||November 1, 1962
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
||funk rock, alternative rock, rap rock, punk rock,
||Singer-songwriter, musician, actor
||Warner Bros. Records, EMI
||Red Hot Chili Peppers
Anthony Kiedis (/ˈkiːdɪs/ kee-diss; born November 1, 1962) is an American vocalist/lyricist, and occasional actor best known as the lead vocalist of the Grammy-winning American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kiedis spent his youth in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his mother before moving, shortly before his 12th birthday, to Hollywood, California to live with his father. After high school, Kiedis began taking classes at UCLA, but dropped out after losing interest due to substance abuse. After dropping out, Kiedis received an offer to be the opening act for a local band, and enlisted friends Flea, Hillel Slovak, and Jack Irons to assist. The line-up eventually became the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
1966-1980: Early life
Kiedis was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan to John Kiedis, an actor, and Margaret "Peggy" Nobel. In 1966, when he was three years old, his parents divorced. Along with his two half-sisters, Julie and Jenny, he was raised by his mother and stepfather in Grand Rapids. Each summer, he would visit his father in Hollywood for two weeks, in which the two would bond. He idolized his father, and recalled "Those trips to California were the happiest, most carefree, the-world-is-a-beautiful-oyster times I'd ever experienced." In 1973, when Kiedis was eleven years old, he moved to Hollywood to live with his father full-time. His father was a struggling actor who sold drugs, which had a significant impact on Kiedis, as the two would often use marijuana and cocaine together. Kiedis accidentally tried heroin for the first time at age fourteen, mistaking the substance for cocaine.
Kiedis attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, where he struggled to find friends as he had recently transferred to a new school district. However, he soon met Flea, and after a brief confrontation, the two became best friends. The pair bonded while sitting next to each other in driver's ed class. Kiedis recalled: "We were drawn to each other by the forces of mischief and love and we became virtually inseparable. We were both social outcasts. We found each other and it turned out to be the longest-lasting friendship of my life." Kiedis became a significant influence on Flea, exposing him to rock music, particularly punk rock. Kiedis and Flea began jumping into swimming pools from buildings as a hobby. At age fifteen, Kiedis broke his back attempting to jump into a swimming pool from a five-story building, missing the pool by a few inches. His back has since improved, although he still has occasional problems.
Kiedis also met future bandmate Hillel Slovak after seeing him perform with his band Anthym. After the show, Slovak invited Kiedis to his house for a snack. Kiedis later described the experience in his autobiography Scar Tissue: "Within a few minutes of hanging out with Hillel, I sensed that he was absolutely different from most of the people I'd spent time with...He understood a lot about music, he was a great visual artist, and he had a sense of self and a calm about him that were just riveting." Slovak, Kiedis, and Flea became best friends and often used LSD, heroin, cocaine, and speed recreationally. Despite his frequent drug use, he excelled in school, often receiving straight A grades. In June 1980, Kiedis graduated with honors from high school. That August, he enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, however dropped out during the beginning of his sophomore year due to his worsening addiction to cocaine and heroin.
1980-88: First three albums
Kiedis, Slovak, and Flea began to create their own music after finding inspiration in a punk-funk fusion band called Defunkt. The three formed a band with former Anthym-drummer Jack Irons called Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. The band had only one song, entitled "Out in L.A.", and was formed for the purpose of playing the song once. The song was based on a guitar riff that Slovak wrote while "jamming" with Irons, and was not meant to become a real song until Kiedis decided to rap over the music. Following the group's first show at The Rhythm Lounge, the owner of the bar asked them to return, but with two songs instead of one. After several more shows, and the addition of several songs to their repertoire, the band's name was changed to Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The band's concert repertoire grew to ten songs as a result of months of playing at local nightclubs and bars. The Red Hot Chili Peppers entered Bijou Studios to record a demo tape and subsequently secured a record deal with EMI. Irons and Slovak however, decided to leave the Red Hot Chili Peppers in order to pursue a "more serious" future with rock band What Is This?. Kiedis ultimately respected the decision, but felt the band would be lost without them. Kiedis and Flea hired drummer Cliff Martinez and guitarist Jack Sherman to fill Iron's and Slovak's places, respectively. Andy Gill, formerly of Gang of Four, agreed to produce their first album. Gill and Sherman clashed with Kiedis and Flea; they continuously argued over music style, sound, and the album's production.
