John Anthony Frusciante was born on March 5th, 1970 in New York, NY, USA. He started learning guitar when he was seven, but gave up two years later because he couldn't play like his idols. But, when he discovered punk rock, he felt that it was specifically aimed at him. He picked up a guitar again and by the time he was ten, he could play the whole of 'Nevermind The Bollocks' by the Sex Pistols.
He left home after his parents and moved to LA where he lived in an apartment playing his guitar and watching old John Waters
movies. When he was 15 or 16, he first saw a band called The Red Hot Chili Peppers
playing live and instantly became their number one fan. He idolised Hillel Slovak
(the original guitarist) and learned all of Hillel
's guitar parts off.
Hillel Slovak was found dead on June 27th, 1988, after a heroin overdose. He was 26 years old. John was shattered by the death of his idol and his favourite band was thrown into something of a heap too. Original drummer Jack Irons blamed the band for what had happened to Hillel and left. He suffered a severe mental breakdown and was hospitalised. He later went on to play in Pearl Jam. Meanwhile lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis fell back on his drug habit after Hillel's death. Until he finally got sober. Even though Hillel's death had seriously damaged the band's dynamic, Anthony and bassist Michael "Flea" Balzary decided not to quit. They hired drummer DH Peligro and guitarist DeWayne 'Blackbyrd' McKnight.
Before Peilgro was fired from the band, he had introduced them to eighteen year-old John Frusciante. John played with Flea a few times but they wouldn't give him the chance to be in the band even though he dearly wanted to be (he had walked away from auditioning for Frank Zappa's band because he wanted to be in a band like the Chili Peppers instead). They hired Blckbyrd instead. But, things weren't working out with him either and when Flea saw John auditioning for another band, Thelonious Monster, he realised that John had to be in the Chili Peppers. So, they asked him if he wanted the job and he, of course, said he did.
After extensive auditions, Chad Smith was chosen to take over the position of drummer in the band and so the new Chili Peppers line-up - Kiedis, Flea, Frusciante and Smith - released Mother's Milk in 1989. They received good feedback - two unexpected UK chart hits with their cover of Stevie Wonder's 'Higher Ground' and their own 'Taste The Pain'. But the best was yet to come.
In 1991, BloodSugarSexMagik was released. This album was to become the band's big break. A perfect blend of sexy funk, hard and soft rock and metal, this album took the music world by storm - grunge was starting its takeover so the Chilis were something completely different. BloodSugar has also been placed in numerous 'Best Guitar Albums' lists because of John's playing, which is really outstanding. After BloodSugar was released, a massive tour was launched. All should have been well in the fold.
But it wasn't. John had started to drift and was disagreeing with everything Anthony was doing. He didn't like the mainstream attention they were attracting and finally the rift between him and his other three bandmates became so great that he left in the middle of the BloodSugar tour in 1992. This was the beginning of John Frusciante's downward spiral.
John started taking heroin very heavily when he left the band and he became an addict. He kept writing music and released two solo albums during his 'Lost Years' - Niandra La Des And Usually Just A T-shirt, his solo debut, was released in 1994 and a followup Smile From The Streets You Hold was released in 1997 (he later took it off the market because he was uncomfortable with it being on record shelves). But, his music suffered because of his heroin addiction and he finally stopped writing it altogether. Instead, he concentrated on painting and writing stories and poems. He finally checked himself into a hospital to try and clean up - well, what was left of him - his teeth had rotted out, his arms were scarred and burned beyond repair and his veins were ruptured.
During his time out of the band, John had remianed in touch with Flea, but he did not speak to Anthony the whole time. Anthony was furious with him and also terrified that he would meet the same fate as Hillel. The Chilis had hired guitarist Dave Navarro (ex Jane's Addiction) and released One Hot Minute with him in 1995. But Navarro left the band due to 'creative differences'. Anthony paid John a visit when he was in hospital cleaning up and they started to go about mending their tattered friendship.
Flea tentatively suggested that they ask John to rejoin the band and Anthony agreed. And so the prodigal son (complete with an impressive set of dentures and scraggly long hair) was back for the release of Californication in 1999. Californication showed a much more mature Chili Peppers. It is an album filled with themes of regret. John released another solo album in 2001 called To Record Only Water For Ten Days. Then the Chilis releases By The Way in 2002. Millions of copies were sold as the Chilis once again showed a different side to their music. The goons had grown up.
John released another solo album entitled Shadows Collide With People in 2003, the same year the Chilis released their Greatest Hits album. After an extensive World Tour with the Chilis and another solo release The Will To Death (2004) John is looking a lot healthier and a lot happier these days. Even though his arms are there as a constant reminder of his past, he has moved past that stage in his life and is achieving great things. His guitar playing is sublime, his determination to leave the past behind inspiring. John Anthony Frusciante is my hero.