Why Red Hot Chili Peppers Hated Chad Smith at His Audition
At the time, the group was in a state of flux. Guitarist Hillel Slovak had died of a heroin overdose, with John Frusciante recruited to replace him. Meanwhile, drummer D.H. Peligro had been fired, and the band held open auditions to replace him. The turnout was less than inspiring.
"I thought, ‘Oh, this is the Chili Peppers. We're not going to have any problem at all getting a new drummer,’" producer Michael Beinhorn, who was working with the band at the time, recalled in a recent interview with YouTuber Rick Beato. “[But] I have never seen a more lackluster group of drummers under one roof in my entire life.”
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The final drummer to audition was Smith, who, according to Beinhorn, walked in “like he own[ed] the place."
"And we all hate him immediately," the producer recalled. "Everyone just looks at him and goes like, ‘This fucking guy. What a prick!'”
'Play Your Drums, Get the F--k Out'
The band immediately judged Smith for both his attitude and his attire.
“He looks like he belongs in a metal band,” Beinhorn explained. “He's got a bandana around his head and stuff like that. Just so not right. And I'm just thinking to myself, I just want this guy to go. What's your name? Chad? Perfect name. Play your drums, get the fuck out."
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Of course, the mood in the room changed as soon as Smith got behind the kit.
"From the first hit I was like, ‘Oh my God,’" the producer confessed. "He was so good. He was SO good. And something happened in that room that I've only experienced a few times in my life, like it literally felt like some energy portal had opened... It literally felt like a whole bunch of doors had opened, like a magic incantation had been recited and everything just [fell into a place] like that in a movie... Everything shifted. It was incredible."
According to Beinhorn, Anthony Kiedis, Flea and Frusciante recognized that Smith was “not only the best drummer that they've auditioned, he's probably the best drummer they've ever played with in their entire lives. They knew what they were dealing with and the vibe was so incredible. It was so good, you couldn't deny it."
Smith's first album with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mother's Milk, was released in 1989. He's played on all of the band's releases ever since.
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Gallery Credit: Corey Irwin