Funk musician George Clinton was hired to produce the band's second album, Freaky Styley. The strong chemistry between Clinton and the Chili Peppers was felt instantly. Freaky Styley was released in August 1985. It received only a bit more attention than The Red Hot Chili Peppers with roughly 75,000 copies sold by year's end. The band hired Michael Beinhorn, their last resort among potential producers, to work on their next album. What Is This? had finally disbanded, and Irons returned to the Chili Peppers in mid 1986 after Martinez was fired. Flea, Slovak and Kiedis especially were involved in heavy drug use and their relationships became strained. Flea recalled that "it began to seem ugly to me and not fun; our communication was not healthy". Kiedis became dependent on heroin, leaving Flea and Slovak to work on much of the album's material by themselves.
Both Kiedis and Slovak struggled with debilitating heroin addictions, which grew worse as the band was preparing to record The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Due to his addiction, Kiedis lacked the motivation to contribute to the band musically, and appeared at rehearsal "literally asleep". He was asked to leave the band in order to undergo drug rehabilitation. During that time, the band won the LA Weekly Band of the Year award which prompted Kiedis to quit using heroin cold turkey. He visited his mother in Michigan for guidance, who drove him to drug rehabilitation immediately after picking him up from the airport upon seeing his unhealthy appearance. Kiedis checked into Salvation Army rehabilitation clinic in Grand Rapids, an experience which he initially detested until he noted that the other people in the clinic were understanding of his struggles and were trying to help him. He moved in with his mother after twenty days at the clinic, a time which marked the first time he was completely abstinent from drugs since he was eleven years old. After Kiedis completed his stint in rehabilitation, he felt a "whole new wave of enthusiasm" due to his sobriety and wrote the lyrics to a new song entitled "Fight Like a Brave" on the flight home. He rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Los Angeles to record the album.
After the international tour in support of Uplift, Slovak died of a heroin overdose. Following Slovak's death, Kiedis fled to a small fishing village in Mexico and did not attend his funeral, considering the situation to be surreal and dreamlike. Although he found the death to be a shock, he initially was not "scared straight" and continued to use heroin. However, a few weeks later, his friend convinced him to check into rehab and visit Slovak's grave, which inspired him to get clean. Irons was unable to cope with Slovak's death and subsequently quit the band, saying that he did not want to be part of something that resulted in the death of his friend. Kiedis and Flea decided to continue making music, hoping to continue what Slovak "helped build".
1989-93: Mainstream success
Following Slovak's death, Kiedis and Flea took some time to collect themselves, but decided to keep the band together. Guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight and drummer D.H. Peligro were added, and the band entered the studio to record a new album. McKnight soon began to create tension within the group, as his style did not mesh with the rest of the band. Peligro, the former drummer of the punk rock band Dead Kennedys, was a friend of John Frusciante, an eighteen year old guitarist and avid Red Hot Chili Peppers fan. Peligro introduced Frusciante to Flea, and the three jammed together on several occasions. Flea was impressed with Frusciante's skill, and astonished by his knowledge of the Chili Peppers' repertoire. Flea realized that Frusciante could provide the spark McKnight was lacking. McKnight was fired, and Frusciante accepted an invitation to join the band. Peligro was fired shortly thereafter; the Chili Peppers brought in drummer Chad Smith as his replacement. The Chili Peppers entered the studio, and completed recording of their fourth album, Mother's Milk, in early 1989. Upon release, the album was met with mixed reactions from critics, but received far more commercial attention, peaking at number fifty-two on the Billboard 200.
