Castles made of sand II – Red Hot Chili Peppers

By Sabin-Teodor Marcusan-Dumitru

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Castles Made Of Sand II – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Jimi Hendrix’s influence on music was so strong, that it created a new way to play the electric guitar which shaped the next generations of artists, changing especially the rock scene from then on. There was absolutely nobody playing him, not even close to his tremendous new style; the crowds were in shock at first, because the sound of distortion wasn’t heard to that moment and it was unleashing the power  which nobody else had but him. It’s a complex phenomenon, because it’s not just the sound of distortion itself – imagine if Jimi Hendrix would have used distortion and all the effects without being a talented guitarist … he would have been appreciated as an innovative sound engineer at most. The talent is crucial, it’s the rarest quality the human being has. It wouldn’t have been enough just to crank up the distortion and play covers and collaborate with the best bands. He did it for a while and then he  had to move on, because he couldn’t use his talent entirely. Can you imagine yourself changing the world forever? It’s slightly impossible for this to happen, especially when you have to change it by playing the guitar. It’s ridiculous! No 1 of all time did it though, in a couple of years, or right after releasing Axis: Bold as Love, in 1967, coming with an entire new sound, surprising, shocking artists and crowds – also making Jimi Hendrix the best paid artist of that time (not to forget there were bands like The Beatles or the Rolling Stones in their prime).

This legend was carried to all generations, and In the first half of the ’90 we have Red Hot Chili Peppers with a new line up, with John Frusciante as the lead guitarist, even though he never played for a band before and he was only 18 years old1, the rest of the members getting close to 30 years old (Frusicante’s teacher auditioned for the band, but didn’t get through. But what does it matter when there’s something crucial that builds bridges in impossible places ? Talent! Being such a passionate person, Frusciante already brought the best sound for the band and the first album made the band famous, especially for their ballad Under the Bridge. This song is another children of Hendrix’s legacy, as John Frusciante himself explained in an interview:’ I really associate that playing with Jimi Hendrix and that’s where I learned it from … when I was a little kid and I heard Little Wing. I remember  going to some Indian get together picnic that had an Indian band, I was on an Indian reservation … and then band there played Little Wing and I remember … I thought about it a lot and I decided that nobody could possibly know how to play Little Wing … I felt like it’s like, you know,  in the category ‘’impossible to play’’ and I saw this guitar player playing it and I just couldn’t believe my eyes, this guitar player up there was playing it. That kind of playing took me a while, because it exists on so many levels: you’ve got the chord being played and then you got a sort of a lead part going on, on top of it; and then, on top of the lead part, you get these extra strings that are being barred on the high strings … it ends up sounding to the ear of somebody who doesn’t know how to play guitar … it really sounds like three guitars at once. That’s why Little Wing had me confused, ‘cause I thought: how could that be one guitar?’

Dam Square, Amsterdam, is the place where the band, among other songs, played Castles Made of Sand, and it’s remarkable the soloing style John Frusciante had at that time, being so different from what it turned out after his comeback, a comeback helped by the tide that once melted his castles. Namely, his absence from the band from 1994 to 1998, when he had a horrible episode with drugs, mainly caused by the impressive world he suddenly came in, after joining Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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