As a huge Jimi Hendrix fan (the brilliant guitarist is prominently tattooed on Flea's left shoulder), the wah-wah-heavy, distorted national anthem played at Kobe Bryant's final game owes something to Hendrix' iconic playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the '69 Woodstock Festival. Or, for those that find any departure from the impressive if not slightly over the top vocal gymnastics of a Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera, a disservice to the Francis Scott Key-penned tune, Flea's version may come closer to Rosanne Barr's righteously terrible rendition.
Flea, an avid Lakers fan, has performed the national anthem in the Staples Center before, however, this was a special evening for him, as it marked the final game of Kobe Bryant's impressive career (in which Bryant attempted 50 shots, the most shots ever attempted by a single NBA player, and scored 60 points). However, Flea's last performance of the piece on April 13, 2014 began with a Jaco Pastorius-inspired double-stop harmonic intro, only to end with the distorted fuzz that ruled his most recent version.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Atoms for Peace member spoke on his admiration of Bryant, stating, "I look at him as someone like, you know, Charlie Parker or John Coltrane or Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix, you know? ... He's been able to change and evolve and grow and be such a master of his craft. It's been great seeing him grow up, because he joined the Lakers when he was 17, and he's done so much for our city."