Flea faces father complex in new memoir

‘Acid for the Children’ details Red Hot Chili Peppers’ star’s parent issues

In Flea’s new memoir “Acid for the Children,” the acclaimed Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist admits to never having the father figure he so desperately needed.

As a young boy, Flea (born Michael Peter Balzary in Melbourne, Australia), found it difficult to connect with his biological dad, Mick Balzary, whom he describes as a strict disciplinarian with a drinking problem. After his father deserted the family, which had moved to New York, to return to their native Australia, their relationship grew even more distant.

Flea’s mother, Patricia — a heavy drinker who threw herself into a new relationship with a struggling jazz musician and abusive heroin addict named Walt — was cold comfort.

“As a kid you’re finding ways to survive, whether that survival mechanism is fight or flight, so I didn’t begin to understand what I went through or make peace with it till later,” says Flea, who appears at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Friday as part of the Arts & Ideas series.

For the remainder of “Acid for the Children,” which chronicles the musician and perennial actor’s journey from the safe suburbs of New York to the mean streets of Hollywood, Flea tries unsuccessfully to fill the void left by his father with everyone from his stepfather Walt to his friend and future bandmate, vocalist Anthony Kiedis.

Flea, right, pictured with Anthony Kiedis, comes to The City with his book “Acid for the Children: A Memoir.” (Courtesy Flea/Fabulosfab)

After co-founding the funk-rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers with Kiedis, Flea made several attempts to re-establish a relationship with his biological father. But by that point, the musician, famous for performing in his tighty-whities, repeatedly clashed with his conservative, hard-drinking dad, who just couldn’t stomach hearing his son’s pain.

“When I started realizing, especially after being a father myself, that my parents weren’t there for me, I was angry,” says Flea. “Like ‘didn’t you see that I needed you?’”

Flea recognizes today, at 57, that his father, also the product of an alcoholic parent, loved him as best as he knew how and adds that they have achieved a far more loving and supportive relationship in recent years.

But he credits his two daughters from previous relationships, Sunny and Clara, and his new wife, designer Melody Ehsani, whom he just married in October, with providing the majority of the love and guidance he sorely lacked growing up.

“My daughters have taught me what love is and helped me to evolve into a better person and my wife has seen every part of me and still loves me,” says Flea. “I’m so grateful to have experienced such moments of sublime, transcendent and beautiful love.”

BOOK NOTES

Acid for the Children: A Memoir

Written by: Flea

Published by: Grand Central Publishing

Pages: 400

Price: $21

FLEA’S LOCAL APPEARANCE

Nov. 8: Jewish Community Center, 3200 California St., S.F., 7 p.m., $75-$95 (book included); jccsf.org/events/arts-ideas/flea/

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