Bassist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers admitted that he faked playing the bass guitar during the Super Bowl halftime show this past Sunday when the band performed their hit song “Give It Away.” He didn’t want to do it at first, but he was told by NFL officials that “the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums and guitar would be prerecorded.”
Flea, 51, posted a letter to the fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers at their official website. In the letter, he confessed that he and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer just pretended to be playing their guitars.
To avoid possible complications that might arise due to technical issues like guitar strings breaking, or feedback, the NFL halftime show hasn’t had musicians playing instruments live for years, according to NFL officials.
Flea stated that the NFL told him and the other members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers that performing the song live would be too complicated. You can read Flea’s letter to the fans of his band at the last link below.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed at the Super Bowl halftime show with Bruno Mars. Presumably, neither Mars nor anyone in his band played their instruments, either, though there has — so far — been nobody calling their halftime performance “faked.”
Controversy arose when Vernon Reid, the guitarist of Living Colour, tweeted his doubt about Flea’s bass playing being live. Flea, energetic as usual, was leaping about the stage, his bass guitar suspiciously untethered to any wires.Reid came right out and said in his tweet that Flea’s bass guitar “is plugged into NOTHING.”
There were a few others who noticed, but, looking back, it’s actually kind of surprising that more people didn’t point out that none of the musicians onstage were genuinely playing their instruments, though the band members were singing. Perhaps the main reason that Flea got publicly called out is that so many people were watching, someone was bound to notice something amiss.
That’s especially true when you consider this year’s Super Bowl was the most watched sporting event in the history of television. Viewers of the halftime show and the shellacking of the Denver Broncos by the Seattle Seahawks reportedly numbered in the hundreds of millions.
Besides the Super Bowl halftime show, most live broadcast shows — like the Grammy Awards show, for example — have the musical instruments pre-recorded.
Flea and guitarist John Klinghoffer knew that being asked to “play” during the halftime at any Super Bowl generally is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While they would have preferred to play their instruments live, they were told that no band plays their musical instruments live any more at the Super Bowl.
While bands now don’t have to have their instruments plugged into anything, if the sound of the instruments is being transmitted via a wireless transmitter, neither Klinghoffer nor Flea had wireless transmitters on their instruments.
Flea and Klinghoffer knew that they could have tried to fool their fans and the vast audience around the world watching them by being plugged in, but they decided that by not being plugged in, theses two members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers felt that they were being more honest. They realized that there was bound to be someone who would notice, so by not being plugged in, they were openly acknowledging the fact that they weren’t really playing their guitars.
Written by: Douglas Cobb