David Bowie Turned Down Producing Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Anthony Kiedis appeared on Jonesy’s Jukebox earlier this week, and he revealed that Red Hot Chili Peppers asked the late David Bowie to produce two of their albums. Alternative Nation transcribed the following quotes:

“Every record we ever made, we had the band discussion.

‘Who should we get to produce this record?’

‘I don’t know, we have to try someone new!’

‘Let’s get David Bowie!’

‘Okay, let’s call him.’

So in the beginning we would call him, and he would say no, respectfully. Then later we would write long e-mails explaining everything, and why it was time for us to really get our ships on, and he always respectfully declined. For 2 minutes I was heartbroken, and then I would hear Chad Smith play drums, and I’d be like, ‘We’re good, we could do something else.'”

“We asked him to produce By the Way, as we were writing By the Way, and then we asked him again for our next record, which was Stadium Arcadium. He said no to us 2 or 3 times, but his mate [Brian] Eno, who we’ve also been asking our entire career to produce a record for us, has said no 8 times.”

David Bowie died from cancer on January 10th, just days after releasing his final album Blackstar. Red Hot Chili Peppers have covered “Suffragette City” in the past.

  • Felonious Punk

    Anyone noticing a pattern here? Bowie and Eno — two talented and respected musicians — both repeatedly turned down opportunities to produce RHCP albums. I’m sure it’s just that they were busy at the time and it had nothing to do with the fact that the RHCP sucks ass or anything.

    Eno turned them down EIGHT times. Do they even have eight albums? How many times do you need to get turned down by a guy to get the hint, ffs.

    • Rob

      Will you shut up?

      • Jimmy Intense

        You just poked the bear.

      • Felonious Punk

        Will you kindly go fuck yourself?

      • Boris

        He takes a lickin’ and keeps on clackin’. He lives on the Internet hunched over his computer in his Cheeto-stained muscle shirt in a one-room apartment surrounded by empty beer cans clacking away night after night.

        • Corndog

          Yet another person that has apparently never heard of a smart phone…

          You can actually take the internet with you everywhere you go these days. It’s amazing!

      • Corndog

        You first.

  • Corndog

    Ok, but did he say why?

  • Felonious Punk

    Also, check this out…

    They say “every album, we have the band discussion of who should produce the album. And then we say, let’s get somebody new!”

    And yet, every one of their albums since 1991 has been produced by the same fucking guy. So I take that to mean they call Eno up every time they want to make an album, he laughs at the idea of producing their record, then they call whoever else they had in mind and get rejected there too, and end up signing on Rick Rubin like always, because for the right amount of money that guy will produce anything

    So I guess that means pretty much nobody except Rubin and this Danger Rat guy wants to help make their shitty music with them, lol

    • Jimmy Intense

      Not sure if you’re a Black Keys fan but I’d argue that Danger Mouse did great things for them.

      At the end of the day, RHCP need to change up everything that makes them comfortable, especially producers. It’s good to see they’ve taken that first step. Rick Rubin sucks and likely won’t push them into uncharted territory OR tell the band when they’re aping themselves. It would be interesting for Brendan O’Brien to produce them.

      • Corndog

        I’m pretty sure that in today’s politically charged climate you’re supposed to say African America Keys. Shame on you.

        • GSUSHC

          No, you’re supposed to say Black Keys because thats what they call themselves.

          • Jimmy Intense

            You must be fun at parties. Can we be friends?

          • Felonious Punk

            Point missed, as usual

          • Corndog

            See, there are these things called jokes…..

          • Felonious Punk

            There’s also this called commonly referred to as “a clue”, which a lot of people seem to be lacking around here lately…

        • Martha Bartha

          Yeah, Black Key’s thats racist!

      • Felonious Punk

        I like the Black Keys’ early albums. Basically, I’ve yet to check out much of their stuff post-Rubber Factory. What am I missing? Is it still blues-based guitar rock or did the Danger dude embellish the hell out of their dirty blues sound on the albums he produced?

        • Billy

          Attack and release (2008 i think) is my fave album of theirs. The newest one saved me as a fan of them because the last couple were blah

          • Felonious Punk

            I have their first, second and third albums. I can never remember the names of the first two, but the second album — the one with the fingers dipping into the cream container — is fucking MINT. I groove to that shit all the time!

