Sunday Book Review: Shooting Speedballs With Red Hot Chili Peppers Frontman Anthony Kiedis

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Sunday Book Review is a recurring feature devoted to bridging the gap between music fans and music books. We aim to give you a taste of new and classic books that dive deep into the psyches of musicians.

There’s an iconic image of the Red Hot Chili Peppers that’s been recreated by the band many times. They’re facing the camera, or jumping around cheekily, nude except for socks over their, well, something that rhymes with socks. They’re grinning, or serious, or hooting, depending on the occasion. This image perfectly encapsulates the Chili Peppers aura: the reckless effervescence of California funk-rock, both raw and unpretentious. It was an aura that catapulted them to the top of the world and led their most commercially successful record, Californication, to sell over 15 million copies worldwide.

Anthony Kiedis has embodied this vibe since the day he was born. He has run through life with abandon, from the highs of playing sold-out arenas to the lows of waking up covered in track marks, with his newly minted sobriety in tatters. Through it all he has never lost his spirit. It’s this spirit and that of bassist Flea that have kept the Chili Peppers together through multiple lineup changes and tragedies, including the death of original guitarist Hillel Slovak of a heroin overdose.

In his memoir, Scar Tissue, Kiedis pulls back the curtain to reveal a life lived at a furious pace, seeming to always be at the brink of falling apart. Though the narrative is perhaps punctuated by one too many wild drug binge stories, or reminiscences of liaisons with underage women, the pervading tone is one of expansive love for life. We’ve assembled 16 of the most illuminating aspects of this unsparing recollection of a life lived outside of the boundaries of convention.

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