Dave Navarro—Life and Legacy
Tattooed Guitar God
Arguably one of the most creative guitarists in recent history, Dave Navarro is best known for playing with Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Navarro has also released a solo album, formed his own entertainment company, hosts a weekly radio show, and has published a book. He is also the host of Spike TV's tattoo reality competition, Ink Master.
Born June 7th, 1967 in Santa Monica, CA, David Michael Navarro was the only son of Constance Colleen (nee Hopkins) and James Raul "Mike" Navarro. His mother was of Anglo descent and his father's family traces their heritage all the way back to Spain. Dave's grandfather, Gabriel Navarro, had immigrated illegally from Mexico to Los Angeles and established his family in the United States.
When Dave was seven his parents divorced and he moved with Constance to live in Bel Air. Consequently, he was the only member of the family to never learn to speak Spanish as he spent most of his time with his mother. Occasionally he would travel to visit family in Texas, notably his cousin Michael Navarro. Dave had designated days he would spend with his father, per the custody arrangement.
It was also around this time that Dave started to take piano lessons. He didn't like it and discontinued lessons after a couple of years. His musical interests started again when his cousin Dan Lowen showed him a guitar. Dave also heard the music of Jimi Hendrix over a PA system at a local skateboard park and from that moment on his life changed. He became immersed in learning to play the guitar, both acoustic and electric.
Things changed dramatically for Dave in March of 1983. While he was staying at his father's house, his mother Constance and a close friend were murdered by Constance's jealous ex-boyfriend. Dave was only 15 years old. He was convinced that if he had been in the house at the time, he too would have been killed. After that, Dave moved in with his father and a dark descent into drugs, alcohol, and depression would follow.
The Last Years of High School
Finding More in Music
Now attending Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA, Dave met Stephen Perkins while the two were in the marching band together. The two hit it off and formed a short-lived band called Dizastre in 1983; the band featured Dave on lead guitar, Stephen on drums and other friends filling on on rhythm guitar, bass, and vocals. They did manage to play a few times in local clubs but promptly spent all their money on alcohol (even though they were underage at the time.)
Drug use also became a factor, as both Dave and Stephen were well-known in the school for being drug users. Eventually, coupled with bad grades and lack of focusing, Dave was expelled in the 11th grade. He tried to attend a public school but barely attended and eventually dropped out before graduation in 1985. (He would later receive his GED.) Dave moved to an apartment in Westwood, CA, and started out on his own.
A Taste of Fame, at a Price
The formation of Jane's Addiction came in a roundabout way. After being introduced to Eric Avery's sister by Dave, Stephen began to date her. Eric met Perry Farrell through Carla Bozulich, and joined Perry's band Psi Com as a bassist for a brief stint. Eventually, they changed their name to Jane's Addiction, but then their drummer left so Eric brought along Stephen, who became their new drummer. After the guitarist left, Stephen brought along Dave. And there the actual Jane's Addiction lineup was completed.
Success for Jane's Addiction was short-lived. The band got some buzz when they played small local venues and released a demo tape, re-recorded with Dave's guitar. Eventually, they signed to the independent label Triple X Records and released a self-titled live album in 1987. Now the buzz grew into a cacophony and a major recording label bidding war started over Jane's Addiction. The band signed with Warner Bros and released their album Nothing's Shocking in 1988.
Although Jane's Addiction had a steady fanbase in Los Angeles, there wasn't as much hype elsewhere and they only had a few hit singles. Inner turmoil among the band members, coupled with increasing drug use, was beginning to pull them apart. They managed to release another album, Ritual de lo Habitual, in 1990 but their time together as a band was nearly over. Around this time, Perry Farrell got an idea to create a music festival that would travel across the US, dubbing it Lollapalooza.
1991 saw the first Lollapalooza, with a lineup including Jane's Addiction, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails, Ice T & Body Count, The Butthole Surfers, and Rollins Band. The fanfare and excitement were huge but the downside came with a price. Jane's Addictions fans were convinced the band would break up at the end of Lollapalooza.
Unfortunately, the fans seemed to be right. Dave began announcing he would leave the band at the end of the tour. Then, the night before Lollapalooza started, he tried to end his life in his hotel room. Thankfully he was unsuccessful. But a few days later, Dave and Perry got into a fist-fight backstage. Things looked very bleak indeed.
After the Lollapalooza tour completed, Jane's Addiction played their final shows in Hawaii in September of 1991. The band realized this was the end and put tempers aside and gave fans a show they would never forget.
In 1997, Jane's Addiction saw a "relapse". Perry, Dave, and Steve were joined by Flea (Eric did not return) and the band did some shows, as well as television appearances, and recorded two new songs for the compilation Kettle Whistle. The band would continue to "relapse" several times through 2001 with Martyn Le Noble replacing Flea.
The relapse evolved into a new recording session, with Chris Chaney replacing Le Noble in 2002. In 2003, they released Strays as well as revived the Lollapalooza festival as headliners. The resurrection was short-lived and the band once again dissolved after the Lollapalooza festival.
Unable to ever completely go away, Jane's Addiction rose from the ashes once again in 2008, with a little help from Nine Inch Nails' frontman Trent Reznor. Images posted on NIN.com of the four original members of Jane's Addiction led to intense speculation of a reunion. Rumors turned true when plans were announced for a tour in 2008/2009 featuring both Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction. Dubbed the "NIN/JA" tour, Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, and Stephen Perkins reunited once more to play for friends and fans alike. The band also released the A Cabinet of Curiosities boxed set.
Cabinet of Curiosities
Focusing solely on the original incarnation of Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, bassist Eric Avery and drummer Stephen Perkins, the retrospective is a revealing portrait of one of rock n roll's greatest and most influential bands. It's all packaged in a deluxe limited-edition wooden box modeled after an old-time curiosity cabinet, perfectly complimenting the sonic wonders inside.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Guitarist for One Hot Minute
Originally, Red Hot Chili Peppers had asked Dave to tour with then as their guitarist for the second Lollapalooza tour in 1992, but Dave had declined. He was burned out and had rejected several other offers, including one from Guns 'N' Roses, wanting to focus on creation instead of playing other peoples' songs.
Now that Deconstruction had burned out, Dave reconsidered the offer the Red Hot Chili Peppers had made. During a jam session, two of the four members of the RHCP (Flea and Chad Smith) were playing while Dave was playing guitar and Henry Rollins was singing. They were enjoying themselves and things were going well, Dave realized they were going to corner him by asking him to join RHCP again. Sure enough, Dave became an official member of the RHCP on September 5th, 1993. The band headed to Hawaii for a month to bond and work on song writing in 1994. Dave and Chad became great friends and Dave even began to take piano lessons again, buying himself a baby grand piano.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers toured during the second Woodstock in 1994. They then headed back into the studio and released the album One Hot Minute in 1995. Although the band talked about how everything was going well and the members were getting along, even touring in 1996, things weren't as they seemed. Canceled shows became the norm and the band members descended into deeper drug abuse. Finally, Dave called it quits in 1998 and left the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
One Hot Minute
The only album Dave Navarro recorded during his time with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Singles included Warped, Aeroplane and My Friends. The album marked a difference in the RHCP sound, owed to the distinct differences between Navarro and John Frusciante.
Striking Out on His Own
In 1997, during some downtown, Dave and Chad Smith conceived the idea of Spread. Something like a side project between friends, the two worked on some songs and expanded others, notably ones from Dave's album Rhimorse (which was self-pressed but never officially released) and intended to release an album entitled Unicorns & Rainbows: The Pelican.
Things fell apart when Warner Bros rejected the album, citing it needed more work. Soon after Chad decided to work full time with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Things looked bleak, but Dave forged ahead.
Starting his own website, 6767.com, Dave was one of the first recording artists to truly embrace the internet. Interaction with fans came in the form of Q&A sessions, posted video clips, and blog posts. Dave chose the image of a unicorn head surrounded by a capital S as the logo for Spread Entertainment.
Many projects were started under the Spread Entertainment umbrella; many of these evolved from their original forms into finished projects much different than previously envisioned. Some of these included Trust No One, Dave's 2001 solo album, Don't Try This At Home, the photo album book based on the photo booth in Dave's home at the time, and a handful of tour dates.
