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Acid For The Children

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The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in a far and distant future. Little Michael from Oz moved with his very conservative, very normal family to Westchester, New York, where life as he knew it was soon turned upside down. His parents split up and he and his sister moved into the home of his mother's free-wheeling, jazz musician boyfriend, Walt--trading in rules, stability, and barbecues for bohemian values, wildness, and Sunday afternoon jazz parties where booze, weed, and music flowed in equal measure. Michael was frightened by the lack of order in his new reality and his volatile new stepfather, but found his salvation in the world of passionate musicians the Walt exposed him to. There began his life-long journey to channel all the frustration, loneliness, love, and joy he felt into incredible rhythm. When Michael's family moved to Los Angeles in 1972, his home situation was rockier than ever. He sought out a sense of belonging elsewhere, spending most of his days partying, playing basketball, and committing petty crimes. At Fairfax High School, he met another social outcast, Anthony Kiedis, who quickly became his soul brother, the yin to his yang, his partner in mischief. Michael joined some bands, fell in love with performing, and honed his skills. But it wasn't until the night when Anthony, excited after catching a Grandmaster Flash concert, suggested they start their own band that he is handed the magic key to the cosmic kingdom. Acid for the Children is as raw, entertaining and wildly unpredictable as its author. It's both a tenderly evocative coming of age story and a raucous love letter to the power of music and creativity.


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The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in a far and distant future. Little Michael from Oz moved with his very conservative, very normal family to Westchester, New York, where life as he knew it was soon turned upside down. His parents split up and he and his sister moved into the home of his mother's free-wheeling, jazz musician boyfriend, Walt--trading in rules, stability, and barbecues for bohemian values, wildness, and Sunday afternoon jazz parties where booze, weed, and music flowed in equal measure. Michael was frightened by the lack of order in his new reality and his volatile new stepfather, but found his salvation in the world of passionate musicians the Walt exposed him to. There began his life-long journey to channel all the frustration, loneliness, love, and joy he felt into incredible rhythm. When Michael's family moved to Los Angeles in 1972, his home situation was rockier than ever. He sought out a sense of belonging elsewhere, spending most of his days partying, playing basketball, and committing petty crimes. At Fairfax High School, he met another social outcast, Anthony Kiedis, who quickly became his soul brother, the yin to his yang, his partner in mischief. Michael joined some bands, fell in love with performing, and honed his skills. But it wasn't until the night when Anthony, excited after catching a Grandmaster Flash concert, suggested they start their own band that he is handed the magic key to the cosmic kingdom. Acid for the Children is as raw, entertaining and wildly unpredictable as its author. It's both a tenderly evocative coming of age story and a raucous love letter to the power of music and creativity.

30 review for Acid For The Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Flea refers to this as his origin story. It begins with his parents and ends just before RHCP. Unsurprisingly, he’s a gifted story teller. And this is a must on audio! His narration is fantastic and quirky. Flea is way more than a genital sock donning bass player, he’s a massive reader, devout Vonnegut fan, and a quality human. I wish to be his friend. I sincerely hope he writes a follow up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I am a Chili Peppers fan, and Flea has always been an intriguing person, so when I learned he was writing an autobiography, I definitely wanted to read it! Flea’s life begins differently than you would expect: calm and typical, until his parents split. It’s then that his mom’s new boyfriend exposes him to music, musicians, and a bohemian lifestyle, which inspires him to get into music, too. Acid for the Children is a wild ride. There’s coming-of-age, insight, and entertainment from beginning to I am a Chili Peppers fan, and Flea has always been an intriguing person, so when I learned he was writing an autobiography, I definitely wanted to read it! Flea’s life begins differently than you would expect: calm and typical, until his parents split. It’s then that his mom’s new boyfriend exposes him to music, musicians, and a bohemian lifestyle, which inspires him to get into music, too. Acid for the Children is a wild ride. There’s coming-of-age, insight, and entertainment from beginning to end. Thank you to the publisher for the free copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  3. 5 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray Michael Balzary. You probably know him as Flea, bassist and co-founder of the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Observing him in the public eye, playing intensely energetic rock shows for over three and a half decades, one may think Flea is just your typical “rock star” – an over-the-top persona. However, after reading his memoir, it is clear this would be a monumental misrepresentation and oversimplification of a quite complex Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray Michael Balzary. You probably know him as Flea, bassist and co-founder of the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Observing him in the public eye, playing intensely energetic rock shows for over three and a half decades, one may think Flea is just your typical “rock star” – an over-the-top persona. However, after reading his memoir, it is clear this would be a monumental misrepresentation and oversimplification of a quite complex human soul. In Acid for the Children, Flea shares, in great detail, the first 20 years or so of his life, from his childhood all the way up to the inception of the band that would forever change his world (and that of rock music). As readers may expect, this memoir has no shortage of wild and crazy tales. From family and friends to music and drugs, this book covers it all. (Even the influence of literature on Flea’s life from a very young age! Did you know that he is an avid bookworm, influenced by the likes of Vonnegut and Bukowski?!) The short chapters, filled with little vignettes – specific scenes he recalls from his past – keep the book moving forward at a good pace, providing the life highlights of a man who surely has many more tales to tell and adventures left to experience. Readers are, however, likely to be surprised by the deeply touching nature of the narrative. Flea moves on from simply telling these stories to create a much richer context by embedding them in the surrounding emotions, the impact of the events, and even sharing insights that are only visible now looking back into his past. He examines how his childhood experiences have caused him to struggle with finding a sense of self and loving others, explores how using drugs opened him up to a new spiritual world (at least initially) and helped him feel free to express himself. Reading this book is akin to having a conversation with the man himself: candid and stripped down, like hearing Flea speak his own story aloud, just as a memoir should be. There is a lyrical lilt to Flea’s prose. His voice is clear and authentic, without a tinge of pretension. His enthusiasm for life, the way that he has always been unapologetically himself, is evident through his writing. Despite being a self-defined “outsider,” his purity of heart shines through, as he is clearly an individual full of kindness and empathy who seeks interconnectedness with those around him and with the universe on a larger scale. Perhaps most importantly, this memoir is utterly thought-provoking. It challenges assumptions. It reflects on the past, shining a light on how decisions have a ripple effect throughout our days. And it meditates on the beauty inherent in both life and those who walk through it with us. I highly recommend picking it up! You are certain to walk away from the reading experience feeling as if you actually know Flea himself.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    This book is yikes city. Flea waxes poetically about all kinds of vibing with the sound, connecting with the Earth etc since he was a kid, but in a very ‘first grader who is enlightened’ vocabulary. Isnt this man sixtyish by now? Some of the book I’ve found to be endearing, but most of it is unfortunately pure gibberish - and I say this as someone who loves him and the RHCP. He is an inconsistent writer, finishing chapters and stories in weird sudden halts, meanwhile somehow managing to remember This book is yikes city. Flea waxes poetically about all kinds of vibing with the sound, connecting with the Earth etc since he was a kid, but in a very ‘first grader who is enlightened’ vocabulary. Isnt this man sixtyish by now? Some of the book I’ve found to be endearing, but most of it is unfortunately pure gibberish - and I say this as someone who loves him and the RHCP. He is an inconsistent writer, finishing chapters and stories in weird sudden halts, meanwhile somehow managing to remember every name of every person he has ever met. Also according to this book and how its written: Flea never met a gay man without explaining it with ‘I met this gay man’. He apparently also never saw/met a person of color who wasnt described as such before even their name was said, or at latest in the next sentence if he was trying to be mysterious (their brown cinnamon eyes/face). Also the book ends when hes still in his twenties. A miscalculation on my part for sure for thinking Id enjoy this book much more than I did, but also maybe we didnt need every waking second od his life around ages 4-9 explained.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick Craske