The band sought to record Blood Sugar Sex Magik in an unconventional setting, believing it would enhance their creative output. Rubin suggested the mansion magician Harry Houdini once lived in, to which they agreed. A crew was hired to set up a recording studio and other equipment required for production in the house. The band decided that they would remain inside the mansion for the duration of recording, though Smith, convinced the location was haunted, refused to stay. During this stage, Kiedis began to write about anguish, and the self mutilating thoughts he would experience as a result of his heroin and cocaine addiction. Chili Peppers producer Rick Rubin stumbled upon a poem that would become the lyrics to "Under the Bridge", and suggested Kiedis show it to the rest of the band. Kiedis was, however, apprehensive because he believed the lyrics to be "too soft" and unlike the band's style. After singing the verse to Frusciante, they began structuring the song the next day. The two worked for several hours arranging chords and melodies until they both agreed it was complete. The song later became a major hit, peaking at number two on the Billboard 100.
When Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released on September 24, 1991, it received an overwhelmingly positive critical response. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 200, and went on to sell over seven million copies in the U.S. alone. The album's ensuing tour was critically acclaimed—the Chili Peppers commonly performed shows with over twenty thousand in attendance. Seattle-based grunge band Nirvana also toured with them during the West Coast leg of their United States tour. The massive attention the Chili Peppers started receiving, however, caused Frusciante to feel extremely uncomfortable, and he abruptly quit the band during the Japanese leg of the album's tour. The band hired guitarist Arik Marshall to complete the remaining tour dates.
1994-98: One Hot Minute and resumed addiction
Upon returning to Hollywood, the band placed an ad in the L.A. Weekly for open guitar auditions, which Kiedis considered to be a waste of time. After several months of unsuccessfully looking for a suitable guitarist, drummer Chad Smith suggested Dave Navarro. He had always been the band's first choice, but had been too busy following the 1991 breakup of Jane's Addiction. Navarro eventually accepted the position after productive jam sessions.
Kiedis knew that the band's sound would inevitably change when Navarro joined. In July 1994, the band entered The Sound Factory, a recording studio in Los Angeles, to record the album. The band completed a few basic tracks, when Kiedis began having difficulty singing. He had been through a dental procedure in which an addictive sedative, Valium, was used; this caused him to relapse, and he once again became dependent on drugs. Kiedis had slipped from five years of sobriety and began reusing narcotics he'd sworn never to use again. The band took a short hiatus from recording to perform at Woodstock '94, which was the first show Navarro played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
After resuming production, Navarro questioned the methods of the Chili Peppers' recording procedures. He wondered why such a considerable amount of jamming was involved with the album's conception. Various qualms followed, and the process soon became uncomfortable for the band. Months went by, and only small amounts of material were written. Kiedis made a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan in December, where his family realized he'd resumed an active addiction once again. He returned to Hollywood in late January 1995, when he finally finished recording his vocals. The rest of the recording was completed within the next month.
1998-2003: Californication and By the Way
Kiedis performing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2003.
In the years following Frusciante's departure from the Chili Peppers, he had developed a vicious addiction to both heroin and cocaine that left him in poverty and near death. He was talked into admitting himself to drug rehabilitation in January 1998. In April 1998, following Frusciante's three month completion, Flea visited his former band-mate and openly invited him to re-join the band, an invitation Frusciante readily accepted. Within the week, and for the first time in six years, the foursome gathered to play and jump-started the newly reunited Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band released Californication on June 8, 1999.
Immediately following the release of Californication, the band embarked on a world tour to support the record, beginning in the United States. To culminate the US leg of their tour, the Chili Peppers were asked to close Woodstock '99, which became infamous for the violence it resulted in. The band was informed minutes before arriving that the crowds and bonfires in the fields had gone out of control. When the Chili Peppers performed a tribute to Jimi Hendrix's song "Fire" to finish their set as a favor to Hendrix's sister, the disruption escalated into violence when several women who had been crowd surfing and moshing were raped and nearby property was looted and destroyed. Kiedis felt that "It was clear that this situation had nothing to do with Woodstock anymore. It wasn't symbolic of peace and love, but of greed and cashing in... We woke up to papers and radio stations vilifying us for playing 'Fire'."
