Early life and career

You are here

John Frusciante RHCP | Flickr - Photo Sharing! : taken from - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimb0lene/2168561581 Author: Kimb0lene https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

 
 
Share
 
Angie Spray's picture
Posted on Tue, 03/24/2015 - 6:51pm
by Angie Spray

Member since: Sat, 01/03/2015

Rate this page

Total votes: 135
 
 

 

1970–1987: Childhood and early life

Frusciante was born in Queens, New York on March 5, 1970. His father, John Sr., is a Juilliard-trained pianist, and his mother Gail was a promising vocalist who gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mother. Frusciante's family moved to Tucson, Arizona, and then Florida, where his father served as a Broward County judge until October 2010. His parents separated, and he and his mother moved to Santa Monica, California.

A year later, Frusciante and his mother moved to Mar Vista, Los Angeles with his new stepfather who, he says, "really supported me and made me feel good about being an artist." Like many young people in the area, he became intimately involved in the L.A. punk rock scene. At nine he was infatuated with The Germs, wearing out several copies of their record (GI). By ten, he had taught himself how to play most of (GI)'s songs. He has stated that he did not really know what he was doing, and that he would play every chord with a single-finger barre.

Frusciante began studying guitarists like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour and Jimi Hendrix at eleven. He discovered Frank Zappa, whose work he would study for hours. Frusciante first heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers around 1984 when his guitar instructor was auditioning as a guitarist for that band. He dropped out of high school at sixteen with the permission of his parents and completion of a proficiency test. With their support, he moved to Los Angeles in order to develop his musical proficiency. He began taking classes at the Guitar Institute of Technology, but turned to punching in without actually attending and left shortly thereafter.

1988–1992: First term with the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Frusciante first attended a Red Hot Chili Peppers performance at fifteen and he rapidly became a devoted fan. He idolized guitarist Hillel Slovak—familiarizing himself with virtually all the guitar and bass parts from the Chili Peppers' first three records. He became acquainted with Slovak; the two spoke months before Slovak's death and Frusciante's subsequent joining:

Frusciante became friends with former Dead Kennedys drummer D. H. Peligro in early 1988. They often jammed together, and Peligro invited his friend Flea (bassist of Red Hot Chili Peppers) to join. Frusciante and Flea developed a musical chemistry immediately, with Flea later acknowledging that might have been the day he first played the bass riff to "Nobody Weird Like Me". Around the same time, Frusciante intended to audition for Frank Zappa's band, but changed his mind before the final try-out as Zappa strictly prohibited illegal drug use. Frusciante said, "I realized that I wanted to be a rock star, do drugs and get girls, and that I wouldn't be able to do that if I was in Zappa's band."

Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, incapable of coping with Slovak's death, left the group. Remaining members Flea and vocalist Anthony Kiedis regrouped, determined to persevere. The pair added Peligro on drums and DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight, formerly of P-Funk, on guitar. McKnight, however, failed to connect musically within the group. Flea proposed auditioning Frusciante, whose intimate knowledge of the Chili Peppers' repertoire astonished him. Flea and Kiedis auditioned him and agreed that he would be a suitable replacement for McKnight, who was promptly fired. When Flea called Frusciante with the news of his acceptance into the Chili Peppers, Frusciante was elated; he ran through his house screaming with joy, and jumped on a wall, leaving permanent boot marks. He was considering a contract with Thelonious Monster at the time—and had actually been playing with the act for two weeks—but his unanticipated reception into the Chili Peppers prompted him to change his plans.

However, Frusciante was not familiar with the funk genre of Red Hot Chili Peppers' sound: "I wasn't really a funk player before I joined the band. I learned everything I needed to know about how to sound good with Flea by studying Hillel [Slovak's] playing and I just took it sideways from there." Several weeks into the band's new lineup, Peligro, whose performance was suffering due to extreme drug abuse, was fired. Soon after, Chad Smith was added as the group's new drummer and the new lineup began recording their first album, 1989's Mother's Milk. Frusciante focused on emulating Slovak's signature style, rather than imposing his own personal style on the group. Producer Michael Beinhorn disagreed, and wanted Frusciante to play with an uncharacteristic heavy metal tone, largely absent from the band's three preceding records. Frusciante and Beinhorn fought frequently over guitar tone and layering, and Beinhorn's idea ultimately prevailed as Frusciante felt pressured by the producer's much greater knowledge of the studio. Kiedis recalls that "[Beinhorn] wanted John to have a big, crunching, almost metal-sounding guitar tone whereas before we always had some interesting acid-rock guitar tones as well as a lot of slinky, sexy, funky guitar tones."

