Unplugged: Flea comes clean on Super Bowl halftime

Written by Scott Mervis on .


fleaAP photo

The first rule of Super Bowl halftime is: you do not talk about Super Bowl halftime. 

Props to Flea for telling it like it is.

In response to questions -- from Living Color's Vernon Reid and Axl Rose, among others -- about the Red Hot Chili Peppers not being plugged in during the Super Bowl halftime, the bassist came clean, detailing what people have long suspected: it's not a legit performance.

Only the vocals were live when the Peppers came on to jam with Bruno Mars on "Give It Away." The rest of the sound was recorded earlier in the week. And that's how it always is, because you can't perfect concert sound in the middle of a football game.

Flea makes a good case for why the Chili Peppers faked it, saying they wouldn't do it normally but "when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it."

The Chili Peppers are a proven quantity. No one questions whether they can actually play -- same for the Stones, McCartney, The Who, etc. -- so there was no good reason for them to turn down the biggest music showcase in the world.

A few years ago, I asked Nils Lofgren of the E Street Band about playing live at the Super Bowl and he danced around the issue, being a good soldier but kind of copping to it: "Yeah, that's a tough one. I was playing live the whole time. We rehearsed for days and kind of like... regularly ... it's a part of that TV thing. And this is the most extraordinary TV show I ever did. There were like 10 producers, all these huddles with management. As best as I can see, what I played live is what I heard on TV. I can't promise it wasn't something I played two days earlier, but it sure didn't look like it to me. That's one of the nice things about being in a band - I'm not the bandleader, so while all the mangers and people are trying to grab Bruce in a side room and have meetings, I just keep doing what I'm doing unless I'm asked to do something different."

Now, Flea has gone on the record and we can all get past this. The Super Bowl halftime is fixed. If you want live, you have to go to the show and, um, hope that it's all real there.


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