The Crazy Childhood of Red Hot Chili Peppers Vocalist Anthony Kiedis

Anthony Kiedis, the singer and songwriter for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was born November 1st, 1961. He spent most of his youth living with his mother in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his mother (except for two weeks in the summer when he got to see his dad). His autobiography, Scar Tissue, goes into a lot more detail but he lived one of the craziest childhoods ever.

Life At Ages 11-14

Looks like a normal little kid, right? Wrong. He probably tried more drugs by age 16 than you ever have in your entire life. Those early life introductions to body and mind altering substances would later come back to haunt him.

Anthony Keidis had anything but a normal childhood. His father, who went by his stage name Blackie Dammett, introduced him to marijuana and smoking a joint at the age of 11 (as pictured above), and since his dad was a struggling actor and drug dealer. Anthony’s father supplied drugs to such music icons as Led Zeppelin, The Who’s Keith Moon, movie icons and other celebrities, exposing Anthony to sex and drugs from a young age.Just three years ago, the 71-year-old father of Anthony told a BBC documentary: “It wasn’t so unusual that I let him take a little bit of acid, or a little bit of marijuana.”

One night just before his 12th birthday, he arranged for Anthony, who was high on prescription drug quaalude, to lose his virginity with HIS girlfriend, an 18-year-old called Kimberly, in HIS bed.

Each summer he was permitted to visit his father in Los Angeles for two weeks, during which time they would bond. Anthony idolized his father and when asked about his travels to see his father, he remarked, “Those trips to California were the happiest, most carefree, the-world-is-a-beautiful-oyster times I’d ever experienced.” At age 12, he moved to LA to live full-time with his father. They frequently did cocaine and smoked marijauna together and at age 14, he accidentally tried heroin for his first time after mistaking it for cocaine.

When I was 11-14, I think I was more concerned with my pinewood derby car for Boy Scouts than any drug or celebrity. Can you imagine being in middle school and getting high and snorting coke with your dad? How much would that effect your life and where do you think you would be now? Are these times what gave him the creative abilities to write out amazing lyrics for the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

Video of Young Anthony

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Life At Ages 14-18

Anthony attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, where he struggled to find friends as he had recently transferred to a new school district. However, he soon met Flea, and after a brief confrontation, the two became best friends and bonded while sitting next to each other in driver’s ed class. Kiedis recalled: “We were drawn to each other by the forces of mischief and love and we became virtually inseparable. We were both social outcasts. We found each other and it turned out to be the longest-lasting friendship of my life.” Kiedis became a significant influence on Flea, exposing him to rock music, particularly punk rock. Kiedis and Flea began jumping into swimming pools from buildings as a hobby. At age fifteen, Kiedis broke his back attempting to jump into a swimming pool from a five-story building, missing the pool by a few inches. His back has since improved, although he still has occasional problems.

Kiedis also met future bandmate Hillel Slovak after seeing him perform with his band Anthym. After the show, Slovak invited Kiedis to his house for a snack. Kiedis later described the experience in his autobiography Scar Tissue: “Within a few minutes of hanging out with Hillel, I sensed that he was absolutely different from most of the people I’d spent time with…He understood a lot about music, he was a great visual artist, and he had a sense of self and a calm about him that were just riveting.” Slovak, Kiedis, and Flea became best friends and often used LSD, heroin, cocaine, and speed recreationally. Despite his frequent drug use, he excelled in school, often receiving straight A grades. In June 1980, Kiedis graduated with honors from high school. That August, he enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles UCLA to study writing. However, he dropped out during the beginning of his sophomore year due to his worsening addiction to cocaine and heroin.

So let’s get this straight, he was attending rock shows, living with a drug addict/dealing father, and managed to be on the honor roll and get straight A’s. Obviously Anthony is highly intelligent and was able to, in high school, keep drugs from overpowering his entire life. However, his grips on their addictive nature and power would soon fall apart.

The Forming of The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Kiedis, Slovak, and Flea began to create their own music after finding inspiration in a punk-funk fusion band called Defunkt. Kiedis rejected the violence and misogyny associated with the Los Angeles punk rock scene at the time, and wished to create a more peaceful environment that would encourage women to come to concerts. The three formed a band with former Anthym-drummer Jack Irons, called Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. The band had only one song, entitled “Out in L.A.”, and was formed for the purpose of playing the song once.The song was based on a guitar riff that Slovak wrote while “jamming” with Irons, and was not meant to become a real song until Kiedis decided to rap over the music. Mike Chester, a friend of Kiedis’, invited the band to open for his act Mike and Neighbor’s Voices at The Rhythm Lounge, as he felt that Kiedis had potential as a frontman. Slovak and Flea were initially skeptical, and felt that Kiedis did not have enough vocal experience, but the two eventually agreed to perform. Kiedis later described the performance: “All the anticipation of the moment hit me, and I instinctively knew that the miracle of manipulating energy and tapping into an infinite source of power and harnessing it in a small space with your friends was what I had been put on this earth to do.”

