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The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in a far and distant future. Little Michael from Oz moved with his very conservative, very normal family to Westchester, New York, where life as he knew it was soon turned upside down. His parents split up and he and his sister moved into the home of his mother's free-wheeling, jazz musician boyfriend, Walt--trading in rules, stability, and barbecues for bohemian values, wildness, and Sunday afternoon jazz parties where booze, weed, and music flowed in equal measure. Michael was frightened by the lack of order in his new reality and his volatile new stepfather, but found his salvation in the world of passionate musicians the Walt exposed him to. There began his life-long journey to channel all the frustration, loneliness, love, and joy he felt into incredible rhythm. When Michael's family moved to Los Angeles in 1972, his home situation was rockier than ever. He sought out a sense of belonging elsewhere, spending most of his days partying, playing basketball, and committing petty crimes. At Fairfax High School, he met another social outcast, Anthony Kiedis, who quickly became his soul brother, the yin to his yang, his partner in mischief. Michael joined some bands, fell in love with performing, and honed his skills. But it wasn't until the night when Anthony, excited after catching a Grandmaster Flash concert, suggested they start their own band that he is handed the magic key to the cosmic kingdom. Acid for the Children is as raw, entertaining and wildly unpredictable as its author. It's both a tenderly evocative coming of age story and a raucous love letter to the power of music and creativity.


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The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in a far and distant future. Little Michael from Oz moved with his very conservative, very normal family to Westchester, New York, where life as he knew it was soon turned upside down. His parents split up and he and his sister moved into the home of his mother's free-wheeling, jazz musician boyfriend, Walt--trading in rules, stability, and barbecues for bohemian values, wildness, and Sunday afternoon jazz parties where booze, weed, and music flowed in equal measure. Michael was frightened by the lack of order in his new reality and his volatile new stepfather, but found his salvation in the world of passionate musicians the Walt exposed him to. There began his life-long journey to channel all the frustration, loneliness, love, and joy he felt into incredible rhythm. When Michael's family moved to Los Angeles in 1972, his home situation was rockier than ever. He sought out a sense of belonging elsewhere, spending most of his days partying, playing basketball, and committing petty crimes. At Fairfax High School, he met another social outcast, Anthony Kiedis, who quickly became his soul brother, the yin to his yang, his partner in mischief. Michael joined some bands, fell in love with performing, and honed his skills. But it wasn't until the night when Anthony, excited after catching a Grandmaster Flash concert, suggested they start their own band that he is handed the magic key to the cosmic kingdom. Acid for the Children is as raw, entertaining and wildly unpredictable as its author. It's both a tenderly evocative coming of age story and a raucous love letter to the power of music and creativity.

30 review for Acid for the Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Flea refers to this as his origin story. It begins with his parents and ends just before RHCP. Unsurprisingly, he’s a gifted story teller. And this is a must on audio! His narration is fantastic and quirky. Flea is way more than a genital sock donning bass player, he’s a massive reader, devout Vonnegut fan, and a quality human. I wish to be his friend. I sincerely hope he writes a follow up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I am a Chili Peppers fan, and Flea has always been an intriguing person, so when I learned he was writing an autobiography, I definitely wanted to read it! Flea’s life begins differently than you would expect: calm and typical, until his parents split. It’s then that his mom’s new boyfriend exposes him to music, musicians, and a bohemian lifestyle, which inspires him to get into music, too. Acid for the Children is a wild ride. There’s coming-of-age, insight, and entertainment from beginning to I am a Chili Peppers fan, and Flea has always been an intriguing person, so when I learned he was writing an autobiography, I definitely wanted to read it! Flea’s life begins differently than you would expect: calm and typical, until his parents split. It’s then that his mom’s new boyfriend exposes him to music, musicians, and a bohemian lifestyle, which inspires him to get into music, too. Acid for the Children is a wild ride. There’s coming-of-age, insight, and entertainment from beginning to end. Thank you to the publisher for the free copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  3. 5 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray Michael Balzary. You probably know him as Flea, bassist and co-founder of the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Observing him in the public eye, playing intensely energetic rock shows for over three and a half decades, one may think Flea is just your typical “rock star” – an over-the-top persona. However, after reading his memoir, it is clear this would be a monumental misrepresentation and oversimplification of a quite complex huma Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray Michael Balzary. You probably know him as Flea, bassist and co-founder of the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Observing him in the public eye, playing intensely energetic rock shows for over three and a half decades, one may think Flea is just your typical “rock star” – an over-the-top persona. However, after reading his memoir, it is clear this would be a monumental misrepresentation and oversimplification of a quite complex human soul. In Acid for the Children, Flea shares, in great detail, the first 20 years or so of his life, from his childhood all the way up to the inception of the band that would forever change his world (and that of rock music). As readers may expect, this memoir has no shortage of wild and crazy tales. From family and friends to music and drugs, this book covers it all. (Even the influence of literature on Flea’s life from a very young age! Did you know that he is an avid bookworm, influenced by the likes of Vonnegut and Bukowski?!) The short chapters, filled with little vignettes – specific scenes he recalls from his past – keep the book moving forward at a good pace, providing the life highlights of a man who surely has many more tales to tell and adventures left to experience. Readers are, however, likely to be surprised by the deeply touching nature of the narrative. Flea moves on from simply telling these stories to create a much richer context by embedding them in the surrounding emotions, the impact of the events, and even sharing insights that are only visible now looking back into his past. He examines how his childhood experiences have caused him to struggle with finding a sense of self and loving others, explores how using drugs opened him up to a new spiritual world (at least initially) and helped him feel free to express himself. Reading this book is akin to having a conversation with the man himself: candid and stripped down, like hearing Flea speak his own story aloud, just as a memoir should be. There is a lyrical lilt to Flea’s prose. His voice is clear and authentic, without a tinge of pretension. His enthusiasm for life, the way that he has always been unapologetically himself, is evident through his writing. Despite being a self-defined “outsider,” his purity of heart shines through, as he is clearly an individual full of kindness and empathy who seeks interconnectedness with those around him and with the universe on a larger scale. Perhaps most importantly, this memoir is utterly thought-provoking. It challenges assumptions. It reflects on the past, shining a light on how decisions have a ripple effect throughout our days. And it meditates on the beauty inherent in both life and those who walk through it with us. I highly recommend picking it up! You are certain to walk away from the reading experience feeling as if you actually know Flea himself.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Derek Hoeksema

