Personalities | John Frusciante | Melodic Maestro | Guitar Heroes

Alt-rock guitarist John Frusciante (b. 1970) was born into a musical family in Queens, New York. While living in Los Angeles after his parents’ divorce, Frusciante became involved with the city’s punk-rock scene.

Frusciante was particularly inspired by The Germs, teaching himself to play the songs on their first album before taking guitar lessons. He studied Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix; mastered the blues scale; and then became obsessed with Frank Zappa.

On seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers at age 15, he became a devotee, learning the guitar parts from their first three albums, as performed by the band’s lead guitarist Hillel Slovak. When Slovak died from a heroin overdose in 1988, Frusciante successfully auditioned to replace his role model. His second album with the Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991), turned the band into stars, but Frusciante was unable to handle the newfound success and quit in May 1992. Struggling with depression, he became addicted to heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol for more than five years, once nearly dying from a blood infection, although he did manage to record and release two solo albums in that period.

By 1998, he had been through rehab and cleaned up. He rejoined the Chili Peppers when his replacement Dave Navarro was fired. The band has since gone on to even greater worldwide success and acclaim. Frusciante’s guitar is particularly upfront on Stadium Arcadium (2005), which saw his playing receive belated recognition from critics and musicians. Following the Stadium Arcadium tour, the Red Hot Chili Peppers agreed to a hiatus of indefinite length. During this period, Frusciante released his tenth solo album, The Empyrean (2009), with contributions from Flea, Josh Klinghoffer and Johnny Marr. Since leaving the Chili Peppers, he has explored electronica, releasing two further solo albums to a mixed critical reception.

Frusciante is an emotional and melodic guitarist who possesses great technical ability, and many of his live solos are improvised. He is a fan of guitarists with a melody-driven style, such as Bernard Sumner, John McGeoch (Siouxsie And The Banshees) and XTC’s Andy Partridge. He prefers pre-1970 guitars for their sonic qualities and selects the most appropriate instrument for the song. Following his 1998 return to the Chili Peppers, he used a 1962 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster.

Essential Recordings

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Californication

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Stadium Arcadium

Solo: The Empyrean

Personalities | Noel Gallagher | Britpop’s Trail-blazer | Guitar Heroes


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.