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Acid for the Children: A Memoir

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  918 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Iconic bassist and co-founder of the immortal Red Hot Chili Peppers finally tells his fascinating life story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd expect from an LA street rat turned world-famous rock star.
Published December 5th 2019 by Hachette Audio (first published November 5th 2019)
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Lori Reed There is explicit talk about drug use and getting putting cocaine on his d!@$ for a blowjob. The drive thru people at Chik-fil-a enjoyed hearing that…moreThere is explicit talk about drug use and getting putting cocaine on his d!@$ for a blowjob. The drive thru people at Chik-fil-a enjoyed hearing that part of the book before I could turn it off. And pages upon pages of talking about masturbation.

The overall message is positive and he encourages people to not use drugs. I would let my kids read/listen but this is a highly personal decision as a parent and depends on your family.

If your kids are fans of Flea and RHCP they will enjoy it and it opens the door for some good conversation.(less)
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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 ...more
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.

The Nerd Daily
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
[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.
Beth M.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nick Craske
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As open, honest and expressive as his musicianship, Flea evokes the 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.
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
Ben Leiter
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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: and part two: are really good—put on shuffle and read along.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jim Cabaj
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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....
Ray Palen
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more 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 ...more
B.T. Hogan
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love autobiographies. Generally speaking, my least favourite part of an autobiography is the beginning, the origin story, the childhood. If I admire someone enough to want to read their life story, I am usually uninterested in discovering how they grew up. There are exceptions: Keith Richards in his book, Tyson, Flea's RHCP counterpart, Anthony Kiedis.

So when I learned that Flea was penning his own memoirs and focusing solely on his life leading up to the formation of the Chili Peppers, I was
I love Flea’s meditative reflection on his childhood. It’s clear that he’s done a lot of therapy and meditation, and is generally speaking from a grateful, loving heart. It’s touching. I think this type of awareness can only be reached from a lot of thoughtful introspection, and in retrospect. Also, he’s a good guy in his core. The memoir, like AK’s, is mostly about drug-fueled antics in their youth. But unlike AK’s memoir, Scar Tissue, the connection to the music and what he references often as ...more
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
Jennifer Walkup
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Harry Jahnke
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook because I received it free as part of's librarian program. I would definitely listen to the audiobook, because you can feel the heart that Flea has put into this autobiography, complete with parts that bring him to tears. It's not a book you listen to and think, wow that guy is full of himself, like so many of them. In fact, it's quite the opposite. He just gives an honest telling of his story, no matter how it makes him look and admits that he has made lots ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I liked listening to this as an audiobook though I was sometimes disconcerted by the not always linear timeline. Flea has some good stories to tell. I wonder if there will be a second book as this one ends just before RHCP forms.
Jaime Medina
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir was written differently. There really was no structured timeline. It was uniquely written and showed Michael Peter Balzary's intense and creative spirit. It was mind blowing! Extremely relatable, I loved hearing of him growing up completely disengaged from technology - meaning no cell phone, no social media, no days staying in mindlessly killing the hours of the day away watching all the crap the internet offers. His rambunctious childhood was a walk down memory lane. I loved how he ...more
Nick Bailey
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing insight into the world of a man ive long admired. The foundations that were paved for the red hots and so many amazing stories from a quirky upbringing. An upbringing that seems a million miles away from most peoples - but one with a constant theme of love. Thanks Flea ...more
Dave Brown
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this!
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Michael Peter Balzary, better known by his stage name Flea, is an Australian-born American musician and occasional actor. He is best known as the bassist, co-founding member, and one of the composers of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers with whom he was inducted in 2012 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Nothing special about me, we've all got our own sacred place, but to access it, your mission must be pure and your aim true. Just a little thought of trying to use it for a power tool, a career move, and the process becomes corrupted. You gotta go for the joy, the pain, the adventure, the search, the journey to love. I learned that from Kurt Vonnegut. You have to be willing to dedicate your life to that journey, not as a means to an end, but just as an opportunity to trip the fuck out. Ya gotta suspend all self-judgement, and embrace all. The reward is the journey itself. And that's how I became the bass player I'm still trying to be. Just exploring for a sense of purpose.” 2 likes
“LSD was good to me. Opening me up to another dimension, it helped me see what life was for, and the purpose of my yearnings... In a conscious way, it stripped away my fear of being criticized and freed me from the petty judgements I often doled out. Dissolving my ego, it magnified what was truly important, and unmasked those things that sapped my vital energy and distracted me from the path of divine beauty.” 1 likes
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