|First posted 1/24/2021; last updated 2/27/2021.|
Under the Bridge
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Writer(s): Anthony Kiedis/Flea/John Frusciante/Chad Smith (see lyrics here)
First Charted: February 15, 1992
Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 12 RR, 2 AR, 6 MR, 13 UK, 3 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.4 UK, 1.47 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 193.0 video, 200.0 streaming
Awards: (Click on award for more details).
About the Song:
Prior to this song, the Red Hot Chili Peppers built a following with four albums in the 1980s, but largely amongst the alternative rock crowd. They’d reached the top 20 of that chart four times, but never reached the top 40 of the pop chart. Their only previous song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Give It Away” (#73), the first single from Blood Sugar Sex Magik. As Rolling Stone’s David Fricke said, the song “unexpectedly drop-kicked the band into the Top 10.” WK
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis wrote the song about the “loneliness and despondency” WK he’d experienced from heroin and cocaine addiction roughly three years earlier. WK He commented that instead of appreciating the love of his then-girlfriend, actress Ione Skye, he “was downtown with fucking gangsters shooting speedballs under a bridge.” WK It was initially a poem he thought was “too emotional and did not fit the Chili Peppers’ style.” WK However, producer Rick Rubin saw the band as more than “a funk band with rapping” SF and convinced Kiedis to share the song with the band.
“Under the Bridge” became the second single from the Magik album after Warners Bros. Record representatives saw the Peppers in concert. Kiedis missed his cue to start singing and the audience jumped in. He apologizied to the record company people afterward, but they said, “Are you kidding me? When every single kid at the show sings a song, that’s our next single.” WK
The song has been called “a seminal component of the alternative rock movement of the early and mid-1990s.” WK Journalist Jeff Apter called it “the bona fide, across-all-formats radio hit that the band had been working towards for seven years.” WK All Music Guide’s Amy Hanson called it “an integral part of the 1990s alterna-landscape.” WK
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