the filming of My Own Private Idaho in
Portland, Ore., in 1990, River was close friends with Flea, bass player
with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who had a small part in the film. For nights on
end, River, Flea and others jammed in the house they
were borrowing from director Gus Van Sant. One of these jam sessions can be
seen on the A&E Biography “Eclipsed by Death: The Life of River Phoenix.”
Flea, who was himself in recovery (and who was not a drug friend), had
spoken to River the Christmas prior to his death, urging him to get help with
his drug problem. Unfortunately River
wasn't ready to be helped yet.
On the night that River died, Flea was onstage
with a scratch band made up of actor Johnny Depp, Gibby Haynes from the
Butthole Surfers and Al Jourgensen of Ministry. Flea realized something was wrong when he saw a bouncer bolt out the
door. He rushed outside to see his friend on the ground. It was Flea that told
River's younger brother Leaf to call 911.
It was also Flea, who sat in the front seat of the ambulance that took
River's body to Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center the night he died.
River and his friend Flea can be seen together in the video Starlicks Master
Sessions With Flea. Please visit my
Sound Clips page to hear some of their conversations in the video.