There are 2 bands/artists sharing the name "Flea". 1/ Flea (born Michael Peter Balzary on October 16, 1962, in Burwood, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia) is the bassist for the alternative rock/funk rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, and is a regular session musician as well as an occasional actor. 1/ Early life Michael (as Flea was then still known) led a relatively conventional family lifestyle in Australia until his father Mick was posted to New York in March 1967 in accordance with his job as a customs officer, taking with him his wife Patricia, daughter Karen and the young Michael.
1/ Flea (born Michael Peter Balzary on October 16, 1962, in Burwood, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia) is the bassist for the alternative rock/funk rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, and is a regular session musician as well as an occasional actor.
Michael (as Flea was then still known) led a relatively conventional family lifestyle in Australia until his father Mick was posted to New York in March 1967 in accordance with his job as a customs officer, taking with him his wife Patricia, daughter Karen and the young Michael. After only four years in the US, Michael's mother Patricia met and fell in love with a jazz musician named Walter Urban Jr in 1971, resulting in the divorce of his parents. Michael was again uprooted, this time right across America, as his mother and soon to be stepfather moved with him and his sister to live in Los Angeles in 1972.
Michael developed an enthusiasm in playing music very early, firstly trying his hand at the drums. However, at the age of nine he took up playing the trumpet and soon proved to be a natural talent. He was so skilled with the instrument, that upon his family's settlement in LA he swiftly earned a place in the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. Already so proficient at playing the trumpet, watching his stepfather jamming with his bebop jazz band had a profound effect on the eleven-year-old Balzary, and this fueled his new-found love for jazz and leading exponents of the genre, such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Ornette Coleman. Concerning his singular love for the jazz genre at the time, Balzary confessed to VH1's Behind the Music that he originally had no interest in rock and roll, and his ambition was to become a jazz musician like his stepfather. He was still (and remains to this day) an avid trumpeteer and jazz fan when he started at Fairfax High School in September 1976, but this academic shift also brought about a fateful meeting that would change his life forever.
Fairfax High School
About a month into his first year at Fairfax, Michael was playfully roughing-up his friend, a fellow tenth-grade student in the quadrangle named Tony Shurr, when he found his target being defended by a fellow student and future bandmate Anthony Kiedis. Despite the initial enmity, both found an instant affinity for each other and swiftly became best friends, with Michael introducing Kiedis to the world of jazz. Both had somewhat unstable homelives, with Kiedis' drug-dealing party-animal father, and Michael's formerly alcoholic, though often aggressive stepfather. Through Kiedis, Michael also soon became friends with another fellow student and future bandmate Hillel Slovak, whom Kiedis had befriended thanks to Slovak's playing guitar in a band named Anthym. All the while, Michael still grew ever more proficient with his trumpet, taking the place of first trumpet in the Fairfax school orchestra, and impressing Kiedis with the fact that his lip was constantly swollen, as noted in Kiedis's autobiography, Scar Tissue.
Michael's musical focus first became significantly distracted from jazz when his new friend Slovak introduced him to the world of rock, through artists such as Led Zeppelin, KISS, Queen and Jimi Hendrix. With his new interest in rock, Michael started being taught to play the bass guitar at the age of 17 by Slovak. This was due to the fact that in concurrence with Anthym guitarist Alan Mishulsky and drummer Jack Irons, Slovak considered the band's existing bassist Todd to be of sub-standard skill, which was in contrast to the raw musical talent of the other band members. One day, Todd walked in to find the band rehearsing with Michael playing bass using his equipment, causing him to take his stuff and walk out. Anthym were left with their official new bassist, who had the technical and musical skill to match his bandmates.
The punk years
During a camping trip to Mammoth Mountain with his friends Keith Barry and Johnny Karson, Michael B. became known as the Flea, which would essentially become the effective name of the now famous bassist. Playing in Anthym, Flea swiftly proved himself to be as equally naturally talented playing the bass as he was playing the trumpet, and this attracted attention from outside the band. In 1981 he received an offer to audition to be the new bass player in Fear, an aggressive and wild band from the Los Angeles punk scene. In 1983, Flea, Kiedis, Slovak and Irons went on to form Red Hot Chili Peppers together. They got a record deal with EMI in 6 months, and Flea then left Fear to concentrate on the Chili Peppers. At the time he even turned down an offer by his longtime idol John Lydon to join his post-Sex Pistols band Public Image Ltd., because he preferred to stay with his friends in the Peppers.
