The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 956: The long, strange trip of John Frusciante, part 1

I’m pretty sure it’s not an actual scientific classification, but along with homo sapiens, we need to acknowledge a new subspecies called homo blattodea. Blattodea is the genus that includes cockroaches, the nearly indestructible insect that’s been around for hundreds of millions of years. And within that order, we should recognize two distinct lineages.

First, there’s periplaneta fulgionosa, also known as the smoky brown cockroach. The human equivalent might be Keith Richards. And then there’s periplaneta americana, the American cockroach. And if I’m sitting with my taxonomy flowchart, this is where a write the name “John Frusciante,” the, er, occasional guitarist with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I use the word occasional deliberately because he’s been in and out of the band a number of times over the last 30 years. As I write this, he’s in the band but given his history, who knows for how long.

I’m classifying him as periplaneta americana because despite everything he’s been through, he’s somehow still alive. I mean, this dude has lived a hard life: drugs, various health problems both of the physical and mental variety, and at least one detour into the occult. Yet through it all, he’s been able to help the Chili Peppers make the best music of their career.

And lest you think I’m making fun of John, disabuse yourself of that notion. The man is a survivor. This is the long, strange trip of John Frusciante, part 1.

Songs heard on this episode:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Suck My Kiss
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fight Like a Brace
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Knock Me Down
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Give It Away
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Under the Bridge (Live on SNL)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Higher Ground (Live)
  • John Frusciante, My Smile is a Rifle
  • John Frusciante, Enter a Uh
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication (demo)

Eric Wilhite has provided this playlist.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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