Flea celebrated his 50th birthday with a special Red Hot Chili Peppers gig that took place in the bassist’s backyard. As reported by Rolling Stone, who were on location to cover the 9-song set, the special occasion functioned as a fundraiser for the Silver Lake Conservatory, a music school located in Los Angeles that Flea himself founded around 11 years ago.
“For this to happen on my 50th birthday tonight is the best gift I could ever hope to receive,” Flea explained to Rolling Stone, “A big part of my life is music education because it changed my life – but arts, academics and athletics should all be equally treated in the school.”
Punk rock veterans Rancid also performed before the select crowd, which, according to NME, included audience members such as producer Rick Rubin and actors Edward Norton and Owen Wilson. For Rancid’s frontman Tim Armstrong, the event held special meaning as Armstrong was once a student, and is now a supporter of Silver Lake Conservatory.
“Tim studied there, he took lessons there – he was taking flamenco or something,” Flea recalled, “Tim’s cool [and] those guys showed up. They played for us before, paid for everything, gave us all the merch, everything. Those guys are so generous – they’re, like, walking the walk, dude.”
Ben Harper also made a surprise appearance as he adapted his version of Hallelujah into Happy Birthday, while Flea was presented with a massive birthday cake that included a stand-up bass. An art auction was also part of the fundraising proceedings, with a piece by infamous street artist Banksy reportedly fetching in excess of $100,000.
The Peppers set included hits such as Can’t Stop, Give It Away, and Snow (Hey Oh), and also featured a cover of Niel Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. While performing, Flea took the time to express his gratitude to those who came out to contribute to Silver Lake Conservatory.
“It’s been kind of an overwhelming experience for me. It feels really meaningful and poignant to have everybody come out and support,” Flea informed those in attendance.
Red Hot Chili Peppers head to Australia early 2013 for the Big Day Out festival, you can check out the full lineup here.