by Kyle Swenson
While everyone is busy knocking around speculation about whether or not Slash and Axl will play nice for this weekend's Rock Hall Induction Ceremony, it looks like an equally significant reunion has already been 86'd as a possibility – John Frusciante won't be playing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
For a special brand of music nerd, this blows. Really blows. You could probably not only make a strong case that Frusciante is the reason the band is being dipped in the hall's amber, but that he's one of the best guitarists of all time. He's certainly been gifted with a once-in-a-generation combination of hands that can mangle out epic cathedrals of noise and an ear for what's pretty. If you punt aside the Chili Peppers as just another alt-rock 90s band with some mainstream hits, you've probably never listened to Frusciante play live.
Joining the band in the late 80s, he was the key creative spring behind all their major work, injecting soul into what had previously just been a punk-funk speed binge. Mother's Milk ('89), Blood Sugar Sex Magik ('91), and Californication ('99) – all those classics are anchored in his spidery funk lines and melodies. Even after he left the band for good a couple years back, the Chili Peppers recruited a Frusciante disciple for the open gig.
But according to a Billboard interview with drummer Chad Smith, Frusciante declined to come to Cleveland for the ceremony although he'll still be inducted.
"He didn't feel comfortable coming, which we totally respect," Smith says. "We asked him... He said, 'I'm just not really comfortable with that, but good luck and thanks for inviting me.' It was all good. He's the kind of guy, I think, that once he's finished with something he's just on to the next phase of his life. The Chili Peppers are not really on his radar right now."
Again, this blows. Although he's still making solo music, Frusciante is a missed entity in popular music. Watching him hoist on a cock-sock again with the Chili Peppers would have been a great moment in the hall's history. If further proof is needed, just check out some of the videos below.
Here, Frusciante and the Chili Peppers almost break Saturday Night Live in half with this hard to find 2006 performance.
From the same era, the Chili Peppers in Fuji:
And finally, Frusciante at
a rare solo gig in LA the 2005 All Tomorrow's Parties festival playing a song from his great album, Shadows Collide with People: