Exclusive: Jack Sherman, Who Played on the Band's First Album, Speaks
Music's most coveted honor will elude several former Red Hot Chili Peppers members when HBO airs April's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night.
The Hall recognized only three of the band's eight guitarists -- the late founding member, Hillel Slovak; John Frusciante, who quit in 2008; and current player Josh Klinghoffer -- a decision "made by the Hall of Fame and our advisors," Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, told Billboard in an email on Friday.
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In an exclusive interview, guitarist Jack Sherman, who played on Red Hot Chili Peppers' 1984 self-titled debut and co-wrote some songs on the follow-up, "Freaky Styley," said he was rejected last December when he appealed to former band members for inclusion.
Only original and current members, and those who played on multiple records qualified, Sherman claims he was told. It appeared to be a "politically correct way of omitting Dave Navarro and I for whatever reasons they have that are probably the band's and not the Hall's," he said.
Navarro, who spent almost five years with Chili Peppers after longtime member Frusciante left in 1992, will also not be recognized. The guitarist joined the band to headline Woodstock '94 and record "One Hot Minute," their second highest-charting album up to that point (after 1991's "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"). It spent 46 weeks on the Billboard 200 and peaked at No. 4. The band fired Navarro in 1998, and Frusciante re-joined later that year, only to quit the band a second time in 2008. (Frusciante declined to appear at the April 14 ceremony.)
"It's not a decision made by the band, it's a decision made by the Hall of Fame," Eric Greenspan, Red Hot Chili Peppers' lawyer, told Billboard, adding, "They determine which of the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, through their career, will get inducted."
Frontman Anthony Kiedis commented on the Navarro decision to Cleveland's The Plain Dealer before the induction ceremony.
"He's in this other band, which may in fact be inducted itself one day, called Jane's Addiction," he said. "I think that's the band closest to his heart, and that most represents his contribution to the world in terms of music. So maybe it makes more sense for him to be inducted one day as a member of Jane's Addiction."
Red Hot Chili Peppers has a long history of rotating guitarists: In 1983, Sherman replaced original axeman Slovak, who left the band just after it signed its first record deal; Sherman's acrimony with Kiedis and bassist Flea led to Slovak's return. Frusciante joined after Slovak's death in 1988, and recorded "Mother's Milk" and "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" prior to leaving before Lollapalooza in 1992. Others quickly shuffled through the lineup: Zander Schloss lasted four days; Arik Marshall joined only for the Lollapalooza dates; and Jesse Tobias arrived and left within weeks. The following year the band recruited Navarro; requests to his publicist for comment on his not being inducted went unanswered.
Though Sherman nailed the audition to replace Slovak, he says his earlier work with John Hiatt and Toni Childs made for an awkward match. Kiedis backs this up in his 2004 autobiography, "Scar Tissue," recalling Sherman lacked "a punk-rock pedigree. [...] I knew that our relationship with Jack wasn't meant to be."
Still, Gang of Four's Andy Gill, who produced the band's debut, told Billboard Sherman's role should not go overlooked. "I do find him to be significant to the band's history, very much part of getting the funk guitar in there. They just really rubbed each other up the wrong way," he said.
"It's really painful to see all this celebrating going on and be excluded," Sherman said. "I'm not claiming that I've brought anything other to the band... but to have soldiered on under arduous conditions to try to make the thing work, and I think that's what you do in a job, looking back. And that's been dishonored. I'm being dishonored, and it sucks."
As Kiedis admits in his autobiography: "God bless Jack, he did keep the band afloat for a year, and if he hadn't, the years to follow probably wouldn't have."
A similar Hall of Fame gripe happened in 1998, when the selection committee chose not to include guitarist Bob Welch for Fleetwood Mac's induction.