Like the drummer’s chair in Spinal Tap, the guitar player position in the Red Hot Chili Peppers has always been a mysterious black hole. The band has been together since 1983 and have morphed from snot-nosed skate punks to a full-scale stadium rock monster. They’ve been on hiatus, but recently got back together to talk about new material. Except they are short one member, as guitarist John Frusciante announced that he has left the band. It’s the second time Frusciante has left the band (the first time was in 1992 at the height of the band’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik-era popularity).
All told, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have had seven total guitarists in their history. Original axeman Hillel Slovak died of an overdose in 1988 and was followed by DeWayne McKnight, Frusciante, Arik Marshall, Dave Navarro and Frusciante again. (Guitarist Jack Sherman actually recorded the parts for the band’s self-titled first album because Slovak was signed to another label with another band at the time.)
They’re a three-legged dog once again, but there are plenty of options available. Playing in the Chili Peppers is difficult, as you have to shift from funk to hard rock to punk on a dime, but these 10 axemen could fit the bill nicely.
Dave Navarro: He’s already replaced Frusciante once and already knows a lot of the songs. Plus, the one album the band cut with Navarro (1995’s One Hot Minute) is a tremendously underrated album. It’s phenomenally dark and has a least two songs (“Warped” and “My Friends”) that deserve to be recognized as modern classics.
Captain Kirk Douglas: He’s got a sweet gig with the Roots on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” but listen to how easily he shifts from metal riffs to smooth reggae and jazz. Douglas is a remarkable player who can be everything to everyone.
Robin Finck: Since Nine Inch Nails is no longer a traveling outfit, Finck needs some work. The guy knows how to deliver big, intricate sounds and is comfortable playing in front of the massive crowds that the Chili Peppers are used to.
Vernon Reid: Living Colour only recently got back together, but Reid is probably the dream guitarist for the Peppers, as he is able to bring together metal, funk and everything in between with every strum.
Joe Satriani: The virtuoso axeman is comfortable with all styles, and he could really sink his teeth into the group’s latter-day material (especially the tunes on the solo-happy Stadium Arcadium). Then again, it would probably be difficult to get him away from Chickenfoot.
Nigel Pulsford: The former lead guitarist of Bush was always underrated, capable of delivering big riffs and squiggly psychedelia. His previous work doesn’t suggest that he’s capable of getting down with the funkier corners of RHCP’s catalog, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Nick Zinner: Nobody does a better job experimenting with sounds and styles than the guitarist for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who could easily help shape the next RHCP movement.
Eric Erlandson: The former Hole guitarist always knew how to bring the noise with ninja-like precision. Since Courtney Love probably won’t ever get her old band back together, it would be a great gig for Erlandson.
Rocky George: The Fishbone guitarist also has a background the splits the difference between heavy rock, ska and punk, which would make him an ideal fit for the band.
Kim Thayil: The former Soundgarden guitarist would bring a heavier, more psychedelic edge than even Navarro, but his big sound (and fantastic beard) have been sorely missed on the rock scene.
Who do you think should be the new Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist? Leave your thoughts in the comments!