cover image Acid for the Children: A Memoir

Acid for the Children: A Memoir

Flea. Grand Central, $29 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4789-8351-4

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea recalls his youth in this electric, surprisingly moving memoir. The author, born Michael Peter Balzary in 1962 in Melbourne, Australia, moved to Los Angeles in 1972 with his mother and her erratic boyfriend. He describes his mother as unaffectionate (“there is not one instance in my life where I can ever remember her holding or cuddling me”) and inattentive, which gave him opportunity to run the streets unsupervised. When he wasn’t causing trouble (“I became a regular shoplifter,” he admits), he was listening to music (Charlie Parker, the Beatles) and reading books (Kurt Vonnegut “parented me,” he writes). 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; liking girls; and doing drugs (including crystal meth and cocaine), but this is not a typical sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll story. The author respectfully references his first girlfriend, to whom he lost his virginity at 17, and calls drug use a “pit of sadness,” adding, “You can do anything. Walk through it, don’t numb or hide.” Flea is an enlightened narrator, and this passionate, smart memoir will resonate with readers whether they’re fans of the band or not. (Nov.)