    It felt like he was holding me down and forcing me to listen to something that he thought was profound.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    This book is yikes city. Flea waxes poetically about all kinds of vibing with the sound, connecting with the Earth etc since he was a kid, but in a very ‘first grader who is enlightened’ vocabulary. Isnt this man sixtyish by now? Some of the book I’ve found to be endearing, but most of it is unfortunately pure gibberish - and I say this as someone who loves him and the RHCP. He is an inconsistent writer, finishing chapters and stories in weird sudden halts, meanwhile somehow managing to remember This book is yikes city. Flea waxes poetically about all kinds of vibing with the sound, connecting with the Earth etc since he was a kid, but in a very ‘first grader who is enlightened’ vocabulary. Isnt this man sixtyish by now? Some of the book I’ve found to be endearing, but most of it is unfortunately pure gibberish - and I say this as someone who loves him and the RHCP. He is an inconsistent writer, finishing chapters and stories in weird sudden halts, meanwhile somehow managing to remember every name of every person he has ever met. Also according to this book and how its written: Flea never met a gay man without explaining it with ‘I met this gay man’. He apparently also never saw/met a person of color who wasnt described as such before even their name was said, or at latest in the next sentence if he was trying to be mysterious (their brown cinnamon eyes/face). Also the book ends when hes still in his twenties. A miscalculation on my part for sure for thinking Id enjoy this book much more than I did, but also maybe we didnt need every waking second od his life around ages 4-9 explained.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    For the most part I enjoyed Flea's memoir. If you're looking for the story of the RHCP, you won't find it here. This is about his life pre RHCP. It's nice to read about a man who had a tough childhood and then goes on to become extremely successful using his own natural talent, eventually becoming a happy man. I did feel the book was a bit disjointed at times. I had a bit of trouble following the timeline, or maybe there really wasn't a timeline? At times I felt some of his descriptions were ove For the most part I enjoyed Flea's memoir. If you're looking for the story of the RHCP, you won't find it here. This is about his life pre RHCP. It's nice to read about a man who had a tough childhood and then goes on to become extremely successful using his own natural talent, eventually becoming a happy man. I did feel the book was a bit disjointed at times. I had a bit of trouble following the timeline, or maybe there really wasn't a timeline? At times I felt some of his descriptions were over the top. I don't need several words to describe something, like reading at a thesaurus. One thing I did like is that he didn't try to gloss over his drug use or the crimes he committed as a kid/teen. He tells it like it was and then tells you he knew he was an asshole to commit the crimes. He also explains the drugs were fun at the time but in the long run kids and/teens shouldn't do them. I listened to the audio which is narrated by Flea, which was nice, listening to him tell me his story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ben Leiter

