The Tragic Details Of Flea's Childhood

The popularity of the Red Hot Chili Peppers lasted through more than one generation. Its a feat with how quirky and off-the-wall the band has been in their past. They were known, at one point, to perform shows wearing nothing but a single sock each over their — well — they weren't exactly wearing them like sock puppets, that's for sure. The band has released 11 studio albums since 1984, and chances are, you owned at least one of them.

The interesting mix of rock, punk, funk, and jazz gave the Chili Peppers a unique sound that hasn't been copied in the mainstream music world. They have a perfect karaoke jam for everyone as long as you don't sing "Under the Bridge." Seriously, we can't take it. Think of our feelings. Almost as unique as their sound is their history. They've had their successes, but the road to stardom was paved with an equal number of tragedies for the group. For instance, the less than perfect childhood of their bassist.

Tumultuous early years

There's an unfortunate trend that seems to follow those who devote their lives to creative pursuits, and that trend is trauma. Maybe it makes a person more interesting or it's possible that creative outlets are the preferred coping mechanism of those who've experienced tragic lives, but in any case, it seems to be a common theme. The bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea, is no exception.

Michael Balzaray, also known as "Flea," started life in a tougher-than-tough home situation. From what Flea told The Guardian in a 2003 interview, he grew up in a violent household with alcoholic parents. Flea's father took off when he was six. His parents were divorced and his father lived in Florida, so he didn't see him much, though he visited on occasion. Flea's mother remarried but Flea claims his new stepfather was an aggressive man that contributed to his problems. Problems that follow him around for a long time.

Drug use from a young age

The parental supervision in his home must have been pretty lax because Flea says, in his Guardian interview, he was out partying in the street until 4 am on a regular basis... at the age of 11. Well, the partying turned into smoking pot which turned into harder stuff. Flea ended up deep in the drug scene at a young age. He tells Time that drug use was all around, and he was sampling everything under the sun before long.

Drugs can have a way of ruining people's lives that they don't necessarily see coming when they first hit a bowl of crack or stick a needle into their arm. Sure, most everyone knows these drugs are addictive, but they might not consider the higher stakes that hard drug use can have. Some people lose jobs while others do things for a hit that would've made them sick before their addictions. Other people have to endure the pain of losing those close to them. Flea's experience fell into the latter when he watched three of his friends die from overdoses before they reached 26 years old. Don't worry, Flea got clean when he was 30 and put an end to a drug-filled life where "scary gun-toting criminals lurked in the shadows" for him.