Red Hot Chili Peppers: Anthony Kiedis talks about John Frusciante’s on/off tenure in the band

Red Hot Chili peppers frontman, Anthony Kiedis recently conducted a lengthy interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, where he hit upon the subject of John Frusciante’s two departures (and subsequent third-coming) from the band.

Frusciante first joined Red Hot Chili Peppers aged 18 for Mother's Milk, replacing guitarist Hillel Slovak following the founding member’s death from a heroin overdose. At the time, the band were blown away by the young Frusciante - who had idolised local hero Hillel - and his ability to channel Slovak’s funk-rock fusion.

Frusciante left the band in 1992 following the release of RHCP’s breakthrough, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and re-joined for 1999’s Californication. This era would see him stay in the band for a full decade throughout a sustained run of success with follow-ups, By The Way and Stadium Arcadium, before he left the band again in 2009.

With Frusciante officially back on-board in 2019, Red Hot Chili Peppers will release Unlimited Love on 1 April. Anthony Kiedis told Zane Lowe of Frusciante’s first departure from the band, "We were both quite foolish at that stage. I wanted things the way I wanted it and he wanted it the way he wanted it. 

“And he may have been more evolved in some ways and less in others, but he disappeared and somehow we did survive and had this very interesting era with Dave Navarro and John went down as far as he could. And then, just the whisper of a ghost saying, 'Hey, I'm not gone yet,' Or like, okay, 'Let's do this.’"

During the intervening periods in the ’90s, Frusciante went to ground, becoming reclusive and focussing on his solo output while also falling deep into heroin addiction, before emerging late in the decade to reunite with the band. 

However, Kiedis points towards the chaos of fame and touring life as the reason for his second departure in 2009. “Then…he did make a holistic decision. He's like, 'It's not for me. It's too much. Too much attention, too much travel, too much chaos, too much ... all of it.' And so he walked away."

"I think he needed a solid 12 years of processing all of that, which he was kind of willing to do slowly. Like, ‘Who are these people? What do they mean to me? What have we done together? What life do I want to live?’ Super smart. 

“I think he figured out that as difficult as that situation could be, it's just life and it's just an opportunity and it's just being in a band and maybe I can find a better way to do this."

Red Hot Chili Peppers Unlimited Love is released 1 April.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.