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More than fifty video tapes have been produced in the Star Licks Master Session series that feature stars such as Jimi Hendrix and Brian May. This program in the series concentrates on the Red Hot Chili Peppers bass guitarist Flea and he is interviewed for the program by his fellow musician and close friend, River. The program is interspersed throughout with recordings of Flea playing musical pieces on his bass guitar accompanied on the drums by Chad Smith.
River encourages Flea to talk about the beginning of his career and how he got started in the music business. Flea talks about his early punk rock band Fear as well as the world-renowned Red Hot Chili Peppers. He mentions the artists who have influenced his own music such as Louis Armstrong and Thelonius Monk and he also describes some of the instruments and equipment he now owns.
"This is just a great bass so I'm very lucky to have it. Plus, not only do I have it but I got it for free because I'm a big pompous rock-star. And, the richer you get, then they start giving you stuff for free. Like you really need it, right? Isn't that weird?"- Flea
Throughout the interview, Flea reveals the techniques, the philosophies and the styles behind his music and he openly describes the procedures he uses whilst on stage. He explains the arts of plucking, droning, slapping, double string plucking, the use of open strings, and how to harmonize with other members of the band. He also describes the warm-up exercises he undertakes before a major gig and once on stage, Flea explains just how important it is to use the bass guitar to communicate your innermost thoughts and feelings to the audience.
Towards the end of the interview, for a bit of light relief, Flea is asked to improvise and make up some music on the spot. Only the mind of River Phoenix could come up with situations as bizarre as "gum truck driving down road, loses brakes, goes off a cliff" and "manic woman tripping on the umbrella." Flea still manages to put both scenes to music though!
Everyone has their own favorite character of course, be it Chris Chambers, Mike Waters, Danny Pope or Devo for example. In this video one can catch a brief glimpse of another individual, one that was all too rarely seen in public. For it is here that River can be found quite simply just being himself. It's River talking about his first and true love - namely, music and the guitar. It should be an absolute pleasure to watch.
But it isn't.
Flea lively and enthusiastically talks about his love of music and how in order to compose great songs you only need to be true to yourself and your own emotions. But at times it looks like River is simply not interested, and it's heartbreaking to watch. He looks tired, his voice is low and rough and he appears to have difficulty concentrating. River painfully rubs his eyes throughout the length of the program and he looks like someone who simply needs nothing more than a really good night's sleep. But of course, a lot of people thought that in 1993.
And they could not have been more wrong.