Red Hot Chili Peppers (originally Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem) were formed after what was supposed to be a one-time performance in 1983 by Fairfax High School alumni Michael "Flea" Balzary, Jack Irons, Anthony Kiedis, and Hillel Slovak. Later in that same year, they secured a record deal with EMI.
Irons and Slovak were committed to their original band, What Is This?, so the sessions for their self titled debut, Red Hot Chili Peppers were recorded with Jack Sherman on guitar and Cliff Martinez on drums. Produced by Gang of Four's Andy Gill, the album did not achieve commercial success. The ensuing tour did not fare much better, with internal fighting resulting in Sherman's leaving the band, at which point Slovak returned.
Parliament-Funkadelic's George Clinton was hired to produce their second album, 1985's Freaky Styley. Martinéz would leave the band soon after the release of the album, allowing the return of original drummer Jack Irons in early 1986.
While the album did garner some attention from college radio, mainstream radio gave it little notice.
Their first album to enter the Billboard Top 200, 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, was produced by Michael Beinhorn. This would be the only album with to feature the four original high school friends. Its first single, "Fight Like a Brave", would later be featured on the soundtrack to the video game, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 in 2001.
During the supporting tour, drug problems, which have haunted the band throughout its career, came to public light when Slovak relapsed; resulting in erratic behaviour and botched performances. Shortly after the band returned, on June 27, 1988, Slovak was found dead of a heroin overdose. When news spread of the death of one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, everyone (including Blackie Dammett, Kiedis' father) assumed it was Kiedis, because of the severity of his addiction. It wasn't until later that they discovered the truth. Anthony couldn't be immediately tracked down, as he was somewhere in Los Angeles, getting high. Jack Irons left the band soon after, saying he didn't want to be in a band where all his friends were dying.
The band temporarily employed Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro and former P-Funk guitarist DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, later replacing them with Chad Smith and John Frusciante. Mother's Milk was released in August 1989, providing the band with their first top modern rock hits with their tribute ballad to Slovak, "Knock Me Down" , and their cover of Stevie Wonder's hit "Higher Ground". The album reached #52 on the album charts, the best chart position yet for the band at that point. Frusciante proved to be a prodigious and talented guitarist, and that contributed to that album being their breakthrough album. Although it's their breakthrough album to the mainstream, the band usually refrains from playing it in live concerts due to John's dislike of the "macho" way he used to play on it. In an 2002 interview, John Frusciante stated: "Way back when I joined the band and when we were recording 'Mother's Milk' the producer pushed me into this metal-funk department and I therefore played mainly hard riffs on the lower e-string. That didn't really come from the heart, however, in those days it seemed to be a good idea. Although I'm not too proud of 'Mother's Milk', it is probably our most influential album. At least back then a lot of people jumped at it. In some instances we simultaneously put five distorted guitar tracks and a piercing solo on top of the bass."
In 2006, they completed their ninth studio album, Stadium Arcadium. Although 38 songs were created with the intention to be released as 3 mini-albums spaced six months apart it was released in May 2006 as a 28-track double album. It was their first album to debut at #1 on the US charts, where it stayed for two weeks, and debuted at number one in the UK Albums Chart and 25 other countries as well . In the album's first week, it sold 442,000 units in the United States alone,and over 1,000,000 worldwide, setting a personal record for one week sales. The record's first single "Dani California," was the band's fastest-selling single, topping the Modern Rock chart in the US, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reaching #2 in the UK.In addition to "Dani California", "Tell Me Baby" reached Billboard's hot modern rock tracks in early July. In 2009, they will be old enough to be qualified for admission to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame