“When I left Michigan … I told all of my friends I was moving to California to be a movie star. But as soon as I started driving with my dad in his Healy, singing along to the pop songs on radio, I announced, “I’m going to be a singer….”
‘Scar Tissue’ Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman; page 25
Despite the childhood declaration that he wanted to be a singer, it looked as if Anthony Kiedis was destined for the bright lights of the film set rather than the musical stage. He spent one term in Michigan following his summer vacation there (at his mother’s request so Anthony could spend some time with his new sister) in 1976 and returned to school to find a major change had take place; he was no longer the leader of the pack and therefore, Anthony decided to re-invent himself to regain his edge. Following, his father’s lead (he had moved into acting after tiring of being the drug ‘Lord of the Sunset Strip’) in both direction and look, Anthony decided that his new image was also to be that of an actor;
“Overnight, he [Blackie] reinvented himself with a distinctive, slicked-back film noir ‘30s gangster look. Within days, I was sitting in a barber chair asking for a ‘30s gangster haircut…. When my dad started wearing double-breasted pin-striped suits with fancy ties, the first thing I did was go out and get an identical outfit made up. Now it was time for me to enrol in acting school. I took children’s classes with a woman named Diane Hull, and they were wonderful.”
‘Scar Tissue’ Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman; page 50
New names were to follow too; Blackie had adopted the name of Blackie Dammett in homage to Dashiell Hammett, his favourite writer, so Anthony needed to do the same:
“Well, it’s got to be something Dammett, because I’m your son.” So Cole Dammett was born. Get it? Cole, son of Blackie.”
‘Scar Tissue’ Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman; page 50
Following an altercation with a visitor calling to see Blackie (it was by a producer who was so impressed with Anthony’s attitude that he immediately cast him in a role), Kiedis was soon picking up a variety of roles both in movies (e.g. in F.I.S.T) and in adverts (e.g. a coca-cola advert). He was even named in his graduation yearbook from Fairfax High in 1980 as Thespians VP (Vice President). However, his acting career took set-backs such as the loss of a very coveted role in American Hot Wax and to life in general:
“I just got too crazy to handle the responsibility of being a young actor.”
Fornication: The Red Hot Chili Peppers Story by Jeff Apter; page 37.
Following graduation from school in 1980, Kiedis enrolled as a political science major at UCLA and studied there until leaving about a year later with no clear plan as to what to do other than take a filler job to pay the bills. However, fate was to shortly intervene:
“When Flea approached him about getting somehow involved with Anthym, Kiedis immediately agreed. ‘I had so much fun writing and my friends were having so much fun playing music they eventually our paths crossed.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers By The Way The Biography by Dave Thompson; page 29
Through his high school friends, Anthony was closely associated with a Fairfax group called Anthym, but having no clear musical talent, he couldn’t develop this into any more than support for the group or being their opening MC. Plus, the group already had two song-writing members. However, that was about to change; Flea and Anthony were experimenting with new musical tastes and the group Grandmaster Flash opened up the world of rap to Anthony; he suddenly realised that you didn’t need to actually be able to sing to front a group – just at a time when his friend, Gary Allen asked him to put together a one off opening act for him at the Rhythm Lounge (Grandea Room on Melrose Avenue, LA) in February 1983.
Flea started to write the music and Anthony the lyrics, and the two totally meshed; ‘Out in LA’ was born- a song about Anthony’s experiences in LA and of the friends whom he had made there. Fellow Fairfax graduates and members of the now What is This which Anthym had developed into, Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons, made up the group and they played the one song as ‘Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem’ and rocked the place totally. So much so that they were asked to return the following week with two songs; which they did. But more crucially, not only did they have the two songs (the second was ‘Get Up and Jump’) but they also had a new name, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
From that humble beginning, the Chili Peppers grew and developed over the years to become a group selling millions of albums and shifting tickets at sold out arenas worldwide. Not that it was all plain sailing; the Red Hot Chili Peppers saw more than their fair share of trials and tribulations along the way that saw changing band members, issues with drug abuse and the tragedy of the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak (he played with Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem’ but decided to sign a recording deal with his other band, What is This, before rejoining the Peppers as a bona fide member at a later date) but (with the exception of a month long period when AK was kicked out of the band as a result of his drug addiction), Anthony Kiedis has been the characteristic vocalist of the band with his distinctive vocals and lyrics at the core of everything the Red Hot Chili Peppers stand for.
I have just finished listening to your book, I love your storey and would like to thank you for being open about your awesome life!!! Much love ash OZ x
Sou fã do Anthony Kiedis e dos Red Hot os caras são fera demais !!!
I’ve always been a big Chilli Peppers fan for over 20 years. What I’m wondering is when did Anthony learn to sing well and in key? I’m mesmerized by this because he did not sing in key or that well until the last few years. No offense, but he used to sound terrible live (for years) and now he sings incredibly live. How did this happen? Training? Autotune? I’m dying to know. Because many of my other favorite bands still don’t sing so well live (ex. Deftones who I love. Sounds like Chino kills himself live).
I think he’s taken lessons and just perfected his art with practice over the years. Rick Rubin made a comment in an interview(s) around the time of the release of the ‘I’m With You’ album, how much his voice had improved and that they were able to do more as a result.