Navarro is best known as a founding member of the alternative rock band Jane's Addiction (four studio albums) and as a former member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (one album). He also released one solo album Trust No One (2001). Navarro has also been a member of the Jane's Addiction spin-off bands, Deconstruction and The Panic Channel. Allmusic's Greg Prato described him as "one of alternative rock's first true guitar heroes", with an eclectic playing style that merges heavy metal, psychedelia, and modern rock.
Navarro was born in Santa Monica, California on June 7, 1967, the son of James Raul Navarro and Constance Colleen Hopkins. His paternal grandparents were Mexican immigrants. He attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, where he was a member of the marching band with future Jane's Addiction bandmate Stephen Perkins.
Navarro's mother was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, John Riccardi, in March 1983. Riccardi was arrested in 1991, thanks to a viewer tip after Riccardi was featured on the television series America's Most Wanted. During his appearance on America's Most Wanted in 2004, Navarro stated that he was supposed to visit and stay with his mother on the night of her murder but at the last minute went to stay with his father. In 2015, Navarro released the documentary Mourning Son, which details his mother's murder and his spiral into drug addiction, as well as the pain he has had to overcome in the years since her death.
Dave has been married three times: celebrity makeup artist Tania Goddard-Saylor (June 1990 – 1992, divorced), Rhian Gittins (October 15, 1994 – October 20, 1994, annulled), and model and actress, Carmen Electra (November 22, 2003 – February 20, 2007, divorced).
On his Instructional Guitar DVD Navarro tells how he started playing guitar at the age of seven after hearing a Jimi Hendrix song at a skate park.
Navarro joined the band Jane's Addiction in 1986 as the lead guitarist after he was recommended to vocalist Perry Farrell by drummer Stephen Perkins, who was a childhood friend of Navarro's. The band became successful and was popular in the alternative-rock music scene. Over the next five years, Jane's Addiction released three albums, Jane's Addiction (1987), Nothing's Shocking (1988) and Ritual de lo Habitual (1990). Personal tensions, however, led to their breakup in 1991. The Lollapalooza festival was created by Farrell as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction.
After the departure of Guns N' Roses' original rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin in August 1991, Navarro was the first choice of lead singer Axl Rose to replace Stradlin; despite four attempts to have him come in and play with Slash, he never showed up. However, he later went on to play on the 1999 Guns N' Roses song "Oh My God", which was featured on the End of Days soundtrack. In 1993, Navarro formed Deconstruction with Jane's Addiction's Eric Avery on vocals and bass and Michael Murphy on drums. The band put out one self-titled album in 1994. Rick Rubin was involved in the production and Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes makes a guest appearance. They did not tour due to Avery's exhaustion after Jane's Addiction.
Navarro joined Red Hot Chili Peppers in September 1993. His first large-scale performance with the band was at Woodstock '94. The only album on which Navarro played with Red Hot Chili Peppers, One Hot Minute, was released in 1995. The band later recorded and released a cover of the Ohio Players' song "Love Rollercoaster" for the Beavis and Butthead Do America soundtrack, which was released as a single. The band also contributed the John Lennon song "I Found Out" to the Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon album, as well as the One Hot Minute outtake "Melancholy Mechanics" to the Twister soundtrack.
In 1995, Navarro played guitar for Alanis Morissette's track "You Oughta Know" on one of the 1990s most successful albums, Jagged Little Pill.
Despite selling over eight million copies worldwide and producing three hit singles, One Hot Minute ultimately received mixed reviews. Navarro toured with Jane's Addiction for their 1997 Relapse tour with Flea on bass. After two years of touring on and off with Red Hot Chili Peppers, and his subsequent heroin relapse, Navarro was fired in 1998 over "creative differences."
Navarro also remixed Janet Jackson's "What'll I Do" for her Janet Remixed album in this time.
The album, Trust No One, marked his solo debut in the summer of 2001 for Capitol Records. The band assembled for the accompanying US tour consisted of Navarro, guitarist Dave Kushner, bassist Miiko Watanabe and drummer Angel Roché, Jr.. In 2002, Jane's Addiction reformed with bass player Chris Chaney, and started work on a new album. The band entered the studio with veteran rock producer Bob Ezrin, resulting in the album Strays and the Lollapalooza 2003 tour in support of the album. In 2002, Michael Jackson performed at the Apollo Theater, and Navarro played guitar for his hit song "Black or White". During this time Navarro also made a cameo in Mariah Carey's "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" music video.