The Chili Peppers collaborated with producer Rick Rubin for their second record with Frusciante, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Rubin felt that it was important to record the album in an unorthodox setting, so he suggested an old Hollywood Hills mansion, and the band agreed. Frusciante, Kiedis and Flea isolated themselves there for the duration of the recording. Frusciante and Flea seldom went outside, and spent most of their time smoking marijuana. Around this time, Frusciante started a side collaboration with Flea and Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins called The Three Amoebas. They recorded roughly ten to fifteen hours of material, none of which has ever been released.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik was hugely successful upon its release on September 24, 1991. It peaked at number three on the Billboard charts, and went on to sell thirteen million copies worldwide. The unexpected success instantly turned the Red Hot Chili Peppers into rock stars. Frusciante was blindsided by his newfound fame, and struggled to cope with it. Soon after the album's release, he began to develop a dislike for the band's popularity. Kiedis recalled that he and Frusciante used to get into heated discussions backstage after concerts: "John would say, 'We're too popular. I don't need to be at this level of success. I would just be proud to be playing this music in clubs like you guys were doing two years ago.'" Frusciante later said that the band's rise to popularity was "too high, too far, too soon. Everything seemed to be happening at once and I just couldn't cope with it." He also began to feel that destiny was leading him away from the band. When the Chili Peppers began their world tour, he started to hear voices in his head telling him "you won't make it during the tour, you have to go now." Frusciante admitted to having once taken great pleasure in hedonism; however, "by the age of twenty, I started doing it right and looking at it as an artistic expression instead of a way of partying and screwing a bunch of girls. To balance it out, I had to be extra-humble, extra-anti-rock star." He refused to take the stage during a performance at Tokyo's Club Quattro on May 7, 1992, telling his bandmates that he was leaving the band. He was persuaded to perform, but left for California the next morning; according to the guitarist, "it was just impossible for me to stay in the band any longer. It had come to the point where even though they wanted me in the band, it felt like I was forced out of the band. Not by any members in particular or management in particular, but just the direction it was going."

1992–1997: Drug addiction

Frusciante developed serious drug habits while touring with the band during the previous four years. He said that when he "found out that Flea was stoned out of his mind at every show, that inspired me to be a pothead". Not only was Frusciante smoking large amounts of marijuana, but he began to use heroin and was on the verge of full-scale addiction. Upon returning to California in the summer of 1992, Frusciante entered a deep depression, feeling that his life was over and that he could no longer write music or play guitar. For a long time, he focused on painting, producing 4-track recordings he had made while working on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and writing short stories and screenplays. To cope with his worsening depression, Frusciante increased his heroin use and spiraled into a life-threatening dependency. His use of heroin to medicate his depression was a clear decision: "I was very sad, and I was always happy when I was on drugs; therefore, I should be on drugs all the time. I was never guilty—I was always really proud to be an addict." Frusciante openly admitted to being a "junkie", believing that drugs were the only way of "making sure you stay in touch with beauty instead of letting the ugliness of the world corrupt your soul."

Frusciante released his first solo album Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt, on March 8, 1994. Despite the common belief that most of the tracks were recorded while he was strung out on heroin in his home in the Hollywood Hills, Frusciante has said that "That album was not recorded when I was a heroin addict. It was released when I was a heroin addict."

The first half of Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt was recorded shortly after the completion of Blood Sugar Sex Magik; the second half between late 1991 and early 1992, during the album's tour. "Running Away Into You" is the only track recorded after he left the Chili Peppers. The album is a heavily experimental avant-garde composition whose initial purpose was spiritual and emotional expression: "I wrote [the record] because I was in a really big place in my head—it was a huge, spiritual place telling me what to do. As long as I'm obeying those forces, it's always going to be meaningful. I could be playing guitar and I could say 'Play something that sucks,' and if I'm in that place, it's gonna be great. And it has nothing to do with me, except in ways that can't be understood." Frusciante further asserted that the album was meant to be experienced as a cohesive unit rather than separate entities or songs. Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt was released on Rick Rubin's label American Recordings. Warner Bros., the Chili Peppers' label, owned rights to the album because of the leaving-artist clause in Frusciante's Chili Peppers contract. However, because he was reclusive, the label gladly handed the rights over to Rubin, who released the album at the urging of Frusciante's friends.

