Flea Shreds National Anthem on Bass, With Some Special Charlie Parker Riffs for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Flea busted out a Los Angeles Lakers bass guitar and some incredibly fancy fretwork for his latest performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Lakers’ home game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, April 3.

The performance had a little bit of Jimi Hendrix-style blown-out insanity, but as Flea noted on Instagram, he also slipped in some deep jazz references for Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “I was so happy to have had a brief conversation with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar before I walked out there,” Flea wrote. “Knowing Kareem’s deep love for, and knowledge of jazz, I told him I would do a Charlie Parker riff, which I did in the second stanza (on the word ‘fight’).”

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This is far from the first time Flea has performed the National Anthem before a Lakers game. Arguably his most famous rendition came before Kobe Bryant’s final NBA Game in 2016; while his performance elicited some mixed responses, he proudly rebuffed the criticism, quipping, “I know that people who like music liked it. thought it was beautiful. I really don’t have any concern for little small minds that get frustrated when they get blown. I like the big minds.”

The majority of Flea’s “Star-Spangled Banner” performances have, obviously, been on bass, although he did switch things up once. Ahead of a 2008 playoff game between the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, he broke out the first instrument he picked up, even before the bass: the trumpet. 

Flea’s latest Lakers performance came a couple of days after the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their 12th studio album, Unlimited Love (the record also marks their first with guitarist John Frusciante since 2006). The band will hit the road this summer in support of the album, receiving support from Haim, Beck, Thundercat, the Strokes, St. Vincent, and King Princess on select dates.

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