Following the group’s first show at The Rhythm Lounge, the owner of the bar asked them to return, but with two songs instead of one. After several more shows, and the addition of several songs to their repertoire, the band’s name was changed to Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band’s concert repertoire grew to ten songs as a result of months of playing at local nightclubs and bars. At a performance at a strip club in Hollywood, the band members performed wearing only socks on their penises, an idea created by Kiedis. This gained the band notoriety, and club owners even began booking the group on the condition that it would perform in this manner. The Red Hot Chili Peppers entered Bijou Studios to record a demo tape and subsequently secured a record deal with EMI. Irons and Slovak however, decided to leave the Red Hot Chili Peppers in order to pursue a “more serious” future with rock band What Is This? Kiedis ultimately respected the decision, but felt the band would be lost without them. Kiedis and Flea hired drummer Cliff Martinez and guitarist Jack Sherman to fill Iron’s and Slovak’s places, respectively. Andy Gill, formerly of Gang of Four, agreed to produce their first album. Gill and Sherman clashed with Kiedis and Flea; they continuously argued over music style, sound, and the album’s production.

Anthony’s Current Relationship With His Father

Anthony is forgiving. He smiles when thinking of his childhood growing up with Blackie Dammett and says:

“I know whatever my father did, in his own way, he still loved me. Even though we don’t communicate as fluently as I do with my son, he still has the same feeling for me that I have for my boy. And I should be a little more patient. The fact my relationship with my son is so good makes me forgiving of my father and also appreciative. Now I can look back and say I actually like the upbringing I had and my father was very attentive and a great educator. He just didn’t have the same tools I have today and there was no way he could have acquired them at that point in time. So, yeah, I forgive him for his mistakes and I thank him for giving me so much of his time and energy.“

Anthony says reading Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Road — charting the journey of a man and his young son in a post-apocalyptic world — made him more understanding of his role as a father and of his relationship with his dad. I have to say, he is one understanding person. Although Anthony was destined to be introduced to those drugs when he incurred fortune and fame, and maybe his father teaching him about his limits and what the drugs did might have saved him, he still should never have been around that environment.

Later In Life Problems

Kiedis has battled drug addiction, including heroin and cocaine, throughout his life. Since his father was an addict, Kiedis was constantly around his drug-using and -dealing father, as well as his father’s friends, who engaged in the same activities. Some of Kiedis’ early drug use came from substances he got from his father, including marijuana, which he first smoked when he was 11 years old. He used drugs for years, even into the formation of the band, where other members were also using. He tried to get clean after Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose (specifically using the method of speedballing) on June 25, 1988, saying he would never shoot up again. He entered rehab and ended up staying clean for five years but relapsed in 1994 and kept using on and off over the next six years.

The last major relapse was instigated by a doctor prescribing him Ultram despite Kiedis specifically asking for drugs that are not in the opiate family. To a recovering heroin addict, the synthetic opiate only gave rise to strong cravings. This last relapse, as many previous ones, was to a degree also a byproduct of a train wreck relationship with a woman. He has reportedly avoided another relapse since December 24, 2000. “It’s easy to be a junkie, but it’s not easy to be one of the best guitarists or songwriters of all time,” Kiedis said in the March 2007 issue of Blender. After over twenty years of speculation, it was confirmed in May 2012 that the location where Kiedis would purchase and use drugs, and that inspired, “Under the Bridge”, is located in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, CA. Kiedis had often denied that this was the case.

Anthony has written a book now and as far as we know kept his sobriety, which we can all be thankful for because it was too early for an amazing person like this to leave us.

Upcoming television series

Kiedis is developing a series for HBO based on his unconventional upbringing in Los Angeles. The show is expected to be loosely based on much of Kiedis’ autobiography. He has partnered with Catapult 360 partners Marc Abrams and Michael Benson to create the series, titled Spider and Son. Abrams and Benson are scouting for a writer to pen the script, which will center on Kiedis’s relationship with his father, Blackie Dammett, who sold many drugs and mingled with rock stars on the Sunset Strip, all while aspiring to get into show business. The show was scheduled to premiere in late 2010 at the very earliest.

According to a post by Blackie on his Facebook page, the John Sayles script for the pilot episode was turned over to HBO on May 10, 2010. On October 14, 2011 it was announced that HBO was no longer interested in the series and that FX has picked up the rights to air the series. John Sayles, who wrote a script for the HBO pilot is no longer involved in the project. Entourage producers, Esther Dawson and Mike Chester will still produce the series and Kiedis will also co-produce the series along with Bram Sheldon. It is unknown if the series will still follow the relationship between Kiedis and his father Blackie or if the entire autobiography will be the focus of the series. In 2013, Dammett briefly mentioned the status of the series, which will be based on both Anthony and Dammett’s biographies. Dammett stated the series is currently “mothballed” however he hopes they re-visit the project once the Chili Peppers wrap up their tour in 2013.