In 1988, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were undergoing significant changes, having lost guitarist Hillel Slovak to a heroin overdose and fired drummer D.H. Peligro.

While guitarist John Frusciante was quickly recruited, the audition process to find a new drummer was a different story, with then-producer Michael Beinhorn recalling it being the most disappointing gathering of musicians he had ever witnessed.

“I thought, ‘Oh, this is the Chili Peppers. We’re not going to have any problem at all getting a new drummer,'” he told YouTuber Rick Beato in a recent interview. “[I had] never seen a more lacklustre group of drummers under one roof in my entire life.”

Then some guy called Chad Smith walked in “like he owned the place.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1989

Smith’s entrance sparked immediate disapproval, mainly how he looked.

“He had a bandanna around his head and stuff like that… I’m just thinking to myself, I just want this guy to go. What’s your name? Chad? Perfect name. Play your drums, get the f–k out.”

Of course, everything changed the moment Smith began playing.

Beinhorn said that from the first hit, Smith’s exceptional drumming transformed the atmosphere in the room, creating a magical and energetic shift.

The band, including Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and Frusciante, recognised Smith as not only the best auditioned drummer but possibly the best they had ever played with.

“They knew what they were dealing with and the vibe was so incredible. It was so good, you couldn’t deny it.”

Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2022.