This Day In Music 13.04.2016
Hillel Slovak was a guitarist, best known as the original guitarist and founding member of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Hillel was born on April 13, 1962, in Haifa, Israel. Slovak immigrated with his family to the United States when he was five years old. By the late '70s, Slovak had discovered the hard rock sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Kiss, and began playing guitar along to his favorite records. It wasn't long before he started jamming with his schoolmates from Fairfax High School (drummer Jack Irons, guitarist Alan Johannes) in a band named Anthym, as well as becoming best friends with trumpet player Michael Balzary and poet/actor Anthony Kiedis. Slovak, while remained a member of Anthym, also began jamming with Flea, on compositions that merged funk and punk together, enlisting Kiedis to be an MC/rapper and Irons to lend his drumming skills. The project was called Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The band became popular in Los Angeles area, playing various shows around the city. However Slovak quit the band to focus on Anthym, leaving the RHCP to record their debut album. After he rejoined the band and recorded the albums Freaky Styley and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. About this work Slowak wrote in his diary: “It was so fun. I'm so extremely proud of everybody's work—it is at times genius”. Slovak was considered to have been a major influence on the RHCP's early sound. His playing method was markedly based on improvisation. He was also noted for his aggressive playing style; he would often play with such force that his fingers would "come apart." On Uplift, Slovak experimented with genres outside of traditional funk music including reggae and speed metal. His guitar riffs would often serve as the basis of the group's songs, with the other members writing their parts to complement his guitar work. Slovak helped to incorporate new sounds in the group's work, including adding occasional drum machines.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Fight Like A Brave (from The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, 1987)
During his career Slovak developed a serious heroin addiction. He attempted to quit the drug many times, but ultimately succumbed to his addiction, dying of an overdose on June 25, 1988 at age 26. Devastated the band contemplated disbanded, but after they decided to carry on and Hillel was replaced by guitarist John Frusciante, who was greatly influenced by Slovak's playing style. . Several Red Hot Chili Peppers songs have been written as tributes to Slovak, including Otherside, Knock Me Down and My Lovely Man.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside (from Californication, 2000)
In 1999, James Slovak, Hillel's brother, pubblished a book entitled Behind The sun: The Diary And Art Of Hillel Slovak, which features Slovak's diaries and paintings. Slovak was inducted of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of RHCP on April 14, 2012. In an interwiew with Rolling Stone, Kiedis Kiedis expressed his excitement with Slovak's induction: “He's a beautiful person that picked up a guitar in the 1970s and didn't make it out of the 1980s, and he is getting honored for his beauty". And Flea in the same occasion said: “Hillel grew up loving rock and roll so much, he hasn't been here for some time, but I know how much it would mean to him. It's a powerful thing."