Frusciante's first recording with them, 1989's Mother's Milk, helped break the popular college rock band through to the mainstream, resulting in their first gold record, with Frusciante's amazing guitar playing serving as a catalyst for many of the songs. The quartet released an even rawer record next: 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, produced by Rick Rubin
. The album catapulted the band into the rock stratosphere as it became a multi-platinum hit and made the Peppers
one of the premier bands of the '90s. But all was not well in Pepperland. Frusciante found it increasingly difficult to handle his newly found fame, and retreated into a haze of hard drugs and unpredictable behavior. At the height of Blood Sugar's success, he abruptly left the band while on tour in Japan.
Besides releasing two obscure solo albums (1995's Niandra Lades & Usually Just a T-Shirt and 1997's Smile from the Streets You Hold), little was heard from Frusciante after his split from the Peppers
in 1992. Then a disturbing article appeared in the L.A. Weekly, one that painted Frusciante as a heroin abuser with a death wish (the interviewer was also shocked at his ghastly appearance). Thankfully, with the advice of friends, Frusciante checked himself into a rehab center and got off drugs, stopping his path to certain destruction. Just a few months after getting his life back on track and facing the world again, he got back in contact with the rest of his ex-Pepper
mates (he regularly kept in contact with Flea
), whose then-current guitarist, Dave Navarro
, had just split from the band.
After a loose jam session was deemed a success (as well as a psychological evaluation!), Frusciante was asked to rejoin the band. The newly kindled relationship was a rousing success, as the reunited Peppers
issued the great Californication in 1999 to rave reviews and big sales. Two years later, and with drugs a thing of the past, Frusciante emerged a tough singer/songwriter by releasing a solo effort entitled To Record Only Water for Ten Days. Merely a creative outlet from his band's original material, Frusciante appeared motivated and relaxed as an individual and free from the deception of drugs that had haunted him before. In 2004, he released an astounding six solo albums as well as a project with Josh Klinghoffer
(who appears on several of those six albums) and Fugazi
's Joe Lally
. He also collaborated extensively with the Mars Volta
, playing guitar on several of their albums.
Then Red Hot Chili Peppers
duty called once again, and Frusciante did some work with Glenn Hughes
before releasing a follow-up to the Ataxia
album in early 2007. Psychedelic concept album The Empyrean arrived in 2009, after which Frusciante left the Peppers
yet again. He continued to work with the Mars Volta
, in addition to releasing collaborative albums with the group's leader Omar Rodríguez-López
. In 2010, Frusciante teamed up with Aaron Funk (Venetian Snares
) and Chris McDonald (SKM-ETR) to form an acid techno group called Speed Dealer Moms. The trio released a self-titled EP through Funk's Timesig
were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, but Frusciante declined to attend the ceremony.
In 2012, two wildly different solo albums showed up in the form of an EP called Letur-Lefr and a full-length called PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone. These two recordings were dizzying affairs that reflected Frusciante's life-long dream to make electronic music. The records employed acid house bass synthesizers, sampled jungle drum breaks, and even had cameos from MCs like Wu-Tang
. The 2013 EP Outsides took yet another odd turn, offering up a ten-minute piece based solely around an extensive blues-based guitar solo and a few other abstract tunes. 2014 saw the release of synth-heavy full-length Enclosure, a somewhat daunting electronic record, but tame by Frusciante's then-recent standards. In 2015, Frusciante issued a self-titled album under his acid techno alias Trickfinger
, which had previously released a free online EP in 2012. Frusciante released Foregrow, an EP of electronic music recorded under his own name, on Record Store Day in April of 2016. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi