During the filming of My Own Private Idaho in Portland, Ore., in 1990, River was close friends with Flea, bass player with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who had a small part in the film. For nights on end, River, Flea and others jammed in the house they were borrowing from director Gus Van Sant. One of these jam sessions can be seen on the A&E Biography “Eclipsed by Death: The Life of River Phoenix.”

Flea, who was himself in recovery (and who was not a drug friend), had spoken to River the Christmas prior to his death, urging him to get help with his drug problem.  Unfortunately River wasn't ready to be helped yet.

On the night that River died, Flea was onstage with a scratch band made up of actor Johnny Depp, Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers and Al Jourgensen of Ministry. Flea realized something was wrong when he saw a bouncer bolt out the door. He rushed outside to see his friend on the ground. It was Flea that told River's younger brother Leaf to call 911.  It was also Flea, who sat in the front seat of the ambulance that took River's body to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center the night he died.

River and his friend Flea can be seen together in the video Starlicks Master Sessions With Flea.  Please visit my Sound Clips page to hear some of their conversations in the video.

'I'm a total deadbeat. I sit around with Flea who everybody thinks is this badass party animal, and listen to music.

        ELLE (UK) April 1992

“River loved nothing better than hanging around the Chili Peppers," reports a long-standing music-business friend of River's. "They were his big friends, and Flea was his man. I remember how happy River was when he was with the Peppers. His beaming face said to me, 'This is where I wanna be.'

                                   US October 1995

Flea laughs; it reminds him of a River Phoenix anecdote:  "Once River came up to me and said, 'Look, Flea, there's something I really need to talk to you about.  I think I should play rhythm guitar for you guys-it would really fill out the sound.' He seemed really serious.  I was just stammering, not knowing what to say, and then he just started laughing.  He'd just wanted to see me sweat."

          Guitar Player April 1995

Q: Flea, could you talk about the song you wrote for River Phoenix?

Flea: It's called "Transcending" and it's about one of the kindest people I ever met in my life. When I think about River I don't think about his death. I don't get sad about it. I think about how incredibly fortunate I was to be friends with a person who looked inside me and saw things that no one else ever saw before. And that song is a respectfully loving song for him.


Visit the Official Website of the Red Hot Chili Peppers


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