In turn, Spread Entertainment has continued to evolve over time, featuring internet radio shows under the name Spread Radio Live and Dark Matter. Besides continuing to be a blog for Dave, the website has recently become more fan-interactive and a hub for all news related to Jane's Addiction and Spread Entertainment.
Trust No One - Dave's Solo Album
Best known as the guitarist for Jane's Addiction, Dave Navarro released this solo album in 2001. Playing nearly every instrument but the drums on this record, showing off his polished set of pipes as well. The album's songs are a sharp diversion from both Jane's Addiction's trippy punk aggression and the Chili Peppers' chest-thumping funk.
Other Musical Projects
After the breakup of Jane's Addiction, Dave and Eric formed the project Deconstruction. They recorded only self-titled one album and released the video LA Song but there were again disagreements and the band fizzled out. Dave and Eric parted and Dave took up the offer extended by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Begun as a side project by Billy Morrison, Camp Freddy is a rotating list of musicians that come together and jam, playing shows mostly in the Los Angeles-area. Camp Freddy can be likened to a celebrity karaoke session, in which the musical guests get together and do covers of famous rock songs. Dave and Billy Morrison also co-hosted their own weekly radio show called "Camp Freddy Radio" for a time. Camp Freddy were due to release an album in 2002, but it never came to fruition.
The Panic Channel
Formed in 2004, The Panic Channel was comprised of Dave, Stephen Perkins, Steve Isaacs and Chris Chaney (Chaney having filled in during the reformation of Jane's Addiction for a time.) The band eventually signed with Capitol Records and released their debut album (ONe) on August 15, 2006. They also released several tracks via the internet. Although the band was modestly popular, The Panic Channel dissolved shortly after, the members returning back to other projects.
Spirits in The Sky
A loosely formed group consisting of Billy Corgan, Dave Navarro, Mike Byrne, Mark Weitz, Kerry Brown, Ysanne Spevak, Linda Strawberry, Kevin Dippold, and Mark Tulin, the project played a handful of dates in small coffee houses and clubs in California in 2009. The band played original material as well as several covers.
(ONe) - The Panic Channel's Album
The experimental project featuring Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins, Steve Isaacs and Chris Chaney, the Panic Channel only released one album and quietly disbanded shortly after. Their popularity was short lived and the members returned to their other bands, but fans still cite this as a great album.
Heroin, Cocaine, Alcohol, and Nicotine
Dave has always been relatively upfront with his problems of drug addiction. Stemming from depression and grief over the death of his mother, as well as the problems he had during his education years, Dave turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain. During the early years of Jane's Addiction, the band openly spoke of their addictions.
In late 1991, after Jane's Addiction broke up, Dave checked himself into rehab and attempted to get sober. He turned to a vegan diet and an exercise regimen to keep him on the wagon. He would go roughly five years before a relapse in 1997.
Dave's decent into drugs were compounded by the fact he was trying to start his own entertainment group and label, as well as working with Jane's Addiction during their "Relapse" tour. By 2001, Dave was in terrible shape and it showed in his gaunt appearance. Family and friends were deeply concerned and desperately tried to get Dave to return to rehab.
Conceding he needed treatment, Dave completed detoxing and rehab and returned his exercise and heath regimen. Now twelve years sober, even though the ups and downs of his career and personal life, Dave has maintained sobriety. His only self-confessed vice is cigarettes, which he has tried to quit several times.
Don't Try This At Home: A Year in the Life of Dave Navarro - Dave's Book
After installing an old photo booth from a defunct Rexall drugstore in his home, Dave Navarro required everyone who visited his house that year to take a photo in the booth. The results are this book; part photo album, part story of the year of one of the music world's most famous guitarists.
Symbols, Signs, Numbers
Signatures of Dave Navarro
Although the majority of his life is mapped out in tattoos on his body, Dave is also known for signature symbols and numbers.
6767 comes from Dave's birthday, June 7th, 1967. Equally important is the number 13, stemming from the shared October 3rd (10/3) birthday of his grandfather and father. 6 + 7 also equals 13.
