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John Frusciante (born March 5, 1970 in Queens, New York) is a guitarist performing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His father, John Sr., and his mother, Gail Frusciante, were both musical themselves. Gail even lent her voice to the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, "Under the Bridge."
Frusciante started guitar at the age of seven. He progressed instantly, and from the ages of 9-12 he remembers trying to duplicate the punk rock riffs he heard on the radio. The music he listened to, and eventually his style of playing, were directly influenced by those radio hits he heard as a young boy.
John first saw the Chili Peppers in concert in 1985. They instantly became his favorite band. John had become good friends with D.H. Peligro (drummer for The Dead Kennedys) around 1988, and they often jammed together. One day, Peligro invited Flea, bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers over, to jam with them. Flea was impressed by John's skill, and since he was looking for a new guitarist for the band after their original guitarist, Hillel Slovak, had died, he called Anthony Kiedis (vocalist for The Chili Peppers) to watch John play. It was a unanimous decision: John was in. (John was about to sign a contract with Thelonious Monster at the time, but Flea and Kiedis swiped him from under their noses. Needless to say, Thelonious Monster was not pleased, but the two bands remained friends anyway.)
Frusciante made his first two albums with the Chili Peppers: Mother's Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Frusciante is thought by many critics to contribute greatly to the creativity of the group with his unique guitar riffs and solos. He has said himself that it seemed like he was doing the majority of the writing during the recording of these two albums.
Mother's Milk did not do very well financially, but it was the band's first gold album. Also, the song "Knock Me Down" (the lyrics of which were written by Kiedis about the death of Hillel) noted a significant change of chord structure that was imperative to the band's growth and evolution.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik sold incredibly well, and was the band's breakthrough album, mostly due to the hits "Under The Bridge" and "Give It Away," and also to the expert production by Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam Records. This was also the first album the band recorded on their current label, Warner. All their other albums had been recorded at EMI.
On May 7th, 1992, just as the Chili Peppers were supposed to do a show in Japan, Frusciante left the band (though he did play the show and later departed). When asked by the media what he said to the band, he replied, "Just tell them I went crazy."
There were a couple different reasons for his departure: One, the voices in his head were getting louder, and the one discernible thing they were saying was for him to go solo. Two, he brought a lot of negativity to the band at that point, and he knew it brought the other band members down. He also was frustrated with being in the spotlight all the time; he didn't relish his celebrity status.
During his absence in the band, he became severely addicted to hard drugs, primarily heroin. To this day, the horrible scars on his arms from shooting-up remain as a painful reminder to his past. His solo album that was released in 1997, Smile From the Streets You Hold, was released for purpose of "drug money" as John would say years later when he retracted the album from the public.
Frusciante had already begun recording his first solo album before leaving the band in 1992, and the album that was released in 1994, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt, is viewed by many as his absolute best solo album. Regardless, it is an incredibly vivid, bizarre, jaded and beautiful glimpse into the mind of (some would call) a madman; a man who lived in an altered state of mind. He says his music is a gift from spirits that frequently spoke to him during his absence from the Chili Peppers from 1992-1998. He has been known to say things that people would deem as strange, such as he believes in the notion that all music exists in the fourth dimension, and is created in the fifth.
In 1998, when Frusciante finally went to rehab, where he was visited by Flea. Flea wanted John back in the band, and although there was still some tension between John and Anthony, Flea asked John if he would do them the honour. John, elated, said yes, and he still thinks of it today as one of the best decisions he made in his life. The tensions between Kiedis and Frusciante disappeared with time, and soon it was just like old times again. John was clean and happy.
The band began work on Californication soon after, and the album was released in 1999. It was, and still is, their best-selling album to date, and most of this is because of Frusciante's writing skills and his complete passion for creating music and art.
During the Californication world tour John wrote his own songs which would be released on another solo album called To Record Only Water for Ten Days. This album was not nearly as stream-of-consciousness and avant-garde as his previous solo albums, but his lyrics were still very cryptic and off-the-wall. In this record, almost all the songs begin with simple beats, and it still is one of Frusciante's most stripped down, bare-bones pieces of work.
Frusciante began his To Record Only Water for Ten Days tour on January 27, 2001 with a performance at The Borderline in London. The tour concluded on June 10 with a short show at The Ruby in Los Angeles, and all 16 concerts featured only John on acoustic guitar.
The band recorded By the Way in 2002, and it was well-received by critics. It is their softest album to date, and the difference in sound between this album and Freaky Styley (one of the band's earlier works before John joined) is spectacular. The Red Hot Chili Peppers' secret weapon and guiding force throughout the years (and perhaps the reason for their huge success) is Frusciante, and he will always be regarded as a man wholly dedicated to music.
Beginning in 2004 and concluding in early 2005, Frusciante embarked on a bold sonic quest. In February 2004 John released the much anticipated Shadows Collide With People, a well collected, amazingly orchestrated amalgamation of relatively dark songs that outline Frusciante's regrets and evince the growth he experienced after his heroin addiction. The album featured Frusciante's close friend Josh Klinghoffer. In June of 2004, Frusciante released The Will To Death, an album lacking the meticulous editing and high production cost of Shadows Collide with People and very popular among diehard fans.
The Will to Death is highly regarded largely as a result of its raw yet aurally pleasant nature. The following five albums of Frusciante's most fruitful musical period represent an array of rock music that often incorporates instruments, tempo changes, and electronic sounds uncommon to traditional western rock. Automatic Writing--a record of five long jams with hypnotic bass lines and experimental guitar parts-- came next. Frusciante was accompanied by Klinghoffer on drums and Joe Lally (bassist of Fugazi) on bass, and the trio recorded under the name Ataxia.
Automatic Writing was followed by DC EP, an album just four tracks (and less than 20 minutes) long with a fresh sound. Inside of Emptiness was released in late 2004, and Frusciante and Klinghoffer recorded with a "heavier," "grungier" sound than ever before. The final album of 2004 was A Sphere in the Heart of Silence. Notable for its interesting intersection of electronic music with rock, Klinghoffer shared equally in the production of this album. Thus A Sphere in the Heart of Silence is the first official John Frusciante/Josh Klinghoffer record in history.
Curtains completed Frusciante's productive journey. Officially released February 1, 2005, the album stresses acoustic instruments and is likely to become a John Frusciante classic.
(With Red Hot Chili Peppers, except as indicated)
- Mother's Milk (1989)
- Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
- (Solo album) Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt (1994)
- (Solo) Smile From the Streets You Hold (1997)
- Californication (1999)
- (Solo) From The Sounds Inside (2000/2001)
- (Solo) To Record Only Water for Ten Days (2001)
- By The Way (2002)
- Appears on De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003) by The Mars Volta
- Appears on (2003) by Johnny Cash
- (Solo) Shadows Collide With People (2004)
- (Solo) The Will to Death (2004)
- Automatic Writing (With Ataxia, his collaboration with Josh Klinghoffer of The Bicycle Thief and Joe Lally of Fugazi)
- (Solo) DC EP (2004)
- Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" Soundtrack (2004)
- (Solo) A Sphere In The Heart Of Silence (2004)
- (Solo) Inside of Emptiness (2004)
- (Solo) Curtains (2005)
- Appears on Frances the Mute (2005) by The Mars Volta
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