Red Hot Chili Peppers plans ‘grand concert’ in Cuba

Josh Klinghoffer’s dream of playing in Cuba with his band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, seems about to come true. The well-known California rock band could land in Havana with all “its pieces” as soon as March 2018.

According to what journalist Michel Hernández published on his Facebook profile, Klinghoffer – the band’s current guitarist – was in Havana a week ago “to talk about the preparations and with several of the country’s artists and musicians.”

During his recent trip to Cuba, the U.S. musician spoke, among others, with filmmaker Jorge Perugorría and the young musicians of the Nube Roja group, whom he visited in their studio.

The concert could be held “during the tour the band will make through several Latin American countries with a set list that includes most of their classics together with titles from their most recent album The Gateway,” Michel Hernández advanced.

The stage for the possible presentation could be La Piragua, next to Havana’s Malecón. The group’s producers remain in contact with the local organizers and have already previewed “a group of logistic details and other vital fronts for the organization of a large-size show.”

Two years ago, during a previous visit, Josh Klinghoffer had announced his wish to perform on the island with the Chili Peppers.

“We want to give a grand concert in Cuba for all our fans,” he told Hernández then. “We’ve wanted to come for a long time. That’s why when I told them I was coming they all wanted to accompany me.”

The guitarist had arrived in Havana with rapper and drummer Questlove to play in the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). In an exclusive interview for OnCuba, he said he had travelled to the island a decade before and “since then I’ve been obsessed with the idea of coming back here. Questlove’s manager asked me if I wanted to join the trip and I didn’t think twice about it. Coming to Cuba for anything is a tremendous opportunity. I love this place.”

When asked why he felt that way, Klinghoffer affirmed he was “in love with Cuba.” It’s a special place, unique. I can’t explain it. Everything is so completely unexpected. It is magical,” he said.

The guitarist said he was a Compay Segundo fan. “I love him. I’d love to be as cool as him,” he commented with a smile. “I also like Los Zafiros a lot; Omara Portuondo, Benny Moré, Irakere…. I actually know about the older Cuban music; I don’t know much about the new. But now I bought many records, so I’m thrilled. I have a load like this!”

At the time he confessed to OnCuba – and perhaps he was exaggerating a bit – that at least once a week we would encourage the rest of the band to come to the island. “I’m sure we’re going to play here soon. We’re going to come, I’m absolutely sure. I’m really insisting. I’m surprised with the number of followers we have in Cuba. It’s marvelous to know they exist. I had no information about how much music gets here!”

On his return to the United States, Klinghoffer continued encouraging the members of the band to perform for the first time in Cuba and, according to Michel Hernández, it seems the great occasion will be in 2018.

Josh Klinghoffer at the FAC. Photo: Claudio Peláez Sordo.
Josh Klinghoffer at the FAC. Photo: Claudio Peláez Sordo.

Josh Klinghoffer entered the Chili Peppers in 2009 after the departure of New York guitarist John Frusciante, who was with the band for more than 15 years and participated in the recording of five of its 10 studio records.

Hernández is of the opinion that Red Chili Peppers is “one of the rock bands most followed on the island by numerous generations.”

Its record Blood Sugar Sex Magic, from 1991 and produced by Rick Rubin, “is a real rock classic” and “one of the central themes of the band which has survived all types of excesses and internal confrontations to continue creating a great deal of hassle on stages,” according to the Cuban journalist.

Another important album in the career of the Chili Peppers is Californication, from 1999, which was a great international hit and having sold 16 million copies is still the group’s most marketed record.

In recent years the island has been the subject of attention for international music stars, especially after the reestablishment of relations with the United States.

Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Usher and Katty Perry visited the island. Several groups and artists have displayed their intention to perform for the Cubans. Two of the most relevant events were the multitudinous concerts in Havana of the legendary rock band The Rolling Stones and the Mayor Lazer DJs.

However, with Donald Trump’s arrival to the White House and the changes announced by him on the Cuba policy, the enthusiasm seems to have cooled down. Nevertheless, with the celebration in Havana of World Jazz Day, a notable U.S. delegation performed on the island, led by heavyweights like Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Marcus Miller and Esperanza Spalding.

The possible concert of Red Chili Peppers next year could thus reactivate the interest and encourage other artists and groups to perform in Cuba. Or, at least, be a memory of another musical hallmark, as occurred in 2005 with Audioslave’s concert in Havana.

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