The Red Hot Chili Peppers are MTV’s 2022 recipients of The Global Icon Award and, as part of the honor, are performing at the Video Music Awards for the first time in 22 years.
According to Variety, the legendary punk rock group, which chose to be given the award by iconic comedy duo Cheech & Chong during the August 28 show, has won eight VMAs across their career nearly 40-year career. The Chili Peppers have experienced enormous success, including their 2012 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but only two members have been with the band since the very beginning. Here’s who’s in the band today…
A History of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Band Members
In the late 1970s, according to Britannica, singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Michael Balzary (known as Flea), guitarist Hillel Slovak, and drummer Jack Irons met at school in Los Angeles and formed a punk band called Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, and grew a following by performing along the Sunset Strip. By 1983, under the new name Red Hot Chili Peppers, they had a recording contract with EMI.
But Slovak left the band and was replaced by Jack Sherman, whose guitar playing can be heard on the band’s 1984 self-titled debut album. According to Entertainment Tonight, he toured with the band and co-wrote much of their second album, “Freaky Styley,” which was released in 1985. Sherman, who died in August 2020 at age 64, left the band that year due to tension with Kiedis, and Slovak returned.
In 1987, “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” was the band’s first record to hit the Billboard 200 charts. But the following year, just as the Chili Peppers were beginning to have commercial success, Slovak died of a heroin overdose and Irons left the band.
Kiedis and Flea then reformed the band with guitar player and singer John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith. In 1989, the foursome released the Chili Peppers’ first album to go gold, “Mother’s Milk,” and became household names in 1991 with their hit record, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” which included the band’s first top ten single, “Under the Bridge,” and their Grammy-winning “Give It Away.”
Frustrated by the band’s rising popularity and creative direction, Frusciante quit the band in 1992, not long after trying to sabotage the group’s live performance on “Saturday Night Live,” according to Live for Live Music. The Red Hot Chili Peppers then recruited Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro to join them on tour and he performed on their 1995 album, “One Hot Minute,” per Amercian Songwriter.
Frusicante rejoined the band in 1998, but after several successful albums together, the band went on hiatus in early 2008 and Frusciante left the group again to pursue a solo career, according to The Guardian. The band reemerged two years later with a new lead guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, who had been one of the band’s supporting musicians on a past tour.
A decade later, in 2019, the band announced via Instagram that they were parting ways with Klinghoffer, whom they called a “beautiful musician” and expressed gratitude for the “gifts” he’d brought to the group. In the same post, they announced that Frusciante was returning as lead guitarist.
In 2020, Frusciante told Total Guitar, “While I think no one person is at fault in a situation where somebody quits a band, I’d grown enough as a person to see my side in it, as opposed to just playing the victim.”
Despite the ups and downs over the years, most Chili Pepper fans identify Kiedis and Flea, both 59, and Smith, 60, as the band’s founding members, with Frusciante, 52, rounding out the foursome that’s considered to be the most enduring, true-to-its-roots version of the band.
Red Hot Chili Peppers are on a Roll in 2022
In addition to being named 2022 VMA Global Icons, the Chili Peppers scored their 29th VMA nomination for their single, “Black Summer.” The song is featured on the group’s 12th studio album, “Unlimited Love,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in April 2022, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The band, in the midst of a global tour, plans to release another studio album, “Return of the Dream Canteen,” on October 14. They released that album’s first single, “Tippa My Tongue,” and a music video for it on August 19. In April, the group also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Despite having such a busy year, drummer Smith has also been supporting the rising career of his teenage daughter, Ava Maybee, who appeared on season 20 of “American Idol.” He tweeted support for her and even attended one of the shows to watch her perform. Maybee made it to the Top 14 and has spent the summer on tour with Phangs and Moontower.