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Shutdown Corner

Faking it? Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea explains unplugged Super Bowl performance

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

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Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruno Mars (USA Today Sports Images)

Alert Super Bowl XLVIII viewers noticed something interesting about the Bruno Mars halftime performance once the Red Hot Chili Peppers joined him onstage at midfield: the players' instruments were not plugged in.

Ah.

So the Chilis were faking it? RHCP bass player Flea, who was slapping away at nothing on stage during "Give It Away," issued a statement on the band's website about that technical detail. It reads, in part:

When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song Give It Away at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded. I understand the NFL's stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the t.v. viewers. There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it. The last time we did it (or tried to) was in the late 80's, we were thrown off of 'The Top Of the Pops' television program in the U.K. during rehearsals because we refused to mime properly, I played bass with my shoe, John played guitar atop Anthony's shoulders, and we basically had a wrestling match onstage, making a mockery of the idea that it was a real live performance.

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Flea, unplugged (USA Today Sports Images)

It didn't seem to hurt, in that it was the most-watched halftime show of all time (115.3 million viewers), beating Madonna and Beyoncé the past two years. Granted, Mars was the main attraction, and the Chilis now are getting a little backlash for their air funk.

Flea continued his plea, saying that the band prerecorded a track in one day before the game after thinking long and hard about whether or not to do the gig despite not playing instruments:

So, 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. We had given this a lot of thought before agreeing to do it, and besides many a long conversation amongst ourselves, I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell. Plus, we the RHCP all love football too and that played a big part in our decision. We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig. I met and spoke with Bruno, who was a beautiful dude, a real talented musician, and we worked out something that seemed like it would be fun.

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Josh KIinghoffer, unplugged (USA Today Sports Images)

Interestingly, they considered faking the faking but thought better of it.

Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people out who have expressed disappointment that the instrumental track was pre recorded? Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance.

So, see, folks? It was real. Sorta. Fake real, and definitely not fake fake.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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