Josh Klinghoffer was the guitarist with the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a decade. However, there was always one slight problem: he wasn’t John Frusciante, and, as a result, Klinghoffer was abruptly relieved of his duties in 2019.
Although, during his time with the group, Klinghoffer was a fully-fledged member rather than a session guitarist, being a part of one of the biggest bands in the world was an eye-opening experience for him. In the decade he was with the Chilis, he lived out his wildest dreams, but his role was there one day and gone the next.
Truthfully, when Klinghoffer accepted the role, he must have known deep down that he was only keeping Frusciante’s seat warm. Throughout his stint with the band, they toured the world and made two albums, but when the opportunity to bring their former guitarist back into the fold arose, Klinghoffer was relieved of his duties.
Before Frusciante returned to the group, he’d begun working with Flea on a project, and the pair of them soon realised he needed to return to his rightful place in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “John [Frusciante] and Flea have a musical language,” Klinghoffer explained on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast in 2020. “I’ll never be able to contend with the history him and John had. I rode my bike over [to Flea’s house]. They just said, ‘We’ll get right to it. We’ve decided to ask John to come back to the band.’
“And I just sat there quiet for a second and I said, ‘I’m not surprised.’ And the only thing I could think to say was, ‘I wish I could have done something with you guys, musically or creatively, that would have made this an absolute impossibility.’”
There are no bad feelings between them despite his dismissal, and Klinghoffer is thankful for his time spent with the Chilis. Although, he admits it would have been more difficult to take if it had happened earlier in his tenure. He continued: “It’s absolutely John’s place to be in that band. So that’s why I’m happy for him, I’m happy that he’s back with them. If John coming back had happened five years ago, it would have been hard for me, temporally, to weigh [my contributions] against what they had.”
Thankfully, the decision to replace Klinghoffer with Frusciante has proved beneficial for both parties. Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with their new album, Unlimited Love; meanwhile, their former guitarist is still playing stadiums since becoming a touring guitarist for Pearl Jam.