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Slash

 

People who achieve great levels of success usually have a moment where they suddenly realize their passion in a meaningful way.  For guitarist Saul Hudson, better known by his stage name, Slash, this moment of clarity happened when he was only fourteen.  This direct quote from Slash begins to give an insight to the guitar star's mind:

 

“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.”

 

Whatever Slash identified with at the age of 14 brought him huge levels of rock star success and plenty of the crazy, hard-rocking lifestyle that earned him a bad boy reputation.  If this moment of realization is what started Slash's guitar career, then many more decisions and moments of refusing to back down from a fight and compromise himself for others have created the legend that is Slash.
 
In 1965, Saul Hudson was born in Hampstead, which is a suburb of London, England.  His father was white and his mother of African descent, which most likely provided Slash with the amazing curly hair that has become his trademark.  Both of Slash's parents worked in show business while he was growing up, so he was exposed to the industry at an early age.  Slash lived in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire until he was 11 years old and his family moved to Los Angeles, California.  It was in California that Slash received his nickname from a childhood friend because he always appeared to be busy and moving from one thing to the next.
 
Slash retained his energy and passion for life as he got older and, after his “big awakening” at the age of 14, received his first guitar from his grandmother when he was 16.  Even though the guitar only had one string, Slash practiced diligently for hours every day.  He decided to quit school in order to focus himself completely on music.  Among his early musical influences, Slash counts Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck, Iron Maiden, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Thin Lizzy and Van Halen.
 
The wheels of fate started to turn for Slash when he posted a classified ad for a bassist and Duff McKagan answered the ad.  Duff would later be a member of Guns N' Roses, Slash's vehicle to rock and roll glory.  Slash was introduced to Axl Rose in 1984 when they both played in bands that were opening for a show.  Although not indicative of their future relationship, the two hit it off immediately and formed Guns N' Roses with Steven Adler, Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin.  The band began to tour and perform at bars, while beginning work on their hard rock masterpieces “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Sweet Child o' Mine” and “Paradise City”.  Their musical brilliance began early in their career, as did their reputation for being the drug and alcohol abusing bad boys of rock and roll.
 
Guns N' Roses released their first album Appetite for Destruction in 1987.  They had scheduled a tour with Iron Maiden to kick off the album, but were forced to cancel it when Slash had to be admitted to a drug rehabilitation program and Axl Rose was admitted to the hospital after an altercation with a police officer.  Despite the drama and controversy, “Sweet Child o' Mine” hit #1 in 1988.  Appetite for Destruction rocketed to the top of the charts and sold more than 15 million copies, which makes it the second biggest selling debut album of all time.
 
In 1988 the band released G N' R Lies, which sold 5 million copies.  Four years later Use Your Illusion came out and fans noticed that the band was creating a little more dramatic and melodic songs like “November Rain” and “Estranged”.  Tensions started to build within the group as Rose wanted to change the band's sound more and more, and Slash and McKagan wanted to keep the group rooted in their hard rocking groove.
 
The band really started to encounter problems when they began work on their next album.  Slash went to work writing and creating new songs, but Rose rejected all of his efforts.  The bad blood and artistic differences between Rose and Slash escalated and Slash set out to create his own band called Slash's Snakepit.  They released two successful albums in the mid-90s and gave Slash the creative outlet he had been seeking that was stifled by Axl Rose.  In 1996 it was official that Slash was no longer a member of Guns N' Roses when Axl Rose sent a fax to MTV stating that their creative differences had sent them in different directions.  It was later brought to light that the last straw for Slash came when Rose edited a section of Slash's guitar solo out of a track and replaced it with another guitar player.
 
Even though things ended badly with Guns N' Roses, Slash continued to focus on his guitar.  He collaborated on all kinds of different projects with various artists from Michael Jackson to Ol' Dirty Bastard to Alice Cooper.  He wrote some music for TV and movies and performed in various events to support charity efforts.  Eventually, Slash reunited with most of his Guns N' Roses band mates to form a new group, Velvet Revolver.  They struggled for a while to find a lead singer that would fit their group, but eventually found Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots fame.  Velvet Revolver released its first album, Contraband, in 2004 and set out on a tour to promote it.  Both the album and tour were well received by fans and Contraband went multi-platinum.  Velvet Revolver released a follow up effort, Libertad in 2007.  Unfortunately, Slash has encountered problems with yet another lead singer and Scott Weiland officially left Velvet Revolver in April of 2008.  The word on the street is that Slash and Velvet Revolver are still working on music for a third album and searching for a replacement vocalist.
 

The ever-unique Slash still remains humble in his own way.  After receiving the 2005 “Best Guitarist” ESKY Award from Esquire Magazine Slash was quoted as saying:

 

“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.”
 
The ESKY Award may have been Slash's first guitar award, but it would not be his last.  In January 2007, he received the title of “Riff Lord” during the Metal Hammer Golden Gods awards.  During the same year he was also given a star on the Rock Walk of Fame alongside Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.
 

To this day, Axl Rose and Slash have not managed to work out their differences.  In 2006, fans were given a glimmer of hope that the two might be starting to talk and work toward future collaborations.  According to Rose's lawyer, Slash made an appearance at Rose's home early one morning to attempt to make peace.  He indicated that he was feeling unsatisfied with his current lineup of Velvet Revolver, and wanted to put a stop to his disagreements with Rose.  However, Slash denied showing up at Rose's home until much later, and even then he only acknowledged that he had stopped by with a note for Rose about settling some legal disputes.  Slash still claims that he and Rose have not spoken in person since Slash left Guns N Roses in 1996.  The incident did cause some tension in Slash's current band, Velvet Revolver.  Scott Weiland made some derogatory public remarks in reference to Axl Rose's story, and Slash defended his estranged band mate, saying that Weiland should not be making comments about Rose without knowing him personally.

 

Throughout the drama, drugs and great successes of his career, Slash has always been loyal to himself.  He never stepped down from a fight and kept working on his passion for music.  His talent and devoted practice will create a place in history for him as rock star.  One modern way that the caliber of a rock star is measured is with the popular video game Guitar Hero.  Slash not only helped to develop the game, but is featured as a playable character on the game.  His recognizable persona with the big hair, top hat and cigarette will keep him fresh in the minds of a whole new generation of fans.  Slash knew with certainty that he wanted to be a rock star when he was only fourteen, and has diligently stuck to his guitar passion to become a true guitar hero.
 

     

Eddie Van Halen
Joe Satriani
Eric Johnson
Steve Vai
Paul Gilbert
Jimmy Page
Randy Rhoads
Kurt Cobain
Kirk Hammett
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Yngwie Malmsteen
Slash
Robert Johnson
Pete Townsend
Jerry Garcia
Bo Diddley
Jeff Beck
Duane Allman
Jimmy Hendrix
BB King
John Frusciante
Joe Perry
George Harrison
Santana
Chuck Berry
Eric Clapton
Dimebag Darrell
 
 
 
 
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