The writing and formation of By the Way began immediately following the culmination of Californication's world tour, in the Spring of 2001. As with Californication, much of the creation took place in the band members' homes, and other locations of practice, such as a recording studio stage. Kiedis recalled of the situation: "We started finding some magic and some music and some riffs and some rhythms and some jams and some grooves, and we added to it and subtracted from it and pushed it around and put melodies to it." Frusciante and Kiedis would collaborate together for days straight, discussing guitar progressions and sharing lyrics. For Kiedis, "writing By the Way...was a whole different experience from Californication. John was back to himself and brimming with confidence." The album marked a change in the band's sound, and Kiedis began writing songs reflective his romantic relationships and drug addictions.
2004-present: Recent albums and fatherhood
The formation and recording of Stadium Arcadium took place at "The Mansion", the former home of Harry Houdini where the Chili Peppers had recorded their 1991 breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Kiedis noted that during the recording process of the album "everybody was in a good mood. There was very little tension, very little anxiety, very little weirdness going on and every day we showed up to this funky room in the Valley, and everyone felt more comfortable than ever bringing in their ideas." The album was released on May 9, 2006.
In August 2007, the band decided to take a break from music. According to Kiedis, there was a collective decision "not [to] do anything Red Hot Chili Peppers-related for a minimum of one year. [...] We started in 1999, with the writing and the recording of Californication, and we didn't really stop until the tour ended last year. We were all emotionally and mentally zapped at the end of that run." Frusciante departed amicably from the group in order to pursue separate musical interests. However, Kiedis and Flea decided to keep the band together, citing an "intuitive feeling" that compelled them to continue making music.
Kiedis's now ex-girlfriend, model Heather Christie, gave birth to the couple's first child, a son named Everly Bear, on October 2, 2007. According to Kiedis, Everly is named after one of Anthony's favorite bands, The Everly Brothers and the name Bear was something Heather came up with. Kiedis said that the name Bear made sense to him "because he's from me and I feel like I'm part of the bear clan, and I think it's nice to have a little bit of earth in your name." Kiedis split with Christie in June 2008.
On August 26, 2011, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released a tenth album, I'm with You.
Kiedis often battled with drug addiction, including lengthy addictions to heroin and cocaine, from a very young age. Since his father was an addict, Kiedis was constantly around his drug-using and dealing father, as well as his father's friends, who engaged in the same activities. Some of Kiedis' early drug use came from substances he got from his father, including marijuana, which he first smoked when he was 11 years old. He used drugs for years, even into the formation of the band, where other members were also using. He tried to get clean after Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose (specifically using the method of speedballing) on June 25, 1988, saying he would never shoot up again. He entered rehab and ended up staying clean for five years but relapsed in 1994 and kept using on and off over the next six years. The last major relapse was instigated by a New Zealand doctor prescribing him Ultram despite Kiedis specifically asking for drugs that are not in the opiate family. To a recovering heroin addict, the synthetic opiate only gave rise to strong cravings. This last relapse, as many previous ones, was to a degree also a byproduct of a tumultuous relationship with a woman. He has reportedly avoided another relapse since December 24, 2000. "It’s easy to be a junkie, but it's not easy to be one of the best guitarists or songwriters of all time," Kiedis said in the March 2007 issue of Blender.
Role in the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Kiedis writes most of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' lyrics. Starting with 1989's Mother's Milk album, John Frusciante and Flea have written nearly all of the music (excluding melodies) for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while Kiedis adds lyrics and melodies he hears during instrumental jams by his band mates. Kiedis said in 2006, "Somehow I find songs... in the bigness of what they're doing." His lyrical style has varied over the years. During the band's early years, Kiedis wrote many lyrics detailing his enjoyment of sex, drugs, and life in Los Angeles. As his musical tastes expanded and his outlook on life changed, he began writing songs about a wider spectrum of subjects. His lyrics include many of the same themes as the writings of Charles Bukowski, Kiedis' main literary influence.
