Hillel Slovak was an Israelborn American musician best known as the original guitarist and founding member of the Los Angeles rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Prior to his death of a heroin overdose in 1988, Slovak recorded two albums with the band, Freaky Styley and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan . His guitar work was primarily rooted in funk and hard rock, although he often experimented with other genres including reggae and speed metal. He is considered to have been a major influence on the Red Hot Chili Peppers early sound.
Hillel Slovak was born in Haifa, Israel, to Jewish parents who were survivors of the Holocaust. The family emigrated to the U.S. when Slovak was five years old. They settled in the Queens borough of New York City, then in 1967 relocated to Southern California. As a child, Slovak developed an interest in art, and would often spend time painting with his mother, Esther. He attended Laurel Elementary School in West Hollywood and Bancroft Jr. High School in Hollywood, where he met future bandmates Jack Irons and Michael Flea Balzary. Slovak received his first guitar at ageas a bar mitzvah present, and would often play the instrument into the late hours of the night. During this time, he was highly influenced by hard rock music such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Kiss.