Looking Back on Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Wild Performance at the ’92 VMAs 30 Years Later

The MTV Video Music Awards show debuted in 1984, providing a stage for the most popular musical artists since. Red Hot Chili Peppers will return to the VMAs stage and receive 2022’s Video Vanguard Award. And in honor of that, we’re reflecting on their rocking performance from 30 years ago.

Flea on Bass Guitar (left) and Anthony Kiedis (right) of The Red Hot Chili Peppers during their performance at the 1992 MTV VMAs
Flea (left) and Anthony Kiedis (right) of The Red Hot Chili Peppers | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Red Hot Chili Peppers are the 2022 MTV VMAs’ Global Icons

RHCP formed in the late ‘70s as a group of school friends influenced by the punk music scene in Los Angeles (per Brittanica). Using gimmicks like strategically placed tube socks to perform, they started making a name for themselves in the early ’80s.

Original guitarist Hillel Slovak died in 1988, and original drummer Jack Irons left the group. After that, lead singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Michael Balzary, Flea, reconfigured with guitar player John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith.

RHCP released Mother’s Milk in 1989 and Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991. The latter contained their first top 10 single, “Give It Away,” and “Under the Bridge,” which won a Grammy.

They’ve released a collection of great songs through the decades and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. And they’re still going strong. Their upcoming album Return of the Dream Canteen is expected to drop in October 2022.

They’re MTV’s 2022 Global Icons, an honor that celebrates “an artist or band whose unparalleled career, continued impact, and influence have maintained a unique level of global success in music and beyond, leaving an indelible mark on the music landscape” (per MTV).

RHCP will also reportedly perform their latest song, “Tippa My Tongue,” at the VMAs.

Red Hot Chili Peppers brought a crowd onstage to rock the 1992 MTV VMAs

In September 1992, RHCP took the VMAs stage and delivered a rocking performance of their hit song, “Give It Away,” which was nominated for several awards that year along with their video for “Under the Bridge.”

Before the band’s performance, host Dana Carvey introduced them by telling a joke about tube socks. Then, RHCP opened with “Under the Bridge” before promptly launching into “Give It Away” as a crowd rushed to the stage to party with the band.

Most performance videos are grainy, but it’s worth checking out for fans.

Anthony Kiedis and Flea’s enduring friendship keeps the band together, according to Flea

Not every friendship could withstand the pressures of making chart-topping songs for decades. But Kiedis and Flea met in high school and have managed their relationship, despite ups and downs.

In an interview with Sirius XM, Flea said he and Kiedis “fell in love” when they met. They were both 15 and going into the 10th grade. “We were almost immediately in love and at war,” he said. “And it stayed that way ever since.”

According to Flea, his friendship with Kiedis was meant to be. And RHCP is “just a thing” the universe gave them to do.

Regarding the importance of that relationship with Kiedis, Flea emotionally described how his dying mother recalled him coming home “all lit up” on the day he met his future bandmate. He told her, “I finally found someone I can talk to.”

“And I really did,” he concluded after choking up.

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