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Rock Hall Anniversary: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication

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In 1989, the most successful lineup of the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be assembled. Following the passing of guitarist Hillel Slovak and departure of drummer Jack Irons, frontman Anthony Kiedis and bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary would go on to recruit John Frusciante on guitar and Chad Smith on drums, and went on to a successful period, before Frusciante’s sudden departure in 1992.

Then in 1998, Frusciante returned to the fold and in June 1999, the band released their album Californication, which was often credited in restoring the critical acclaim that was achieved in the Chili Peppers’ 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Not only that, it became the band’s biggest selling album, selling over five million copies in the U.S. alone, and fifteen million worldwide. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 album charts, and the hits yielded from the album includes the top ten “Scar Tissue” and the top twenty “Otherside”.

Once again produced by Rick Rubin, Californication would be considered a departure from the Chili Peppers’ previous works, as it while it did incorporate the various sexual innuendos that was usually associated with the band, there were more of a variety of themes including suicide, drugs (another common topic in the Chili Peppers’ music), and of course California itself (hence the title). Musically, the album brought the band “back to basics” moving away from the heavy metal and psychedelic rock elements from 1995’s One Hot Minute, and back to the elements of funk rock, along with melodic riffs.

In addition to the fifteen million sold, Californication has received numerous accolades including a place in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, a Grammy award for the song “Scar Tissue”, and ranks in various lists including Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Definitive 200.


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