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Slash was born in Hampstead, a middle class suburb of London, to a white English father and an African-American mother. Slash's mother worked as a costume designer for David Bowie, and his father was an artist who contributed live ensembles for famous musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Slash was raised in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, until the age of 11, when his parents relocated the family to Los Angeles, California in the mid-1970s; however, they separated, and afterward, he lived primarily with his mother and lived next to David Geffen. He was given the nickname "Slash" by family friend Seymour Cassel, according to whom Saul "was always in a hurry, zipping around from one thing to another."
At 16, before dropping out of Crespi Carmelite High School, Slash was given his first guitar by his grandmother. He spent hours each day practicing. Eventually, his entire focus was put on music and he made the decision to quit school. In a Rolling Stone Magazine article, he remarked:
My big awakening happened when I was fourteen. I'd been trying to get into this older girl's pants for a while, and she finally let me come over to her house. We hung out, smoked some pot and listened to Aerosmith's Rocks. It hit me like a fucking ton of bricks. I sat there listening to it over and over, and totally blew off this girl. I remember riding my bike back to my grandma's house knowing that my life had changed. Now I identified with something.
In addition to Aerosmith, Slash's early influences included AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden, Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen and Festival of Weeks.In 1983, after failing to join Poison with childhood friend Steven Adler, they together formed Road Crew. Slash placed an advertisement in a newspaper for a bassist, and received a response from Duff McKagan.
When Road Crew disbanded, Slash joined a local band known as Black Sheep. Headed by Willie Bass, the band shared an agent with another new group known as Hollywood Rose. In 1984, both bands opened for Christian metal band Stryper. After the show, Slash and lead singer Axl Rose were introduced to one another by a friend. The two quickly became friends, and several months later, Slash and Steven Adler were invited to join with Axl Rose, Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin as the band, Guns N' Roses.
Guns N' RosesEdit
Guns N' Roses toured bars and opened for larger acts throughout 1985 and 1986. It was during this period that they wrote most of their classic material, including "Welcome to the Jungle", "Sweet Child o' Mine", and "Paradise City". During this time, they were scouted by several major record labels, and signed with Geffen. From the start, they spent half of their advance on clothes, and the other half on alcohol and drugs. It was during this period that the "Most Dangerous Band In The World" tag was first attached to them. In 1988, Slash remarked:
“ For some strange reason, Guns N' Roses is like the catalyst for controversy, even before we had any kind of record deal.” After the release of Appetite for Destruction in the summer of 1987, a tour with Iron Maiden was canceled when Slash was packed off to Hawaii to kick a drug habit, while Axl ended up in intensive care at an LA hospital after attacking a police officer. By 1988, Guns N' Roses scored its first #1 hit with "Sweet Child o' Mine", a song spearheaded by Slash's memorable riff and guitar solo. There are a number of lists that place him as one of the greatest guitarists alive, and many of his riffs and solos are still featured in "best of" lists around the world. With 15 million copies sold in the United States, it is the second highest selling debut album of all time, behind Boston's debut album.
In 1988, Guns N' Roses released G N' R Lies. Though this album only had eight tracks (four of which had already been released), it was highly successful, selling over 5 million copies. After a four year hiatus, Guns N' Roses returned with Use Your Illusion discs. The albums indicated a change in musical direction for Guns N' Roses, including more artistic and dramatic songs like "November Rain" and "Estranged". As Rose expressed a desire to pursue more progressive genres, Slash and McKagan fought to maintain their traditional sound as a punk/blues-based hard rock band. Slash later cited this issue as a key component to his inability to work with Rose on any creative level.
In 1991 the band released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. While both discs received warm reviews, critics lauded Slash's work as "sublime". In 1991, Guns N' Roses embarked on the 28-month long Use Your Illusion Tour, to promote their new albums. Upon completion of the tour, Slash was naturalized, becoming an American citizen.
In the mid-90s, Slash wrote several songs for what would have become Guns N' Roses' follow up album to Use Your Illusion I and II. Rose rejected the material, leading Slash to form Slash's Snakepit, a side-project that saw support from Matt Sorum, Gilby Clarke, Dizzy Reed, Mike Inez, and Eric Dover. The band recorded Slash's material and released It's Five O'Clock Somewhere in 1995. Critically, the album was praised for ignoring the conventions of grunge and alternative music. It also fared well on the charts, eventually selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States with little promotion from Geffen.
