Ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro reunited with Chad Smith at Royal Machines’ show in Los Angeles on Monday night. You can view photos below. Navarro and Smith haven’t played together in years, as Navarro had an ugly exit from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1998 before the return of John Frusciante. Navarro and Smith played together on the 1995 Red Hot Chili Peppers album One Hot Minute, and they also worked on a project called ‘Spread’ together that later turned into Navarro’s lone solo album Trust No One in 2001.
Navarro’s called into Chad Smith’s SiriusXM radio show Volume West a few months ago to discuss the Chili Peppers’ Woodstock 1994 performance with lightbulbs on their head.
“I think it’s no surprise that it was very uncomfortable in that,” Navarro said.
“See, we were at a rehearsal, and [Chili Peppers frontman] Anthony [Kiedis] had this concept: ‘What if we had light bulbs on our heads?’ ‘Yeah, that’s cool. Like, we used to do the flame hats. This is much simpler. There’s no flames!’ And, it was totally Spinal Tap — like, he drew it on a napkin or on a piece of paper, and we handed it to these guys, and none of us saw the actual prop until we were 10 minutes away from going onstage, in front of a festival audience, cameras, satellite productions. And, we put these things on, and they each were about 60 pounds. And they didn’t stay on your head straight, you know? And then, in addition to that, I had to walk out and debut with these guys. I’d been in the band for about five minutes.”
“Dude, that wasn’t well thought out, was it?” Smith says, chuckling. “It was so Spinal Tap. We’re standing in the dark, and we’re each trying to get our [light bulbs] on, like, ‘How’s yours look?’ And, ‘Mine won’t light up!’ And, you know, we had these jumpsuits — we looked like baked potatoes with these big light bulbs. It wasn’t bad for me, because I sat there. I’m not moving around, you know? I’m just sitting. It wasn’t that bad. But, you guys…”
“If you watch the tape back, which I’ve seen many times since, it’s shots of all three of us looking back at Chad, like, ‘Oh my God, does this look OK? Is this working?’ And he’s just laughing,” Navarro said.
“I’m just laughing the whole time. It was a moment. It was a real moment,” said Smith.
“I look back on that moment as a highlight, just in the sense that, it was so outrageous and so funny. And they do look pretty cool in the pictures. I’m sure it was a neat thing. But like, in terms of just total ability to perform in those things, it was very difficult, and I think that there’s a reason why we only did one song in those,” said Navarro.
“What I will tell you, an added layer of weirdness for me personally that day was that my previous [Jane’s Addiction] bandmate Perry Farrell, they took the stage as Porno for Pyros right before us; I parted ways with Jane’s Addiction and they went on to do Porno for Pyros,” Navarro says. (Jane’s Addiction reunited in 1997.) “And we were playing, I think we were closing the stage we were at and they went on before us, and I hadn’t seen [Jane’s drummer] Stephen [Perkins] or Perry for years prior to that … It was just like an added element of, you know, crazy slices of life bouncing around in my brain, while I’m about to do probably the biggest show I’ve ever done, with a lot of eyes on me, waiting for me to either f*** it up or pull it off. I think I landed somewhere in the middle, but it was great, overall, in terms of experiences as one of the better ones of my life, for sure.”
The Red Hot Chili Peppers also dressed up as Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock 1994, paying tribute to the first 1969 festival.
“There was one time when we did play on the David Letterman set, and David Letterman was world-renowned for having his set have arctic temperatures, freezing at all times — one, because he was more comfortable, and two, because it kept the audience awake,” says Navarro. “So, we thought to be funny, we would dress up in complete hooded, fur-lined jackets that were from Army surplus store, and glasses, like, mirrored cop glasses. And we would do our set like that, all four of us wearing them. … But, we didn’t realize at the time, that we looked exactly like the police sketch [of Ted Kaczynski], who was at large at the time! So, when people saw it at home and didn’t know that little reference…”
“They didn’t get the joke,” says Smith, laughing. “I think, Letterman, the only thing he did say was, ‘Oh, come on, it’s not that cold in here!’ Or something like that. That was the only saving grace. But still, if someone just turned the TV on and saw us, they’d be like, ‘Why is this band dressed up like the Unabomber?’”
Navarro said he still has fond memories of Woodstock 1994, “It was super-exciting. I mean, I owe a lot to those guys — to Chad and everybody else. That was one of the highlights of my musical career. You know, I was a massive Woodstock fanatic growing up,” Navarro gushes. “And then, to all of a sudden be on that stage with those guys was huge for me. I think that some of the best shows start out with a little bit of uncertainty and discomfort, which we certainly had both. … But, you know, it was fun, man. It was fun having that level of uncertainty. It gives you a little extra bit of adrenaline. I can use a little bit of extra boost of adrenaline.”
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