The B&N Podcast: Flea on the Music of the Streets and the Call of the Spirit

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper.

Our guest on today’s episode of the B&N Podcast is the musician and author Flea, famous as the bassist for the iconic, sometimes outrageous band the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who built a fervent fan base in their Los Angeles hometown before exploding as rock superstars with 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He joins us to talk about his new memoir Acid for the Children, a nakedly honest and deeply tender account of his years growing up in 1970s Los Angeles, enamored of both the possibilities of art and the lure of the streets. Acid for the Children chronicles in appropriately electric style the life of a self-described “street kid” who was also a devoted reader and aspiring punk musician. Candid about both the drug use central to the scene and the vital friendships that buoyed him through those years, Flea delivers a true story with an emotional punch that matches its tough-minded revelations. He joined B&N’s Josh Perilo for a conversation about what it meant to revisit a time in his life marked by exuberant excess, joy, and tragedy.

The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you’d want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star.

In Acid for the Children, Flea takes readers on a deeply personal and revealing tour of his formative years, spanning from Australia to the New York City suburbs to, finally, Los Angeles. Through hilarious anecdotes, poetical meditations, and occasional flights of fantasy, Flea deftly chronicles the experiences that forged him as an artist, a musician, and a young man. His dreamy, jazz-inflected prose makes the Los Angeles of the 1970s and 80s come to gritty, glorious life, including the potential for fun, danger, mayhem, or inspiration that lurked around every corner. It is here that young Flea, looking to escape a turbulent home, found family in a community of musicians, artists, and junkies who also lived on the fringe. He spent most of his time partying and committing petty crimes. But it was in music where he found a higher meaning, a place to channel his frustration, loneliness, and love. This left him open to the life-changing moment when he and his best friends, soul brothers, and partners-in-mischief came up with the idea to start their own band, which became the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Acid for the Children is the debut of a stunning new literary voice, whose prose is as witty, entertaining, and wildly unpredictable as the author himself. It’s a tenderly evocative coming-of-age story and a raucous love letter to the power of music and creativity from one of the most renowned musicians of our time.

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