20 Years Ago: The Red Hot Chili Peppers Gave Everyone A Case Of 'Californication'

June 7, 2019

The '90s were an interesting decade for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They entered like a lion in 1991 with Blood Sugar Sex Magik. In 1995, One Hot Minute was a chimera of chaos with the departure of guitarist John Frusciante and his one-time replacement, Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction, along with Anthony Kiedis falling back on drug habits after five years of sobriety, and the album's overall failure. But on June 8th, 1999, they bounced back with Californication, their highest-selling album of all time.

After Navarro left the Chili Peppers in 1998, cue the return of Frusciante. After entering himself into rehab to battle his drug addiction, one of his visitors was none other than RHCP bassist Flea. Re-kindling their friendship, Frusciante was invited to rejoin the band.

Upon his return, the Chili Peppers hit the ground running after putting out songs like "Scar Tissue," "Otherside," and the title track, "Californication." After issuing "Scar Tissue" as the album's first single, radio play in May 1999, 16 weeks at the Number 1 spot on the Billboard Modern Rock chart, 10 weeks at Number 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and winning the Grammy for "Best Rock Song" proved that Californication was going to be something very special.

Kiedis penned the lyrical content to the album, all stemming from various places like his relationship with drugs, the wild times he lived with the band, personal relationships, and even the film "Life is Beautiful" by Roberto Benigni.

Upon the album's release, "Around the World" was named the second single off of Californication, though could not live up to the level set by "Scar Tissue."

The third single to make it off of Californication was "The Otherside," which Kiedis says he wrote based on the perspective of late Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak, who had previously made attempts to end his drug addiction.

The fourth and final single was the album's title track, "Californication," which dropped almost a year after the album's release. Touching down on some of the darker sides of Hollywood like shallow dreams, pornography, and pulling back the veil on glitz and glamour, "Californication" was the final song on the record that truly drove the album home as the Chili Peppers' most successful record.