Red Hot Chili Peppers Employee Details Guitarist’s Exit: ‘He Didn’t Really Quit’


Dave Lee recently left a comment on the YouTube video ‘The Will to Death – A Documentary about John Frusciante.’ He told the story from his point of view about John Frusciante returning to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1998 to replace Dave Navarro.

“I was John’s (and Dave Navarro’s) guitar tech with the peppers.

I like mini doc.

A couple things though…

Dave Navarro wasn’t really fired. He also didn’t really quit. He was kind of having some serious problems, and his time in the Peppers kind of just ended.

We were doing rehearsals for a short run to Denver and Alaska, and it was clear things were not working out. I gave Dave a ride home that day as he was in no condition to be driving. When I went back to the studio the other guys were still there. Flea said to Anthony: ‘John says he wouldn’t be opposed to coming back.’ Anthony said, ‘Wouldn’t be opposed?’ We laughed. I asked Flea, ‘Can he do it?’ Flea said, ‘He seems to think so.’

That’s how it went down.

I went to work for Ozzy (Joe Holmes) for a few months while they worked with John.

By the time I got back, John was in. I was his tech, and they started writing the Californication record. The rest I guess is history.”

Former Red Hot Chili Peppers and current Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro discussed his 1998 exit from RHCP on his Dark Matter podcast a month ago. Alternative Nation transcribed some of his comments. View excerpts below.

Navarro said Anthony Kiedis was struggling with drug addiction during the One Hot Minute era.

“So, he was kind of out missing. He was back and forth and we did the record [One Hot Minute].”

“Before we finished [the unreleased 1997 song ‘Circle of the Noose’], Flea joined us for the Jane’s Addiction tour. And I was in his band and he’s watching me go down the same road he watched Hillel [Slovak] go down.”

He later discussed how relapsing on the 1997 Jane’s Addiction tour upset Flea.

“They’d already lost a guitar player to this. So, we come back from the Jane’s tour and somehow, I just never come off tour. I never come off tour. I won’t unpack. I keep getting high the same. I go live in [a hotel] for a couple months. It got really bad, it got really bad.”

“Then I finally show up for a Chili Peppers rehearsal and we had a tour booked and I honestly couldn’t play a fucking note. And Anthony talks about it in his book where I fell, like I literally tripped into stacks of speakers and storage gear and whatever. I fell into a bunch of boxes, basically. And I was like, pretty clear, that I wasn’t going to be able to get it together. So, they decided to go a different direction. And John [Frusciante] was clean and wanted to get back in the band.

And now I was pissed about it. I was really pissed about it. Having John come back, made it feel better. It stung less.

But what pissed me off about it- and what I’m now clearly not pissed off about it- so you tell me, I fucking wait around for six months for your guy to clean up but you guys can’t wait a week for me to get my shit together? I gotcha, okay cool.”

“So, my career was on hold waiting for [Anthony] to get clean but I don’t get a second chance.”

“That’s how I felt about it at the time. Now 20 years have gone by and woah- the guy I’m talking about started the fucking thing, for starters. He’s got fucking ten plus records out with them already, you know what I mean? They’re stuck- that’s the guy, so of course I’m not given that same latitude. That’s me looking back as an adult with some distance but it took me a long time to get over that because I was like- it wasn’t that I was pissed I wasn’t in the band and I wasn’t pissed I was even replaced – actually I was stoked that it was John who came back, I was just pissed about the double standard thing.”

“I voiced it to Flea, for sure. And Flea was like, ‘I understand. This is Anthony. He’s the voice and the leader of the band and blah blah blah.’ And he’s like, ‘You’ve said it yourself, we don’t jive musically.’

And I remember on the conversation I said, ‘What about that last jam we just came up with [Circle of the Noose]?'”

“He and I had both at separate times crushed it musically, and moments where we didn’t line up musically. Mainly the funk area – that was not my space.”

“Especially at the time. Now they’re playing more straight up songs, but at the time, heavily funk influenced and so on that, like if you think about the spectrum of music being a color palette that changes from color to color, we met in the center of it right, he went all the way down to the left, the reds, and i went all the way down to the violets, you know what I mean. In terms of our likes, we both liked a section of the rainbow.”