NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Red Hot Chili Peppers decided long ago they were never going to mime a live performance. The band made an exception for the NFL, it turns out.
The group’s bassist, Flea, said in a letter to fans posted on the group’s website Tuesday that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members pretended to play along to a pre-recorded track of “Give It Away” during the Super Bowl halftime show as Anthony Kiedis sang live. The request came from NFL officials who felt it was too difficult to pull off a completely live performance because of potential sound issues.
“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,” Flea wrote. “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 admission came after observers noted Flea and his bandmates weren’t plugged in while performing Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“The Red Hot Chili Peppers stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it,” Flea wrote. “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.”
He added that playing live is “a sacred thing” for his bandmates, who played the night before the Super Bowl at WFAN’s “Big Hello to Brooklyn” concert at Barclays Center.
Flea said the opportunity to play halftime was too big for the lifelong football fans to turn down. After internal debate, dubiously checking with fellow musicians and consulting with headliner Bruno Mars, they decided it was “a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it.”
The 51-year-old said the group pre-recorded a unique instrumental track for the show. He didn’t directly address whether Mars also recorded instrumental tracks for his appearance, though he said Mars was aware they did. A publicist for Mars did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
“For the actual performance, Josh, Chad, and I were playing along with the pre recorded track so there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not,” Flea wrote. “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.”
Flea said he was “grateful to the NFL” and Bruno Mars for giving them the opportunity.
A record 115 million people tuned into watch Mars and the Peppers, besting audiences of 114 million for Madonna and 110 million for Beyonce.
“I would do it all the same way again,” he wrote.
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