John Anthony Frusciante (born March 5, 1970) is an American musician and songwriter, and the guitarist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. He has released 11 solo albums and seven EPs, including several albums of electronic music.
Frusciante joined the Chili Peppers at the age of 18 after the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak, and first appeared on their album Mother's Milk (1989). His second album with the band, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991), was their breakthrough success. Overwhelmed by the band's newfound popularity, he quit in 1992. He became a recluse and entered a period of heroin addiction, during which he released his first solo recordings: Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt (1994) and Smile from the Streets You Hold (1997). In 1998, he completed drug rehabilitation and rejoined the Chili Peppers, taking them to major success with their albums Californication (1999), By the Way (2002) and Stadium Arcadium (2006). He left the Red Hot Chili Peppers again in 2009 to focus on solo work, and rejoined in 2019.
Frusciante's solo work encompasses genres including experimental rock, ambient music and electronica. He released six albums in 2004, each exploring different genres and recording techniques. In 2009, Frusciante released The Empyrean, which features Chili Peppers bassist Flea and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. Frusciante also releases acid house under the alias Trickfinger. With Klinghoffer and Joe Lally, he has released two albums as Ataxia.
Frusciante was named one of the greatest guitarists by Rolling Stone and Gibson, and in a BBC poll. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2012.
Frusciante's musical style has evolved over the course of his career. Although he received moderate recognition for his early guitar work, it was not until later in his career that music critics and guitarists alike began to fully recognize it: in October 2003, he was ranked eighteenth in Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Frusciante attributes this recent recognition to his shift in focus, stating that he chose an approach based on rhythmic patterns inspired by the complexity of material Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen produced. On earlier records, however, much of his output was influenced by various underground punk and new wave musicians.
In general, his sound is also defined by an affinity for vintage guitars. All the guitars that he owns, records, and tours with were made before 1970. Frusciante uses the specific guitar that he finds appropriate for a certain song. All of the guitars he owned before quitting the band were destroyed when his house burned down in 1996. The first guitar he bought after rejoining the Chili Peppers was a 1962 red Fender Jaguar. His most-often used guitar, however, is a 1961 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster that was given to him as a gift from Anthony Kiedis after Frusciante rejoined the Chili Peppers in 1998. He has played this guitar on every album since rejoining the Chili Peppers, and their ensuing tours. He also owns a 1955 Fender Stratocaster, his only Strat with a maple fretboard. Frusciante's most highly appraised instrument is a 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, which he used twice per show for the songs Californication and Otherside. Since 2006, he only uses it for the latter song, saying there was "no room for it", preferring multiple Stratocasters for the Stadium Arcadium tour. Virtually all of Frusciante's acoustic work is played with a 1950s Martin 0–15.
After leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he switched to using a Yamaha SG as his primary guitar for his solo work. "With the Yamaha SG, I could play along with guitar players who were playing, say, Les Pauls, and feel like the sound matched what I was hearing on the record. … People like Robert Fripp, Mick Ronson, Tony Iommi, and particularly John McGeoch from Siouxsie and the Banshees, who played a Yamaha SG, which is why I bought one in the first place". Frusciante has also noted his increased use of the Roland MC-202 for his electronic music, saying that he was at the point "where I thought as much like a 202ist as I did a guitarist …" The MC-202 has been his primary melodic instrument in his electronic music.
With the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frusciante provided backing vocals in a falsetto tenor, a style he started on Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He thoroughly enjoyed his role in the Chili Peppers as backing vocalist, and said that backing vocals are a "real art form". Despite his commitment to the Chili Peppers, he felt that his work with the band should remain separate from his solo projects. When he returned to the Chili Peppers in 1998, Kiedis wanted the band to record "Living in Hell", a song Frusciante had written several years before. Frusciante refused, feeling that the creative freedom he needed for his solo projects would have conflicted with his role in the band.