An article in the New Times LA described Frusciante as "a skeleton covered in thin skin" who at the nadir of his addictions nearly died from a blood infection. His arms became fiercely scarred from improperly shooting heroin and cocaine, leaving permanent abscesses. He spent the next three years holed up in his Hollywood Hills home, the walls of which were badly damaged and covered in graffiti. During this time, his friends Johnny Depp and Gibby Haynes went to his house and filmed a documentary short called Stuff, depicting the squalor in which he was living. The house was eventually destroyed by a fire that claimed his vintage guitar collection along with several recorded tapes of music and left him with serious burns after he narrowly escaped.

Frusciante released his second solo album, Smile from the Streets You Hold, in 1997. The album's first track, "Enter a Uh", was largely characterized by cryptic lyrics and hysterical screeches. Frusciante also coughs throughout the track, showcasing his deteriorating health. By his own admission, the album was released in order to get "drug money"; he withdrew it from the market in 1999.

1997–2002: Rehabilitation and return to the Chili Peppers

In late 1996, after more than five years of addiction to heroin, Frusciante quit it cold turkey. However, months later he was still unable to break addictions to crack cocaine and alcohol. In January 1997, urged by longtime friend Bob Forrest, Frusciante checked into Las Encinas, a drug rehabilitation clinic in Pasadena, to begin a full recovery. Upon arrival, he was diagnosed with a potentially lethal oral infection, which could only be alleviated by removing all of his rotten teeth and replacing them with dental implants. He also received skin grafts to help repair the abscesses on his ravaged arms. About a month later, Frusciante checked out of Las Encinas and re-entered society.

Fully recovered and once again healthy, Frusciante began living a more spiritual, ascetic lifestyle. He changed his diet, becoming more health-conscious and eating mostly unprocessed foods. Through regular practice of vipassana and yoga, he discovered the effect that self-discipline has on the body. To maintain his increased spiritual awareness and reduce distraction from his music, Frusciante decided to abstain from sexual activity stating: "I'm very well without it." All of these changes in his life have led him to a complete change in his attitude toward drugs:

I don't need to take drugs. I feel so much more high all the time right now because of the type of momentum that a person can get going when you really dedicate yourself to something that you really love. I don't even consider doing them, they're completely silly. Between my dedication to trying to constantly be a better musician and eating my health foods and doing yoga, I feel so much more high than I did for the last few years of doing drugs.

At this point I'm the happiest person in the world. These things do not fuck with me at all, and I'm so proud of that—you don't know how proud I am. It's such a beautiful thing to be able to face life, to face yourself, without hiding behind drugs; without having to have anger towards people who love you. There are people who are scared of losing stuff, but you don't lose anything for any other reason than if you just give up on yourself.

Despite his experience as an addict, Frusciante does not view his drug use as a "dark period" in his life. He considers it a period of rebirth, during which he found himself and cleared his mind. Frusciante has since stopped practicing yoga, due to its effects on his back, but he still tries to meditate daily.

In early 1998, the Red Hot Chili Peppers fired guitarist Dave Navarro and were on the verge of breaking up. Flea told Kiedis, "the only way I could imagine carrying on [with the Red Hot Chili Peppers] is if we got John back in the band." With Frusciante free of his addictions and ailments, Kiedis and Flea thought it was an appropriate time to invite him back. When Flea visited him at his home and asked him to rejoin the band, Frusciante began sobbing and said "nothing would make me happier in the world." With Frusciante back on guitar, the Chili Peppers began recording their next album, Californication, released in 1999. Frusciante's return restored a key component of the Chili Peppers' sound, as well as a healthy morale. He brought with him his deep devotion to music, which had an impact on the band's recording style during the album. Frusciante has frequently stated that his work on Californication was his favorite.

During the Californication world tour, Frusciante continued to compose his own songs, many of which would be released in 2001 on his third solo album To Record Only Water for Ten Days. The album was stylistically unlike his previous records, less markedly stream-of-consciousness or avant-garde. However, the lyrics were still very cryptic and its sound was notably stripped down. The songwriting and production of To Record Only Water for Ten Days were more efficient and straightforward than on his previous recordings. The album strayed from the alternative rock he had just written with the Chili Peppers on Californication, focusing more on electronic and new wave elements. In addition to his guitar work, Frusciante experimented with a variety of synthesizers, a distinctive feature of the record.

In 2001, Frusciante began recording his fourth album with Red Hot Chili Peppers, By the Way (2002); he considered the time to be among the happiest in his life. He relished the chance the album gave him to "keep writing better songs". While working on By the Way, he also composed most of what would become Shadows Collide with People, as well as the songs created for the movie The Brown Bunny. His goal to improve his guitar playing on the album was largely driven by a desire to emulate guitar players such as Andy Partridge, Johnny Marr and John McGeoch; or as he put it, "people who used good chords". The album marked Frusciante's shift to a more group-minded mentality within the Chili Peppers, viewing the band as a cohesive unit rather than as four separate entities.

