During the Red Hot Chili Peppers' early years, guitarist Hillel Slovak was the band's heart and soul. In an age when most rock guitarists were transfixed by showing off with over-the-top solos, Slovak was one of the few six-stringers to embrace funk -- focusing more on feel than technique. Born April 13, 1962, in Haifa, Israel, his family relocated to the U.S. -- California, to be specific -- when Slovak was five years old. By the late '70s, Slovak had discovered the hard rock sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Kiss, and began playing guitar along to his favorite records. It wasn't long before he started jamming with chums from Fairfax high school (drummer Jack Irons, guitarist Alain Johannes) in a band named Anthym, as well as becoming best friends with trumpet player Michael Balzary and burgeoning poet/actor Anthony Kiedis. Punk rock had exploded on the Los Angeles scene by this time, and Slovak immersed himself in the new musical form, teaching Balzary how to play bass (Balzary would soon be known simply as Flea). While Slovak remained a member of Anthym (re-titled What Is This? by the '80s), he also began jamming with Flea on compositions that merged funk and punk together, enlisting Kiedis to be an MC/rapper and Irons to lend his drumming skills. The project was originally named Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, but by the time of their first show in 1983, they were called the Red Hot Chili Peppers.