Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the fifth studio album by Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on September 24, 1991. Produced by Rick Rubin, it was the band’s first record released on Warner Bros. Records. The musical styles of Blood Sugar Sex Magik differed notably from the techniques employed on the Chili Peppers’ preceding album, Mother’s Milk, and featured little use of heavy metal guitar riffs. The album’s subject matter incorporated sexual innuendos and references to drugs and death as well as themes of lust and exuberance.
Peaking at number three on the Billboard 200, the album has sold over 15 million copies worldwide and was the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ introduction into worldwide popularity and critical acclaim. Blood Sugar Sex Magik produced an array of hit singles including the hugely successful “Under the Bridge”, “Give It Away”, “Suck My Kiss”, “Breaking the Girl” and “If You Have to Ask”.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released the same day Nirvana released Nevermind and it is recognized as an influential and seminal component of the alternative rock explosion in the early 1990s.
All photography, paintings and art direction for Blood Sugar Sex Magik were credited to filmmaker Gus Van Sant. The cover of the album features the four band members’ faces positioned around a rose. The lyrics are printed in white lettering across a black background, hand written by Kiedis. The booklet also contains a collage of photos assembled to showcase the band members’ various tattoos, which feature faces of Native American tribal leaders, animals and sea creatures, as well as various symbols and phrases. Photographs of each band member alone, and two photographs of the band as a whole are also included.
Singles released to coincide with the album share little with Blood Sugar’s artwork. The cover of “Give It Away” was a painting of a Chinese infant, surrounded by fish, vegetables, fruits and sushi; “Under the Bridge” is a photograph of a bridge in the city of Los Angeles; “Suck My Kiss” had a black and white photograph of the band, with Kiedis and Flea holding a large fish; and “Breaking the Girl” featured a painting of a human being covered in magma.
Spin magazine charted the album at number 58 on their “Top 90 Albums of the 90s”
The record was placed in slapnpop Magazine “101 Essential Guitar Albums”
included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
Blood Sugar Sex Magik also ranked number 310 on Rolling Stone’s the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” and number 14 on the “100 Best Albums of the Nineties”.
Twenty years later, many of the songs remain constant staples in the band’s setlists. “Give it Away” and Under the Bridge” have been performed at almost every show making them two of the band’s most performed songs. On the band’s 2006 Stadium Arcadium tour, the band decided to give the two hits a break. This decision was often met with mixed reaction from the audience due to the two songs’ popularity. To date, “Mellowship Slinky in B Major”, “The Righteous & the Wicked” have never been performed live while “Apache Rose Peacock”, and “The Greeting Song” have been partially performed. “Naked in the Rain” has only been performed once in 1990 prior to the album’s recording.