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Buy *Fornication: The Red Hot Chili Peppers Story* online

Fornication: The Red Hot Chili Peppers Story
Jeff Apter
Omnibus Press
424 pages
February 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Unless you’ve been hibernating for the part decade and a half (and hey – quite a few people seem to have been doing just that) you’ll have heard a song or three by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hollywood’s finest punk-funk-rockers, straddling the airwaves. The foursome have been rocked by all the standard elements of the traditional music-biz storm over the years, with substance addictions, drug fatalities and trouble with the authorities in various territories for lewdness and other misedemeanours all cropping up on their collective resumé. These misfortunes and wrong turns have been balanced by a musical expertise and a neo-hippie, quasi-psychedelic worldview that gives the Chilis’ tale a phenomenal richness – if only someone would tell it properly…

Well, now someone has. Sometime Australian Rolling Stone editor and roving biographer Apter has managed to squeeze all the juice out of the Chili Peppers’ convoluted life-story and distill it into an intoxicating brew over a mere 320 pages – no mean feat. After all, there’s the complex saga of the upbringings of singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea to begin with (Apter excels on the former, tracking down his sort-of-subversive womanizer actor father Blackie Dammett for some colourful first-hand details). Then there’s the weirdness of growing up in Hollywood, home to LA’s freak community now and forever and no easy place to explain away in words. And all this is before we even get as far as the death from a heroin OD of the Chilis’ dear friend and guitarist Hillel Slovak, which left them deeply scarred.

It’s a deep, deep read, even for those who aren’t too enamoured of the Chilis’ music. Perhaps Apter could have made slightly more of the fact that the band have experienced not one but two creative and commercial reawakenings, with 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik album and Californication eight years later – both rebirths courtesy of the troubled drug survivor John Frusciante and the impassive, guru-like producer Rick Rubin. But this is a small point: Fornication is a book well worth your time if yu’ve been paying attention at all to music that doesn’t suck since 1990.

© 2005 by Joel McIver for

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