    What Is It: Considering he's been naked on magazine covers and played concerts while wearing nothing but a sock on his junk, exposure is not something Flea fears. However, his new memoir Acid for the Children is less about the Red Hot Chili Pepper's bassist getting physically naked (although he does that a few times in the book) and more about him getting emotionally naked. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Australia to a strict father and a bohemian mother. When he was four, his parents divorce What Is It: Considering he's been naked on magazine covers and played concerts while wearing nothing but a sock on his junk, exposure is not something Flea fears. However, his new memoir Acid for the Children is less about the Red Hot Chili Pepper's bassist getting physically naked (although he does that a few times in the book) and more about him getting emotionally naked. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Australia to a strict father and a bohemian mother. When he was four, his parents divorced and he moved with his mother and older sister Karyn ("me with a wig") to New York City. There they lived with a jazz artist named Walter who will introduce Michael to the power of music. It will change his life forever. When he sees Walter playing for the first time at a party he proclaims, "If Moses had parted the seas right in front of me, or my dog started speaking the Queen's English, it would not have been this miraculous." It is when the family moves again to LA that Michael "started living the life of a street kid" and serendipitously meets Anthony Kiedis in driver's ed. The book ends before the Chili Peppers become famous, because this book isn't about the life of a rock star. Acid for the Children is about how books, divorce, karate, anger, drugs, love, basketball and most of all music, turned a boy named Michael into a rock star named Flea. Why Is It Good: I'll admit that when I first heard Flea was releasing a memoir, I doubted his writing abilities. It was difficult to believe that the guy who once wore a dick-sock was capable of genuine self-reflection. I was wrong. Flea's prose has a shaggy, earnest charm to it. It reads the way music sounds, with sentences that shimmer and shimmy to their own unique beat. The book moves chronologically and vividly portrays settings and characters, but is less concerned with what happened in a moment, than how that moment felt. "The facts and figures aren't important to me, the colors and shapes that make up my world are; they are who I am, right or wrong." Flea frequently uses those colors and shapes to reveal fascinating insights into his own life. He feels comfortable pushing boundaries since, "No explicit art ever hurt me." He realizes that watching Walter's dysfunction helped to fuel his own since he, "equated creativity with insanity." He even confesses his own doubt in his writing abilities. "I may well be an eleven-fingered oaf slobbering over a typewriter, pounding out a thorny jumble of trash, an uneducated animal who runs on instinct and feeling. But this is my voice." It turns out that Flea's voice is as brilliant as his bass playing. How Can It Help: "Bein famous don't mean shit." This may as well be the book's mission statement. Once again, the book doesn't cover any of his fame and fortune years. Flea is wise and experienced enough to know that no amount of either can fix a broken boy. He's wise enough to know that people contain multitudes ("I'm a wimp who cries too, so be it."). He's wise enough to know that, "Pain was something to be grateful for, not to be pursued, but inordinately valuable." He's honest enough to admit that selfishness prevented him from helping Chili Pepper guitarist Hillel Slovak, who died of a heroin overdose ("Long as I live, I will know I failed."). He's wise enough to know that he's "still evolving" and that, "Everything that is not love is cowardice." He's wise enough to be grateful for having published a book ("Thanks for reading my childhood."). Most of all though, he's generous enough to take all the solace he found in music and pay it forward to the next generation. "To all you kids out there hurting like I hurt, I'm gonna be with you there in the magic place." Whether you're hurting or not, the pages of Acid for the Children truly are a magical place.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    [I got an ARC via a goodreads giveaway] This definitely was not what I was expecting from a rock ’n’ roll hall of famer. It is an unusually self-aware, non-self serving autobiography. Instead of regaling you with romanticized stories of sex, drugs, and alcohol Flea lets you into his mind as he dealt with his very dysfunctional family (severe emotional neglect among other issues) from when he ran the streets as a child to using hard drugs to show what really happens in the head of many musicians. [I got an ARC via a goodreads giveaway] This definitely was not what I was expecting from a rock ’n’ roll hall of famer. It is an unusually self-aware, non-self serving autobiography. Instead of regaling you with romanticized stories of sex, drugs, and alcohol Flea lets you into his mind as he dealt with his very dysfunctional family (severe emotional neglect among other issues) from when he ran the streets as a child to using hard drugs to show what really happens in the head of many musicians. The book is made up of short chapters (3-4 pages each), that are well written but emotionally heavy. The book ends just as the RHCP begins; so don’t expect stories from those days.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick Craske

    As open, honest and expressive as his musicianship, Flea evokes the euphoric chaos of discovering music; exploring drugs and growing up fast in LA. Psychedelic, Punk'n'funkadelic. Flea channels Vonnegut and Bukowski, Byron and Eliot in his writing and writes about his youth up to the moment he steps on stage and first plays with Anthony Kiedis.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bon Tom