His bass-slapping technique is unique and was a major influence on other bands even before the Red Hot Chili Peppers broke into the mainstream (which is why, on their breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik he refused to use the technique in the same way, to avoid it being imitated (As stated personally by Flea in the documentary of Blood Sugar, "Funky Monks"). And his playing was featured on 2005's Momentum, by jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman. He still plays trumpet occasionally, for example, as part of a horn section on the second Jane's Addiction album, on Mike Watt's Ball Hog or Tug Boat? on The Mars Volta's sophomore release Frances The Mute, and with Nirvana on a performance of Smells Like Teen Spirit at Hollywood Rock '93, a music festival in Brazil. Most recently, he joined Incubus on "The Fourth Movement of the Odyssey" for the Halo 2 soundtrack. The songs "Subway To Venus", "Pretty Little Ditty", and "Taste the Pain" on the Chili Peppers album Mother's Milk, "Apache Rose Peacock" on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and "Tear" on By the Way also feature Flea on trumpet, and lately he has been playing some trumpet during the Peppers live performances. It is known that he plays trumpet in some of the songs on Stadium Arcadium, namely "Torture Me" and "Hump De Bump".
Flea's style is influenced by Bootsy Collins, funk music and by the energy of early punk rock bands such as Black Flag. What makes Flea unique from other bassists is his constant improvisation and speed in songs.
Most of the various basses Flea has used with the Red Hot Chili Peppers include:
* Alembic Epic: Flea used an Alembic Epic bass comprising a flame maple topped mahogany body and ebony fingerboard to record almost all of the One Hot Minute album, with the exception of the songs Aeroplane and Pea. This guitar can be glimpsed in the second video for the single My Friends, showing the band recording the album in The Sound Factory studios.
* Fender Jazz Bass: Although he primarily used his signature Modulus Flea Bass during the recording sessions for By The Way, Flea also used a 1961 Shell Pink Fender Jazz Bass to record certain songs such as Body Of Water. This bass was later used in parts of the Can't Stop video, and for all of Stadium Arcadium. This 1961 Jazz is the only known specimen in Shell Pink (the rarest custom color) though it now appears orange-peach, due to the deeply yellowed lacquer coating over the underlying pink paint. Flea has since been playing live with this instrument during the touring and promotional duties for Stadium Arcadium.
* Fender Precision Bass: Used as a live back-up on the Freaky Styley album tour.
* Modulus Flea Bass: Flea used various models of his signature bass in different colour finishes for recording and tours through the years 1997 to 2004. The most notable examples of Flea's use of this bass include a blue flake finished model which was his primary instrument on the Californication world tour, and featured a rectangular sticker just below the bridge saying; "a flea still drinks the blood of those who wouldn't harm a flea". He also used a silver flake model in the video for Can't Stop, which was his drop-D tuned bass on the Californication and By The Way tours. Perhaps most notably, Flea used a custom model nicknamed the "Punk Bass", which was painted like the French national flag and covered in graphics featuring his favourite punk bands, which was his main instrument on the By The Way world tour. His newest bass is a sunburst Flea Bass with black pickguard. It has the same spec as all of his other Modulus Basses and is currently being used for the Stadium Arcadium tour.
* Music Man Cutlass I: Flea's one and only Cutlass was covered in pink and green tape and paint, and further covered with stickers. He recorded The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Freaky Styley albums with the Cutlass, and he also used it on tour extensively. These basses were identical to the classic Stingray model but featured a graphite neck made by Modulus.
* Music Man Sterling: Glimpsed in the original My Friends video.
* Music Man StingRay: He started using Stingrays somewhere between the Uplift Mofo Party Plan tour and the recording of Mother's Milk; They were both black, one with a maple fingerboard and a sticker saying 'crunch' on the upper body horn used in the Show Me Your Soul video, and the other with a rosewood fingerboard, later used to record Aeroplane on One Hot Minute and used in that song's video. Flea's only use of a five-string bass was a black StingRay5 used to record Funky Monks and Righteous And The Wicked on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and in the music video for Under the Bridge.
* Sigma Acoustic: Used to record the bass and vocals song Pea.
* Spector NS: To record Uplift Mofo Party Plan, Flea used a black NS with chrome hardware, dot inlays, J-J pickups and stickers of two figures on the instrument's body horns, and subsequently used a new black NS with gold hardware, block inlays and a J-P pickup configuration on all of Mother's Milk.
* Taylor Acoustic: Used to record the song Road Trippin'.
