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Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea Admits He Played Air Bass During Super Bowl Halftime Show—and Here's Why

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea, Anthony Kiedis Theo Wargo/FilmMagic

Flea may have kept his pants on when the Red Hot Chili Peppers were onstage during the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show, but he did noticeably leave his cord hanging.

After getting called out for more or less playing air bass on Sunday, the veteran musician took to his blog today to explain why he didn't plug in for the band's performance at MetLife Stadium.

"When we were asked by the NFL and [headliner Bruno Mars] to play our song 'Give It Away' at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded," Flea wrote in a post on the Chili Peppers' website.

"I understand the NFL's stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the t.v. viewers. There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period."

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The NFL and Fox did, however, allow this year's halftime performers to show all the nipple they wanted.

Flea acknowledged that the band's previous stance on "miming" has been to not do it, ever. The last time they even attempted it was in the late 1980s, he added, and they were booted from a U.K. television appearance because they weren't pantomiming properly.

"So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it," Flea continued. "We had given this a lot of thought before agreeing to do it, and besides many a long conversation amongst ourselves, I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell."

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Plus, the L.A.-based rocker added, the Chili Peppers love them some football and they ultimately didn't want to turn down the singular chance to ply their trade in front of millions of people. (Super Bowl XLVIII was watched by a record 115 million viewers.)

Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers Rob Carr/Getty Images

"We decided that, with Anthony [Kiedis] singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig. I met and spoke with Bruno, who was a beautiful dude, a real talented musician, and we worked out something that seemed like it would be fun," Flea wrote.

But why didn't he at least plug in his bass? The move to let his cord hang out obviously set him up for criticism.

"For the actual performance, Josh [Klinghoffer], Chad [Smith], and I were playing along with the pre recorded track so there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not," he explained.

"Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people out who have expressed disappointment that the instrumental track was pre recorded? Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance. It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it. Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people."

And considering how much lip-syncing goes on during so-called live performances these days, we'll take a little pre-recorded Magik from those who have already more than paid their dues.

Were you cool with Flea's "playing," or you think prerecording the halftime-show music was an egregious violation of the rock 'n' roll code?

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