|The first cover “Red Hot Chili Peppers” made in 1984 depicts a band playing music together, a one eyed man sings while another skinnier man plays the guitar. They both have bloodshot eyes and look unhealthy but excited about playing their music. The drummer in the back is only showing one hand with a drumstick. The last member of the band is there but is not seen, however the neck of the bass guitar makes its way into the picture. The characters seem to be styled like graffiti and they are placed in front of a negative ground. This work resembles something sketched as it has cross hatching to shade certain objects. Being placed close together, the characters give the appearance as a close knit group of friends playing in a small venue or garage.
Freaky Styley was the sophomore album made in a collage style in 1985 looks as if someone cut out the band members out of a magazine and glued them to a piece of the Sistine chapel. There are action shots of the band jumping and posing in many different outfits and flamboyant costumes with Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in the background. Know as an interpretation of the second coming of Christ and the final judgment of souls by God. Ironically, Hillel Slovak the lead guitarist died of a drug overdose a few years later. This album could be interpreted as Hillel’s judgment with the final outcome eventually leading to major loss.
The third album Uplift Mofo Party Plan in 1987 shows the band members bending around into a spiral in the middle. This could be a hint at the bands loss with reality as the guitarist is still struggling with heroin addiction priorities become bent and things spiral out of control. Along with the band being shown, Jelly-Belly looking creatures stand around the bottom smiling with large eyes. There are a lot of high intensity colors and shapes and a lot of abstract designs that resemble digital art. The outlines of the characters are shifted slightly giving the appearance of 3-D or shadows casting off each one.
Mothers Milk in 1989 shows a naked woman holding the band members in her arms giving the members a look of comfort and serenity. They stand in a way to block the nipple while the other nipple is covered by a single red rose. This is a metaphor for the loss of their best friend Hillel. The rose represents Hillel becoming one with Mother Nature. When a baby is born it needs its mother’s milk to nourish and help it grow the way the Pepps needed to create music to grow after his loss. Explained in their rendition of “Higher Ground”- keep on trying till they reach higher ground.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik from 1991 is shown in a silhouette close up of the band members faces around in a square. Each member has his tongue out that turns to a tribal design bordering a red rose with four in the corners. The appearance of the rose is too apparent to be a coincidence even though the meaning may be debated. One could say the four represent the existing members with the middle rose being their fallen friend. The tribal designs on the front match up with images on the inside cover of the booklet, images of Native American items and leaders, and is Anthony Kiedis paying homage to his own Mohican background. (Landrum 26)
Landrum, Cynthia L. "Kicking Bear, John Trudell, And Anthony Kiedis (Of The Red Hot Chili Peppers): 'Show Indians' And Pop-Cultural Colonialism." The American Indian Quarterly 2 (2012): 182. Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Apr. 2015.