2002–2007: The Mars Volta, 2004 recordings and Stadium Arcadium

Frusciante wrote and recorded a plethora of songs during and after the By the Way tour. In February 2004, he started a side project with Joe Lally of Fugazi and Josh Klinghoffer, called Ataxia. The group was together for about two weeks, during which they recorded about ninety minutes of material. After two days in the recording studio, they played two shows at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, and spent two more days in the studio before disbanding. Later that year, five songs provided by Frusciante appeared on The Brown Bunny soundtrack.

Frusciante released his fourth full-length solo album Shadows Collide with People on February 24, 2004. This featured guest appearances from some of his friends, including Klinghoffer, and Chili Peppers bandmates Smith and Flea. In June 2004, he announced that he would be releasing six records over six months: The Will to Death, Ataxia's Automatic WritingDC EPInside of EmptinessA Sphere in the Heart of Silence and Curtains. With the release of Curtains Frusciante debuted his only music video of 2004, for the track "The Past Recedes". He wanted to produce these records quickly and inexpensively on analog tape, avoiding modern studio and computer-assisted recording processes. Frusciante noted, "These six records were recorded in a period of six months after coming home from touring with the Chili Peppers for one-and-a-half years. I made a list of all the songs I had and they totaled about seventy. My objective was to record as many songs as I could during the break that I had. In the midst of doing that, I was writing some of my best songs, so some of these albums have as many new songs as old songs. It was definitely the most productive time of my life."

In early 2005, Frusciante entered the studio to work on his fifth and final studio album with the Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium. His guitar playing is dominant throughout the album, and he provides backing vocals on most of the tracks. Although usually following a "less is more" style of guitar playing, he began using a full twenty-four track mixer for maximum effect. In the arrangements, he incorporates a wide array of sounds and playing styles, similar to the funk-influenced Blood Sugar Sex Magik or the more melodic By the Way. He also changed his approach to his playing, opting to contribute solos and allow songs to be formed from jam sessions. In an interview from Guitar World, Frusciante explained how he approached his guitar solos for their album Stadium Arcadium completely differently from those for their previous albums. On Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication, Frusciante had a general idea how he wanted his guitar solos to sound. For Stadium Arcadium, almost every guitar solo was completely improvised by Frusciante on the spot. Several reviews have stressed that the influence of Hendrix is evident in his solos on the album, with Frusciante himself backing this up. He also expanded the use of guitar effects throughout the album, and used various other instruments such as the synthesizer and mellotron. He worked continuously with Rubin over-dubbing guitar progressions, changing harmonies and using all his technical resources.

Frusciante began a series of collaborations with friend Omar Rodríguez-López and his band The Mars Volta, by contributing guitar and electronic instrumentation to song "Cicatriz ESP" off their album De-Loused in the Comatorium. He also contributed guitar solos on their 2005 album Frances the Mute. In 2006, he helped The Mars Volta complete their third album Amputechture by playing guitar on seven of its eight tracks. In return, Rodriguez-Lopez has played on several of Frusciante's solo albums, as well as making a guest appearance on Stadium Arcadium.

2007–2009

Red Hot Chili Peppers departure and The Empyrean

Ataxia released its second and final studio album, AW II in 2007. Following the Stadium Arcadium tour (early May 2006 to late August 2007), the Red Hot Chili Peppers agreed to a hiatus of indefinite length. In early 2008, Anthony Kiedis finally confirmed this, citing exhaustion from constant work since Californication as the main reason. Frusciante quit the group on July 29, 2009, but did not publicly announce his departure until December 2009, two months after the band ended their hiatus in October 2009 and began work on their next album with Josh Klinghoffer as their new guitarist.

Frusciante's tenth solo album, The Empyrean, was released on January 20, 2009 through Record Collection. The record—a concept album—was in production between December 2006 and March 2008. The Empyrean features an array of musicians including Frusciante's ex-Chili Peppers bandmate Flea, friends Josh Klinghoffer and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, as well as guest musicians including Sonus Quartet and New Dimension Singers. Frusciante stated: "I'm really happy with [the record] and I've listened to it a lot for the psychedelic experience it provides," suggesting the album is "to be played as loud as possible and is suited to dark living rooms late at night."

