Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most successful album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It turned the Chili Peppers from funky cult band to superstars, with the major hits “Give It Away, “Under The Bridge,” “Breaking The Girl,” and “Suck My Kiss.” The album peaked at Number 3 in the US, but reached Number 1 in Canada in July 1992, selling over 13 million copies worldwide.
Here are ten things you didn’t know about Blood Sugar Sex Magik:
1. The album was the first ever recorded at the Mansion– producer Rick Rubin’s massive estate in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. The 10-bedroom estate was built in 1918, and has become a residential recording studio for several bands over the last quarter century (including Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, and Slipknot). However, the Chili Peppers were the first band to live and work there.
2. One band member absolutely refused to live at the Mansion during recording sessions. Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and John Frusciante all stayed, but drummer Chad Smith wanted no part of living there. The Mansion had a reputation of being haunted by a woman who was murdered there in the 1930s. “So [Smith] opted to ride his motorcycle home each night,” recalls Kiedis in his autobiography, Scar Tissue.
3. The band was reluctant to work with Rick Rubin at first. The Chilis’ hesitance had to do with his work with a lot of “negative bands” such as Slayer and Danzig, while RHCP considered themselves to be full of positive energy. The band changed their minds once they got to know him, and had such a positive experience recording with Rubin that he produced their next five albums.
4. All of John Frusciante’s guitar solos were done within the first or second take. This was partly due to the fact that most of the basic tracks on the album were cut completely live. John’s approach to solos was he would only play it once or twice. If it didn’t work the first time, he would play it again completely different.
5. Flea’s bass playing was inspired by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. On previous albums, Flea was always really busy with his playing style, using a lot of slap techniques. But after reading an interview of Sonic youth bassist Kim Gordon, he decided to mellow things a little. Flea told Guitar Player in 1991, “[Kim] said she loved funk bass but hated the way white guys play it, because they’ve turned it into this macho-jock thing. As I read that, I knew I was responsible for that tendency.”
6. Anthony Kiedis never intended for the words to “Under The Bridge” to be used in a song. It started out as a poem about his drug-abusing days and how he never wanted to feel like he did two years previous. Then Rick Rubin accidentally discovered it in the singer’s notebook and demanded Kiedis sing it for him. Rubin and the band loved it, and it eventually became the band’s biggest hit (peaking at Number 2 in the US).
7. “Give It Away” was inspired by both actor River Phoenix and German avant-garde performer Nina Hagen. Kiedis had been given advice from Hagen several years earlier that “It’s always important to give things away…It creates good energy.” Kiedis met River Phoenix through his girlfriend, actress Ione Skye, and was a big supporter of the band. He wrote a whole verse about Phoenix for the song: ‘There’s a river, born to be a giver, keep you warm, won’t let you shiver/His heart is never going to wither, come on everybody, time to deliver.’
8. Kiedis wrote “I Could Have Lied” about his relationship with Sinead O’Connor. He briefly dated the Irish songstress while she was living in Los Angeles. Kiedis wrote in Scar Tissue that it was “the most wonderful, non-sexual relationship I’d ever had,” but was crushed when O’Connor suddenly ended it via his answering machine.
9. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was originally supposed to be a double-disc set. The band apparently recorded over 25 songs, and Rick Rubin wanted to release all of it. Warner Bros., however, thought the two-CD release may scare off a lot potential buyers of the album because of the higher price. A single disc with 17 songs was released instead, but outtakes such as “Soul To Squeeze” appeared later on movie soundtracks and B-sides.
10. The Chili Peppers only played “Breaking The Girl” once during the Blood Sugar Sex Magik tour. “Breaking The Girl” is a very unique song in the band’s repertoire, with its 6/8 time signature, its use of a 12-string guitar, and its mellotron overdubs. It was a big hit for them in the summer of 1992, but live, “it fell apart,” wrote Kiedis in Scar Tissue. The band performed it only once during the opening show of the tour in October 1991, and then never again until 2000.