The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the few bands that began in the early 1980s and still sell massive amounts of new material, even with so many guitarists coming and going that most fans have lost count by this point. With a new album, I'm With You, in stores on August 30th – and a new Rolling Stone cover story this week – we're rounding up the band's ten greatest videos. Click through to see our choices.
The Dave Navarro-era of the Red Hot Chili Peppers may not get a lot of love, but it's hard to deny this cover of the Ohio Players classic. Factor in footage from Beavis & Butt-Head Do America and cartoon versions of the band, and you've got their finest video from that awkward period after John Frusciante quit and before he came back.
A lot of people forget that the Red Hot Chili Peppers first hit the scene way back in 1984. Their first single "True Men Don't Kill Coyotes" didn't generate a lot of heat, but they were up against "Born In The USA," "Like A Virgin" and "Purple Rain" that year. What this video lacks in budget and coherent plot, it more than makes up for in raw energy. Shockingly enough, it actually got some MTV airplay, and very slowly started them on an upward trajectory.
When John Frusciante returned to the Chilis in 1998, they went right back into the studio and cut Californication – clearly one of the best records of their career. The video for the title track again animates the band, this time as part of a 3D video game that probably looks painfully dated to today's kids.
The classic 1990s lineup of the Red Hot Chili Peppers first came together on the 1989 LP Mother's Milk. It featured their funked-out cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" that got them an MTV Video Music Award nomination. It's been a key part of their live set ever since.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers had a tough job when they went into the studio to cut their 2002 LP By The Way: they had to live up to the massive commercial success of their previous disc Californication. They hit it out of the park with the title track to the album, which has been in constant rotation on rock radio since the day it came out.
The Red Hit Chili Peppers tell the complete history of rock and roll in the hysterical video to their 2006 single "Dani California" – from Elvis through Nirvana. Some critics said the song sounded too much like Tom Petty's "Last Dance With Mary Jane," but in retrospect that was pretty crazy. "I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there," Petty told Rolling Stone at the time. "And a lot of rock and roll songs sound alike."
The Coneheads movie isn't remembered for much else besides this song. The Chilis cut "Soul To Squeeze" from Blood Sugar Sex Magik and dumped it on the soundtrack to the 1993 SNL movie. They probably never imagined it would go on to become a humongous hit. The video shows the band working at a traveling freak show circa 1935 that boasts an impressive line-up of freaks, including an actual Conehead.
This is the one on every karaoke machine in the world. "Under The Bridge" started as a poem Anthony Kiedis wrote about scoring heroin under a bridge, but Rick Rubin saw it in his notebook and convinced him to turn it into a song. They recruited Gus Van Sant to direct the video, which they shot around Los Angeles. It won the Viewers Choice Best Music Video at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.
In the summer of 1999, this comeback hit for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was inescapable. It was the first work that the public heard from their reunion album with John Frusciante and it proved he hadn't lost his touch during the many years he spent out of the spotlight dealing with his heroin addiction. It was the first of many hits the band would score after his return.
Created by French fashion photographer Stephane Sednaoui, the video for "Give It Away" was almost deemed too bizarre for MTV by the label, but the band loved it and talked them into letting it go out unaltered. Audiences loved it, and it turned "Give It Away" into a huge hit that set Blood Sugar Sex Magik on the course to be the biggest album of their career.