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Growing up in Santa Monica, he became a huge fan of the Chili Peppers – then mostly known only in California – when he was 15.Three years later, after the fatal heroin overdose of original guitarist Hillel Slovak in 1988, Frusiante was asked by Flea (who he had since befriended) to join the band.
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The Red Hot Chili Peppers were on the cusp of global domination during the spring of 1992, and that’s exactly why guitarist John Frusciante abruptly (but maybe not unexpectedly) quit.
After nearly a decade ascending the Los Angeles club scene with their unclassifiable blend of funk fused with metal and sporadic nudity, the Chili Peppers were in the midst of a massive, multi-year tour in support of their mainstream breakthrough, 1991’s .
Frusciante brought a new and darker dynamic to the band’s sound – one that gradually shifted from party-starting funk to more melodic and traditional rock. The album was almost instantly a crossover hit on the strength of singles “Under the Bridge,” “Give it Away” and “Breaking the Girl.” Although the success shot the Chili Peppers into the stratosphere, Frusciante said he grew uncomfortable with the unexpected fame.
In In Kiedis’ memoir, , he said he remembers having arguments with Frusciante backstage after concerts.
"He was very serious, and the other students could see that. "I think he just wants to be free to do what he wants," says Flea.
It became a lesson in itself - in the morning, this guy's here. It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me…I get up when he gets up. "Without the commerce involved with being in a big band." Drummer Chad Smith recently bumped into Frusciante at a Soundgarden show.
While grunge was the predominant form, the Chili Peppers were among the more eclectic acts commandeering MTV and FM airwaves – and while frontman Anthony Kiedis and diminutive bassist Flea were the most recognizable members, it was Frusciante who helped push the band to the next level.