        • Jimmy Intense

          It’s still very much rooted in blues but there are lots of soul and R&B overtones on Brothers and Turn Blue.

          Danger Mouse is basically the 3rd member of their band as he co-wrote a bunch of their songs or added his own kind of imprint in places. He’s been like a Brendan O’Brien for them and could be seen (arguably) as a major contributor to their mainstream success.

          I would say Brothers and Turn Blue are among their best work. El Camino seemed like a more straightforward rock album and played it safe. Definitely one of my least favourite.

          • Felonious Punk

            I can jive with some soul and R&B vibes on a Black Keys album. Looks like I *will* be continuing onward into their discography.

            Cheers, JI!

          • Jimmy Intense

            Let me know what you think dude. I know you’ve mentioned disliking Cage the Elephant in the past but Dan Auerbach did a great job producing their last album. I mean, if I’m willing to give the Whigs a try, it’s only fair 😉

          • Felonious Punk

            Yea, not really into Cage’s stuff. It’s like I always tell you guys, I listen to this stuff first before coming up with an opinion about it. I can’t stand Jack White or his shitty music; one of the reasons I checked out The Black Keys and probably enjoy their music as much as I do is because I know it pisses Jack White off to no end that people enjoy the Black Keys. They also happen to make great music that I genuinely enjoy.

            I’m definitely going to check out the later stuff you and Billy recommended though. Soul and R&B vibes in their music? I’m stoked to hear it now!

          • Jimmy Intense

            Oh yeah I know you don’t talk out of your ass just thought I’d try to persuade another listen.

            Speaking of Jack White…do you dislike all of his music? I really enjoyed The Raconteurs…very classic rock sound but can totally relate if you’re referring to his solo stuff or White Stripes…very overrated whilst I would say Raconteurs are criminally underrated.

          • Felonious Punk

            You know, the problem I have with Jack White is that he comes off as such a genuine asshole that it just automatically turns me off to his music, record label, etc. at this point You saw the whole thing about the guacamole on his tour rider, or the way he walked up to Patrick Carney in that bar in New York and tried to start a fight with him? Dude epitomizes crybaby rock star divas in the modern age for me.

          • Jimmy Intense

            Truthfully what I like about Raconteurs is that Brendan Benson is just as prominent in the lead if not more so than Jack

  • sleepd

    Given the relatively crappy nature of Bowie’s later 80s/90’s era tastes, I’d say they dodged a bullet. Oh, you little wonder, you!

    • Corndog

      You shut your dirty mouth!!

      Nah, just kidding. I’m only really a fan of his stuff from the 70’s. For the most part anyway.

    • Felonious Punk

      Bowie was at least pushing himself to try new things in the 80s and 90s, and not caring what people thought of his experimentation. The RHCP has basically just aped their own early-90s output with slight variations ever since BSSM

  • stayl

    On another note, who is producing the new AIC album?

    • Jimmy Intense

      Probably Nick Raskulinecz

      • stayl

        Thanks for the info. I was hoping they would try someone else.

        • Jimmy Intense

          Me too…his production is rather…stale…

          I’d love to hear what Terry Date, Ross Robinson or even Brendan O’Brien could do for them.

  • Go Hiomlán Mandelbrotmenge Imi

    Well maybe he would’ve produced them if they had come up with something different than Tam Tam Ta Tam Something Something California. And whoever had the joy of hearing Anthony live will never ever defend them again. He sounds bad.

    • Ishmael

      he does. But from time to time he comes up with great lyrics.

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  • GSUSHC

    All this negative talk about RHCP and Rubin as if Blood Sugar Sex Magic was at best a mediocre album… that album will stand the test of time.

    • Jimmy Intense

      The negativity stems from the fact that Rubin has produced all 6 RHCP albums since Blood Sugar Sex Magik. I don’t think people have disowned BSSM so much as they’ve just become bored hearing the same old shtick.

      • Corndog

        I always liked BSSM, but the issue i have is that their recent efforts are so duff and hard to listen to, that they have started to put me off their old stuff too.

        It’s like The Dark Knight Rises. That movie was so incredibly, chronically and utterly dreadful that it has put me off wanting to see The Dark Knight or Batman begins even again. It’s like shite travels backwards through time…

        • Jimmy Intense

          TDKR was a terrible movie. Never understood how Batman Begins and The Dark Knight could be succeeded by such mediocrity. RHCP’s best days are sadly far behind them. Have you listened to their follow-up to BSSM (One Hot Minute)? Punky and I consider it their best album…everything since 1999 has been bland, watered down shite

          • Corndog

            Agreed, absolutely terrible movie!