    As open, honest and expressive as his musicianship, Flea evokes the euphoric chaos of discovering music; exploring drugs and growing up fast in LA. Psychedelic, Punk'n'funkadelic. Flea channels Vonnegut and Bukowski, Byron and Eliot in his writing and writes about his youth up to the moment he steps on stage and first plays with Anthony Kiedis.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ben Leiter

    What Is It: Considering he's been naked on magazine covers and played concerts while wearing nothing but a sock on his junk, exposure is not something Flea fears. However, his new memoir Acid for the Children is less about the Red Hot Chili Pepper's bassist getting physically naked (although he does that a few times in the book) and more about him getting emotionally naked. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Australia to a strict father and a bohemian mother. When he was four, his parents What Is It: Considering he's been naked on magazine covers and played concerts while wearing nothing but a sock on his junk, exposure is not something Flea fears. However, his new memoir Acid for the Children is less about the Red Hot Chili Pepper's bassist getting physically naked (although he does that a few times in the book) and more about him getting emotionally naked. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Australia to a strict father and a bohemian mother. When he was four, his parents divorced and he moved with his mother and older sister Karyn ("me with a wig") to New York City. There they lived with a jazz artist named Walter who will introduce Michael to the power of music. It will change his life forever. When he sees Walter playing for the first time at a party he proclaims, "If Moses had parted the seas right in front of me, or my dog started speaking the Queen's English, it would not have been this miraculous." It is when the family moves again to LA that Michael "started living the life of a street kid" and serendipitously meets Anthony Kiedis in driver's ed. The book ends before the Chili Peppers become famous, because this book isn't about the life of a rock star. Acid for the Children is about how books, divorce, karate, anger, drugs, love, basketball and most of all music, turned a boy named Michael into a rock star named Flea. Why Is It Good: I'll admit that when I first heard Flea was releasing a memoir, I doubted his writing abilities. It was difficult to believe that the guy who once wore a dick-sock was capable of genuine self-reflection. I was wrong. Flea's prose has a shaggy, earnest charm to it. It reads the way music sounds, with sentences that shimmer and shimmy to their own unique beat. The book moves chronologically and vividly portrays settings and characters, but is less concerned with what happened in a moment, than how that moment felt. "The facts and figures aren't important to me, the colors and shapes that make up my world are; they are who I am, right or wrong." Flea frequently uses those colors and shapes to reveal fascinating insights into his own life. He feels comfortable pushing boundaries since, "No explicit art ever hurt me." He realizes that watching Walter's dysfunction helped to fuel his own since he, "equated creativity with insanity." He even confesses his own doubt in his writing abilities. "I may well be an eleven-fingered oaf slobbering over a typewriter, pounding out a thorny jumble of trash, an uneducated animal who runs on instinct and feeling. But this is my voice." It turns out that Flea's voice is as brilliant as his bass playing. How Can It Help: "Bein famous don't mean shit." This may as well be the book's mission statement. Once again, the book doesn't cover any of his fame and fortune years. Flea is wise and experienced enough to know that no amount of either can fix a broken boy. He's wise enough to know that people contain multitudes ("I'm a wimp who cries too, so be it."). He's wise enough to know that, "Pain was something to be grateful for, not to be pursued, but inordinately valuable." He's honest enough to admit that selfishness prevented him from helping Chili Pepper guitarist Hillel Slovak, who died of a heroin overdose ("Long as I live, I will know I failed."). He's wise enough to know that he's "still evolving" and that, "Everything that is not love is cowardice." He's wise enough to be grateful for having published a book ("Thanks for reading my childhood."). Most of all though, he's generous enough to take all the solace he found in music and pay it forward to the next generation. "To all you kids out there hurting like I hurt, I'm gonna be with you there in the magic place." Whether you're hurting or not, the pages of Acid for the Children truly are a magical place.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michele Gardiner

    I whipped right through this. Michael Balzary (Flea) is a former client in my audio business, so I knew he had a love of esoteric jazz, and that he is a deep, thoughtful man. Here are some of my thoughts about his book: 1) Flea's chapters are short and to the point. It's a format I enjoy. Don't tell me ever freaking boring thing. What mattered? What's compelling? 2) Interesting, we both had major life-changing experiences in the late '60s. He refers to his suburban days as "normal life," as I did I whipped right through this. Michael Balzary (Flea) is a former client in my audio business, so I knew he had a love of esoteric jazz, and that he is a deep, thoughtful man. Here are some of my thoughts about his book: 1) Flea's chapters are short and to the point. It's a format I enjoy. Don't tell me ever freaking boring thing. What mattered? What's compelling? 2) Interesting, we both had major life-changing experiences in the late '60s. He refers to his suburban days as "normal life," as I did in my book "Craving Normal." 3) I also relate to his constant search to find his place, as the new and odd kid among the cliques: skaters/stoners/cholas/jocks. And about his thoughts on the era we were kids and teens during (hippie movement to punk/pre AIDS to post AIDS), I have similar thoughts. I relate to so much. But the more I read about his youthful dynamic with Anthony Kiedis, the more I recall my own Flea/Anthony experience I wrote about in my book, a story called, "Peppers for Breakfast." When Flea was a client in my audio business, he used to call our house, long before I knew (or connected) any of the above. Damn, the things I would love to ask him now. He's a man of many interests. Now I understand why. I appreciate, too, his ability to appreciate even his bad experiences for making him who he is. P.S. His childhood love of jazz and learning music is likely one reason he began his Silverlake Conservatory of Music, where my daughter took guitar lessons. Flea raises funds so children of all incomes can attend. https://silverlakeconservatory.org/

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth M.

    I have to admit, I knew very little about Flea - bassist for the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers - before reading this book. Of course I grew up listening to their music. I remember skating around outside, free as a bird, to the tune of “Aeroplane.” Driving around in my first car with the Californication album blaring. And perhaps a performance or two with the guys wearing some strategically placed socks. But I knew nothing about his life story. In Acid for the Children Flea shares, in great I have to admit, I knew very little about Flea - bassist for the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers - before reading this book. Of course I grew up listening to their music. I remember skating around outside, free as a bird, to the tune of “Aeroplane.” Driving around in my first car with the Californication album blaring. And perhaps a performance or two with the guys wearing some strategically placed socks. 😝 But I knew nothing about his life story. In Acid for the Children Flea shares, in great detail, the first 20 years or so of his life. As you may expect, there is no shortage of wild and crazy tales. From family and friends to music and drugs, this memoir covers it all. (Even the influence of books on Flea’s life from a very young age!) The reader is, however, likely to be surprised by the deeply touching nature of Flea’s narrative. I imagine that reading this book is akin to having a conversation with the man himself: candid and stripped down, like hearing Flea speak his own story aloud, just as a memoir should be. There is a lyrical lilt to Flea’s prose, his voice clear and authentic. I was moved by his enthusiasm for life, the way that he has always been unapologetically himself. And perhaps most surprisingly, this memoir challenged my assumptions, making me think in unexpected ways and reminding me of the beauty inherent in life and those who walk through it with us. Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for this giveaway win! You can find Acid for the Children in a bookstore near you on November 5th!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    [I got an ARC via a goodreads giveaway] This definitely was not what I was expecting from a rock ’n’ roll hall of famer. It is an unusually self-aware, non-self serving autobiography. Instead of regaling you with romanticized stories of sex, drugs, and alcohol Flea lets you into his mind as he dealt with his very dysfunctional family (severe emotional neglect among other issues) from when he ran the streets as a child to using hard drugs to show what really happens in the head of many musicians. [I got an ARC via a goodreads giveaway] This definitely was not what I was expecting from a rock ’n’ roll hall of famer. It is an unusually self-aware, non-self serving autobiography. Instead of regaling you with romanticized stories of sex, drugs, and alcohol Flea lets you into his mind as he dealt with his very dysfunctional family (severe emotional neglect among other issues) from when he ran the streets as a child to using hard drugs to show what really happens in the head of many musicians. The book is made up of short chapters (3-4 pages each), that are well written but emotionally heavy. The book ends just as the RHCP begins; so don’t expect stories from those days.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Derek Hoeksema

    It felt like he was holding me down and forcing me to listen to something that he thought was profound.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Acid for the Children: A Memoir by Flea Flea is the bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and this is his origin story. Who knew that Mike Balzary known world wide as Flea, would be such a brilliant writer, he's open, honest and sometimes poetic, he's a deep and thoughtful man who is not afraid to own his own truth. He’s a wild and crazy guy, but with a very kind heart to rival those other traits. Stories of drug-fueled debauchery are there, but certainly not glamorized, simply left Acid for the Children: A Memoir by Flea Flea is the bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and this is his origin story. Who knew that Mike Balzary known world wide as Flea, would be such a brilliant writer, he's open, honest and sometimes poetic, he's a deep and thoughtful man who is not afraid to own his own truth. He’s a wild and crazy guy, but with a very kind heart to rival those other traits. Stories of drug-fueled debauchery are there, but certainly not glamorized, simply left there for you to consider. Flea calls drug use a “pit of sadness,” He talks about being a shoplifter, drug user, and being raised in a dysfunctional family. Stories of his beloved nanna are told with love. He describes his mother as unaffectionate (“there is not one instance in my life where I can ever remember her holding or cuddling me”) His father was a much loved parent and you could feel the love between them, despite their differences. In high school, he met Anthony Kiedis, the future Chili Peppers lead singer, who instantly became his “brother” and with whom he’d start making music in 1983. Flea talks about “going primal” on the bass, which he taught himself to play. This is a sincere and profound biography, Reading this book is akin to having a conversation with Flea. This was an unexpected joy to read. It surprised me, Flea is an avid reader and it shows in his vocabulary. Hunter S Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut are favorites. This is the book you buy for Christmas, if you like a good honest biography.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Poetic, hilarious, unexpectedly wholesome at times. I hope he writes more books, in general, as his particular turn of phrase is hard to put down. Brilliant.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Georgette

    Not at all what I expected, which is why it's brilliant. Flea gives you all of his best, and what a funky fresh reveal it is. Seriously enjoyed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Petergiaquinta

    Long after I’m dead, no doubt, someone will erect a statue of Flea in West Hollywood. He’ll be slapping that bass in mid-flight, wild-eyed, legs spread, his pants half-way down his ass, and with such a look of joy on his face that it will become a place of pilgrimage for young and old alike. Even those benighted folks who have never even heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will visit this shrine to be inspired and blessed by the radiant transcendence that is Flea. Devotees will climb up to touch Long after I’m dead, no doubt, someone will erect a statue of Flea in West Hollywood. He’ll be slapping that bass in mid-flight, wild-eyed, legs spread, his pants half-way down his ass, and with such a look of joy on his face that it will become a place of pilgrimage for young and old alike. Even those benighted folks who have never even heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will visit this shrine to be inspired and blessed by the radiant transcendence that is Flea. Devotees will climb up to touch the Hendrix tattoo; selfies will be snapped abundantly; tokens of love and remembrance will be left at the statue’s base, and some of the more faithful will visit wearing only a single sock. Think I’m wrong about that? Well, maybe. But wait and see, because Flea is truly a remarkable human being filled with such energy, joy and compassion, and those three qualities radiate through every page of his childhood memoir, Acid for the Children. Flea views the world through a lens that makes me ashamed of my own cynical viewpoint. Here, he describes his childhood years in a series of short, fairly chronological reminiscences up to the point where the band that becomes the Chili Peppers is coming together. And each one of these short pieces is informed by a loving goodness that just leaks right through the language, even when he is writing about some pretty bleak topics—his junkie step-father who could fly into bewilderingly violent rages, the drugs and neglect and abuse he was surrounded by as a kid in Hollywood, an encounter with a prostitute on his high school graduation night, his teenage stint with the LA punk band Fear—whatever he is writing about, Flea fills it with a sense of love and wonder that radiates through the entire book. The last “music” book I read was long ago, the Doors tribute No One Gets Out of Here Alive, and as much as I am surrounded by music, I’m not really interested in reading about it, especially overblown rock and roll biographies. That’s not what this book is, not at all. This is a book about childhood, the wonder and the fear found there. It’s a book about the pleasures of reading, the loneliness of being different, the terrors that go along with discovering what the world is about. It’s almost Wordsworthian in places, although Flea had no Lake District to inform his young mind. Some readers have said that Flea’s writing style is highly influenced by the jazz music he grew up listening to and playing, and I think they are right. There is something improvisational and flowing about the way he writes, and when you read about how he was influenced by his step-father’s bebop, it will make sense. But I also felt there was something reminiscent of Richard Brautigan in Flea’s writing, too. Underneath it all, something reminded me of the simple joyful writing of Troutfishing in America. At the end of Acid for the Children, Flea leaves us with several lists of books, movies, and music that are significant to him, including “Concerts that Changed My Life.” Here’s mine... Concerts that Changed My Life Red Hot Chili Peppers—Metro—Chicago 10/26/1985

  15. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Never have a read a memoir before where the spirit and sheer truism of the author bubbles up to the surface. Did it help that I've been a mega RHCP fan for decades? Probably, but it doesn't take away from the introspective beauty of this novel. Acid for the Children was not written "with" someone, these are Flea's words-excitable, jazzy, regretful, disarming, and writhing away in his biological bass zone. I loved that the prose were as off-centered and as wildly unpredictable as the author Never have a read a memoir before where the spirit and sheer truism of the author bubbles up to the surface. Did it help that I've been a mega RHCP fan for decades? Probably, but it doesn't take away from the introspective beauty of this novel. Acid for the Children was not written "with" someone, these are Flea's words-excitable, jazzy, regretful, disarming, and writhing away in his biological bass zone. I loved that the prose were as off-centered and as wildly unpredictable as the author himself. The stories he tells are both chaotic and compassionate and listening to this book on audio was akin to seeing Flea on stage.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim Cabaj

    When Flea, puts out a book titled Acid For The Children, it got my attention right away. I really didn't know anything about the entertainer other then I enjoyed the movies he was in and love Red Hot Chilli Pepper music. I was in for treat as I kicked back to read about the young man Michael Bazlzary and his evolution into being Flea. First this is no standard autobiography, this is an adventure ride into Flea's youth. I was captured by his tales growing up. The crazy home life. The music around When Flea, puts out a book titled Acid For The Children, it got my attention right away. I really didn't know anything about the entertainer other then I enjoyed the movies he was in and love Red Hot Chilli Pepper music. I was in for treat as I kicked back to read about the young man Michael Bazlzary and his evolution into being Flea. First this is no standard autobiography, this is an adventure ride into Flea's youth. I was captured by his tales growing up. The crazy home life. The music around him that would assist later in life. I enjoyed reading his journey from Australia to New York, and eventually California. Only Flea could tell you this journey. Many readers may find some shock value in the book but shouldn't. Being a bit naive on the drugs in the book added to my learning about the time, place, and the world around. I enjoyed hearing about Flea's musical influences and his love of jazz. His journey into rock, punk rock, and all the LA underground music. I would enjoy reading a column from Flea reviewing books. His discussions on lots of books that influenced him was great. I think he could add a new prospective on books off today. I would like to meet Flea. I think he would be fun guy to kick back with and no holding back look on life. I enjoyed this memoir and reccomend it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Five surprising stars! I just finished reading this book (Acid For The Children) when I should have been doing a thousand other things. It turns out Flea is a most unexpectedly engaging writer. Truly eloquent, yet profane. Sharp, intelligent and insightful, while also having done many terribly (admittedly) stupid things. Just as Flea writes about his relationship with Anthony Kiedis, "Our friendship is complicated and many layered.. the blatant intense duality.. a study in contradictions.." Flea Five surprising stars! I just finished reading this book (Acid For The Children) when I should have been doing a thousand other things. It turns out Flea is a most unexpectedly engaging writer. Truly eloquent, yet profane. Sharp, intelligent and insightful, while also having done many terribly (admittedly) stupid things. Just as Flea writes about his relationship with Anthony Kiedis, "Our friendship is complicated and many layered.. the blatant intense duality.. a study in contradictions.." Flea is many layered, intense, and all kinds of (often beautiful) contradictions. Until now, I had little-to-no knowledge of Flea, except for a solid appreciation of a couple of RHCP hits. This book, Flea's voice, was a surprise. Honest. Passionate. Filled with kindness and gratitude. Positive and refreshing. In many ways delightful. As far as autobiography/memoirs go, I give it five stars for all of the above. That's not to say I'd recommend it to just anyone! It's as gritty as it is beautiful. There's a lot of crude language and content. As a woman, I felt the objectification that the world imposes (no direct fault of Flea, he just says it as it is, in coarse language.) There are a lot of drugs. A LOT of drugs. SO MANY DRUGS! With all the drug use, I'm amazed that he has such clarity of memories. But there is also tremendous heart: Hurt and forgiveness and peace and generosity. Love. "Compared to many, my childhood was a cakewalk." (Did you hear that, Tara Westover?) There's humor and a vibrant vocabulary. (new word for me: gazibbaleeacked) There is music appreciation. The book is somewhat a modern history of music. From jazz, to funk and rock & roll, classic rock, electric rock, punk rock, metal and rap. I love that Flea was influenced by the Beatles. And Prince. "Prince was hitting me hard." I love that Flea loves books! "Through all this insanity, I never stopped reading. Good literature could very well be the thing that stopped me from going over the edge, becoming a junkie, or completely frying my brain. Crucial to my sense of self was the sanity, moral guidance, and intellectual stimulation I got from books. The sanctuary that well-crafted novels provided reset me into a healthy state. I related deeply to the stories, admired the poetic prose of the great writer, and felt less alone. ..I found deep peace in reading. Unless I was too wasted to do it, I read every night." I love that Flea doesn't hold back his enthusiasm for anything, particularly for those he's admired and who've influenced him; artists, musicians, authors, and humans he loved. He shares it. It shines. I appreciate his overall passion and gratitude for life. And there is advice and encouragement: "Because your childhood beat you around and left you in pain doesn't mean that you'll continue the cycle. Let your hurt be the source of the greatest compassion, the deepest love and understanding. You can do anything. Walk through it, don't numb or hide. It's been twenty-eight years since I stopped drugs and dedicated myself to a spiritual path, but those hard drugs I did, the heroin, cocaine, and meth, they hurt me bad, it took a long time to really recover from 'em. I hope for you that you don't waste your energy there. ..no drug was ever necessary for a mind-opening experience." There is only the mildest, worthy hint of politics.. "All the arts funding had been cut the year after I left Fairfax, under the auspices of a ridiculous law called Proposition 13, a symptom of the Reaganomics trickle-down theory. I was shocked to realize that these kids didn't get an opportunity to study an instrument and blow in an orchestra. ..Man, kids have different types of intelligences, some arts, some athletics, some academics, but all deserve to be nurtured, all deserve a chance to shine their light. That day, I got the idea to start a nonprofit music school. ..to start a nonprofit music school dedicated to uplifting children with the pure beauty of playing music, and nothing to do with fame or genre." (This leading to him co-founding the Silverlake Conservatory of Music.) I read this out of musical interest, and interest in experiencing a broad variety of writers. I did not expect to be influenced and inspired by this unlikely source. I was. This isn't a full memoir, rather Flea's origin story - his childhood and coming of age into young adulthood (pre-Chili Peppers). But it's written with retrospective wisdom, and there are little flash scenes from the future. He leaves us with a teaser at the end.. If there ever is a Flea Volume Two, it's on my reading list.

  18. 4 out of 5

    MCZ Reads

    2.5 stars Flea’s memoir of his childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood is anything but conventional. After all, you don’t do a ton of drugs and become the bassist of a renowned rock band by following tradition. But this unconventional approach, and a general lack of focus, derails this book from reaching its full potential. Acid for the Children attempts to recount Flea’s development from a young child in a seemingly mild, conservative family into a twenty-something musician/actor. The first 2.5 stars Flea’s memoir of his childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood is anything but conventional. After all, you don’t do a ton of drugs and become the bassist of a renowned rock band by following tradition. But this unconventional approach, and a general lack of focus, derails this book from reaching its full potential. Acid for the Children attempts to recount Flea’s development from a young child in a seemingly mild, conservative family into a twenty-something musician/actor. The first half dragged for me because I kept waiting for the memoir to start. Turns out this is more of an autobiography, focusing more on accounting for every personal milestone and friend or mentor rather than developing a personal journey or theme. This broad approach requires a lot of name-dropping and jumping between timelines. I’ve seen this approach done well, but unfortunately, Flea doesn’t have the literary skills to pull it off. I didn’t expect him to be a flawless writer, but I am surprised an editor didn’t step in and arrange the text in a way that maintained his style and voice while making it easier for readers to follow. Pages of italics, inconsistent misspellings, and Boomer-style......... pauses..... and transitions....... do not enhance the text. Writing conventions exist for a reason; they help communicate meaning and provide clarity. These conventions have to be subverted intentionally, or else the writing becomes confusing or the author looks like they don’t know what they’re doing. These issues might be less of an obstacle in an audiobook format. I’m guessing an audiobook would feel like listening to an eccentric uncle regale you with his life story on a porch after a few beers. The dude has for sure led an interesting life. The conversational tone and his artistic side that comes through in the wordplay are the most enjoyable parts of the book. His musings are interesting, but I found myself wishing he’d dig deeper into his ponderings before writing a book. Sometimes he gets so close to a profound point... and the chapter ends. Again, I wish an editor had cut some of the anecdotes or once-mentioned characters to develop the more meaningful aspects of the book. Overall, I got the impression that Flea is an interesting guy. Reading this made me think about my relationship with music. But this memoir could have been so much stronger and been a transformative ode to the arts if someone had committed to developing the deeper ideas.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    Despite all the petty crime and drug abuse, this is an oddly wholesome rock memoir (Flea is a very positive dude). It's also unlike any rock memoir I've ever read in that it can get very poetic and experimental at times. The almost 400 pages go by quickly, and I feel it ends too soon--the book ends with the formation of the group that became RHCP. There is some stuff not in the book that I would be interested in: early gigs and tours, Flea's relationships with John Frusciante and Chad Smith Despite all the petty crime and drug abuse, this is an oddly wholesome rock memoir (Flea is a very positive dude). It's also unlike any rock memoir I've ever read in that it can get very poetic and experimental at times. The almost 400 pages go by quickly, and I feel it ends too soon--the book ends with the formation of the group that became RHCP. There is some stuff not in the book that I would be interested in: early gigs and tours, Flea's relationships with John Frusciante and Chad Smith (those two aren't even mentioned in the book), and other things that would be in a more conventional book. But reading about Flea's early life, his memories of Australia, his hepcat stepdad, his hijinks on the streets of LA, and his love of reading all make for a very enjoyable read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carey

    Wow. After reading this book I want to give Flea a hug. A hug that parents should always be giving their children. So much sadness & loneliness that no child should ever feel. Flea was correct in starting he has guardian angels because he had a rough go from the beginning and he should be proud of the person he became & the lives he’s touched.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Sweet, tender, open. A study in how sadness informs joy and the other way around. A portrait of an artistically restless and deep searcher in the LA of the 1970's and '80s. There's a lot of forgiveness and warmth in these pages—one needn't be a Chili Peppers fan to enjoy. Bonus: Flea's Albums I Listen to Again and Again and Again (part one: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3HT... and part two: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1T4...) are really good—put on shuffle and read along.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Harry Jahnke

    My first reaction to hearing this book existed was, "Wait...Flea Flea? Like, he wrote a memoir?" I was so pleasantly surprised by this. Flea is so incredibly charming and heartfelt and the stories from his life range from funny to brutally raw. If you ever wanted to spend an evening with Flea as he tells you stories about his childhood, this is it and trust me, you definitely want that. These stories are incredible and Flea tells them in such a wonderful way.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Walkup

    A chaotic and tender journey of vulnerability, this book is beautifully real, honest, and self-depreciating at times. Reading this is akin to seeing Flea on stage - frenetic energy, alive with originality and the pulse of his creativity. He is unabashedly and introspectively himself in this memoir. There were moments I had to step back from reading, to stop, absorb, and sit with some of his philosophical insights, and other times I was reeling from the crazy antics he takes the reader along on. A chaotic and tender journey of vulnerability, this book is beautifully real, honest, and self-depreciating at times. Reading this is akin to seeing Flea on stage - frenetic energy, alive with originality and the pulse of his creativity. He is unabashedly and introspectively himself in this memoir. There were moments I had to step back from reading, to stop, absorb, and sit with some of his philosophical insights, and other times I was reeling from the crazy antics he takes the reader along on. This is a tale of survival and creativity and needing and wanting and yearning and living and taking and giving. I wish I could hug that lost little boy who so needed it way back when. A great book for fans of RHCP of course, but also for lovers of all music, rock and roll, the arts scene, punk rock, and especially for outsiders and those who love them, as well as anyone driven by a creative spirit. 5 stars. :)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Found out while reading this inspiring memoir (music, all kinds, jazz) (books, films) that Flea lived for a while in the same town as my grandparents, just a few blocks away and used to goof around at the duck pond, same duck pond that I played around with my family nearly every Sunday. We could've locked eyes at some point....

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hamish

    Obviously five stars. What else could I give? I'll be reading this for the rest of my life. Eye opening and intriguing and meditative and beautiful. I hope he writes a thousand more.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    4.5 stars. Happy new year, everyone. Not sure about you but I for one am feeling refreshed, despite my uncertainty on what day it is. Thankfully, knowing which day of the week we’re currently experiencing isn’t one of my resolutions; then again, I pretty well stopped making them years ago. That being said, I do approach the beginning of each and every year with positivity, enthusiasm and a willingness to step outside of my comfort zone to try something new and/or different. Is that a resolution, 4.5 stars. Happy new year, everyone. Not sure about you but I for one am feeling refreshed, despite my uncertainty on what day it is. Thankfully, knowing which day of the week we’re currently experiencing isn’t one of my resolutions; then again, I pretty well stopped making them years ago. That being said, I do approach the beginning of each and every year with positivity, enthusiasm and a willingness to step outside of my comfort zone to try something new and/or different. Is that a resolution, or a consistent, admittedly self-fulfilling prophecy? We could argue semantics, but I’d rather get to how I decided to kick off another year of reading with something I would typically avoid – a memoir. Better still one penned by the member of a band I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with. To be fair, any issues I’ve had with the Red Hot Chili Peppers throughout the years had nothing to do with Flea (it was always Kiedis, more specifically Kiedis’s lack of range as a vocalist; but that’s another argument for another time). If anything, Flea was the singular consistent force within that band of which I’d always respected (not to knock Chad Smith), oftentimes awestruck by his talent, humored by his indelible eccentricity. Just follow him on Instagram for a snapshot example; it’s actually what led me to picking up Acid for the Children, figuring that if it were even half as fun as his feed, it would be a win. Suffice to say Flea’s memoir only makes the artist more endearing. Born Michael Balzary in Melbourne, Australia, Flea would move to the States at a young age and become a product of both coasts. The book opens with the musician’s recount on his short stint in Rye, a well-to-do enclave in Westchester County, New York. He describes his family’s dysfunctionality – Mom a freewheeling hippie type, Dad a stout government official – and his means to escape it. Yet it isn’t until his mother leaves his father (who in turn goes back to Australia) for Walter, a wannabe jazz bassist, that Flea’s story truly begins. We learn the impact Flea’s de facto step-father had on his musical sensibilities, instilling a passion in the arts early on in their admittedly roller-coaster relationship. What’s more, it’s Walter’s dream to become a session musician that facilitates their move to Los Angeles, where the Flea we all know and love comes to life. Ironically it’s here where his family life all but disintegrates; in response, Flea is constantly searching for a semblance of stability to fill this void. He finds it in the streets and the hustlers that inhabit them, the most notable being his lifelong friend and bandmate, Anthony Kiedis. However, Acid for the Children is not just a reflection on their friendship, nor is it a rip-roaring ride through the beginnings of what would later become one of the world’s biggest rock bands. It’s the impetus of something far bigger, far greater: the birth of a virtuoso, a caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis from street punk to burgeoning superstar. It’s a work that will satisfy both casual fans and music geeks alike, offering so much more than “remember when?” documentations that riddle so many other memoirs. As a self-professed music geek, and one who has studied music for the better part of his life, it was Flea’s impassioned articulation of music’s aesthetic, emotion and resonance that made Acid for the Children so riveting to me. Yet for every brilliant articulation there’s a sophomoric counter-story, an example of Flea’s trademark strangeness, to level things out a bit. Some may find these stories to be juvenile; I found them to be a welcome reprieve, a needed levity. And who today doesn’t need a little bit of that? Which is to say Acid for the Children has plenty to offer: be it fun, passion, heartbreak, or motivation. It’s a true spectrum of emotion, from a man who all but defines it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    When I learned that Flea, the bassist for one of my favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was publishing a memoir, I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I mean, my go-to song at karaoke is their hit “Otherside.” I looked forward to the wild tales of life on the road with his fellow band members that was sure to involve overindulgence in whatever they could get their hands on, wild romps with groupies, and stepping out with high fashion models. Well, I could not have been more wrong When I learned that Flea, the bassist for one of my favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was publishing a memoir, I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I mean, my go-to song at karaoke is their hit “Otherside.” I looked forward to the wild tales of life on the road with his fellow band members that was sure to involve overindulgence in whatever they could get their hands on, wild romps with groupies, and stepping out with high fashion models. Well, I could not have been more wrong in my preconceptions. First of all, ACID FOR THE CHILDREN, which is 379 pages, does not even mention the formation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers until page 371. The focus of the memoir is on the man who would become Flea. Far from the wild rocker who once went on stage wearing nothing but one sock (I will leave its placement to your imagination), Michael Peter Balzary is a book lover and is well versed in film. Among the novels he lists as his personal favorites are THE MASTER AND MARGARITA by Mikhail Bulgakov, SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut and JAZZ by Toni Morrison. Some of his standout movies include The Spirit of the Beehive, Throne of Blood, The Wizard of Oz and Persepolis. He is definitely no “Flea Brain”! Before the book gets underway, Flea includes a page of lyrics from one of his favorite songwriters, Patti Smith, with a piece called “Innocence.” Clearly these words moved him to the point of including them in his thorough, no-holds-barred memoir. He avers early on that his entire life has been a search for his highest self and a journey to the depths of the spirit. It is obvious that Flea had no ghostwriter as all of the language is fresh and leaves no doubt as to whose mind they are coming from. The chapters are short --- some only consist of a paragraph or even a few sentences --- and each is titled with the descriptive voice that could only come from Flea. In “In a Circle,” he reflects that his earliest memories are rooted in an underlying sense that something was wrong with him, that he was broken somehow. Flea recalls being fascinated by music at the age of five, which continues to this day. The 1960s, the decade in which he was born, saw him and his family relocate from Australia to New York City. Unfortunately, family strife soon led to his father moving back to the Land Down Under. Not long after that, his mother’s boyfriend, Walter, became more present in their lives, and he eventually looked to him as a father figure. This is ironic because Flea never really felt connected to his mother and only much later in his life would their relationship improve. As his affection and curiosity for music grew, Flea found real love for and togetherness in the Punk Rock movement, where he felt accepted and could contribute something beautiful. The next big stage of his life involved the final move he made with his family, to Los Angeles, which he embraced at an impressionable preteen age. He also began experimenting with drugs --- first with marijuana and then with almost anything he could get his hands on. It was during this time that Flea would meet Anthony Kiedis, who had the biggest impact on his life and who he still considers to be his best friend in the world. Fans will know that Kiedis would later become the lead singer/frontman of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so reading about them during their formative years is a real blast. I loved ACID FOR THE CHILDREN. It is honest, brutally so at times, and spoken in such a true voice that you would think Michael Balzary was right there in the room with you. I admire and respect the anti-establishment side of Flea, which is clearly evident not only in the title he chose, but also in the front cover photo, which depicts his 11-year-old self smoking a joint. I would have liked for him to have spent more time on his film career. Even though he has done mostly bit parts --- the standout for me is his neo-Nazi character who kills Steve Buscemi in the Coen Brothers cult classic The Big Lebowski --- he has been in a number of important indie movies and continues to act to this day. I can only hope that Flea pens a second memoir (he briefly alludes to this at the end), so that we can see the skyrocket ride that he and his best friends took as the Red Hot Chili Peppers became one of the most popular bands in the world. Reviewed by Ray Palen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ray Palen