Navarro began working with Camp Freddy during this time. In 2003, he and his fiancée, Carmen Electra, agreed to have their wedding preparations filmed for an MTV show titled Til Death Do Us Part; Camp Freddy played at the reception. The show was a great success and was released on DVD in the fall of 2005. Navarro's book, Don't Try This at Home, was released on October 5, 2004 with Regan books, and quickly became a Los Angeles Times bestseller.
Navarro appeared in two tournaments on Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2004. In the third tournament of the series, he won his qualifying game and appeared in the championship round. In the fourth series, he appeared only in a qualifying round.
Navarro co-hosted with Brooke Burke, two seasons of the Mark Burnett television series: Rock Star: INXS and Rock Star: Supernova. Dave and his band, The Panic Channel, released their album One, in August 2006. They toured with Rock Star Supernova (the band formed from the series) in January/February 2007. During this time, Navarro has his own internet radio station. He soon broadened his creativity with an internet talk show called: Dave Navarro’s SPREAD TV, which was broadcast on Maniatv.com and is currently available for download on iTunes. The show highlighted avant-garde subjects, artistry, and the human condition. Videos from the series are also available on Navarro's YouTube channel.
In 2007, Navarro also teamed with Teravision to direct his first adult movie, Broken starring Sasha Grey, in the first of a planned series of celebrity-directed adult movies. This effort won "Best High End All-Sex Release" at the 2008 AVN Awards. Navarro has also made appearances in Season 1 and Season 2 of Z Rock with Brooklyn-based band ZO2 on IFC. In 2008, he recorded additional riffs for the version of "Black Cat" performed on Janet Jackson's Rock Witchu Tour, appearing on screens during the rendition.
Jane's Addiction reunited once more in 2008 with all of the original members. The notoriously tumultuous band's reunion was widely credited by NME magazine for choosing Jane's Addiction as the recipient of their "Godlike Genius Award for Services to Music". Soon after performing together for the first time in 17 years at the NME Award ceremony in Los Angeles, the band was contacted by Trent Reznor. Trent began working with Jane's Addiction in his studio; they recorded and released two songs ("Chip Away" and "Whores") online on the NINJA 2009 Tour Sampler. Both songs were previously released on their self-titled 1987 Live album. This time together in the studio led directly to the pairing of Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction for a worldwide tour in 2009. The tour was branded the NIN/JA tour by fans.
During August 2009, Navarro toured southern California as part of the Billy Corgan-led band Spirits in the Sky.
In 2010, he posed naked for PETA's anti-fur campaign, "Ink Not Mink". He stripped down again for the group's anti animal-testing campaign in 2013.
In 2011, Navarro appeared as the 'Director' of a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, playing a complicated passage for a 'camper' to emulate, in a commercial for Citibank.
Navarro featured on the track "Girls/Fast Cars" on the album The Wombats Proudly Present: This Modern Glitch. by indie rock band The Wombats.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were named 2012 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite being in the band for five years and playing on one album, Navarro was not inducted. When the announcement was made of the induction, Navarro said he was happy for the band but later said he had no plans to attend the ceremony, which was held in April 2012. Anthony Kiedis was asked why Navarro was not included in the induction and he responded by saying "He's in this other band, which may in fact be inducted itself one day, called Jane's Addiction. I think that's the band closest to his heart, and that most represents his contribution to the world in terms of music. So maybe it makes more sense for him to be inducted one day as a member of Jane's Addiction." According to the Hall of Fame and the Chili Peppers' lawyer, it is the Hall of Fame's decision on which members are inducted. They eventually selected original members, current members and those who have appeared on multiple albums. Ex-Peppers guitarist, Jack Sherman disagreed and felt that both he and Navarro were being treated unfairly by the band and they, in fact, did have a say in who was inducted. Chad Smith was the only band member to acknowledge both Navarro and Sherman (along with other former members) during his induction speech.
Navarro recently appeared in four episodes of the FX drama Sons of Anarchy and appeared as a guest on an episode of Talking Dead. In February 2013 he had a guest role in Law and Order: SVU, playing a sound engineer.
During the first few years of Jane's Addiction, Dave played a black Gibson Les Paul. Around the time of the band's major label debut Nothing's Shocking in 1988, he played Ibanez RG series guitars, including one custom painted with the album cover art. He is seen in the film "Gift" and the "Stop" video playing a blue Ibanez RG, which suggests it was used in the recording of the album Ritual de lo Habitual. During the 1990 Ritual tour, he primarily played a custom-shaped single cutaway gold Ibanez.