In an attempt to salvage Guns N' Roses, Zakk Wylde, initially of Ozzy Osbourne fame in the late eighties and early nineties, was invited to jam with the band, but both Slash and Wylde agreed that Gn'R did not have space for two of the world's pre-eminent lead guitarists, although they remain good friends to this day.
On October 30, 1996, it was discovered that Slash was officially no longer a part of the band, as lead singer Axl Rose sent a fax to MTV stating he and his former guitarist had experienced several disagreements regarding the band's musical direction, and ultimately parted ways.
A crucial moment leading up to Slash's decision to quit the band occurred when Rose removed a section of Slash's guitar track on a cover of "Sympathy for the Devil". Without his consent, Rose replaced Slash's guitar overdub with the work of Paul Tobias, a friend of Rose whom Slash and the rest of the band vocally disapproved of for years. Additionally, as revealed on a VH1 special, Slash stated that he never truly forgave Axl for his spiteful rant regarding some of his fellow band-mates during a 1989 concert.
After Guns N' RosesEdit
After his departure from Guns N' Roses, Slash focused on his side-project, The Snakepit, playing a few tour dates before disbanding the group in 1998. Over the next decade, Slash would become an in-demand session musician, recording music with the likes of Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Insane Clown Posse, Ronnie Wood, Bad Company, Cheap Trick, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Aaron Weddle.
In 1990, Slash was contacted by Michael Jackson on his album, Dangerous. He played guitar on two hit singles, "Black Or White"(song intro) and "Give In to Me", touring with Jackson in some special occasions during the Dangerous World Tour, as well as being featured on videos for the singles. In 1995, he appeared on stage with Jackson for the MTV Music Video Awards. Slash also played guitar in "D.S.", a controversial song from the 1995 HIStory album. In 2001, Slash once again collaborated with Jackson, on the Invincible track "Privacy". Also in 2001, he joined Jackson on stage at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special performing guitar for "Black Or White" and "Beat It".
In 1995, Quentin Tarantino asked Slash to contribute music to his famed adaptation of Jackie Brown. Several Snakepit compositions can be heard throughout the film. In 1996, Slash collaborated with Marta Sánchez to record the flamenco inspired "Obsession-Confession" for the Curdled soundtrack. The song was received well by Smooth Jazz radio stations. Later that year, Slash also played live with Alice Cooper at Sammy Hagar's club Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The show was recorded and released the following year as A Fistful of Alice.
In 1997, Slash (alongside the late Ol' Dirty Bastard and hit alternative rock band Fishbone) appeared on BLACKstreet's rock remix version of their hit single "Fix". In 2003, he participated in the Yardbirds' comeback record Birdland, released on the Favored Nations label. He played lead guitar in the track "Over, Under, Sideways, Down." In early 2003, Slash also made an appearance at a rally to protest the coming War in Iraq called "Peace on the Beach." Specifically, Slash performed the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. Ed Kowalczyk provided vocals during this performance.
In 2000, he chose to regroup Slash's Snakepit to release his second solo effort, titled Ain't Life Grand. The album did well on the charts, reaching platinum status. To promote it further, Slash embarked on an extensive world tour with AC/DC in the summer of 2000.
In 2002, he reunited with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum for a benefit/tribute concert for Randy Castillo. Realizing they still had the chemistry of their days in Guns N' Roses, they decided to form a new band together. The band that featured Slash, McKagan, and Sorum also featured former Buckcherry members Keith Nelson and Josh Todd. Later Duff put out a statement that Josh and Keith didn't quite fit with the band, and they added Dave Kushner as rhythm guitar and, after a long search, Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. In 2006, Slash performed a guest spot on keyboardist Derek Sherinian's solo album Blood of the Snake covering the 1970 Mungo Jerry hit single "In the Summertime", also featuring Billy Idol on vocals. A video was also made featuring Slash, Billy, and Derek for this song.
Velvet Revolver and future endeavorsEdit
Slash with Velvet Revolver in 2004Velvet Revolver began as "The Project", a venture by Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum to find a new lead singer. On rhythm guitar, they initially worked with Izzy Stradlin, and they were offered to open for The Rolling Stones but Slash, Duff and Matt wanted to have a lead singer; after this Izzy became less involved. They would find their second guitarist in the form of Dave Kushner, who had previously played with McKagan in "Loaded" prior to this project. For many months, the four of them listened to demo tapes of potential lead singers, a monotonous process (documented by VH1). After many months, Slash and the others were almost ready to give up. However, Stone Temple Pilots had recently imploded, allowing lead singer Scott Weiland to volunteer to record a song with the band. Realizing there was chemistry between each member, Weiland officially joined the band in 2003.
Velvet Revolver played several concerts in the summer of that year and released their first single, "Set Me Free" as part of the soundtrack for The Hulk. In June 2004, they released their first studio album, Contraband. A 19-month long tour ensued, as the album went double platinum and re-established Slash as a mainstream performer. After the tour concluded, he and his bandmates took a lengthy break before beginning work on their second album. In July 2007, Velvet Revolver released the critically acclaimed Libertad, a follow-up to their multi-platinum debut. Following their second studio album, Velvet Revolver imbedded on another fantastic tour. Fans travelled all over the globe to see their favourite band. But, fans were shocked when Scott Weiland (lead vocalist) anounced to their audience at their glasgow gig that they 'were watching something special,' 'the bands last ever tour.' The remaining band mates knew nothing of this so called 'last tour.' This announcement was one of the final straws in the bands reasons to release Scott from his position. On 1st April 2008, Scott Weiland officially split from Velvet Revolver. Even though they are currently without a singer, Velvet Revolver are planning a third album and are currently undergoing auditions for a new volcalist.
On May 31, 2006, Slash was joined by Rob Zombie on vocals, another former GNR axeman Gilby Clarke on rhythm guitar, Scott Ian of Anthrax on bass, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee on drums, and surprise guest Ace Frehley of Kiss for a rendition of God of Thunder. The occasion was a one-time supergroup tribute to Kiss for the VH1 Rock Honors Award Show.
Cover for the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock with Slash in the middle and two other playable characters in the game, Judy Nails (left) and Lars Ümlaüt (right).Slash is a playable character in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and his likeness appears on the game cover. Slash did motion capture with RedOctane to record his movements for the game, and by beating him in a one-on-one competition (playing an original composition he recorded solely for the game), unlocks him as a playable character. Beating him in this challenge leads to the player and Slash playing the master track of "Welcome to the Jungle" as an encore song.
In 2007, Slash performed with Paulina Rubio on the hit Latin single "Nada Puede Cambiarme".
On March 12, 2007. Slash and Velvet Revolver paid tribute to Van Halen by inducting the band into the Rock N' Roll hall of fame. The band also played 2 covers.
Slash appears on the cover of Guitar World magazine for their July 2007 issue, the "20 year salute to Appetite for Destruction". The title is "The Cat In The Hat Is Back" and it pictures him holding his guitar with a snake crawling up the neck. The issue also includes a detailed interview with the artist, and what promises to be the start of a new column entitled "The Cat In The Hat".
Slash made numerous contributions to The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx, published September 18th, 2007.
An autobiography titled simply Slash was published on October 30th, 2007. It was co-written with Anthony Bozza.
It was announced by kerrang Magazine that Slash was going to appear on Ace Frehley's next solo album
Slash won the "Best Guitarist" prize in the 2005 Esky Music Awards in Esquire magazine. A write-up in the magazine announced Slash's win read as follows:
"He's who we see ourselves as every time we strap on an air guitar. The top hat. The hair. The dangling cigarette. The near-death experiences. He'll always be Slash of Guns N' Roses to us, but we also congratulate him for beating the comeback odds with a surprisingly legitimate and vital outfit, Velvet Revolver."
Accepting the award, Slash has issued the following statement:
This is my first guitarist award ever. It's very humbling. I'd like to thank my parents, and I'd also like to thank everyone I've ever fucking worked with in the music business from the point I started at up until now — the bands I've been in, the sessions I've done, and the artists I've worked with. My wife is at least half of the reason I'm still walking. I'd also like to thank Robert Wolin; he got me to switch from bass to guitar. Thank you.
In January 2007, Slash was honored with a star on the Rock Walk of Fame; his name being placed side by side with friends and legends Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.
In 2007, Slash was awarded the coveted title of "Riff Lord" during the fourth annual Metal Hammer Golden Gods awards.
Slash was selected to perform "Hey Joe", a signature song of the late great Jimi Hendrix in a posthumous tribute at the UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Steve Winwood as vocalist, Billy Cox playing bass, and Mitch Mitchell on drums (the only original member left from the Jimi Hendrix Experience) playing.
"Welcome to the Jungle" is considered to be one of the greatest hard rock hits of all time. It was ranked #2 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs. In addition, "Welcome to the Jungle" ranked #467 on Rolling Stones' "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Also, it was #764 on Q Magazine's 1001 Best Songs Ever and #26 on VH1's 100 Greatest 80s Songs. Most recently, the song was named the "Greatest Song About Los Angeles" by a poll in Blender magazine.
"Sweet Child o' Mine" placed #37 on Guitar World's list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Solos." It also came in at number three on Blender's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, and at number 196 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 6 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The introduction's famous D-flat based riff was also voted number-one riff of all-time by the readers of Total Guitar magazine. It was also in Rolling Stones 40 Greatest Songs that Changed the World.
"Paradise City" is ranked #21 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs of All Time, #3 in Total Guitar Magazine's list of the 100 greatest solos of all time, and has won various similar awards over the years. It ranked #453 on Rolling Stones' "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".
"November Rain" holds the record for the longest guitar solo in a U.S. top 10 hit. The song is also listed at number 6 in the "The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos" by Guitar World. Additionally, "November Rain" was voted #1 on the Rock 1000 in 2006, an annual countdown of the top 1000 rock songs by New Zealand radio listeners.
Slash is notorious for his intoxicated acceptance speech at the 1990 American Music Awards. Upon receipt of Guns N' Roses' second award of the evening, he and Duff McKagan stumbled to the stage appearing very drunk, holding drinks, and smoking cigarettes. Within a span of 20 seconds, Slash managed to curse twice in his slurred speech before being interrupted by a music overdub and positioning of a camera on a curtain with the AMA logo. After the first swear word, an audible gasp was heard from the crowd, prompting Slash to cover his mouth, cigarette and drink in hand, and utter "Oops". When accepting an award the following year, via live satellite feed, a much more sober Slash made mention of the incident, promising to "keep it clean this time".
In 1990, a heavy metal video called "Hard N' Heavy" was released containing music, concert footage and interviews. The video included Slash and McKagan appearing with the band Great White at a "Children Of the Night" Benefit concert in LA for abused homeless children, the performance helped raise money for housing to aid the underprivileged.
Slash is married to Perla Ferrar, with whom he has two sons: London Emilio and Cash Anthony.
Feud With Axl RoseEdit
In March 2006 Axl Rose's lawyer released the following statement:
“ In October of 2005 Slash made an unannounced 5:30 AM visit to Axl Rose's house. Not appearing to be under the influence, Slash came to inform Axl that: 'Duff was spineless', 'Scott Weiland was a fraud', that he 'hates Matt Sorum' and that in this ongoing war, contest or whatever anyone wants to call it that Slash has waged against Axl for the better part of 20 years, that Axl has proven himself 'the stronger'. Based on his conduct in showing up at Rose's home, Axl was hopeful that Slash would live up to his pronouncements that he wanted to end the war and move on with life. Unfortunately that did not prove to be the case. ”
Slash didn't comment on Rose's press release, but a Velvet Revolver spokesperson did promise that Slash would be heard from "within days". Slash's press release never came. On May 13, 2006, Slash appeared on the Camp Freddy Show on Indie 1031 FM and denied having visited Rose's house or saying anything that Rose claimed.
In 2007 Slash admitted to going to Rose's home, but qualified the rest of the story as nonsense. He said that his intentions were to settle a long-standing legal dispute and make peace with his former band mate.
Slashes guitars include:
- B.C. Rich Mockingbird
- Fender Stratocaster
- Fender Telecaster
- B.C. Rich Double neck
- Gibson EDS-1275
- Gibson Flying V
- Gibson Explorer
- Gibson Melody Maker (used for slide during "Bad Obsession")
- Slash Custom Les Paul Gold Top Guitar
- One of Slash's favorite guitar is the aforementioned hand-made Gibson Les Paul Copy. He received it during the recording sessions for Guns N' Roses debut album, "Appetite for Destruction". When he couldn't get the right sound he was looking for, the band's manager found a 1959 Les Paul Standard copy. He has used that guitar on every album he has recorded with Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver.