become a recluse and embrace his drug habits and follow the “400 Ghosts in his head” as he recalled.
Frusciante auditioned for the Meat Puppets. Chris Kirkwood said, “He showed up with his guitar out of its case and barefoot. We were on a major label then, we just got signed, and those guys had blown up to where they were at and John needed to get out.
John got to our pad and we started getting ready to play and I said, ‘You want to use my tuner?’ He said, ‘No, I’ll bend it in.’ It was so far out. Then we jammed but it didn’t come to anything. Maybe he wasn’t in the right place and we were a tight little unit. It just didn’t quite happen but it could have worked.”
So He became a solo artist during these lost years. Frusciante released his first solo album, “Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt”, in 1994. Frusciante denied that it was recorded while he was on heroin, saying it was released when he was a heroin addict. It was followed by “Smile From The Streets You Hold” and “To Record Only Water For Ten Days”. WARNING the following two segments are difficult to watch. Not for the Overly sensitive.
John Frusciante’s Tortured Masterpiece
John Frusciante – Stuff (HQ)
In late 1996, after more than five years of addiction to heroin, Frusciante went cold turkey. However, months later, he was still unable to break addictions to crack cocaine and alcohol In January 1998, urged by his longtime friend Bob Forrest, Frusciante checked into Las Encinas, a drug rehabilitation clinic in Pasadena.
He was diagnosed with a potentially lethal oral infection, which could only be alleviated by removing his rotten teeth and replacing them with dental implants. He also received skin grafts to help repair the abscesses on his ravaged arms. About a month later, Frusciante checked out of Las Encinas.
“I don’t need to take drugs. I feel so much higher all the time right now because of the type of momentum that a person can get going when you really dedicate yourself to something that you really love. I don’t even consider doing them, they’re completely silly.
Between my dedication to trying to constantly be a better musician and eating my healthy foods and doing yoga, I feel so much more highly than I did for the last few years of doing drugs.
At this point, I’m the happiest person in the world. These things do not fuck with me at all, and I’m so proud of that—you don’t know how proud I am. It’s such a beautiful thing to be able to face life, to face yourself, without hiding behind drugs; without having to have anger towards people who love you. There are people who are scared of losing stuff, but you don’t lose anything for any other reason than if you just give up on yourself.”
John reunited with the Chilli Peppers for the Album “Californication” It helped the band survive and return to the top.” By The Way” was his 4th album with the Peppers, meanwhile he was actively engaged in many solo projects and collaborations. He had his life back.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Best Intro Jam (John Frusciante Is Incredible!) (Reading Festival 2007)
“Stadium Arcadium” was again with the Peppers and he had also worked with bands like Mars Volta before. Frusciante had every outlet for creativity one could ask for. Following the Stadium Arcadium tour in (early May 2006 to late August 2007). The Red Hot Chilli Peppers agreed to a hiatus of indefinite length. In early 2008, Anthony Kiedis finally confirmed this, citing exhaustion from constant work since Californication as the main reason.
Frusciante quit the group on July 29, 2009. He did not publicly announce his departure until December 2009. This was two months after the band ended their hiatus in October 2009, and began work on their next album with Josh Klinghoffer as their new guitarist.
From 2010 He continued to experiment with many projects. These involved Synth, Ambient, Acid House, and other forms of Electronic music.
He once more came back home to the Chilli Peppers while continuing his own experimentations. Covid stalled a Planned Peppers tour plan and On October 7, 2021, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers announced the dates for their 2022 world tour which will begin in June and conclude in September. We certainly hope this happens. Yet we know we live in nothing short of a constant state of Flux. Never knowing what the next days hold.
John Frusciante has released 12 solo albums, most recently 2020’s “ MAYA”. He is alive and well and without a doubt one of the Guitar universe’s guiding lights. He is the walking embodiment of Hope, Resurrection, and now positive unpredictability. I as well as the world “in the know” await the next chapter of the Frusciante Legacy.