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Red Hot Chili Peppers - From the Basement
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Red Hot Chili Peppers - From the Basement

Filmed in 2012 for Nigel Godrich’s “From the Basement” series, and bolstered by the contributions of guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform a majority of their “I’m With You” album in an intimate setting. 

Guitar Protégé Makes His Mentor Proud

2 Min Read

For longtime fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the return of guitarist John Frusciante in 2019 after a decade-long sabbatical was plenty of reason to rejoice. 

On the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles band’s 1991 breakthrough “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” and given the promise of a new album in the near future, we will surely be seeing much more of the classic RHCP lineup in the months to come. But don’t allow the hoopla of Frusciante’s return to wash over the contributions of the man he is replacing. 

Frusciante’s longtime friend and protégé Josh Klinghoffer took over for his mentor in 2009. Few musicians were better equipped to fill that demanding role in the lineup. It’s as if Ronnie Wood suddenly bequeathed his spot in the Rolling Stones so Mick Taylor could step back in. RHCP’s albums during this period, “I’m With You” (2011) and “The Getaway” (2016), retained and refined the more melodic vibe of Frusciante-era albums such as “Californication” (1999) and “By the Way” (2002).

In concert, Klinghoffer-era RHCP remained one of the preeminent American live acts, as demonstrated by their 2012 appearance on Nigel Godrich’s web-TV series “From the Basement.” Augmented by Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco (who also played alongside Flea and Godrich in Thom Yorke’s side project Atoms For Peace) and keyboardist Chris Warren, RHCP run through nine of the 14 songs off “I’m With You,” including particularly inspired versions of such LP highlights as “Monarchy of Roses,” “Look Around” and “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” 

When this version of RHCP resurfaced a few years later with the Danger Mouse-produced ‘The Getaway,’ the union only got stronger.

A broken foot keeps Klinghoffer in a chair during the session. But he only needs one good hoof to manipulate the double-decker rack of effects pedals before him, coloring in the grooves of the Flea-Chad Smith rhythm section with an assortment of distinctive textures. When this version of RHCP resurfaced a few years later with the Danger Mouse-produced “The Getaway,” the union only got stronger. 

Klinghoffer in addition has released two impressive full-lengths with his solo project Pluralone, which was slated to open a Pearl Jam “Gigaton” tour before the pandemic scuttled it. The guitarist also has been serving as an auxiliary member of Pearl Jam, appearing with the band last year for the All in WA: A Concert for COVID-19 Relief event, contributing guitar and backing vocals to a remote performance of “Dance of the Clairvoyants.”

The guitarist’s career in and out of the Red Hot Chili Peppers remains estimable. Even as RHCP lifers revel in Frusciante’s homecoming with the promise of new music and a tour, this “From the Basement” performance serves as a reminder of Klinghoffer’s importance to the band and its legacy in a time of need.

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock & Roll Globe, and the proud father of a happy and hilarious third grader. You can also find his written and reported work at Billboard, SPIN and Discogs among other esteemed online publications across the internet.

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock & Roll Globe, and the proud father of a happy and hilarious third grader. You can also find his written and reported work at Billboard, SPIN and Discogs among other esteemed online publications across the internet.

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