2010–present

Collaborations with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Frusciante continued to collaborate with his friend Omar Rodríguez-López. Along with providing guitar work to The Mars Volta's studio albums, The Bedlam In Goliath and Octahedron, and Rodríguez-López's solo albums Se Dice Bisonte, No Búfalo and Calibration (Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far), he functioned as executive producer for Rodríguez-López's directorial film debut, The Sentimental Engine Slayer. The film debuted at the Rotterdam Film Festival in February 2010. Along with work on the film, Frusciante and Rodríguez-López have released two collaborative records in May 2010. The first is the album Omar Rodriguez-Lopez & John Frusciante, an album with just the two of them, the other a quartet record, Sepulcros de Miel, consisting of Rodríguez-López, Frusciante, Juan Alderete and Marcel Rodríguez-López.

Frusciante also contributed music to the documentary film, Little Joe, based upon Joe Dallesandro. In 2009, Frusciante appeared in the documentary, "The Heart is a Drum Machine." His full-length, forty-five minute interview is available in the special features of the DVD release.

On December 7, 2011, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were named 2012 inductees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. In an interview that same day, Anthony Kiedis talked about Frusciante and if he would attend the ceremony. Kiedis stated, "It would be a guess on my behalf on whether or not he’ll come. I can’t imagine that he would, but it’s a 'you never know' kind of thing. I haven’t talked to him in quite a while. I don’t know where he’s at these days. He’ll obviously be more than welcome, and embraced if he does. If he doesn’t, that’s cool too." Flea also spoke about Frusciante by saying "He left us so many great gifts. He’s a phenomenal musician and songwriter who gave so much to our band. All the feelings I have for him not being in the band any more... He really took us to a higher level." Frusciante eventually declined to be present for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.

Switch to electronica

After his departure from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frusciante became more serious about his longtime dream to make electronic music. As he explained on his blog, "I started to learn how to program all the instruments we associate with Acid House music and some other hardware. [...] Then I started recording, playing 10 or so synced machines through a small mixer into a CD burner. This was all experimental Acid House, my skills at making rock music playing no part in it whatsoever. I had lost interest in traditional songwriting and I was excited about finding new methods for creating music." During that time Frusciante began an electronic trio with Aaron Funk and Chris McDonald under the name Speed Dealer Moms. Their first EP was released in December 2010 on Planet Mu Records.

In an interview with Blare Magazine Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, when asked about possible future collaborations with John, stated: "Maybe in the future, but John’s in a different place right now. He’s in a place where he couldn’t care less about putting things out or about something being a product. He’s living by different standards right now with a different philosophy, so he doesn’t want to be a part of anything that he knows is going to end up being a product. A Mars Volta record definitely ends up being a product".

Frusciante released a new EP on July 17, 2012, entitled Letur-Lefr. As with his previous solo releases, it was released through Record Collection Music. Recorded in 2010, Letur-Lefr marked a clear departure from guitar-driven sound of Frusciante's previous albums and combined elements of abstract electronica, pop and hip hop. He followed the EP with his eleventh full-length studio album PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone on September 25, 2012. Prior to that, on the 16th of August, he also released a free download of the non-album song "Walls and Doors".

Frusciante's new musical approach met a mixed response from fans and critics. Allmusic's Fred Thomas in his review of PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone stated: "The ever-winding path of John Frusciante's solo career is a confusing one to say the least. [...] The thing is, there's no doubt that Frusciante is sincere in his expression with this incredibly warped music. There's no easy explanation for these sounds, no context for a lot of the choices he makes with the rapid-fire style changes and jarring production choices that come one after another after another on almost every song here."

Frusciante released an instrumental song named "Wayne" on April 7, 2013 through his website which was written and dedicated to the memory of his late friend, former Red Hot Chili Peppers' tour chef Wayne Forman. Outsides, his fifth EP, was released on August 14, 2013 in Japan, and on August 27, 2013 worldwide. The same year, he began collaborating with Wu-Tang affiliates Black Knights (Crisis The Sharpshoota, The Rugged Monk). Medieval Chamber, the second album by Black Knights, was released on January 14, 2014. All the music featured on the record was produced by Frusciante, with a few tracks featuring his vocals as well. Frusciante also became involved in Kimono Kult, a project including his wife Nicole Turley, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes, Bosnian Rainbows), string musician Laena Geronimo (Raw Geronimo) and guitarist Dante White (Dante Vs. Zombies, Starlite Desperation). Their debut EP, Hiding in the Light was produced by Turley and will be released on her record label Neurotic Yell. A track "Todo Menos El Dolor" was released on Soundcloud on January 16. Having released "Scratch", a single recorded during the PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone sessions, Frusciante released his eleventh studio album, Enclosure, on April 8, 2014. He's currently working with Duran Duran.

 

Attribution

John Frusciante - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Frusciante

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/