Flea Reveals How RHCP's 'Mother's Milk' Producer Made Him Cry

"Michael Beinhorn had me sing it like 30 times, and every time was like pulling a rib out of my chest, it was so hard," said Anthony Kiedis

Photo: Matt Forsythe

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jun 29, 2023

Red Hot Chili Peppers' 1989 album Mother's Milk was their mainstream breakthrough, becoming their first gold record and containing their first hit single, a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground." Its success came at a price, however, as Flea has revealed that producer Michael Beinhorn was so demanding that the bassist cried.

"He made me cry on 'Nobody Weird [Like Me],'" Flea said on the latest episode of his podcast, This Little Light. "I was playing 'Nobody Weird,' and it was like, 'I want you to play it faster and harder and clearer.'" Flea added, "I would play a part, and I would just [say], 'I can't do it!' I started crying because he was pushing me: 'No, no, no.'"

Flea wasn't the only one who clashed with the producer. The bassist recalled, "I remember [drummer] Chad [Smith] doing 'Higher Ground.' He had a real hard time tracking it, and he came back the next day with a bruised face, because he got so drunk because he was so mad, and walked into a wall or something."

Singer Anthony Kiedis, who appeared on the episode of the podcast, also struggled with Beinhorn, who pushed him to sing melodically for the first time in his career. "He was a lot stricter," Kiedis remembered. "Michael Beinhorn had me sing it like 30 times, and every time was like pulling a rib out of my chest, it was so hard. I was like, 'I can't do it again!' He was like, 'No, we're doing this again right now. Get back in the booth and sing that song again.' I was like, 'My voice hurts! It's too high!' He was like, 'I don't care! I don't want to hear it — get in that booth and sing it again!' And he ended up getting what he needed for that record, and though I hated him in the moment, 'cause it was embarrassing and made me feel insecure and just a growing pain, looking back on it, he knew what he was doing."

Both Kiedis and Flea agreed that, as difficult as the process was, they like the results — and Mother's Milk was a commercial success, so evidently, it paid off.

Kiedis is the guest on the final episode of Flea's podcast, This Little Light. It aired today. Listen below.

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