Flea has come out in defense of his unconventional, oft-criticized rendition of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Los Angeles’ Staples Center before Kobe Bryant’s last NBA game. When the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist was approached by TMZ and asked about the controversy surrounding his instrumental, Jimi Hendrix-inspired take on the National Anthem, Flea responded simply, “I don’t care, man.”
“I know that people who like music liked it,” the bassist added. “I thought it was beautiful. I really don’t have any concern for little small minds that get frustrated when they get blown. I like the big minds.”
Flea’s bass playing wasn’t the only thing that upset some of the millions of viewers watching Black Mamba suit up in a Lakers jersey for the final time: Some viewers logged complaints on social media about Flea wearing his Lakers hat during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” even though it’s customary to “please rise and remove your hats” when the National Anthem is played at sporting events.
On Wednesday night, soon after Bryant’s 60-point performance, Flea was asked about his anthem. “I rocked that shit,” the bassist responded.
“I’ve watched, listened to or at least read about pretty much every game that Kobe Bryant played his entire career,” Flea recently told Rolling Stone. “And I see someone who put a lot of stock in discipline and work ethic and nurturing his creativity. I just have always respected him so much – even when he was young and arrogant and foolish and you know, arguably self-centered. He’s always meant so much to me.”
Flea added of Bryant, “I look at him as someone like, you know, Charlie Parker or John Coltrane or Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix, you know? He’s been able to change and evolve and grow and be such a master of his craft. It’s been great seeing him grow up, because he joined the Lakers when he was 17, and he’s done so much for our city.”
Check out Flea’s take on “The Star-Spangled Banner” below: