He was a bit of a rebel in school where he says he "didn't really attend school. I attended the parking lot, smoked pot and listened to Rush 8-tracks in my friends car." He also admits to running away when he was fifteen and spending the whole summer living in "cars and other people's homes."
Chad was fired from odd jobs when he was younger (a pancake house, a paint company and Gap). All he ever wanted to do was be a musician. After graduating high school (Bloomfield Hill's Lasher High School, graduated 1980) he went into playing in Detroit clubs and bars, "doing three sets a night, six nights a week, making no money, and wishing I could be in a big rock band".
Chad's first band was called Rockin' Conspiracy with his brother. "Our hit tune was was called 'Whiplash'." He also played in bands called Tilt, and Terence. Then in 1982 he played with former P-Funk percussionist Larry Fratangelo in a band called Pharaoh. "I'd gotten to the point in my drumming where I felt what I was pretty good, but I didn't really know about dynamics and building songs. Larry was instrumental in opening my eyes and ears to that stuff." They played at Pine Knob, an outdoor theater in Detroit, for about a year.
In 1984, he joined another band, Toby Redd. "We put out a record on RCA, but nothing really happened. We went on a couple of tours and then we started playing the clubs again five nights a week. At this point I knew everybody in Detroit, all the bands. Eventually I thought to myself, 'I don't want to be hanging around at thirty years old and still playing the bars. I'm out of here.' So it was either New York or LA. I had had enough of the cold weather, and my brother lived in San Francisco, so I just came out" to LA.
When Chad "auditioned for The Chili Peppers, they were kind of a college cult band that sold a few records. I wasn't a fan of the band particularly. They were just auditioning friends of friends and I had a friend who told them, 'Chad eats drums for breakfast.' So when I brought my drums to audition, Flea asked, 'So, that's your breakfast?' And I'm going, 'Huh?' I set up and we started rocking. We just jammed. I didn't know any of their songs and they didn't care. There was musical chemistry right off the bat."
"After the audition, they left a message on my answering machine. 'Okay, you can have the gig, but you have to come to rehearsal with a shaved head.' I had long hair at the time. I was like, 'I'm not shaving my head!' I'm much bigger than those guys and they can't hold me down. I think that was my initiation--just to see if I'd do it." He has been with them ever since.
Chad was married in 1994 to Maria St. John (an artist) and had a daughter (Manon St. John) in 1997. I am unsure of when they divorced but son Justin was born in 1998 and another daughter Ava was born in 2000. He recently married Nancy (an architect) on May 8, 2004 in Hopetown, Abacos, Bahamas. The newest addition to the Smith household is a baby boy named Cole (2005).
When not onstage or in the studio Chad enjoys scuba diving, baseball, basketball ("I stand around under the goal and dig out rebounds. I usually foul out in the first 15 minutes. The games are fun but the hang after is even better.") and riding his Harley ("I have a Road King. I stripped it down and it looks great. The weather stays nice out here, so I get a lot of riding time in. Riding is a great get-away. It is really relaxing.") He also has a "a very nice old Spanish house built in 1929" where Cary Grant and Randolph Scott lived together from 1932 to 1936.
As testament to Chad's drum playing ability he has appeared on over 100 albums with and without the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Johnny Cash, John Fogerty, Toby Keith, Sammy Hagar, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry, and Glenn Hughes are among a few of the big names that Chad has worked with over the years. Chad says "I'm so lucky that a lot of older musicians-people that are my heroes-like what our band does. I am always shocked and flattered when I get asked to play with these people that I grew up idolising."