Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante

Much to the delight of most fans and music critics, guitarist John Frusciante rejoined modern funk-rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers on last year's Californication.

Frusciante was born March 5, 1970, in New York City. When the original members of the Chili Peppers first came together, in Los Angeles, Frusciante was only 8 years old. He grew up a Chili Peppers fan and met the band's singer, Anthony Kiedis, in 1988, the year the Chili Peppers were sidelined by the overdose of original guitarist Hillel Slovak.

Kiedis asked Frusciante to join the Chili Peppers as lead guitarist. Frusciante agreed and also began to gig in clubs with Chili Peppers' bassist Flea, in the punk band Hate.

Frusciante was on board as a Chili Pepper for Mother's Milk (1989), which included the band's first modern-rock hit, "Knock Me Down," and their cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground." The Chili Peppers were at the most successful point in their career in 1989 when Kiedis was convicted of indecent exposure and sexual battery, following a Virginia concert. The next year, the Chili Peppers courted trouble again when Flea and drummer Chad Smith were charged with battery for sexually harassing a woman during a Florida Chili Peppers concert.

The band collected itself and released its most popular LP, BloodSugarSexMagik (1991), which was produced by Rick Ruben. Thanks to the smash "Under the Bridge," the Grammy Award–winning "Give It Away" and the popular "Breaking the Girl," the LP sold more than 3 million copies. Just before the group headlined the 1992 Lollapalooza tour, Frusciante quit. While he issued his solo To Clara (1994), the Chili Peppers carried on with other guitarists and eventually recorded One Hot Minute with former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro.

In 1998, Navarro, while in the throes of a drug addiction, quit the band. Frusciante, who also struggled with drug dependency, agreed to rejoin and was present for that year's Tibetan Freedom Concert, in Washington, D.C. Last summer, Frusciante and the Chili Peppers released Californication (RealAudio excerpt of title cut) and played the riotous and fiery Woodstock '99 Festival, in Rome, N.Y. The band closed the event with their cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire."

Californication also featured such cuts as the 1999 Grammy Award winner for Best Rock Song, "Scar Tissue" (RealAudio excerpt), "Around the World" and "Otherside."

"We've got John Frusciante back, and it's a bona fide miracle of my lifetime that we're both alive and playing music together again, and that it's going the way it is, and that we have a lot of energy," Kiedis said.

"The last few years, I always seemed to scare people; a lot of the time they were afraid I was going to die," Frusciante said. "A lot of times I felt like they couldn't relate to me — like maybe they thought I was insane because I'm aware of dimensions other than this one. The physical plane is not important to pay attention to, and when you're aware of something other people don't think of as existing, they think you're in lulu land. That's fine with me; I knew what was real to me. Now I'm experiencing lots of energy and happiness."

The Chili Peppers have been expending that newfound energy touring the world, in support of Californication.

Other birthdays on Sunday: Eddy Grant, 52; Alan Clark (Dire Straits), 48; Teena Marie, 44; Mark E. Smith (The Fall), 43; Craig and Charlie Reid (Proclaimers), 38; Andy Gibb, 1958–1988.