    Simply the best rocker biography I've ever read. The right way to ingest this is audio form, read by man himself. Reading in any other form, you're cutting yourself short. His warm, involved, emotional voice carries as much information as words themselves. Yes, he jumps a little around, chronologically, just as he does physically on stage, but I guess it's just the way he is. He seems to be spur of the moment type of guy and it just comes with the territory. The bio is brutally honest, down to the p Simply the best rocker biography I've ever read. The right way to ingest this is audio form, read by man himself. Reading in any other form, you're cutting yourself short. His warm, involved, emotional voice carries as much information as words themselves. Yes, he jumps a little around, chronologically, just as he does physically on stage, but I guess it's just the way he is. He seems to be spur of the moment type of guy and it just comes with the territory. The bio is brutally honest, down to the point and poetic at the same time. The man is almost as skilled with word as he is with rhythm. And I find it stunning how much I could identify with the guy. We seem to have pretty much similar psychological setup, and I've even done some of the same shit in my youth. Not that it resulted in any kind of stardom or sublime mastery, like in his case. Anyway, respect to the guy for all the apologies he made to people he wronged, unintentionally or otherwise. The way he lived is something of a template for as perfect life as we, imperfect human beings, are capable of: No matter the shit you've done, sooner or later you should come to your senses and make something out of it. This is book for keeps and reading multiple times.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Petergiaquinta

    Long after I’m dead, no doubt, someone will erect a statue of Flea in West Hollywood. He’ll be slapping that bass in mid-flight, wild-eyed, legs spread, his pants half-way down his ass, and with such a look of joy on his face that it will become a place of pilgrimage for young and old alike. Even those benighted folks who have never even heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will visit this shrine to be inspired and blessed by the radiant transcendence that is Flea. Devotees will climb up to touch t Long after I’m dead, no doubt, someone will erect a statue of Flea in West Hollywood. He’ll be slapping that bass in mid-flight, wild-eyed, legs spread, his pants half-way down his ass, and with such a look of joy on his face that it will become a place of pilgrimage for young and old alike. Even those benighted folks who have never even heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will visit this shrine to be inspired and blessed by the radiant transcendence that is Flea. Devotees will climb up to touch the Hendrix tattoo; selfies will be snapped abundantly; tokens of love and remembrance will be left at the statue’s base, and some of the more faithful will visit wearing only a single sock. Think I’m wrong about that? Well, maybe. But wait and see, because Flea is truly a remarkable human being filled with such energy, joy and compassion, and those three qualities radiate through every page of his childhood memoir, Acid for the Children. Flea views the world through a lens that makes me ashamed of my own cynical viewpoint. Here, he describes his childhood years in a series of short, fairly chronological reminiscences up to the point where the band that becomes the Chili Peppers is coming together. And each one of these short pieces is informed by a loving goodness that just leaks right through the language, even when he is writing about some pretty bleak topics—his junkie step-father who could fly into bewilderingly violent rages, the drugs and neglect and abuse he was surrounded by as a kid in Hollywood, an encounter with a prostitute on his high school graduation night, his teenage stint with the LA punk band Fear—whatever he is writing about, Flea fills it with a sense of love and wonder that radiates through the entire book. The last “music” book I read was long ago, the Doors tribute No One Gets Out of Here Alive, and as much as I am surrounded by music, I’m not really interested in reading about it, especially overblown rock and roll biographies. That’s not what this book is, not at all. This is a book about childhood, the wonder and the fear found there. It’s a book about the pleasures of reading, the loneliness of being different, the terrors that go along with discovering what the world is about. It’s almost Wordsworthian in places, although Flea had no Lake District to inform his young mind. Some readers have said that Flea’s writing style is highly influenced by the jazz music he grew up listening to and playing, and I think they are right. There is something improvisational and flowing about the way he writes, and when you read about how he was influenced by his step-father’s bebop, it will make sense. But I also felt there was something reminiscent of Richard Brautigan in Flea’s writing, too. Underneath it all, something reminded me of the simple joyful writing of Troutfishing in America. At the end of Acid for the Children, Flea leaves us with several lists of books, movies, and music that are significant to him, including “Concerts that Changed My Life.” Here’s mine... Concerts that Changed My Life Red Hot Chili Peppers—Metro—Chicago 10/26/1985

  12. 4 out of 5

    lunacat37

    I truly enjoyed this book so much. Flea is a natural at writing and his words are poetic and raw. I love the insight this book gave me into one of my favorite musicians! This book was a fun trip down memory lane into the 1970s LA street scene. Even if you’re not a huge RHCP fan, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michele Gardiner

    I whipped right through this. Michael Balzary (Flea) is a former client in my audio business, so I knew he had a love of esoteric jazz, and that he is a deep, thoughtful man. Here are some of my thoughts about his book: 1) Flea's chapters are short and to the point. It's a format I enjoy. Don't tell me ever freaking boring thing. What mattered? What's compelling? 2) Interesting, we both had major life-changing experiences in the late '60s. He refers to his suburban days as "normal life," as I did I whipped right through this. Michael Balzary (Flea) is a former client in my audio business, so I knew he had a love of esoteric jazz, and that he is a deep, thoughtful man. Here are some of my thoughts about his book: 1) Flea's chapters are short and to the point. It's a format I enjoy. Don't tell me ever freaking boring thing. What mattered? What's compelling? 2) Interesting, we both had major life-changing experiences in the late '60s. He refers to his suburban days as "normal life," as I did in my book "Craving Normal." 3) I also relate to his constant search to find his place, as the new and odd kid among the cliques: skaters/stoners/cholas/jocks. And about his thoughts on the era we were kids and teens during (hippie movement to punk/pre AIDS to post AIDS), I have similar thoughts. I relate to so much. But the more I read about his youthful dynamic with Anthony Kiedis, the more I recall my own Flea/Anthony experience I wrote about in my book, a story called, "Peppers for Breakfast." When Flea was a client in my audio business, he used to call our house, long before I knew (or connected) any of the above. Damn, the things I would love to ask him now. He's a man of many interests. Now I understand why. I appreciate, too, his ability to appreciate even his bad experiences for making him who he is. P.S. His childhood love of jazz and learning music is likely one reason he began his Silverlake Conservatory of Music, where my daughter took guitar lessons. Flea raises funds so children of all incomes can attend. https://silverlakeconservatory.org/