* Wal Mach II: Flea used this blue custom guitar to record most of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, with the only exceptions being the two songs Funky Monks and Righteous And The Wicked. He still owns this bass, except it is now covered with stickers that exhibit the faces of people Flea admires.
Session bass guitar
In the early 80s he was the bassist for Fear. He played trumpet on Jane's Addiction's Nothing's Shocking, and filled in for Eric Avery during their reunion tour in 1997, as well as played bass for The Mars Volta on 2003's De-Loused in the Comatorium and trumpet for 2005's Frances the Mute. He also played bass for Alanis Morissette on the acclaimed song 'You Oughta Know', as well as guest appearances on countless albums by other artists.
As well as being a successful musician, Flea has also been an actor, having made his debut in the 1983 cult classic punk drama, Suburbia and had appeared in the movies The Big Lebowski, My Own Private Idaho , Son in Law, The Blue Iguana, The Chase (1994) (with RHCP bandmate Kiedis), Motorama, Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III as 'Needles', headlining in Liar's Poker (1999), and providing the voice of the feral boy Donnie in the animated television series The Wild Thornberrys, as well as a minor, yet memorable role in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, among others. For example, in The Chase (1994) a 1994 movie featuring Charlie Sheen as an estranged man trying to escape the cops with a young woman he kidnapped, Flea and Anthony Kiedis play two metalheads in a big 4x4 who try to stop Sheen's red sportscar and end up crashing like imbeciles.
Flea married Loesha Zeviar in 1986. Their daughter, Clara, was born in 1988. Flea and Loesha split up in 1990 and have joint custody of Clara but remain on friendly terms, with Loesha's name remaining tattoed on Flea's chest. He has also recently had a baby girl named Sunny Bebop Balzary in 2006 with his new fiancee, 30 year old model Frankie Rayder. John Frusciante is Sunny Bebop's godfather.
In 2001 Flea founded his own music school in Los Angeles called the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, in the trendy L.A. district of Silverlake.
During the writing of Stadium Arcadium, Flea's dog Martian died, which inspired the song on the album called "Death Of A Martian".
Flea also has a blog for NBA.com about his beloved Los Angeles Lakers.
2/ Flea : Italian progressive rock band from the 70s.
Having the distinction of releasing three albums under three different names but without changing their personnel, this quartet from Sicily includes the brothers Agostino and Antonio Marangolo (drums and keyboards, respectively), their cousin Carlo Pennisi on guitar, and Elio Volpini on bass and sax. Based in Rome, they played under the name FLEA ON THE HONEY at the 1971 Viareggio Pop Festival. Later that same year they recorded their self-title debut, which was a decidedly English-influenced hard rock album and was marketed as such by RCA subsidiary Delta. The vocals were in English, and the members were even given English names on the album cover (Dustin, Tony, Charlie, and Nigel, respectively), probably an attempt to foist them off as Englishmen who had come to Italy seeking fame and fortune. Although derivative, the music has some nice moments and is a good hard rock album with a nod toward the nascent progressive movement.
After more live activity, including an appearance at the Rome Villa Pamphili Festival and a mini-tour with METAMORFOSI and GARYBALDI, the band shortened their name to FLEA and recorded their best album in 1972, "Topi o Uomini." The highlight is the 20-minute title track, and the album features vocals in Italian and a more progressive style while keeping their feet solidly in the hard rock camp.
Following the release of "Topi o Uomini," bassist Elio Volpini left the band to join his keyboard-playing brother Enzi in L'UOVO DI COLOMBO. He was replaced in FLEA briefly by Fabio Pignatelli, who later left to join CHERRY FIVE and GOBLIN. FLEA then broke up for a short time, but in 1975 the original four members reunited and changed their name to ETNA. Their only eponymous album represents a major shift in musical style to Jazz Rock, not unlike NOVA and IL BARICENTRO.
The group then broke up for the last time. Elio Volpini played with many musicians on stage and in the studio. Agostino Marangolo joined GOBLIN and was later involved in NEW PERIGEO and later in the new version of NAPOLI CENTRALE. Antonio Marangalo had a successful career as a session musician and released a solo album "Duo" in 1987. Carlo Pennisi played briefly in LIBRA, MEDITERRANEO, GOBLIN, and NEW PERIGEO. The Marangolo brothers and cousin Carlo Pennisi played together again on Agostino's 2001 solo album "Day By Day," which is supposed to be similar to WEATHER REPORT in style.