Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist releases statement after Super Bowl performance

By Holly R. Bogardus,

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea, has posted an open-ended letter about their “sell out” performance at the Super Bowl.

During halftime, the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed one of their most controversial acts. Rocking on stage, the band's guitars weren’t even plugged in. Photos leaked all across the Internet, and fans were outraged. Were the Peppers guilty of simply miming before a pre-recorded audio track? In over 900 words, bassist Flea writes to fans this wasn’t an attempt to deceive them. The guitars not being plugged in weren’t a missed detail of a fake performance. However, they weren’t plugged in because, they simply didn’t need to be.

Flea admits that the band did not give a true live performance, as all instrument parts were a pre-recording. In the letter posted to the band's official website, Flea explains:

"When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song Give It Away at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded. I understand the NFL's stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, […] There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period."

The Red Hot Chili Peppers' stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it. The last time we did it (or tried to) was in the late 80's, we were thrown off of 'The Top Of the Pops' television program in the U.K. during rehearsals because we refused to mime properly, I played bass with my shoe, John played guitar atop Anthony's shoulders, and we basically had a wrestling match onstage, making a mockery of the idea that it was a real live performance.

We mimed on one or two weird MTV shows before that and it always was a drag. We take our music playing seriously, it is a sacred thing for us, and anyone who has ever seen us in concert (like the night before the Super Bowl at the Barclays Center), knows that we play from our heart, we improvise spontaneously, take musical risks, and sweat blood at every show. We have been on the road for 31 years doing it.

So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it. We had given this a lot of thought before agreeing to do it, and besides many a long conversation amongst ourselves, I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell. Plus, we the RHCP all love football too and that played a big part in our decision.”

The band wanted the audience to be aware that they weren’t really playing, however they did imitate the actual songs, and would have been playing them if their instruments were live. The Peppers hold strong however, and say they jammed with the same energy they have in any of their shows in the past few years and had a great time.

The letter has been for the most part well received. Unfortunately, there are still many who cry, “sell out,” and the post has received numerous aggressive responses from fans. Regardless, most view the halftime performance as a tremendous success.

In his letter Flea mentions if they should have just plugged in their guitars. While it may have saved some trouble and hurt feelings, he and the band feel they did the right thing. Flea says, “We thought it better not to pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance.”

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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