Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Duncan Forgan | 16 May 2006

Even in their most addled moments, Kiedis and co probably never dreamed that in the year 2006 they would have their status as one of the world's biggest bands safely in the bag

In an industry that revels in chewing up young flesh and spitting its remnants onto a scrapheap of broken dreams and long-term neuroses, it is no surprise that the survivors are accorded a certain unconditional respect.

Look at the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Emerging from the post-punk melee in early eighties LA with a sound as much informed by George Clinton style P-funk as it was by hardcore acts like Circle Jerks and Black Flag, the band carved a niche in the alternative rock market with a succession of albums including their primitive self-titled debut through to the slightly more polished yet far from mainstream sounds of 'Freaky Styley' and the 'Uplift Mofo Party Plan'. Even in their most addled moments - of which there were many (this was never a band averse to Sodom and Gomorrah-type excesses) - however, Anthony Kiedis and co probably never dreamed that in the year 2006 they would have their status as one of the world's biggest bands safely in the bag. Heroin and hard-drug use had always been a big part of the LA scene and the Chillis were no strangers to a bit of intravenous action. Their Waterloo came in 1988 when original guitarist Hillel Slovak was found dead in his apartment following an overdose.

Most bands would have cracked but Kiedis and bass player Flea soldiered on, recruiting John Frusciante as Slovak's replacement and appointing new drummer Chad Smith. Their perseverance paid off and next album 'Mother's Milk' was their first to bear tangible commercial fruit. It was nothing, however, compared to the impact of their next record, the zeitgeist capturing Rick Rubin-produced 'BloodSugarSexMagik' which spawned hits such as Under the Bridge and Give it Away. Surely nothing could stop them, right? Wrong. Frusciante cracked under the pressures of superstardom and retreated to the comforting cocoon of his own smack habit and the band, with former Janes Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro now onboard, recorded the underwhelming 'One Hot Minute'. With their position as fully fledged behemoths of the rock world under threat, the band needed a boost and got it in the shape of the now rehabilitated Frusciante.

Two albums - 'Californication' and 'By the Way' - later and the Chillis are in as healthy a state as they have ever been. New double offering 'Stadium Arcadium' hits the streets as of this month and, barring a disaster of epic proportions, will sell by the shed-load and reaffirm them as U2's only real rivals as the top of the stadium rock tree.

Having said that, on past evidence, you wouldn't rule out further twists in the tale of this La La Land rock soap opera.

Stadium Arcadium is released through Warner Brothers on May 9.