Unicorns were symbols from the early days of Spread Entertainment. The logo consisted of a unicorn head surrounded by a capital "S". Dave also collected unicorns, in the form of figurines and stuffed versions, and also has the Spread unicorn logo tattooed on his arm.
Guitars, Dave's instrument of choice, vary but he seems to have an affinity for Paul Reed Smith guitars. Dave has also used Gibson Les Paul, Ibanez, and Fender Telecasters as well as several others. Dave is also said to have one of Kurt Cobain's (frontman of Nirvana) guitars in his keeping.
"I Don't Want Another Wife..."
Dave and Marriage
Sometime in 1990, Navarro and Tania Goddard were joined in a pagan hand-fasting ceremony. Although it was never officially recognized as a legal marriage, it is still referred to as Dave's first marriage. During the ceremony, Tania and Dave made cuts in their palms and joined them together, later receiving marriage symbols tattooed over the scars. They split up a few years later.
In October 1994, Dave married Rhian Gittins in Las Vegas. The marriage was annulled after five days. The fallout and breakdown of the relationship were painful to both. Dave channeled his pain into a self-pressed EP, entitled Rhimorse. The album art featured Rhian carving her name into Dave's chest and an image of their marriage certificate. Dave never released Rhimorse, but several of the songs were reworked on his 2001 solo album Trust No One.
Down the road, after being introduced by friends, Dave began a relationship with singer/actress Carmen Electra. The two eventually married in a lavish ceremony on November 22nd, 2003. The months leading up to and the wedding ceremony were filmed by TV for the television series Till Death Do Us Part: Carmen + Dave. But eventually, the couple drifted apart and Carmen filled for divorce. Their divorce was finalized on February 20th, 2007.
You Tell Us!
Have you ever seen Dave Navarro play?
Dave Navarro's Discography
- Jane's Addiction 1987
- Nothing's Shocking 1988
- Ritual de lo Habitual 1990
- Live and Rare 1993
- Kettle Whistle 1997
- Strays 2003
- Up From the Catacombs - The Best of Jane's Addiction 2006
- A Cabinet of Curiosities (box set) 2009
- Deconstruction 1994
Red Hot Chili Peppers
- One Hot Minute 1995
- Rhimorse 1995 (unreleased self-pressed EP)
- Unicorns & Rainbows: The Pelican (unreleased)
- Trust No One 2001
The Panic Channel
- (ONe) 2006
- Parenthood, soundtrack, 1989
- Walking On a Wire, Lowen & Navarro, 1990
- Singles, soundtrack, 1992
- Broken Moon, Lowen & Navarro, 1993
- The Basketball Diaries, soundtrack, 1995
- Encomium, Led Zeppelin tribute album, 1995
- Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette, 1995
- Further Down the Spiral, Nine Inch Nails, 1995
- A Means to an End, Joy Division tribute album, 1995
- Twister, soundtrack, 1996
- Howard Stern's Private Parts, soundtrack, 1996
- Good God's Urge, Porno For Pyros, 1996
- A Small Circle of Friends, The Germs tribute album, 1996
- Sutras, Donovan, 1996
- Mechanical Animals, Marilyn Manson, 1998
- End of Days, soundtrack, 1999
- Godspeed, Godspeed, 1999
- Bringing Out the Dead, soundtrack, 1999
- Ordinary Decent Criminal, soundtrack, 2000
- Gone in Sixty Seconds, soundtrack, 2000
- Song Yet to Be Sung, Perry Farrell, 2001
- The Guitar Man David J, 2002
- Charmbracelet, Mariah Carey, 2002
- Stripped, Christina Aguilera, 2003
- Hotel Paper, Michelle Branch, 2003
- S.W.A.T., soundtrack, 2003
- Victory - Tribute to Hanshin Tigers!, 2003
- A******, Gene Simmons, 2004
- Blood Music, Dead Celebrity Status, 2004
- Torque, soundtrack, 2004
- Soul Mover, Gleen Hughes, 2005
- Tommyland: The Ride, Tommy Lee, 2005
- Southland Tales, soundtrack, 2006