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beth M.

    I have to admit, I knew very little about Flea - bassist for the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers - before reading this book. Of course I grew up listening to their music. I remember skating around outside, free as a bird, to the tune of “Aeroplane.” Driving around in my first car with the Californication album blaring. And perhaps a performance or two with the guys wearing some strategically placed socks. 😝 But I knew nothing about his life story. In Acid for the Children Flea shares, in great I have to admit, I knew very little about Flea - bassist for the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers - before reading this book. Of course I grew up listening to their music. I remember skating around outside, free as a bird, to the tune of “Aeroplane.” Driving around in my first car with the Californication album blaring. And perhaps a performance or two with the guys wearing some strategically placed socks. 😝 But I knew nothing about his life story. In Acid for the Children Flea shares, in great detail, the first 20 years or so of his life. As you may expect, there is no shortage of wild and crazy tales. From family and friends to music and drugs, this memoir covers it all. (Even the influence of books on Flea’s life from a very young age!) The reader is, however, likely to be surprised by the deeply touching nature of Flea’s narrative. I imagine that reading this book is akin to having a conversation with the man himself: candid and stripped down, like hearing Flea speak his own story aloud, just as a memoir should be. There is a lyrical lilt to Flea’s prose, his voice clear and authentic. I was moved by his enthusiasm for life, the way that he has always been unapologetically himself. And perhaps most surprisingly, this memoir challenged my assumptions, making me think in unexpected ways and reminding me of the beauty inherent in life and those who walk through it with us. Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for this giveaway win! You can find Acid for the Children in a bookstore near you on November 5th!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cam

    Love Red Hot Chili Peppers ..... I enjoyed Flea’s story from childhood to adulthood..... I must say I’m surprised he made it to adulthood with all the drugs he pumped into his system.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Armand Rosamilia

    Spoiler alert: this dude smoked a lot of weed. His insights into life are intriguing, odd, oftentimes confusing, but definitely entertaining. If you're a huge RHCP fan but only looking for insight into the band itself, this will disappoint. It takes you from his earliest memories right up until the RHCP idea is formed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Georgette

    Not at all what I expected, which is why it's brilliant. Flea gives you all of his best, and what a funky fresh reveal it is. Seriously enjoyed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Poetic, hilarious, unexpectedly wholesome at times. I hope he writes more books, in general, as his particular turn of phrase is hard to put down. Brilliant.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Acid for the Children: A Memoir by Flea Flea is the bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and this is his origin story. Who knew that Mike Balzary known world wide as Flea, would be such a brilliant writer, he's open, honest and sometimes poetic, he's a deep and thoughtful man who is not afraid to own his own truth. He’s a wild and crazy guy, but with a very kind heart to rival those other traits. Stories of drug-fueled debauchery are there, but certainly not glamorized, simply left t Acid for the Children: A Memoir by Flea Flea is the bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and this is his origin story. Who knew that Mike Balzary known world wide as Flea, would be such a brilliant writer, he's open, honest and sometimes poetic, he's a deep and thoughtful man who is not afraid to own his own truth. He’s a wild and crazy guy, but with a very kind heart to rival those other traits. Stories of drug-fueled debauchery are there, but certainly not glamorized, simply left there for you to consider. Flea calls drug use a “pit of sadness,” He talks about being a shoplifter, drug user, and being raised in a dysfunctional family. Stories of his beloved nanna are told with love. He describes his mother as unaffectionate (“there is not one instance in my life where I can ever remember her holding or cuddling me”) His father was a much loved parent and you could feel the love between them, despite their differences. In high school, he met Anthony Kiedis, the future Chili Peppers lead singer, who instantly became his “brother” and with whom he’d start making music in 1983. Flea talks about “going primal” on the bass, which he taught himself to play. This is a sincere and profound biography, Reading this book is akin to having a conversation with Flea. This was an unexpected joy to read. It surprised me, Flea is an avid reader and it shows in his vocabulary. Hunter S Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut are favorites. This is the book you buy for Christmas, if you like a good honest biography.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Never have a read a memoir before where the spirit and sheer truism of the author bubbles up to the surface. Did it help that I've been a mega RHCP fan for decades? Probably, but it doesn't take away from the introspective beauty of this novel. Acid for the Children was not written "with" someone, these are Flea's words-excitable, jazzy, regretful, disarming, and writhing away in his biological bass zone. I loved that the prose were as off-centered and as wildly unpredictable as the author himsel Never have a read a memoir before where the spirit and sheer truism of the author bubbles up to the surface. Did it help that I've been a mega RHCP fan for decades? Probably, but it doesn't take away from the introspective beauty of this novel. Acid for the Children was not written "with" someone, these are Flea's words-excitable, jazzy, regretful, disarming, and writhing away in his biological bass zone. I loved that the prose were as off-centered and as wildly unpredictable as the author himself. The stories he tells are both chaotic and compassionate and listening to this book on audio was akin to seeing Flea on stage.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Woodward

