If you caught the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS playing their classic "Give It Away" with Bruno Mars during the Super Bowl halftime show last Sunday (February 2), you may have noticed that Flea's bass and Josh Klinghoffer's guitar were not plugged in. Apparently, neither musician was playing live during the three-minute performance, with Flea later admitting so in a tweet, saying, "No trickery. No choice, but no trickery."
According to The Pulse Of Radio, the fact that both men's instruments were just there for show was first noticed by several other musicians watching the show on TV. LIVING COLOUR guitarist Vernon Reid wrote, "That guitar is plugged into NOTHING," while blues-rock axeman Joe Bonnamassa tweeted, "Flea... I mean we all know, but for god's sake at least try to humor the children. #unpluggedlive."
Flea later wrote an open letter about the issue online, saying that the NFL had made it clear that all but the vocals would be taken from pre-recorded tracks.
He explained, "It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it. Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people."
The controversy even inspired the ever-reclusive GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose to weigh in, who penned an op-ed piece for Billboard.com on the subject. It reads as follows:
"In The Name Of Science
"In regard to the Internet's 'no wireless' controversy regarding the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS' Super Bowl performance as reported on ESPN...
"I enjoyed the show and I've no idea what the real story is nor would I want to suggest or imply anyone wasn't actually performing or that what they were playing wasn't what we actually heard. That said, I feel it's important to always look on the positive side of things and to give the benefit of doubt.
"So consider that maybe sometime before their actual performance that rather than use a guitar cord or standard wireless, that in the name of science and for all mankind Flea courageously had a newly invented breakthrough in microchip technology installed in his ass that picked up the frequencies of his bass and transmitted them to his amplifier.
"Maybe they all had microchips installed in their asses and not only pick up the frequencies of their instruments but get DirecTV and the Internet too! Like Google Glass... Google Ass! They could be 'Scientific Pioneers!' Like Buzz Aldrin and shit! True (pardon the pun) ASS-tro-nots! Or like Super Bowl crash test dummies for bands kinda like those cars that drive themselves!
"And besides... If the band wasn't really playing or wireless or whatever and Anthony was really singing they may have set a new world record for the largest karaoke audience ever! Awesome!