The Red Hot Chili Peppers Song Flea Wrote After Witnessing River Phoenix’s Passing

Music has the power to evoke a wide range of emotions in all of us, which makes it one of the most powerful forms of art. When it comes to rock and metal music, these emotions are frequently those of joy and ecstasy. But rock and metal may also take devastating inroads into the themes of grief and loss.

With their funky baseline, Red Hot Chili Peppers has been one of the bands that have often achieved the arousal of the first group of emotions. Their funky tunes, combined with dynamic guitar riffs, have led to the creation of works that encouraged many to enjoy that moment of ecstasy to the fullest.

However, they have a song that has a rather tragic source of inspiration. The ghost of overdosing that has unfortunately haunted RHCP was also the leading actor behind this song. It all happened on Halloween 1993, with the passing of River Phoenix, who was close friends with Frusciante but also hung out with the other band members.

Although friends were aware that River Phoenix had a drug problem, many people were nevertheless shocked when he overdosed and died. Flea was one of those most affected by this death because he personally witnessed his friend’s moment of death.

On the night it all happened, there was a supergroup concert at the Viper Room that included John Frusciante, Flea, Johnny Depp, and Gibby Haynes, who were all palls of Phoenix. During the show, Phoenix said he was feeling bad and went outside to get some air.

Unfortunately, he had a seizure outside. Hearing this, the band members left their songs unfinished. Flea was the one who jumped in the ambulance with him, hoping that their friend would be okay. On the way, however, Phoenix’s heart stopped, and unfortunately, he died.

This tragic experience became the story behind RHCP’s song ‘Transcending,’ which would be released two years later. Flea wrote most of the lyrics. The track was released as part of ‘One Hot Minute.’ That was also the album that encouraged Frusciante to leave the band, and he was replaced by Dave Navarro.

Although Frusciante didn’t play in this song, he created another piece as a tribute to his friend. ‘Smile from the Streets You Hold’ from his solo album is also about River Phoenix and even features River’s contributions from the recording sessions that the duo did together.