Thursday, 23 October 2008

More Me & My Friends info

Chad Smith has been drummer for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for 20 years, replacing original sticksman Jack Irons. In the forward to a new book about the band by photographer Tony Woolliscroft he discusses how the two became part of the Chilli Peppers family. This article also includes previously unseen pictures of the band on the road.

On my first tour of Europe in the cold ass winter of 1990, we headed off to England. I was so excited to be in a country that spawned so many of my musical idols: Sabbath, Zeppelin, The Who, Deep Purple, Queen, etc. This is the music I grew up on and I couldn’t believe I was over here in their backyards. Needless to say I was a little green and, being the ‘new guy’, I was on my own a lot. I remember meeting Tony, this big cuddly bear, and he came up to me at his first photo shoot with us for Kerrang, I think, and asked me where the “loo” was and I couldn’t understand a word he said, except for maybe that one. And I didn’t know anybody named Lou. Mind you I hadn’t been in England too long and his accent, being a northern one, was as thick as a brick. “Funniest guy yet,” I thought. Anyway, from that day forward, he has shot us on every one of our tours all over the world. Every one. All of them... Jesus, stay home once in a while!
Most photographers are only allowed to shoot the first three songs of a show. We love Tony and his work so much that he is the only guy we give complete access to for an entire show. That’s how much we trust him.

But you’ll be able to see that trust going through the book. His images make you feel like you’re there. Like any true artist, and much like our band, he keeps searching and trying to learn more about his craft. He has grown with us.

I think you will see that growth here as well. He has captured the essence of our band on film.

Chad Smith
Tony has been closer to the band than any other photographer. He’s braved a typhoon with them in Japan, captured Anthony Kiedes walking off the edge of a sky-scraper hotel roof in Venezuela, witnessed John Frusciante’s remarkable private comeback show in Washington and had drumsticks affectionately thrown at him by Chad during a live performance for taking pictures of Flea’s naked girlfriend. He’s had the fortune of enjoying Anthony singing ‘Venice Queen’ for him in the Chateau Marmont and the misfortune of almost wrecking a gig by accidentally knocking John’s backline equipment (speakers and amps on a trolley) across the stage as the band were playing.

The book in Tony’s own words:
I’m sitting in the back room of my home and every inch of the floor is covered with Red Hot Chili Peppers pictures. I’m going slightly insane looking at them all. It’s then I realise just how many pictures I have actually taken of the band over the years and all the places I’ve seen them. What I’ve tried to do in this book is share some very memorable times I’ve had photographing them. I called it ‘Me and My Friends’ simply because it was one of my favourite songs by the band. I do class them as friends, and I don’t think I would have been allowed as near to them if they didn’t class me as one. They are very private people. Photographically, I got as close to them as you could.

I first heard the band in one of my best friend’s flat in Bradford. His name was Rob Heaton and he was the drummer in New Model Army, who happened to be on the same UK label as the Peppers, EMI. Rob had got hold of the new Peppers cd ‘Uplift Mofo Party Plan’. I was taken aback at how good it was and how different it sounded to what I was listening to at that time. I wanted to see this band. Rob’s wife, Robin, was from Orange County, California, the band’s home state.

She raved about them, saying how good they were live. The first RHCP hooks had landed in my skin. I missed them on the ‘Uplift’ tour, something I still regret to this day. So when Mother’s Milk came out I made damn sure I saw them.

With the book, I’ve tried to give you an insight into my little world shooting the Peppers through the years. I could easily have filled it 20 times over just with pictures of Anthony, Flea, Chad and John. But that’s not the whole story and that’s what makes their story so special, so, you will find pictures of Dave Navarro and Arik Marshall as they are part of my story with the band.
Hopefully you will see through the pages in this book how my photography grew with the band. I learnt a lot shooting these guys. From the very small venues to the massive stadiums they ended up in, I’ve met some amazing people along the way, but best of all I got to work with the best band on the planet, bar none.

Hope you enjoy the ride...

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