Written by Matt Munro
Dave Navarro’s brilliant guitar playing is often overshadowed by the celebrity status that comes along with being a game show host. When he is not hosting Spike TV’s Ink Master or promoting his heartbreaking documentary film about his mother’s murder, Mourning Son, Dave has always kept busy with his on and off again role as the guitarist in Jane’s Addiction. During breaks from Jane’s Addiction he served as the guitar player for Red Hot Chili Peppers for most of the 90s, and founded The Panic Channel in 2004 with Jane’s Addiction’s Stephen Perkins and Chris Chaney. Combining the chops of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page with the goth alt rock stylings of The Cure and Joy Division, Dave’s playing is emotionally expressive and unique. His solos in “Mountain Song” and “Three Days” are legendary. He has also made a name for himself as a session musician being featured on songs by Nine Inch Nails, Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera. Here we present 10 overlooked songs that feature Dave’s uniquely identifiable playing style.
10. Guns N’ Roses – “Oh My God”
Axl Rose wanted Dave Navarro as far back as 1991 to stand along Slash and replace Izzy Stradlin. This 1999 song served as the sole Guns N’ Roses song released between 1994’s “Sympathy For The Devil” cover and the 2008 release of Chinese Democracy. It also serves as the sole collaboration between Axl and Dave. It should be noted that their is likely more than one lead guitar player aside from Dave on this track, but his style is clearly the defining presence.
9. Marilyn Manson – “I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)”
Glitz, glam and gospel singers. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. The only thing that could push this song over the top was a solo by Dave Navarro. At the time of recording this Dave was deep into his drug addiction, adding to the songs level of irony.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Deep Kick”
The Chili Peppers made a phenomenal power trio with Dave. “Deep Kick” is as prog rock as the Peppers ever got.. This song in particular highlights their lineage to classic rock powerhouses like Led Zeppelin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Black Sabbath. The lead guitar solo is quintessential Dave Navarro.
7. The Panic Channel – “Why Cry”
The 2000’s saw the second break up of Jane’s Addiction with its core (minus vocalist Perry Farrell) forming The Panic Channel with former MTV VJ Steve Isaak. This band was great and afforded Dave the freedom to play lead over Isaak’s rhythm guitar. The guitar work on “Why Cry” serves as one of the best examples of Dave’s playing.
6. The Panic Channel – “Bloody Mary”
The Panic Channel emphasized the progressive side of alternative music. “Bloody Mary” serves as the first departure from straight ahead rock on the band’s sole album, (O)ne. Long, meandering and hauntingly beautiful, this near ballad gives Dave the chance stretch his solo into Pink Floyd territory in terms of length, tone, style and substance.
5. Jane’s Addiction – “Broken People”
This is a relatively new Jane’s Addiction song from the band’s last album, The Great Escape Artist. What makes this song so unique, apart from Perry Farrell’s heartbreaking vocal performance, is the restraint in Dave’s playing. I don’t think he has ever done something so minimalist before and the effect is dynamically powerful.
4. Alanis Morisette – “You Oughta Know”
Did you even remember Dave and Flea played on this? The guitar’s restrained and subtle contributions are eerie and allowed Alanis Morisette to completely rock out on this legendary track. John Frusciante rarely gets compared to Dave (it’s usually the other way around) but one could imagine Frusciante playing something similar to these screaming solo bends that take over the song’s outro. Nonetheless, an incredible document of the chemistry between Flea and Dave.
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Shallow Be Thy Game”
Songs like this and “Warped” really made the Chili Peppers standout as all out instrumental force of nature. Dave’s playing on this just screams for air guitar participation from the listener. A greatly overlooked tune indeed.
2. Dave Navarro – “Everything (Extended)”
This online gem serves as one of the best examples of the chemistry between Dave, and the Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith and Flea. An early version of a song from Dave’s solo album, Trust No One, this recording was originally intended to be released under Dave and Chad’s Spread moniker. The later version loses the extended instrumental section that highlights the similarities between RHCP instrumentally to the dynamics of the Jimi Hendrix experience.
1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “I Found Out”
This John Lennon cover has the distinction, according to Anthony Kiedes’ Scar Tissue, of being the first song worked out as of Dave joining the Chili Peppers. It is clear on this track that Dave’s style gave RHCP a dramatic texture that no other guitar player has since.