Few artists in rock ‘n’ roll can carry off a single name, and carry it with gravitas. That is except Slash. And few guitarists command as much respect as Slash.
Since emerging into the frontline of iconic rockers with the late-‘80s surge of his seminal band Guns N’ Roses, has been one of the world’s most sought after guitarists. Iconic musicians are often looking to Slash to add that special touch to recordings. From Michael Jackson (“Black Or White,” “Give In To Me”) to Ray Charles to Stevie Wonder, directors Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky (core contributions to the soundtrack of Jackie Brown, and the signature sound of the score to The Wrestler), the top figures in modern music and popular culture have demanded the definitive rock guitarist of a generation. Critics and fans alike still debate the best rock riffs of all time with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” consistently taking top honors. And a Time Magazine survey placed Slash second only to Jimi Hendrix among electric guitarists.
Slash is ever-modest about his place in rock history, loathe to even consider it.“It would take somebody else to tell you that,” he says. “I’m just not that guy. I mean, I like to think that I’m sort of carrying on the tradition of stuff that turned me on as a kid. And I think I’m sort of doing it some justice.” Pondering how he has stayed in the forefront of music, “You know, I think it’s just because of the fact that I love it so much and I put a certain amount of energy into it that people get off on,” he says. “I mean, I hate to think it was just the top hat.”
Slash’s history encompasses Guns N’ Roses, his own Slash’s Snakepit band, and two global hit albums anchoring Velvet Revolver in recent years, but the self-titled Slash album in 2010 was his first solo effort. The album was centered around the theme that no matter who is singing, there’s an energy, excitement and, above all, musicality to the guitar playing that elevates and unifies the music throughout. “There’s obviously a sort of musical coherence to it,” Slash allows. “A lot of variety on the record, shifts in mood. But there is that underlying … uh … Slashiness.”
It was a massive undertaking that came from a single initial concept that was very innocent. After the Velvet Revolver Libertad tour, Slash wanted and needed to do something outside of that band, something different. He thought it would be fun to work with a bunch of different people. Slash started writing, putting demos together and pursuing the idea with different singers. He spent the better part of a year writing and demoing music, and with every tune he wrote, envisioned the ideal vocalist for it.
Slash traces his love of music and exploring spirit to his childhood in England, where his father introduced him to the sounds of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and other classic, groundbreaking acts. He got an insider’s view through his teen years after the family moved to Los Angeles, his father a graphic artist who worked with David Geffen for such artists as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and his mother a costume designer for many top pop artists. Almost on a whim, he and friend Steve Adler started playing music together, Slash on guitar and Adler on drums. In the early ‘80s, influenced by such bands as Lemmy’s Motorhead, he and Adler formed a band, recruiting bassist McKagan. Within a year, with the addition of singer Axl Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin, the venture had morphed into Guns N’ Roses – and by the end of the decade had changed the course of rock history.
After Guns N’ Roses sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and dominated the music industry with its signature album “Appetite For Destruction”, Slash went on to see critical acclaim with Slash’s Snakepit and global success with Velvet Revolver. Fans have also flocked to imitate Slash style in Guitar Hero III: Legend of Rock where he is one of the most recognized playable characters. He is also know as a guitar connoisseur, owning more than 100 guitars, many custom made for him, and a Gibson Signature Slash model made in his honor.
All signs indicate Slash won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Slash and his Guns n' Roses bandmates were recently inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame. His new album, Apocalyptic Love, with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators backing him up, features the smash single, "You're A Lie", and will be released on May 22, 2012 and a U.S. tour will follow.