Flea has displayed a wide variety of techniques throughout the years, ranging from his initial use of slapping and popping to the more traditional methods he has employed since Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Greg Prato of Allmusic has noted, that "by combining funk-style bass with psychedelic, punk, and hard rock, Flea created an original playing style that has been copied numerous times". Flea stated in an interview, that he was influenced greatly by Louis Armstrong. Flea has been considered one of the greatest bassists of all time, with Greg Tate of Rolling Stone saying "if there were a Most Valuable Bass Player award given out in rock, Flea could have laid claim to that bitch ten years running".
The Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan recalls, that when he first saw the Chili Peppers in 1984, "Flea was playing so aggressively that he had worn a hole in his thumb and he was literally screaming in pain in-between songs because it hurt so bad. Someone kept coming out and pouring crazy glue into the hole." Flea's sound is also determined by what type of instrument he plays. Before Californication, he did not believe the actual bass held much significance: "what mattered was how you hit the bass and your emotional intent, and I still think that's the bottom line." Flea owns a 1961 Fender Jazz Bass, treasuring it for its "old wood sound".
The band, with Frusciante back on guitar, began writing new songs during the summer of 1998 in Flea's garage. He and Kiedis were less confident in writing the album after the disappointing results of One Hot Minute. Flea had also recently broken up with his girlfriend of two years, Marissa Pouw, causing him to enter a state of depression which was only lifted when his daughter, Clara, comforted him after several weeks of crying.
Flea was heavily influenced by electronica during the writing and recording of Californication (1999) and he attempted to emulate this when writing bass lines for the album. Californication took less than two weeks to record, by contrast, One Hot Minute took over a year. When Californication was released on 8 June 1999 it received overwhelmingly positive critical reviews and sold fifteen million copies worldwide – more than Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The Chili Peppers played Woodstock 1999, with Flea playing completely naked – something he would do again at the Reading and Leeds Festivals the same year as well as several other Californication tour concerts.
Flea felt the public school system was seriously lacking in exposing children to music by drastically reducing, and sometimes eliminating, art related programs. He founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a school dedicated to help youth progress in music, because of this. "I just wanted to fill the void that public education has cut. They've dropped the ball by cutting out music programs", Flea laments, "I grew up in LA public schools and was in the music department. It was really an important thing for my life, it gave me something to hold onto. Without music I would've gotten into a lot of trouble. I just wanted to try to provide something like what I got.
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