Chad Smith RHCP

Chad Smith: A Testament to Self-Taught Drummers Everywhere

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Chadwick Gaylord Smith was born on October 25th, 1961 in Saint Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Bloomfield, Michigan. 

Chad never received formal drum instruction but was part of several bands throughout his high school years. Smith is one of the most well-known rock drummers in the world today because of iconic songs like “Dani California” and “Californication.” 

However, many people don’t know that Smith was not an original member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Chad and the Red Hot Chili Peppers

 The youngest of three, Chad moved to California in his twenties to live with his brother Brad. In 1988, the Red Hot Chili Peppers held drummer auditions in LA to replace DH Peligro. 

The band had gone through three drummers in the previous five years and had been looking for someone that would be committed to the band long term. 

After Smith’s first audition, lead singer Anthony Keidis told Smith he could return for the session the next day only if he shaved his head. 

Keidis apparently thought that Smith’s bandana hairstyle was more of a Metallica look and was not fitting for the Chili Peppers’ punk rock music. 

Smith showed up the next day with the same bandana on, and though Keidis kept to himself, he later acknowledged that he respected Smith’s persistence. It was part of the reason he landed the gig with the band. 

Chad Smith officially joined the band in December of 1988, and within a few months, they were recording the album Mother’s Milk. 

Despite several on and off guitarists such as John Frusciante and Dave Navarro, Smith has been a permanent fixture of the band ever since, along with Keidis and bass player Flea. 

The band has released eight studio albums since Smith joined the band: 

  • Mother’s Milk (1989)
  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
  • One Hot Minute (1995)
  • Californication (1999)
  • By the Way (2002)
  • Stadium Arcadium (2006)
  • I’m with You (2011)
  • The Getaway (2016)

Other Bands

In 2007, Smith formed Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats with guitarist Jeff Kollman and keyboardist Ed Roth. A funk-fusion instrumental band, the Meatbats have released two studio albums. 

While taking a break from touring in 2008, Chad Smith joined the hard rock band Chickenfoot. Along with Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, and Michael Anthony, Chickenfoot has released two studio albums and a live album with Smith on drums. 

Chad Smith has also played many session gigs with artists such as Johnny Cash, and Jennifer Nettles. He joined forces a second time with Sammy Hagar to work on his twelfth studio album.

Gear and Endorsements

Chad Smith has played Pearl drums for the majority of his career but made the switch to DW drums in 2016. 

Smith endorses Sabian cymbals, Remo drumheads, and Vater sticks. 

Check out the following video of Chad Smith’s drum tech Chris Warren going through Chads’ kit from the Chili Peppers’ 2012 I’m With You Tour.


Chad Smith cites several notable drummers as influences to his style of playing. Famed jazz drummer Buddy Rich, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and drummer for The Who, Keith Moon are just a few of the drummers that inspired Smith.

Charity and Community Service

One thing that separates Smith from so many other famous drummers is his devotion to community service. 

He is an active supporter of several non-profits including Little Kids Rock and Surfer’s Healing. In 2013, NAMM asked Smith to lobby in Washington DC on behalf of public school music education. 

The following year, Smith joined the Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying campaign, and participated in a talent show at the White House directed by Michelle Obama to raise money for music education in low ranking schools.

Over the past 3 years, Chad Smith has teamed up with his celebrity look-alike, Will Ferrell to raise money for a host of different causes. 

In 2016, they hosted a benefit comedy and music show that raised money for Ferrell’s Cancer for College and Smith’s Silverlake Conservatory of Music. 

They also teamed up twice in 2018 to raise money for Cancer for College, an organization providing scholarships for kids who have survived cancer.  

Smith was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2012 and continues to be one of the most influential rock drummers in the world. 


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