RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS star Flea almost quit the group in the early 1980s - to join Johnny Rotten's Public Image Limited.

The bass player auditioned for PiL at a time when he was growing tired with the Chili Peppers - and he got the job.

He recalls, "Since I was considering leaving the Chili Peppers at the time and I was a big Public Image fan, I went to audition.

"MARTIN ATKINS was just playing drums in a theatre. I walked in and started playing with him. It rocked. I didn't know that (JOHN) LYDON (aka Johnny Rotten) was sitting in the back, in the darkness, watching."

Lydon offered Flea the gig there and then and arranged for contracts to be signed the following morning.

Flea adds, "That night I got together with HILLEL (SLOVAK), who wasn't even in the Chilis then.

"We did heroin and stayed up all night talking about it. At seven in the morning I called them and said, 'I can't do it. I can't leave the Chilli Peppers.'"

21/06/2004 14:57