Michael Peter Balzary (born October 16, 1962), better known by his stage name Flea, is an Australian-born American musician and occasional actor. He is best known as the bassist, co-founding member, and one of the composers of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers with whom he was inducted in 2012 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Flea also briefly appeared as the bassist for such bands as What Is This?, Fear and Jane's Addiction. More recently he has appeared as member of the rock supergroups Atoms for Peace, Antemasque, Pigface and Rocket Juice & the Moon. Flea has also collaborated with many artists including The Mars Volta, Johnny Cash, Alanis Morissette and Young MC.
Widely regarded as one of the best rock bass players of all time, in 2009, Rolling Stone 's readers ranked Flea the second-best bassist of all-time in their top ten poll, ranked behind only John Entwistle and ahead of Paul McCartney.
Flea has also made occasional forays into acting, appearing in films that span many genres such as Suburbia, Back to the Future Part II and Part III, My Own Private Idaho, The Chase, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Thrashin', and The Big Lebowski, in addition to voicing the character Donnie Thornberry in The Wild Thornberrys animated television series and films. In 2014, Flea made his long awaited return to acting when he appeared in the film, Low Down.
Flea is the co-founder of Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a non-profit music education organization founded in 2001 for underprivileged children.
Michael Peter Balzary was born on October 16, 1962 in the Melbourne suburb of Burwood, Victoria. He is of Hungarian and Irish descent. His father, Mick Balzary, an avid fisherman, often took him fishing. When Flea was five, his family moved to Larchmont, New York for his father's career. In 1971, his parents divorced and his father returned to Australia. Flea and his siblings stayed with their mother Patricia, who soon remarried to a jazz musician. Patricia died in June 2013. He was first called "Flea" as a child for his seeming inability to sit still, and the nickname stuck ever since.
Flea's stepfather, Walter Abdul Urban (1941–2011), frequently invited musicians to his house, where jam sessions would often take place. The family moved again to Los Angeles, California, where Flea became fascinated with his trumpet. He had no interest in rock music at the time; he idolized jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. His stepfather was an "aggressive alcoholic", who eventually became involved in shoot-outs with police. "I was raised in a very violent, alcoholic household", Flea later said, "I grew up being terrified of my parents, particularly my father figures. It caused [me] a lot of trouble later in life." To cope, Flea began smoking cannabis at 13, and became a daily user.
Flea, who was then nicknamed Mike B the Flea, attended Fairfax High School, and was somewhat of an outcast due to his taste in music. However, he soon met Anthony Kiedis, and after a brief confrontation, the two became best friends. Kiedis recalled: "We were drawn to each other by the forces of mischief and love and we became virtually inseparable. We were both social outcasts. We found each other and it turned out to be the longest-lasting friendship of my life." Flea was turned on to rock music, particularly punk rock by a friend in high school named Hillel Slovak. Originally a jazz trumpet player, Flea learned to play bass from Slovak, who shortly after asked him to be a bassist in his band, Anthym. Flea soon developed his own style and joined the group, but quit several months later in order to play for the punk rock outfit Fear. He then rejoined Slovak to form an intended one-off band: Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem along with fellow high school alumni Anthony Kiedis and Jack Irons; the impromptu collaboration would ultimately give birth to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
From 1988 to 1990 Flea was married to Loesha Zeviar (Loesha's name still remains tattooed on Flea's chest). Together they had one daughter, Clara Balzary, who was born in 1988. Clara has been featured in many Chili Peppers books and documentaries including the band's Funky Monks documentary. She also has appeared at many shows and as a child even provided artwork for the band's T-shirts and promotional material. She has also documented the band's I'm With You tour through photographs and videos. As an adult, Clara was most recently in the short-lived band, The Tints and is also an aspiring artist and photographer, taking the promotional photographs for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers record. Loesha currently works as a Resident Technician at the Pasadena Recovery Center and was featured on the reality series, Celebrity Rehab along with Flea's longtime friend, Bob Forrest.
Flea married for the second time in 2005 to model Frankie Rayder who was once named GQ Magazine's sexiest woman in the world. They had their first child together, Sunny Bebop Balzary, who was born in 2005. John Frusciante is the godparent of Sunny and Anthony Kiedis is the godparent of Clara. The song, "Hard to Concentrate" on the Chili Peppers' 2006 album, Stadium Arcadium was written by Kiedis as a wedding proposal to Flea and Rayder.
Flea was close friends with actor River Phoenix and was with him on October 31, 1993 the night he died of a drug overdose, even riding in the ambulance to the hospital with him. The song "Transcending" on One Hot Minute was a tribute to Phoenix written by Flea.
In the 2011 documentary, The Other F Word, Flea discussed the joys of being a father by saying "It's funny how you always hear people saying that classic parent attitude of, 'I brought you into this world, I gave you life!' You know, it's just, I think, completely the opposite. My kids gave me life. They gave me a reason."
Flea is a huge fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers. He can often be spotted sitting courtside at Lakers games with some of his bandmates and has even performed the National Anthem prior to Lakers games. He is also known to be a fan of English football team Sheffield United.