Childhood & Early Life
Flea was born as Michael Peter Balzary on October 16, 1962, in the Melbourne suburb of Mount Waverley, Victoria, Mick Balzary and Patricia. His father was a fisherman.
Right from his childhood, Michael was called Flea due to his inability to sit still. Interestingly, the nickname stayed with him for the rest of his life. When Flea was seven his parents shifted base to Larchmont, New York. In 1971 after his parents separated, Flea remained with his mother.
It was Flea’s stepfather, Walter Abdul Urban, who introduced Flea to music. The first musical instrument that fascinated Flea was a trumpet. He was fond of jazz style of music.
Flea attended Fairfax High School. In the school, he befriended Anthony Kiedis and Hillel Slovak for life. Slovak ignited the love for rock music in Flea and also taught him to play bass. He also included Flea in his band, Anthym, as a bassist. However, Flea soon left it to form an intended one-off band with Slovak, Kiedis and Iron.
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Flea’s band Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded nine songs before securing a record deal with EMI. However, Slovak and Iron soon left it to pursue a career with the band ‘What is This?’ Their places were soon filled by Cliff Martinez and Jack Sherman. Except for Flea and Kiedis, members kept changing for each of the band’s album.
In August 1984 the band came up with their debut self-titled album ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’. However, the album failed to impress. The band soon came up with their second album ‘Freaky Styley’, in 1985. It too performed averagely at the charts. They soon followed it with their third album, ‘The Uplift Mofo Party’ which became the most successful of the three albums.
While Red Hot Chili Peppers was still struggling to make a place of its own, its members were embroiled in drug addiction. Slovak’s early death due to heroin overdose left Flea and the other members distressed. Collecting themselves, they soon started working on a new project.
Their fourth album, ‘Mother’s Milk’ was released in early 1989. Though it was panned by critics, commercially, the album was widely appreciated and rose to 52 position on the Billboard 200. Later, it was certified gold.
Ending their contract with EMI, Red Hot Chili Peppers signed a deal with Warner Bros Records. While working on their fifth studio album ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’, Flea’s marijuana addiction augmented massively.
In 1991, the album released to overwhelming positive response. It peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart selling over seven million copies in U.S. alone.
They soon followed it with their next album, ‘One Hot Minute’ in September 1995. This album opened to mixed reviews.
After the release of ‘One Hot Minute’, Flea considered the idea of having a solo career. However, he eventually abandoned the idea and instead offered his service as a bassist to other artists. Meanwhile, he also worked on the band’s next album by turning into a writer and lyricist.
‘Calfornication’, the band’s seventh album, released in June 1999 to tremendous positive response. It went on to sell 15 million copies worldwide and turned out to be the greatest hit after ‘Mother’s Milk’. The success of ‘Calfornication’ inspired Flea and other band members to work on their next album.
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Red Hot Chili Pepper’s eighth studio album, ‘By The Way’, was released in 2002. The album was different from its contemporaries for the fact that it concentrated on melodic, textured music, an aspect not seen before. The album was positively received and became a huge hit. It sold more than nine million copies worldwide. Its resultant tour was a historic success, with the concert at London's Hyde Park becoming the highest-grossing concert at a single venue in history.
The stupendous success of ‘By The Way’ gave positive impetus to Flea and the band members, who started working on their ninth studio album. Titled ‘Stadium Arcadium’, the album was released in 2006 and was a big hit.
Following ‘Stadium Arcadium’ Red Hot Chili Peppers went on a long hiatus due to exhaustion. Meanwhile, Flea feeling worn out and drained enrolled himself for music classes at the University of Southern California. He studied music theory, composition and jazz trumpet and was enthralled by the structure and technicalities of music.
In 2009, Flea joined Atoms for Peace, a supergroup formed by Radiohead singer Thom Yorke. After touring United States, Atoms for Peace recorded their debut album, ‘Amok’ that released years later in February 2013. Following the release, the band toured Europe, US and Japan.
Red Hot Chili Pepper ended their hiatus in October 2009 and started working on their tenth studio album. Flea, who had thought of quitting the band before the ‘shocking’ hiatus, in his time off, contemplated on whether he wanted to continue working for the band. He realized he loved his childhood friend Kiedis way too much to let go off the band. As a matter of fact, he actually wanted to continue working in it for Kiedes.
In August 2011, Red Hot Chili Peppers released their tenth studio album, ‘I'm with You’. Meanwhile, Flea did a side project with Damon Albarn and Tony Allen titled ‘Rocket Juice & the Moon’. The band came up with their maiden live performance in October 2011 followed by their debut album in March 2012.
Flea came up with his solo EP ‘Helen Burns’, in July 2012. Inspired by the intricacies of music and their technicalities ever since his University days, Flea long aspired to come up with an instrumental album which he eventually did with ‘Helen Burns’. Except for its title track and ‘Lovelovelove’, the album was an instrumental and marked as Flea’s first solo release.
In April 2014, Flea recorded a few songs for the former Mars Volta members Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodríguez-López, and Dave Elitch for their project Antemasque. They came up with their debut self-titled album in July same year.
In 2015, news of Red Hot Chili Peppers working on their eleventh studio album began to circulate. However, Flea’s injury following a skiing trip further postponed the album. Finally almost a year and a half later, in June 2016, the band released their eleventh studio album, ‘The Getaway’.
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Apart from music, Flea has also dabbled in acting. He has made film and television appearances in minor roles. Additionally, he has also done several documentaries including ‘Bob and the Master’, and ‘The Other F Word’. In 2014, he got his first major role in the film ‘Low Down’. Flea also gave voiceover in Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’. Lately in 2017, he made a cameo appearance in the popular sitcom ‘Family Guy’
Personal Life & Legacy
Flea has been twice married. He first married his sweetheart Loesha Zeviar in 1988 and had a daughter, Clara Balzary, with her. The marriage, however, hit the rocks just two years later.
He then married, model Frankie Rayder, in 2005. The couple has a son named Sunny Bebop Balzary.
Flea is an avid American soccer fan and is an ardent supporter of Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers. He even performed the National Anthem prior to Lakers games.
An active philanthropist, Flea is one of the founders of Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a non-profit music education organization founded in 2001 for underprivileged children. He has conducted various charitable shows and concerts, the proceeds of which have helped various NGOs and trusts.