            OHM is the one that Dave Navarro played on, right? If so, then yes i have heard it, but it would have been around the time of it’s release in the 90’s, so i don’t remember much about it. Only thing that springs to mind is Aeroplane.

          • Jimmy Intense

            Yep that’s the one although Aeroplane isn’t quite representative of the album. It’s a much darker album overall. Probably the most experimental the peppers ever were or would be.

          • Corndog

            I’m thinking maybe that was a single? Guessing that is why it has stuck in my head. I wasn’t actually fond of that song.

          • Jimmy Intense

            Check out any of these songs: Deep Kick, Warped, Pea, Coffee Shop, One Hot Minute, Tearjerker (written about Kurt Cobain)

          • Corndog

            Will do:)

          • Martha Bartha

            I love One Hot Minute the CD. Its underrated!

          • Jimmy Intense

            Criminally so…

          • Martha Bartha

            It’s very diverse! It has a nice flow to it. Only one with Dave Navarro on it.

          • Jimmy Intense

            If Josh ever leaves, they should seriously consider bringing Navarro back.

          • Martha Bartha

            Yeah, he’s a very underrated guitarist!

    • Felonious Punk

      You obviously don’t keep up with this place enough, because even those of us who dislike the RHCP routinely praise BSSM. It’s just too bad whenever someone praises the RHCP, it’s usually for an album they released a quarter of a century ago..

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  • dakotablue

    Bowie was obviously smart enough to see that he and the Peppers would make a mess together. Very different musical sensibilities. Eno, too–like oil and water. In a nutshell: Bowie and Eno have class, RHCP not so much.
    Can probably tell I’ve never been a RHCP fan–Kiedis seems like a snob who really doesn’t have much to feel superior about. Flea is entertaining, though.

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  • jcal7

    Am I right in that there is a big piece missing from this story? Didn’t Bowie offer to produce Californication and they turned him down? I thought in kiedis’ book he said that but they went with Rubin for a garage band sparser sound?

    No need to dump on the Chili’s either Felonius. Whatever you think of Kiedis, the rest of them are incredible musicians, really Flea’s collaborators speak for themselves but musically they are great. Scar Tissue book is also worth a read too. These young guys were driven but shaped it, and were able to harness that energy. I don’t listen to them these days, but that book was insightful. Even that kiedis had a relapse during by the way, it’s amazing he is still alive considering what was at his disposal.

    • Felonious Punk

      I have no problem with the other three guys in the band. I just think the music they make as the RHCP is boring and bland and sounds too same-y. I’ve read Scar Tissue and remember it was absolutely cringeworthy in many parts; Keidis struck me as an arrogant dullard who lacked the sense to make good decisions when it came to himself and the band. I think if Bowie had offered to produce Californication, they’d have jumped on it based on what Keidis said above. Californication sounds like an adult-contemporary version of BSSM, not some album with a garage band sound.

      • jcal7

        Fair enough, you have done your homework ;o)
        I thought they should have finished up on By The Way but I’m with you is where the production turned the whole thing bland. I like a few of the tunes on it. I outgrew the lyrics and singing well before that though.

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  • Billy

    as long and Chad and Flea are involved i will keep getting their albums. Flea and Rob Deleo are my fave bassists of all time.

    • Corndog

      I’m not overly keen on the Chilis any more, but i’m with you on Flea. That guy is an amazing bassist.

      • Billy

        Suck my kiss was my first taste of a bass being the lead instrument in a song, it blew my mind.

        • Corndog

          Funny enough, it was one of the first things i ever learned to play on bass. I got the big massive BSSM tab book when i was a kid and learned as many of the songs as i could.

          I rarely pick my bass up these days though. Not sure that i’d remember it now.

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  • Martha Bartha

    Wow! Makes you wonder!

  • iLeonD

    The fact that Eno turned them down 8 times is amazing. 8 stiff arms from one of the music world’s most curious characters. Don’t you give up after the 3rd time? 8 times means this has gone on for DECADES. Decades of stiff arms.

    • iLeonD

      DECADES!