Red Hot Chili Peppers rose to fame pre-internet and before Simon Cowell dreamed up shows like American Idol and X-Factor. How on earth did musicians ever gain attention without YouTube videos, social media, and televised talent search shows? RHCP played night clubs, in the same tradition as every band that came before them.
The Doors, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, and every other band that had existed before the Red Hot Chili Peppers played in clubs. Most musicians made their own demo tapes and sometimes crummy quality vinyl records. They sold them at shows and tried to push them at record producers, radio stations, and to anyone who would listen.
One Direction, to roll the calendar forward three decades, were five guys who never met before. Preceded slightly by Justin Bieber who was discovered on YouTube before he finished Jr. High, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson all went separately to a televised talent contest.
While the Red Hot Chili Peppers met in high school, and the Beatles were best mates, Zayn, Harry, Niall, Liam, and Louis had never met before. These five previously directionless teens rose to instant mega fame as strangers. They were young and innocent. They had no idea what was about to happen to their lives.
One Direction started as five probably terrified but excited teens being pushed out on a huge stage together for the first time, by a star-making machine so big, no one can quite comprehend it. The instantly worldwide audience liked what they saw and the rest is history.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were completely a product of their own making. They crafted their own name, starting out as The Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, but soon realized it was a clunky name, so eventually they crafted something with a bit more spice to it.
One Direction was completely Simon Cowell’s idea. His concept was a clean cut boy band image singing vanilla boy band music that could not be suggestive or spicy at all. It was like the 1950s or maybe Victorian morality that entirely ignored the rock traditions that had dominated a pre-Cowell world.
Neither Zayn Malik nor Harry Styles thought the music was good enough. It wasn’t creative or cool. It was just marketable enough to sell when coupled with their handsome faces and pitch perfect vocals. This Inquisitr article has the details.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers built their own image. They tried various bizarre but hot gimmicks, like appearing at L.A. Nightclubs wearing nothing but skimpy makeshift costumes made entirely of tube socks according to The Rolling Stone. Apparently, none of Chili Peppers were exactly seamstresses capable of sewing the socks together either. Whatever it takes to bring in the crowd, is what they did.
Similarly, the Beatles would put on a little sidewalk show to entice college students into their venue. They too struggled in the early days, but eventually obtained mega fame.
Jim Morrison of The Doors allegedly slept with a much older woman, a magazine editor, according to The “Doors”: An Illustrated History, by Danny Sugerman.
Jim Morrison, in exchange, presumably, got that now famous photo shoot and enough publicity to attract the attention of people who lived far distant from the Sunset Boulevard establishment Whiskey A Go Go where the Doors often played and were already growing a local reputation.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, like most bands circa 1960 to 1999 discovered drugs. That was an almost universal common denominator for nearly all recording artists, during those decades, and it is still very common.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ founding guitarist, Hillel Slovak, died of a heroin overdose, and Anthony Kiedis still wrestles with his addiction, though he has been clean for many years. See this Inquisitr article for more on Red Hot Chili Peppers Anthony Kiedis struggle with heroin.
One Direction avoided all that wild and desperate behavior, and they avoided the drug scene as well. They missed all the danger of playing as a house band to a house-sized bar full of drunks. They missed the crazy stunts to gain publicity. They even missed trying to come up with a catchy name for themselves. They also missed the hunger.
Jim Morison of the Doors was literally hungry and living outside on Venice Beach during part of his early career. The song Soul Kitchen allegedly arose from a kindly restaurateur who could not stand to see that handsome boy go hungry. According to the book No One Here Gets Out Alive: The Biography of Jim Morrison, By Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman, The Doors frontman Jim Morrison was always grateful to her.
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So One Direction missed out on playing rowdy clubs, nearly starving to death, getting hooked on heroin, and a lot of crazy stunts, but is that a bad thing? Well, when we think of it that way, probably not. Still, artistic creation is often the product of suffering. One Direction did suffer, though, just not in the same way as the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Jim Morrison also experienced management’s attempts to control his over the top behavior. They never could control him, but their attempts took a terrible toll on him. Like Zayn Malik, Morrison had to fight for his beard and hair styles and he once took the scissors to his own hair very randomly in rebellion to their requests for him to get it cut.
Red Hot Chili Peppers did not suffer this at least. Their time was ripe for wild rebellious bands. This was not true in Morrison’s time nor for boy bands now. The boys were kept under tight control according to Zayn Malik’s accounts.
Red Hot Chili Peppers and One Direction took two very different paths to fame.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]