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“No one knew of his secret superpowers at the time”: Red Hot Chili Peppers producer explains what made John Frusciante stand out

Frusciante is a music theory expert, apparently.

John Frusciante playing guitar

Image: Erika Goldring/WireImage via Getty Image

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Red Hot Chili Peppers producer Michael Beinhorn looked back on his work with the band in a recent interview, and explained what made guitarist John Frusciante stand out.

Beinhorn worked with the band on their 1987 album The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, the final album to feature guitarist Hilal Slovak before his 1988 death and drummer Jack Irons before he left the band, and their 1989 follow-up, Mother’s Milk.

Mother’s Milk was the first album to feature Slovak and Irons’ respective replacements, Frusciante and Chad Smith, after a year or two of line-up instability. Speaking to Rick Beato, Beinhorn discusses the changes the Chili Peppers faced during this time. He says of his relationship with the band after working with them on The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, “We were pretty close. We weren’t in touch regularly, but they would just keep me apprised. And once in a while, we get together for dinner, just hang out.

“I think [temporary drummer] D.H. [Peligro] introduced Flea to John [Frusciante], who was a Chili Peppers fan and a Dead Kennedys fan. And no one knew of his secret superpowers at the time. The fact that he was a trained music student.”

Beinhorn explains that Frusciante had an expert understanding of composition and music theory and would transcribe Steve Vai guitar solos. He adds, “He’d sit around in his house for 12 hours every day just drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and doing crazy shit like that. So he was absolutely perfect.”

The only issue Beinhorn had with Frusciante, he explains, was the “hideous Ibanez guitar” he played, which “didn’t suit the Chili Peppers too much‘ – the guitar Beinhorn refers to might be Frusciante’s old Ibanez RG760, which he was often seen using early on in his Chili Peppers tenure.

Covered in a range of stickers, it’s instantly recognisable, but Beinhorn clearly wasn’t sold on the axe.

You can watch the interview with Beinhorn below:

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