The Red Hot Chili Peppers did not play the music live during Super Bowl halftime show.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Unplugged” Super Bowl Air Guitar Performance

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Unplugged” Super Bowl Air Guitar Performance

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Feb. 4 2014 9:00 PM

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Unplugged” Super Bowl Air Guitar Performance

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Flea gives "unplugged" performance.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Say what you will about the Denver Broncos Super Bowl performance on Sunday night, but at least they suited up and played. It turns out that’s more than can be said for the Red Hot Chili Peppers halftime cameo performance. An Internet crowdsourced review of the tapes of the band’s halftime performance of “Give It Away” with Bruno Mars raised questions of whether the band was actually playing the music. What raised the suspicion the band’s bassist, Flea, and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer were giving the air-guitar performance of a lifetime? Well, the band’s instruments weren’t plugged in.

On Tuesday, Flea responded to the rumors on the band’s website saying, essentially: Ok, you caught us. Here’s more of Flea's explanation:

When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno 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. 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...
We recorded a track for the day, just banged one out from our hearts that was very like in spirit to the versions we have been playing live the last few years with our beloved Josh on guitar. For the actual performance, Josh, Chad, and I were playing along with the pre recorded track so there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not. 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.