When it came time for the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ induction at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony over the weekend, the crowd were starting to lose energy: it had been a long night (clocking in at five hours at that point). About a half hour earlier, the ad hoc Guns N Roses finished their performance, which was followed by a perhaps ill-timed segment honoring recording engineers Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns.
But when RCHP presenter Chris Rock hit the stage, everyone sat up, eager to hear the legendary stand up comedian’s speech. He didn’t disappoint (and neither did the band’s performance). Rock first thanked The Beastie Boys, inducted earlier in the evening, for inspiring great white rappers like Eminem (“and too many crappy ones to mention”) and joked that had Axl Rose actually decided to attend the ceremony, everyone would still be waiting for him to show up (referencing Rose’s legendary penchant for lateness).
Rock then recalled going to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers as a kid. But it turned out he’d seen them by accident: he and his friends planned to see hip-hop legends Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, but mistakenly went to the wrong club and stayed there. After the show, he said he thought that “all white groups wear socks on their d***s. But tonight, they’re wearing black ties on their d***s!” Describing their music, he said “If George Clinton and Brian Wilson had a baby, he’d be ugly as f***,” but the baby would sound like the Chili Peppers. He was sincere in his love for the group’s music: “It’s happy, but it’s hardcore. It’s hardcore happiness! It was happy, but you had to be sad to get there.” Commenting on frontman Anthony Kiedis, he said, “When Anthony sings ‘Otherside,’ you know he’s been to the other side!'”
While the Chili Peppers avoided the drama endured by fellow inductees Guns N Roses and The Faces (each band’s singers were absent from the ceremony), their induction, too, was marked by those who weren’t there. Most notable: former guitarist Hillel Slovak, who died of a drug overdose in 1988 (and who was represented by his brother James Slovak). Also absent was former guitarist John Frusciante, who left the band (for the second time) in 2008, and who played on most of their hits. Former guitarist Dave Navarro wasn’t included in the induction, but current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer was, making him the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Rock hall (at 32). Also not included was former guitarist Jack Sherman, who played on the band’s 1984 debut album (which was odd, as former drummer Cliff Martinez, who played on that album was included). Additonallhy, several former guitarists who had done brief stints in the band, including Arik Marshall and D.N. Peligro didn’t join the band (although drummer Chad Smith mentioned many of them in his speech).
Klinghoffer didn’t speak from the podium, but former drummers Martinez and Jack Irons did, and the relationship between the current band and their ex-drummers seemed warm.
Anthony Kiedis and Flea both sang the praises of Slovak (Flea welled up with tears when he mentioned his name) and Frusciante. The band took the stage as Kiedis sent best wishes out to Adam Yauch (inducted earlier in the evening with The Beastie Boys, he’d also missed the ceremony due to health issues).
Frusciante’s presence loomed large over the performance, as three of the four songs they performed were from albums from his era (oddly, they didn’t address Slovak’s era). After opening with the title track from 2002’s By The Way, they played “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” from their latest effort, last year’s I’m With You. After that, two extra drum sets were rolled onto the stage as they were joined by Martinez and Irons for their signature hit, “Give It Away.”
Honoring the induction ceremony’s semi-tradition of an all-star jam, they invited artists from the audience to join in with them: some didn’t oblige (Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top appeared to have left the building by then), but Ron Wood and Slash did. They were also joined by George Clinton, whom they mentioned in their speeches (he produced their second album, 1985’s Freaky Styley), P-Funk guitarist Michael Hampton, Kenny Jones of The (Small) Faces and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day (who had presented Guns N Roses earlier in the evening).
They launched into a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” (one of their first hits, it was from their 1989 album Mother’s Milk), to close the ceremony, nearly six hours after it began. After an extended, but surprisingly tight, version of the song, the musicians left the stage, and the exhausted audience filed out of the venue.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local