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“Red Hot Chili Peppers are being used by the Satanic powers of darkness”: How Anthony Kiedis incurred the wrath of evangelical Christians, and his granny, at the 1992 MTV Awards

Do Red Hot Chili Peppers really “pay homage to Satan”? Only Anthony Kiedis truly knows



Music historians will remember the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards less for who took home ‘Moonman’ trophies than for the tense pre-show face-off between the Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses camps. But for Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis the night was memorable for an entirely different reason.

The night promised to be a significant one for the Los Angeles funk-rock quartet, who were then riding high on the success of their Rick Rubin-produced fifth album, 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The Chilis were actually the most nominated artists of the evening, having secured six nominations for French film-maker Stéphane Sednaoui’s striking video for the album’s first single, Give It Away, plus an additional three nominations for Gus Van Sant’s more low-key and intimate video for Under The Bridge, which had peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band were also scheduled to perform on the night, alongside industry big-hitters including U2, Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses and Michael Jackson, plus their 1991 touring partners Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

In the end, Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante and Chad Smith would share the ‘artist of the night’ spotlight with fellow Californian rockers Van Halen, with both bands picking up three ‘Moonmen’. It was when the group collected the Best Art Direction In A Video award for Under The Bridge that matters took a surreal turn, when Kiedis began his acceptance speech with the words, “First of all I’d like to thank Satan…” before going on to pay respects to Louis Armstrong, Neil Young, the Rollins Band, Bob Marley, the Marx Brothers and more. 

As the singer recalled in his 2004 autobiography Scar Tissue, one TV viewer who was distinctly unimpressed by his throwaway joke was his devout Christian grandmother, who informed Kiedis’ family that she wished to disown him.

“I had to write Granny a postcard on her eightieth birthday, explaining that I wasn’t really a Satanist,” the suitably chastened vocalist admitted.

The matter didn’t end there, however. Two Christian groups, one running the Christ In Prophecy website, the other curating the Good Fight Ministries YouTube channel, seized upon the joke as evidence that the Chili Peppers were in league with The One With Horns.

Misidentifying both Kiedis and the year of the awards ceremony, the Christ In Prophecy website warned, “The true Satan has no interest in blessing anyone, except for the purpose of ensnaring their souls, and there will be no partying in Hell”, while the evangelical Christians behind the Good Fight Ministries channel proclaimed, “Sadly, like so many artists who are leading the masses away from God, and to Hell, the Red Hot Chili Peppers pay homage to Satan, are being used by the Satanic powers of darkness.” The voiceover then refers to Give It Away as a “perverted” song, and declares John Frusciante to be an “occultist.”

“Satanism and demonic possession is common in the entertainment world,” the voiceover continues, “as Satan seeks to use artists as puppets to adversely influence the blind masses to do things like destructive drugs and engage in sexual perversion.”

To be fair here, the Good Fight Ministries does seem to have quite an extensive list of souls in need of salvation, with their YouTube channel videos also calling out the Harry Potter films, Marvel, High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens, Megan Fox, and, as far as we can tell, the green Power Ranger.

If Kiedis is a Satanist then, at least he won’t be short of company in hell.