Dave began using PRS Guitars on the Lollapalooza tour in 1991. His signature model PRS (White with Gold Hardware) is now his primary stage guitar. He has several models in his regular stage and studio rig, and was only the third PRS artist to have both a Maryland-made and SE version of their Signature Model.
He used a Parker Fly Deluxe for the Chili Peppers days during the live versions of "My Friends". He used it for its clean tones and its piezoelectric pickup that sounds similar to an acoustic guitar.
During this era, Dave used a Fender Stratocaster for the brighter blues and funk tones required for the Red Hot Chili Peppers catalog. He has several Stratocasters in his possession. He also had a Modulus Stratocaster-like guitar made for him.
Dave has also been seen playing Kramer Van Halen Signature Guitars, Fender Telecasters, Takamine Acoustic 12 strings, and even a Squier Hello Kitty Stratocaster given to him by Carmen.
Since late 2008, Dave has been seen both live and in studio using a custom white Ibanez RG, with a humbucker/single/single pickup layout, gold hardware, and a vintage style tremolo, essentially an Ibanez version of his PRS Guitars Signature Model. Dave previously used a vintage Marshall JCM800, but now plays through two Marshall JCM900 amplifiers which are dubbed Tangerine and Peach. For large gigs he will also use a Marshall Mode 4 for clean tones. In the studio he is also commonly known to use a Vox AC30 for cleans and a Bogner Uberschall for dirty tones.
For effects, Dave prefers BOSS. He uses a BOSS Octave Pedal, two BOSS DD3 Digital Delays, a BOSS Turbo distortion for extra volume during soloing, a Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Pedal and several others.
Epiphone Guitars (a subsidiary of Gibson) released its Dave Navarro Artist Acoustic in July 2010. According to an interview with Navarro on Gibson.com, the new guitar is based upon the classic Gibson (and Epiphone) "Hummingbird" design, and has already been played by the guitarist in the studio while recording with Jane's Addiction. Named "Jane", the new guitar is black in color (as opposed to Navarro's usual white guitars), and sports a dead tree and crows on the pickguard, rather than the traditional Hummingbird and foliage images.Solo
2001 Trust No One
"Rexall": U.S. Modern Rock Tracks #12, U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks #9
"Hungry": U.S. Modern Rock Tracks #24, U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks #38
With Jane's Addiction
1987 Jane's Addiction
1988 Nothing's Shocking
1990 Ritual de lo Habitual
1997 Kettle Whistle
2006 Up from the Catacombs – The Best of (Greatest hits album)
2009 A Cabinet of Curiosities (Box set)
2011 The Great Escape Artist
With Red Hot Chili Peppers
1995 One Hot Minute
1995 Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon ("I Found Out" only)
1996 Beavis and Butt-head Do America ("Love Rollercoaster" only)
2003 Greatest Hits (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
2011 Road Trippin' Through Time
2012 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Covers EP
With Janet Jackson
1995 Janet Remixed – lead guitar and remix on "What'll I Do" (Dave Navarro Mix)
2008 Rock Witchu Tour – lead guitar and video appearance on "Black Cat" (Live version)
With Nine Inch Nails
1995 Further Down The Spiral – lead guitar on "Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)"
2016 Not the Actual Events – lead guitar on "Burning Bright (Field on Fire)"
With Alanis Morissette
1995 Jagged Little Pill – lead guitar on "You Oughta Know"
With Marilyn Manson
1998 Mechanical Animals – guitar solo on "I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)"
With Guns N' Roses
1999 End of Days OST – lead guitar on "Oh My God"
With Perry Farrell
2001 Song Yet to Be Sung – guitar and percussion on "Song Yet to Be Sung"
2001 The Saga Continues... – lead guitar on "Bad Boy for Life"
With Christina Aguilera
2002 Stripped – lead guitar on "Fighter"
With Gene Simmons
2004 "Asshole" – lead guitar on "Firestarter" (The Prodigy cover)
With Glenn Hughes
2005 Soul Mover
With Tommy Lee
2005 Tommyland: The Ride – guitar solo on "Tired"
With The Panic Channel
With Dead Celebrity Status
2006 Blood Music – guitar solo on "We Fall, We Fall"