Hillel Slovak

Original Guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers

Hillel Slovak

Hillel SlovakIt should be noted that we do not know much about Hillel Slovak's ancestors. He was born in Israel, from the age of five living (with his parents and brother) in California. He was American, no doubt about it. But his family name Slovak is definitely related to Slovakia. And this is the Encyclopedia of Slovakia and Slovaks, that is why the information about him belongs to this site.

Brief RHCP History
In 1973 eleven years old Anthony Kiedis moved from his hometown Grand Rapids, Michigan to Los Angeles to live with his father. At the Fairfax High School he met an Australian (that came from New York) called Flea (real name Michael Balzary). They became best friends and (in 1978?) formed a band called Los Faces. At the same time there was another pair of best friends, Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons. They were famous for dressing up as Kiss and performing in their costumes. Hillel and Jack spent their days listening to or playing music. Especially Kiss, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix were their biggest influences. Together with Alain Johannes they started their first band Chain Reaction, later renamed to Anthym. A while later Flea and Anthony joined the band as well and Flea had to play the bass even though he had never played it before. The band was renamed What It This?. A while later Anthony formed the band Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. He wanted the others to join it too, but Jack and Hillel wanted to keep on playing with What It Is?. Eventually, however, Jack and Hillel agreed to play with them temporarily. The band decided to rename themselves the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In 1984 RHCP got signed by EMI America to record their first album, but suddenly Anthony and Flea found themselves all alone without Jack and Hillel. They had been signed to a rival company with What It This?. Anthony and Flea had to team up with the two studio musicians; guitarist Jack Sherman and drummer Cliff Martinez. The first album (called simply Red Hot Chili Peppers) was released in August 1984. The album was not successful at all. After that album Hillel returned to RHCP and replaced Sherman. The band decided to ask funk legend George Clinton to produce their 2nd album and he accepted. Freaky Styley was an album full explosive funk. RHCP played all over the United States and they gained lots of experience while doing that. At that time Hillel started to experiment with heavy drugs and became addicted. In summer 1986 the band played at the Variety Arts Center in LA and a 16 years old boy spotted them for the first time in his life. His name was John Frusciante and from that day on he was the band's #1 fan. He followed the band wherever they went on their tours and he developed a close relationship to them. John was completely hypnotized by the extraordinary skill and talent of Hillel Slovak who became his biggest idol. "I tried to play everything exactly like him, people said I had found my own style but all I did was to follow him". Even though there were eight years between John and the members of the band they developed a very close friendship. The band's third album The Uplift Mofo Plan, with many characteristic Hillel's sparkling guitar solos, sold more than both of their first two albums together and managed to reach place #148 on the billboard listings. album  that came be characteristic for the band's music In May 1988 the band released their first compilation album The Abbey Road EP. On the cover of the album they wore nothing but socks over their manhood. Once again the old gimmick drew lots of attention. The album opened doors in Europe and the band decided to start releasing their next albums in the US and Europe at the same time. On the 25th of June, 1988, Hillel Slovak died from an overdose of heroin. It happened while the band was working on their fourth album which would have been called Rockin' Freakapotamus. The death of Hillel changed the lives of all band members for all time. Flea, who had not spent much time with Hillel during the previous year because of his abuse, felt that he could have done more to save his soulmate. Anthony, who himself had been taking heroin, took the death of Hillel very hard and subsequently managed to quit drugs. Later he spent some time in Mexico to mourn his friend. Jack, who had known Hillel longest just could not handle losing him. He was hospitalized after having several nervous breakdowns. Later he joined Pearl Jam. Nothing much happened with RHCP for about a year after Hillel's death. Once again there were only Flea and Anthony. They were both confident of recreating the band but they needed a guitarist and a drummer. Flea managed to contact the old Dead Kennedys' drummer, Deron "DH" Peligro, who was soon replaced by Chad Smith. Anthony found a new guitarist in the form of John Frusciante, a former fan. He was so amazed by his guitar skill that he immediately asked him to join the band. John was devastated by the death of his idol but he decided to join the band. "Their music meant everything to me. Joining the band was like the most fantastic thing on earth." Another album Blood Sugar Sex Magik was a huge success, including the hits Give It Away and Under The Bridge. John quit the band (replaced Dave Navarro) in the middle of a Japanese tour to rejoin them in 6 years. In June 1999 the album Californication is released.Red Hot Chili Peppers

Also other people were members of RHCP for short time. For more details, check some of numerous RHCP fan sites.

From the left: Hillel Slovak, Tony "Swan" Flow, Flea Fly and Jack Irons.

Hillel SlovakHillel Slovak
April 13 1962 - June 25 1988
Birthplace: Haifa, Israel

Hilel Slovak was the Chili Peppers original guitarist who tragically died at age of 26. His fantastic work still lives through the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the fabulous guitar playing of John Frusciante. The memory of Hillel is honored every time John plays. With Hillel Slovak died a great artist and an incredible musician. His best performance was probably when Flea, Jack and himself played the Jimi Hendrix's "If six was nine". Hillel did also many paintings. One of them is visible in the Mother's Milk Booklet. The album was dedicated to Hillel. The song "My lovely man" from Blood Sugar Sex Magik is about the band's close love to Hillel.  His body is buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park.

Hillel SlovakAbout the Name Hillel
Hillel (c.60 B.C. - c. A.D. 9) was a Jewish sage, president of the Sanhedrin, the foremost master of biblical commentary and interpreter of Jewish tradition in his time. He was the revered head of the school known by his name, the House of Hillel (Beth Hillel), and his carefully applied exegetical discipline came to be called the Seven Rules of Hillel. Hillel means "he that praises".

1984 The Red Hot Chili Peppers (EMI)
1985 Freaky Styley (EMI)
1987 The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (EMI)
1989 Mother's Milk  (EMI)
1991 Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Warner)
1992 What Hits?
1994 Out in L.A.
1995 One Hot Minute (Warner)
1999 Californication

1988 Abbey Road E.P. (EMI)
1992 What Hits!? (EMI)
1994 Live Rare Remix Box (EMI)
1994 Out in L.A. (EMI)
1998 Under the Covers (EMI)

External links:

Red Hot Chili Peppers - the official site

Behind the Sun - a book based on Hillel Slovak's diary and his artwork, published by his younger brother James

Copyright (C) 2001 Word of Wordland. Compiled from six different sites. All rights of the photos are reserved to their photographers.