Pulling on influences like Larry Graham, the former bass player for Sly and the Family Stone, Flea combined the slap bass method Graham created, with the West Coast punk sound. The foundation of Flea’s bass playing comes from this slapping technique. Which involves aggressively slapping the bass with your thumb rather than plucking at it, and makes for a more percussive and heavier sound. Flea took this not unusual way to play bass and merged it with the punk way of playing bass, which is super fast. So Flea begun slapping fast, and that created a very distinctive sound that become associated with and recognisable as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their hit song “Higher Ground” from 1989’s Mother’s Milk is just one of many examples of this.
But that’s not the end of Flea’s talents and input to the band either. Because while that method of fast slapping can be heard throughout their earlier work, Flea shifted away from it on future albums. Like Blood Sugar Sex Magik where, much like how Bonham’s drumming worked with his bandmate’s instruments, Flea’s bass harmonised the band’s sound.