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Why Flea Is Taking Someone to a Lakers Game for a Good Cause

The Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist discusses the 2018 Silverlake Conservatory of Music fundraiser and what former Warner Bros. CEO Mo Ostin means to him

Bassist Flea, from The Red Hot Chili Peppers,11th Annual Stand Up for Heroes, New York, USA - 07 Nov 2017

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“Everyone coming together to do something cool,” Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea tells Rolling Stone about the annual Silverlake Conservatory of Music fundraiser, “it’s fuckin’ awesome.”

On September 29th, the Los Angeles music education and community outreach center that Flea co-founded in 2001 will hold its annual fundraiser and art auction, hosted by comedian Marc Maron and featuring performances by k.d. lang, Lindsay Buckingham and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The art auction will feature works by Damien Hirst, Shepard Fairey, Ed Ruscha, Raymond Pettibon, Cecily Brown, Kenny Scharf and more, but the most interesting thing being auctioned is a night with Flea himself to see the Lakers play the Spurs.

“Well, you know, probably the most outlandish and luxurious thing that I’ve ever bought for myself in my life are these Lakers courtside tickets,” says Flea. “And for me it’s honestly like going to church, you know. I just see basketball as one of the most profoundly transcendent aspects of the culture in our country. … I imagine it’s kind of like going to the ballet for people that really love ballet or something. I just love hoops. And I’ve been a hardcore Laker fan since I was a little boy. So when I go to a basketball game, it’s serious business. … But let it be known that I’m so fuckin’ serious about it when we decided that I should auction off a game, I’m like, ‘I’m not going to not go,’ so they gotta go with me. I’m not missing LeBron James. No fucking way. I’m not gonna miss, like, him dishing to Lance Stephenson on the wing. I mean, come on.”

This year’s benefit also pays tribute to Mo Ostin, the former Warner Bros. CEO who worked with Frank Sinatra, signed Jimi Hendrix and led the company through the age of Madonna, Prince, U2, Van Halen, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Green Day and more. Buckingham, Lang and the Peppers have all worked closely with him.

“He was a guy who I would go hang out in his office and talk to him. I mean, I haven’t even been inside the Warner Brothers building in 20 years,” says Flea. “He was someone I could sit and talk [to]. And also for me, growing up the way I grew up, as just kind of a wild street kid kind of distrustful of people who came from … the successful corporate money world. I didn’t know how to relate to people who were so different to me in that way. … Mo, he’s kind of like the first person I ever met from that world which seems so different to me that I could relax and talk to and just kind of like sit down look in the eye and talk and feel comfortable and feel accepted and not be condescended to.”

This year also marks the second anniversary of the Silverlake Conservatory’s massive new 11,000-square-foot campus on Hollywood Boulevard.

“It’s such a great place,” says Flea. “Aesthetically and architecturally it’s beautiful. There’s so much space there. … We have 800 kids in there now — 800 kids coming through there a week to play music. … It’s just alive, it’s vibrant, it’s awesome.

“It’s a place where little and big triumphs happen all the time and have happened all the time,” Flea says about the Conservatory. “I mean, I run into young adults. [They’re] like, ‘Hey, man, I went to your school for eight years.’ And they often relate to me not just how much fun it was for them to play music and what an important part of their life it was … but that it was a great community place where they made friends and they made lifelong friends.

“My greatest hope is it’s not just studying music,” he continues. “It’s studying music with other people. It’s a sense of community, it’s a sense of belonging.”

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