top of page

Hillel Slovak

Today we're going to tell you about the Israeli guitarist Hillel Slovak who became famous mainly as a founding member of the band "Red Hot Chilli Peppers".

(Photo: John Coffey)

Here are some facts we know about the man:

1. He was born in Haifa, Israel on April 13, 1962. He is the son of Holocaust survivors who left Israel for the United States in 1967.

2. He attended "Fairfax High School" where he met Jack Irons, Anthony Kiedis, and Michael "Flea" Balzary.

3. He received his first guitar as a Bar Mitzvah gift and played it for long hours, mostly influenced by "Led Zeppelin", Jimi Hendrix, and "KISS".

4. His first band was "Chain Reaction", which soon changed its name to "Anthem". Hillel was then only in high school

5. At one of the band's shows, Hillel met Anthony Kiedis who was in the audience, and the two became good friends. Flea along with Kiedis and Hillel used to spend a lot of time together and became good friends but what united them was mostly drugs, they used heroin, cocaine, and LSD.

6. The members of "Anthem", especially Hillel, were not happy with the performance of their bassist so Slovak decided to teach his good friend Flea to play bass to replace him. Flea connected to the instrument very quickly and beyond his great talent, an amazing musical chemistry was created between him and Hillel. Flea of ​​course joined a band that continued to perform in small clubs.

7. After graduating from high school, the band changed its name to "What is this?" Later Flea left the band and they continue without him to perform across California.

8. In 1980, after discovering that they had a common fondness for punk and the band "Defunkt", the other three together with drummer Jack Irons started playing together and formed the band with the short and catchy name "Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem". The first song the four wrote was a riff written by Hillel on which Kiedis added the rap and called it "Out in L.A."

9. After they wrote a few more songs and started performing in clubs around Los Angeles they changed their name to "Red Hot Chili Peppers". The band gained momentum and for six months became an underground hit among clubs in Los Angeles.

(Photo: NME)

10. Three years later, the band managed to obtain a record contract with EMI, while at the same time Hillel's other band - "What is This?" Also manages to get a record deal with MCA Records. Since Hillel and Jack saw "RHCP" as a side project, they decided to leave and focus on their first band. Kiedis and Flea recruited a new drummer and guitarist to replace them.

11. In 1984 RHCP released their first EP called "Squeezed" and a year later the debut album bearing the band name.

12. In 1985 Hillel felt he was no longer finding his place in "What is This?" and contacted Kiedis and Flea who at that time felt dissatisfied with their guitarist and started looking for other solutions. The perfect timing reconnected Hillel with the RHCP.

13. In August 1985, RHCP released their second album, but the first with Hillel. The album was produced by George Clinton, a musician and a colorful personality known for his virtuosity in the punk world. Although the album was unsuccessful, Hillel considered it an ingenious album and really liked the work and creation process of the album with his band members.

14. In addition to him being a talented musician, Clinton also had a knack for instilling a party atmosphere during the band recordings. He contributed greatly to the intensification of the drug use of his two friends, Kiedis and Hillel. During the recordings, the band members moved in with Clinton, which further increased the drug use of the band members and especially of Hillel and Kiedis.

15. After the release of the album, the band went on a tour to promote it. During the tour, Hillel's health condition began to deteriorate as a result of the drug use, it came to the point when he was unable to hold himself properly or wrestle with Flea on stage, as they did at every other performance. As a result of increased drug use and the tension created, drummer Martinez left the band and Jack whose band disbanded returned to RHCP, so the original lineup that formed RHCP was back in full operation.

16. For their third album the band members tried to recruit producer Rick Rubin, but in light of the band's use of drugs he refused and the band took Michael Beinhorn as producer instead. Work on the album was difficult and often stopped due to Kiedis and Hillel's severe drug addiction, Hillel was still able to function while Kiedis often disappeared and was unable to record.

17. In September 1987 the band released their third album "The Uplift Mofo Party Plan" which is also the last album in which Hillel participated. The album was a greater success than the previous album and was the band's first album to enter the Billboard charts.

18. After the release of the album, the band went on a tour to promote it. Before embarking on a tour, Kiedis and Hillel decided to stop using drugs to produce a successful tour. The two began to develop symptoms of drug withdrawal as Hillel became extremely unstable. The rehab process severely affected Hillel until he became incapable of playing the guitar. During one of the performances, Hillel, who was unable to play the guitar, experienced a severe nervous breakdown and left the band to perform an entire show without a guitar.

19. After the event the band did not agree to let Hillel perform and recruited DeWayne McKnight instead for several performances. Hillel then returned and continued touring with the band. At the end of the tour, Kiedis tried to take Hillel to a rehab facility but the attempt was unsuccessful, with Hillel denying his difficult condition.

20. Several weeks after the end of the tour, on June 27, 1988, Hillel was found dead in his Hollywood home by the police. A post-mortem revealed that Hillel had died two days earlier as a result of a heroin overdose.


21. A little about the rest of the band members ... Although throughout their time together, Kiedis and Hillel used drugs, Kiedis is the one who saw serious consequences and failed to function properly over time. Hillel managed to perform much better than Kiedis but he is the one who eventually collapsed. Jack, who became severely depressed after Hillel's death, refused to continue with the band that "caused" his friend to die and left. The guitarist who replaced Hillel, John Frusciante, was a young fan of Hillel who went his way and was greatly influenced by his playing.

22. Hillel greatly influenced the other members of the band who saw him as the source of creativity and inspiration. Some of the songs were written about him such as: "Feasting On The Flowers", "Dosed, This Is The Place", "My Lovely Man" and more ... The album "Mother's Milk" which was released a year after his death was entirely dedicated to praise.

23. Despite Anthony Kiedis' intense love and admiration for Hillel Slovak he was not present at his funeral, the situation was too difficult for him.

For Listening to the last RHCP With Hillel: Spotify, Apple Music

Follow us on Facebook or Subscribe to our website

"Face/Off" - Israel's Rock Blog & Podcast


Enjoying the Blog? Subscribe to get it right to your mail!

Thank you !!

bottom of page