The RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS didn't have their instruments plugged in during the Super Bowl halftime show . . . and it didn't take long for people to notice, and start wondering what was up.

In a post on the band's website, FLEA admits that the NFL wouldn't let them play their instruments live, but ANTHONY KIEDIS' vocals WERE legit.

He says, quote, "I understand the NFL's stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage . . .


"There [are] a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching.  There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period."


He said the band is usually against this sort of thing . . . but after a lot of consideration, they decided to go ahead with it, for the surreal, "once in a lifetime" opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl.


He also said they recorded the music earlier that day, specifically for the Super Bowl.  (Here's his full statement.)