Slash: from the mean streets to reaching Paradise CityRock polymath Slash attacks career decisions all guns blazing and comes out smelling of roses. We play out his greatest hits, from the mean streets to reaching Paradise City. It’s time to join the band
Saul ‘Slash’ Hudson is born in the UK. His mother makes rock-star costumes and his father designs album covers. They separate after a move to LA. Slash swaps books for BMXing, but he’s focused: “I got jobs so I could get cigarettes, beer. That’s how I see money. It’s never been a motivating factor.”
A tumultuous childhood is channelled into music. He quits school, but education doesn’t so much disappear as become refocused – Slash is reported to have practised guitar for up to 12 hours a day. “Guitars are like women,” he later explains. “You never get them totally right.”
Slash goes accessory shopping – and makes history. The serial shoplifter swipes the infamous top hat, later wrapping it in a belt (also stolen) and joining the handful of celebrities recognisable by shadow alone, so unique becomes his silhouette. Also enrols in an upstart band called Guns N’ Roses.
The band ignore critics and go on to write the songs that get them signed to Geffen Records. “Being told no was the big thing ever since I can remember. And that was always getting in the way of creativity.” Sweet Child O’ Mine is one song that takes GN’R stratospheric.
High-flying success follows. But despite the much-lauded launch of two double albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, the band’s wings are clipped when rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin departs, and the descent begins. Follow-up The Spaghetti Incident? – the last album to feature Slash and bassist Duff McKagan – flops and GN’R crash to Earth. Slash leaves the band in 1996.
Following a near-death experience and a poor prognosis, Slash yet again turns his life around, completely cleaning up after years of alcohol and drug abuse. His rock-solid willpower sees him through, beating both medical odds and the Grim Reaper.
Rock regains popularity. Slash makes his comeback, forming supergroup Velvet Revolver. He keeps himself relevant with a string of guest appearances with artists from Michael Jackson to Rihanna. “The only thing in rock ’n’ roll that’s survived the test of the millennium has been metal.” And Slash himself, obviously.
Slash calls in some favours, collaborating with friends such as Dave Grohl and Motörhead’s Lemmy on his eponymous solo album. The record garners huge commercial success and Slash yet again finds himself in the limelight. Rock god he may be, but with room for business acumen.
The axeman and his erstwhile bandmate Axl Rose bury the hatchet and reform Guns N’ Roses after a feud spanning 20 years, and music fans couldn’t be happier. “It’s become more exciting as I get older. The passion and desire to do it is really strong.”