His early vocal style with the band primarily consisted of rapping. On Mother's Milk (1989), Kiedis wrote more melody-driven songs, rather than the basic rhythm and beat style of funk. The first song where Kiedis employed his new melodic style was "Knock Me Down". The melody was actually shaped and performed by guitarist John Frusciante. Upon joining the band, Frusciante sang lead vocals on the song along with Kiedis. Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991 still saw Kiedis rapping, but he also started singing in songs such as "Under the Bridge", "Breaking the Girl", and "I Could Have Lied". Over the years, Kiedis grew to favor singing over rapping. Kiedis has had many vocal coaches, but none of them had helped him sing "well." In fact, it was not until 1999's Californication that he felt he could take full control of his voice while singing.
Despite the band's varied lineup, Kiedis remained and tried to keep the group together whenever it was about to fall apart. However, Kiedis himself was fired for around a month somewhere in 1986 because of his drug addiction; he was brought back into the band and stayed clean for, as he recalls, 53 days, after which he began abusing cocaine and heroin again.
Using the stage name Cole Dammett (adapted from his father's stage name, Blackie Dammett), Kiedis landed a number of small roles in television and film as a teenager in the late 1970s. His early credits include F.I.S.T. and the 1978 ABC Afterschool Special It's a Mile from Here to Glory. Resuming his acting work in the 1990s, Kiedis appeared in the 1991 Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze vehicle Point Break playing Tone, a surfer. The Chase, a 1994 movie starring Charlie Sheen as an estranged man trying to escape the cops with a young woman he kidnapped, had Flea and Kiedis playing metalheads who chase Sheen's character in a 4x4 truck and end up crashing.
In 2004, Kiedis published a memoir titled Scar Tissue, which peaked at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. He also organized the New American Music Union, a two-day summer music festival set for August 2008 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has assembled a lineup of musicians including Bob Dylan, The Raconteurs, Gnarls Barkley, The Roots, and a second stage featuring college bands. (The lineup did not include Kiedis or the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)
In 2011, Kiedis, along with his son Everly, appears in the documentary, Bob and the Monster. The documentary details the life and career of musician and drug counselor, Bob Forrest.
On May 11, 2011, Anthony donated a MTV European Music Award that the band had previously won to help raise funds for ongoing relief in devastated areas of Japan, which was hit with an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Upcoming television series
Kiedis is developing a series for HBO based on his unconventional upbringing in Los Angeles. The show is expected to be loosely based on much of Kiedis' autobiography. He has partnered with Catapult 360 partners Marc Abrams and Michael Benson to create the series, titled Spider and Son. Abrams and Benson are scouting for a writer to pen the script, which will center on Kiedis's relationship with his father, Blackie Dammett, who sold many drugs and mingled with rock stars on the Sunset Strip, all while aspiring to get into show business. The show was scheduled to premiere in late 2010 at the very earliest. According to a post by Blackie on his Facebook page, the John Sayles script for the pilot episode was turned over to HBO on May 10, 2010.
On October 14, 2011 it was announced that HBO was no longer interested in the series and that FX has picked up the rights to air the series. John Sayles, who wrote a script for the HBO pilot is no longer involved in the project. Entourage producers, Esther Dawson and Mike Chester will still produce the series and Kiedis will also co-produce the series along with Bram Sheldon. It is unknown if the series will still follow the releationship between Kiedis and his father Blackie or if the entire autobiography will be the focus of the series. 
He had been a vegetarian since the 1980s. He is now vegan since 2008, telling PETA "Soon after I went vegan, I saw some documentary footage of what happens in the factory farming of cows... It sealed the deal." Kiedis regularly practices Vipassana meditation and is a follower of Kabbalah, but says "I don't go for sects and denominations."
Kiedis is a longtime Los Angeles Lakers fan; along with friend and bassist Flea, and former Peppers' guitarist John Frusciante. He has had courtside seats for years.
He is also a fan and collector of Robert Williams. He bought Mirror Image with Varicose Eyeballs, which also appeared in the art show Helter Skelter at the Los Angeles MOCA in 1992 and referred to him in the song "Mellowship Slinky in B-Major".
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
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