    3.5 ⭐️ Okay, so a few things... -An origin story of RHCP this is not. If you're looking for that, I would guess you can probably find it elsewhere. (Perhaps in Scar Tissue? Not sure, haven't read that yet) The band is hardly mentioned at all until 80%ish. -Flea has done a LOT of drugs. A LOT. More than I would have anticipated, which is surprising. But one chapter in particular was so graphic in its description of taking a certain drug that it almost turned my stomach. Just a fair warning, this one 3.5 ⭐️ Okay, so a few things... -An origin story of RHCP this is not. If you're looking for that, I would guess you can probably find it elsewhere. (Perhaps in Scar Tissue? Not sure, haven't read that yet) The band is hardly mentioned at all until 80%ish. -Flea has done a LOT of drugs. A LOT. More than I would have anticipated, which is surprising. But one chapter in particular was so graphic in its description of taking a certain drug that it almost turned my stomach. Just a fair warning, this one isn't for the faint of heart. -He has had tons of friends pass away, all for varying reasons, which was really just tragic to read. If you can deal with all of the above and get past the first chapter or two (it's a little bit odd to start especially), it is an interesting book and Flea certainly is in his own universe!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Noa

    3.5* Ok so Flea is a great author? Did not see that one coming. Prejudice on my part, and sometimes it's so much fun to be confronted with your own prejudice. He has a great way with words – some bits are read-out-loud-pretty – and tells his story candidly, without shying away from his own selfishness and wrongness, mistakes everyone makes when young. I did have the problem I always have with memoirs, which is that I always think the obligatory drugs bit starts dragging real bad real fast for me. 3.5* Ok so Flea is a great author? Did not see that one coming. Prejudice on my part, and sometimes it's so much fun to be confronted with your own prejudice. He has a great way with words – some bits are read-out-loud-pretty – and tells his story candidly, without shying away from his own selfishness and wrongness, mistakes everyone makes when young. I did have the problem I always have with memoirs, which is that I always think the obligatory drugs bit starts dragging real bad real fast for me. I'm more interested in the aspects of people's lives outside of the drug-fuelled rampages that often define them or at least their memoirs. The part of this particular artist's life I'm most interested in is the part that is not in this book, and he has expressed plans to write another, if he feels his story needs that. I hope he does, but I so respect his decision to end it where he did, to tell the story he wanted without sticking to the birth-till-now-or-possibly-death-structure so many biographies and biopics cling onto as if it were a punishable offence to let it go. Someone please do tell him three ominous dots after a sentence is enough. It is. Three. No more. No, it's fine, I promise. Three dots. Also, if you read this, listen to Wet Sand by them. It's the best song in the history of music. So.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jasmina