    When I learned that Flea, the Bassist from one of my favorite bands, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, was putting out a memoir I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I mean, my go-to song at karaoke is their hit 'Otherside'! I looked forward to the wild tales of life on the road with the other RHCP's that was sure to involve overindulgence in everything they could get their hands on; wild romps with groupies; and, stepping out with high fashion models. Well, I could not have been more wrong in When I learned that Flea, the Bassist from one of my favorite bands, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, was putting out a memoir I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I mean, my go-to song at karaoke is their hit 'Otherside'! I looked forward to the wild tales of life on the road with the other RHCP's that was sure to involve overindulgence in everything they could get their hands on; wild romps with groupies; and, stepping out with high fashion models. Well, I could not have been more wrong in my preconceptions. First off, this memoir that is 379 pages in length does not even mention the formation of The Red Hot Chili Peppers until page 371! This memoir was about the man who would become Flea --- Michael Peter Balzary --- who was born in Australia before moving briefly to New York City and then finally landing in his current dwelling place of Los Angeles, California. 'Flea' is far from the wild band member we see on-stage and in music videos. Yes, the man who once went on stage with his fellow band mates wearing nothing but one sock apiece --- I will leave its' placement to your imagination --- was quite well-read and well versed in film. Among the novels he lists as personal favorites are THE MASTER AND MARGARITA by Mikhail Bulgakov, SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and JAZZ by Toni Morrison. Some of his favorite films include Spirit Of the Beehive, Throne Of Blood, The Wizard Of Oz, and Persepolis. Michael is definitely no 'Flea-brain'! Before the proceedings of ACID FOR THE CHILDREN, Flea includes a page of lyrics from one of his favorite songwriters, Patti Smith, with the piece she called Innocence. It is obvious that these words moved him to the point of including them in the very in-depth, no-holds-barred memoir about himself. He avers very early on that all his life had been a search for his highest self and a journey to the depths of the spirit. It is obvious that Flea had no ghost-writer helping out here as all of the language is fresh and leaves no doubt whose mind they are coming from. The chapters are short, some only with a few sentences or a paragraph, and each is titled with the descriptive voice that could only come from Flea. In the chapter entitled In a Circle, he reflects that his earliest memories were rooted in an underlying sense that something was wrong with him. Like something in him was broken. He recalls being fascinated by music at the age of five, a fascination that continues to this day. The 1960's, the decade in which he was born, saw Flea and his family relocated to America and New York City. Unfortunately, family strife soon saw his father leaving the family and moving back to Australia. Not long thereafter, Flea recalls his Mom's boyfriend, Walter, become more and more present in their lives and he eventually looked to Walter as a father figure. This was ironic because Flea never really felt connected with his mother and only, much later in his life, would see their relationship improved with the passage of much time. As his affection and curiosity for music grew, Flea found a real love and togetherness for the Punk Rock movement --- a place where he felt accepted and in which he could contribute something beautiful. The next big stage of his life involved the final move he made with his family, this one to the West Coast and California. At an impressionable pre-teen age, Flea embraced Los Angeles and Hollywood. He also began experimenting with drugs. First marijuana and later, almost anything he could get his hands on. It was during this time that Flea would meet the person that had the biggest impact on his life and whom he still considers to be his best friend in the world --- Anthony Kiedis. Fans will know that Anthony would later become the lead-singer/front-man of the RHCP, so reading about he and Flea together during their formative years is a real blast. I loved ACID FOR THE CHILDREN. It is honest, brutally honest at times, and spoken in such a true voice you would think that Michael Balzary was right there in the room with you. I admire and respect the anti-establishment side of Flea which is clearly evident not only in the title he chose for his memoir but also the front cover photo that depicts and 11-year-old Flea smoking a joint. This book is definitely not getting misfiled in the Kids section at the bookstore! I would have liked for him to have spent more time on his film career. Even though he has done mostly bit parts --- his standout for me is his Neo-Nazi character that kills Steve Buscemi during the Coen Brothers Cult Classic The Big Lebowski --- he was in quite a few important Indie films and continues to act today. I can only hope that Flea does a Part 2 to this memoir, as he briefly alludes to at the end, so we can see the skyrocket ride he and his best friends took as the RHCP became one of the most popular bands in the world. Reviewed by Ray Palen for Book Reporter

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Wilson

    Not the biggest RHCP fan but this book really touched me. A great and gritty origin story. The audio book is a must!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Thoroughly enjoyable and interesting. Yay, Flea!

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