    the most wonderful of books. genuinely can’t remember the last time i read something that moved me so much. great for fans of music and people interested in la in the 80s and how drugs can do a lot of bad shit and also anyone interested in what its like to be an artist and anyone interested in the human conditions. waaaaaaaaah.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Five surprising stars! I just finished reading this book (Acid For The Children) when I should have been doing a thousand other things. It turns out Flea is a most unexpectedly engaging writer. Truly eloquent, yet profane. Sharp, intelligent and insightful, while also having done many terribly (admittedly) stupid things. Just as Flea writes about his relationship with Anthony Kiedis, "Our friendship is complicated and many layered.. the blatant intense duality.. a study in contradictions.." Flea Five surprising stars! I just finished reading this book (Acid For The Children) when I should have been doing a thousand other things. It turns out Flea is a most unexpectedly engaging writer. Truly eloquent, yet profane. Sharp, intelligent and insightful, while also having done many terribly (admittedly) stupid things. Just as Flea writes about his relationship with Anthony Kiedis, "Our friendship is complicated and many layered.. the blatant intense duality.. a study in contradictions.." Flea is many layered, intense, and all kinds of (often beautiful) contradictions. Until now, I had little-to-no knowledge of Flea, except for a solid appreciation of a couple of RHCP hits. This book, Flea's voice, was a surprise. Honest. Passionate. Filled with kindness and gratitude. Positive and refreshing. In many ways delightful. As far as autobiography/memoirs go, I give it five stars for all of the above. That's not to say I'd recommend it to just anyone! It's as gritty as it is beautiful. There's a lot of crude language and content. As a woman, I felt the objectification that the world imposes (no direct fault of Flea, he just says it as it is, in coarse language.) There are a lot of drugs. A LOT of drugs. SO MANY DRUGS! With all the drug use, I'm amazed that he has such clarity of memories. But there is also tremendous heart: Hurt and forgiveness and peace and generosity. Love. "Compared to many, my childhood was a cakewalk." (Did you hear that, Tara Westover?) There's humor and a vibrant vocabulary. (new word for me: gazibbaleeacked) There is music appreciation. The book is somewhat a modern history of music. From jazz, to funk and rock & roll, classic rock, electric rock, punk rock, metal and rap. I love that Flea was influenced by the Beatles. And Prince. "Prince was hitting me hard." I love that Flea loves books! "Through all this insanity, I never stopped reading. Good literature could very well be the thing that stopped me from going over the edge, becoming a junkie, or completely frying my brain. Crucial to my sense of self was the sanity, moral guidance, and intellectual stimulation I got from books. The sanctuary that well-crafted novels provided reset me into a healthy state. I related deeply to the stories, admired the poetic prose of the great writer, and felt less alone. ..I found deep peace in reading. Unless I was too wasted to do it, I read every night." I love that Flea doesn't hold back his enthusiasm for anything, particularly for those he's admired and who've influenced him; artists, musicians, authors, and humans he loved. He shares it. It shines. I appreciate his overall passion and gratitude for life. And there is advice and encouragement: "Because your childhood beat you around and left you in pain doesn't mean that you'll continue the cycle. Let your hurt be the source of the greatest compassion, the deepest love and understanding. You can do anything. Walk through it, don't numb or hide. It's been twenty-eight years since I stopped drugs and dedicated myself to a spiritual path, but those hard drugs I did, the heroin, cocaine, and meth, they hurt me bad, it took a long time to really recover from 'em. I hope for you that you don't waste your energy there. ..no drug was ever necessary for a mind-opening experience." There is only the mildest, worthy hint of politics.. "All the arts funding had been cut the year after I left Fairfax, under the auspices of a ridiculous law called Proposition 13, a symptom of the Reaganomics trickle-down theory. I was shocked to realize that these kids didn't get an opportunity to study an instrument and blow in an orchestra. ..Man, kids have different types of intelligences, some arts, some athletics, some academics, but all deserve to be nurtured, all deserve a chance to shine their light. That day, I got the idea to start a nonprofit music school. ..to start a nonprofit music school dedicated to uplifting children with the pure beauty of playing music, and nothing to do with fame or genre." (This leading to him co-founding the Silverlake Conservatory of Music.) I read this out of musical interest, and interest in experiencing a broad variety of writers. I did not expect to be influenced and inspired by this unlikely source. I was. This isn't a full memoir, rather Flea's origin story - his childhood and coming of age into young adulthood (pre-Chili Peppers). But it's written with retrospective wisdom, and there are little flash scenes from the future. He leaves us with a teaser at the end.. If there ever is a Flea Volume Two, it's on my reading list.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marla

    I reluctantly, and very sadly put this book down about 2/3 the way through.... PROS: he breaks the mold in a lot of ways of what you would think a bass playing rocker would be like. I loved his writing. He is incredibly smart, sensitive and well read. I loved that he wrote with all his heart and it comes through. I loved his story and his complete honestly and amazing self awareness that few have. He’s never bitter although he could be. His longing for family and connection was so obvious it made I reluctantly, and very sadly put this book down about 2/3 the way through.... PROS: he breaks the mold in a lot of ways of what you would think a bass playing rocker would be like. I loved his writing. He is incredibly smart, sensitive and well read. I loved that he wrote with all his heart and it comes through. I loved his story and his complete honestly and amazing self awareness that few have. He’s never bitter although he could be. His longing for family and connection was so obvious it made me want to cry for the lost little boy on the streets of Hollywood and makes me take my role as a mother and protector of our family’s connections very seriously. It also made me more compassionate of little boys on the playground I may think are a “bad I influence”. Really, I kind of love him. CONS: ultimately I’m a prude and could not take the F-words. There weren’t a lot in the beginning of the book but by the time you’re at his drugged out antics in high school the f-bombs kept coming. It affects me. And I cringed a lot at the way he explains his developing sexuality - ultimately I just didn’t want to read about it. It made me really sad to put it down because I was loving it but I know the end of the story.... he becomes the famous bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers - a band I loved in my youth so I felt like I could say goodbye to the book. The take away? The way you treat people makes a difference. People need love, they need connection, they need belonging and if it doesn’t come in a family unit they will spend their whole life masking pain and looking for it elsewhere. I find that so heartbreaking.

  26. 5 out of 5

    E

    Flea's personality/soul/whatever - 5 stars Interesting sad childhood - 5 stars Horrifying drug use - You betcha Actual writing - 3 stars Photos at the back - 5 stars Number of times Flea probably should have died - Several hundred My anticipation for a future installment - 4 stars Would recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    MCZ Reads

    2.5 stars Flea’s memoir of his childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood is anything but conventional. After all, you don’t do a ton of drugs and become the bassist of a renowned rock band by following tradition. But this unconventional approach, and a general lack of focus, derails this book from reaching its full potential. Acid for the Children attempts to recount Flea’s development from a young child in a seemingly mild, conservative family into a twenty-something musician/actor. The first h 2.5 stars Flea’s memoir of his childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood is anything but conventional. After all, you don’t do a ton of drugs and become the bassist of a renowned rock band by following tradition. But this unconventional approach, and a general lack of focus, derails this book from reaching its full potential. Acid for the Children attempts to recount Flea’s development from a young child in a seemingly mild, conservative family into a twenty-something musician/actor. The first half dragged for me because I kept waiting for the memoir to start. Turns out this is more of an autobiography, focusing more on accounting for every personal milestone and friend or mentor rather than developing a personal journey or theme. This broad approach requires a lot of name-dropping and jumping between timelines. I’ve seen this approach done well, but unfortunately, Flea doesn’t have the literary skills to pull it off. I didn’t expect him to be a flawless writer, but I am surprised an editor didn’t step in and arrange the text in a way that maintained his style and voice while making it easier for readers to follow. Pages of italics, inconsistent misspellings, and Boomer-style......... pauses..... and transitions....... do not enhance the text. Writing conventions exist for a reason; they help communicate meaning and provide clarity. These conventions have to be subverted intentionally, or else the writing becomes confusing or the author looks like they don’t know what they’re doing. These issues might be less of an obstacle in an audiobook format. I’m guessing an audiobook would feel like listening to an eccentric uncle regale you with his life story on a porch after a few beers. The dude has for sure led an interesting life. The conversational tone and his artistic side that comes through in the wordplay are the most enjoyable parts of the book. His musings are interesting, but I found myself wishing he’d dig deeper into his ponderings before writing a book. Sometimes he gets so close to a profound point... and the chapter ends. Again, I wish an editor had cut some of the anecdotes or once-mentioned characters to develop the more meaningful aspects of the book. Overall, I got the impression that Flea is an interesting guy. Reading this made me think about my relationship with music. But this memoir could have been so much stronger and been a transformative ode to the arts if someone had committed to developing the deeper ideas.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pól

    Incredibly entertaining and imbued with the manic energy of the author, a gripping and fast-paced read from the outset. Flea flits through the landmark experiences of his life, pausing only to dwell on the lessons he learned and the vital connections he made from the event. His love of eclectic music, the influences that drove a very young musician to formulate a canon of great work, are particularly vivid and leap off the page. Overall a very endearing read with a non-linear narrative that enga Incredibly entertaining and imbued with the manic energy of the author, a gripping and fast-paced read from the outset. Flea flits through the landmark experiences of his life, pausing only to dwell on the lessons he learned and the vital connections he made from the event. His love of eclectic music, the influences that drove a very young musician to formulate a canon of great work, are particularly vivid and leap off the page. Overall a very endearing read with a non-linear narrative that engages to the last page and sets the reader up nicely for a part 2.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    3.5 As a kid who spent the 1990s in high school and university, Red Hot Chili Peppers were a huge part of my soundtrack. Flea is open and honest about his formative years, the good, the bad and the ugly. He lived to tell it all and came through it with wisdom and insight. A must read for any Chili Peppers fan. PS: I highly recommend the audiobook read by Mr. Balzary himself. Flea is a fantastic narrator!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

    3.5 stars. This wasn't quite what I expected, bad language, sex and drugs yes but I didn't expect the level of emotion expressed. The audiobook really helps capture this. There are times that were emotional to listen to, where he struggles with his raw emotion. While I did enjoy it , I found it hard to follow in some places and felt it didnt always flow as well as it could. I do have a slight niggle on how in depth the drug use descriptions were, I felt some of the technical descriptions were unne 3.5 stars. This wasn't quite what I expected, bad language, sex and drugs yes but I didn't expect the level of emotion expressed. The audiobook really helps capture this. There are times that were emotional to listen to, where he struggles with his raw emotion. While I did enjoy it , I found it hard to follow in some places and felt it didnt always flow as well as it could. I do have a slight niggle on how in depth the drug use descriptions were, I felt some of the technical descriptions were unnecessary and felt he romanticised some of the drug use. I'm struggling to rate this ,but think I will have to go with three and a half stars.

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