Updated: Feb 25
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Saul Hudson (born July 23, 1965), better known as Slash,
is a British-American musician, songwriter, and record producer from Stoke-on-Trent, England. He is best known as the lead guitarist of the American hard rock band Guns N' Roses, with whom he achieved worldwide success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Slash has received critical acclaim and is considered one of the greatest guitarists in history.
In 1993, Slash formed the side project Slash's Snakepit and in 1996 he left Guns N' Roses and co-founded the supergroup Velvet Revolver, which re-established him as a mainstream performer in the mid to late 2000s. Slash has released four solo albums: Slash (2010), featuring an array of guest musicians, Apocalyptic Love (2012), World on Fire (2014) and Living the Dream (2018) recorded with his band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. He returned to Guns N' Roses in 2016.
Time magazine named him runner-up on their list of "The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players" in 2009, while Rolling Stone placed him at number 65 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" in 2011.Guitar World ranked his guitar solo in "November Rain" number 6 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos" in 2008. and Total Guitar placed his riff in "Sweet Child o' Mine" at number 1 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Riffs" in 2004. In 2010, Gibson Guitar Corporation ranked Slash as number 34 on their "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time", while their readers landed him number 9 on Gibson's "Top 25 Guitarists of All Time". In 2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Guns N' Roses' classic lineup.
Saul Hudson was born in Stoke-on-Trent on July 23, 1965. He was named after Romanian-American cartoonist Saul Steinberg. His mother, Ola J. Hudson (née Oliver; 1946–2009), was a fashion designer and costumier from the United States of African-American extraction, whose clients included David Bowie (whom she also dated), Ringo Starr, and Janis Joplin. His father, Anthony Hudson, is a white English artist who created album covers for musicians such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Of his mixed background, Slash has remarked, "As a musician, I've always been amused that I'm both British andBlack; particularly because so many American musicians seem to aspire to be British while so many British musicians, in the 'Sixties in particular, went to such great pains to be Black."
Slash as a child
During his early years, Slash was raised by his father and paternal grandparents in Stoke-on-Trent while his mother moved back to her native United States to work in Los Angeles. When he was around five years old, he and his father joined his mother in Los Angeles. His brother, Albion "Ash" Hudson, was born in 1972. Following his parents' separation in 1974, Slash became a self-described "problem child". He chose to live with his mother and was often sent to live with his beloved maternal grandmother whenever his mother had to travel for her job. Slash sometimes accompanied his mother to work, where he met several film and music stars. He was given the nickname "Slash" by actor Seymour Cassel because he was "always in a hurry, zipping around from one thing to another".
"My big awakening happened when I was 14. 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." —Slash, on his passion for rock music
In 1979, Slash decided to form a band with his friend Steven Adler. The band never materialized, but it prompted Slash to take up an instrument. Since Adler had designated himself the role of guitarist, Slash decided to learn how to play bass. Equipped with a one-string flamenco guitar given to him by his grandmother, he began taking classes with Robert Wolin, a teacher at Fairfax Music School During his first lesson, Slash decided to switch from bass to guitar after hearing Wolin play "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones. His decision to play guitar was further influenced by one of his school teachers, who would play songs by Cream and Led Zeppelin for his students. As a result, Slash stated, "When I heard him do that, I said, 'That's what I want to do.'" He vividly recalls the feeling after learning "Come Dancing" from Wiredby Jeff Beck, his greatest influence, which he described as "fucking awesome".
1985–1996: First stint with Guns N' Roses
Main article: Guns N' Roses
In June 1985, Slash was asked by Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin to join their new band Guns N' Roses, along with Duff McKagan and Steven Adler (replacing founding members Tracii Guns, Ole Beich and Rob Gardner, respectively). They played Los Angeles-area nightclubs—such as the Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy, and The Troubadour—and opened for larger acts throughout 1985 and 1986. Before one of the shows in 1985, Slash shoplifted a black felt top hat and a Native American-style silver concho belt from two stores on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. He then combined the hat with parts of the belt to create a piece of custom headwear for the show. He said he "felt really cool" wearing the hat, and it became his trademark. It was during 1985–1986 that the band wrote most of its classic material, including "Welcome to the Jungle," "Sweet Child o' Mine", and "Paradise City," As a result of their rowdy and rebellious behavior, Guns N' Roses quickly received the moniker "Most Dangerous Band in the World," causing Slash to remark, "For some strange reason, Guns N' Roses is like the catalyst for controversy, even before we had any kind of record deal." After being scouted by several major record labels, the band signed with Geffen Records in March 1986.
In July 1987, Guns N' Roses released its debut album, Appetite for Destruction, which, as of September 2008, had sold over 28 million copies worldwide, 18 million of which were sold in the United States, making it the best-selling debut album of all time in the U.S. In the summer of 1988, the band achieved its only U.S. No. 1 hit with "Sweet Child O' Mine," a song spearheaded by Slash's guitar riff and solo. In November of that year, Guns N' Roses released G N' R Lies, which sold over five million copies in the U.S. alone, despite containing only eight tracks, four of which were included on the previously released EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide. As their success grew, so did interpersonal tensions within the band. In 1989, during a show as opening act for the Rolling Stones, Axl Rose threatened to leave the band if certain members of the band didn't stop "dancing with Mr. Brownstone," a reference to their song of the same name about heroin use. Slash was among those who promised to clean up. However, the following year, Steven Adler was fired from the band because of his heroin addiction; he was replaced by Matt Sorum of The Cult.
In May 1991, the band embarked on the two-and-a-half-year-long Use Your Illusion Tour. The following September, Guns N' Roses released the long-awaited albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, which debuted at No. 2 and No. 1, respectively, on the U.S. chart, a feat not achieved by any other group. Izzy Stradlin abruptly left the band in November; he was replaced by Gilby Clarke of Candy and Kill for Thrills. Slash finished Use Your Illusion Tour with Guns N' Roses on July 17, 1993. In November of that year, the band released "The Spaghetti Incident?", a cover album of mostly punk songs, which proved less successful than its predecessors. Slash then wrote several songs for what would have become the follow-up album to the Use Your Illusion double album. Axl Rose and Duff, however, rejected the material.
With the band's failure to collaborate resulting in no album being recorded, Slash announced in October 1996 that he was no longer a part of Guns N' Roses. Slash stated at the time "Axl and I have not been capable of seeing eye to eye on Guns N' Roses for some time. We tried to collaborate, but at this point, I'm no longer in the band." Paul Tobias's inclusion in the band was another factor in Slash leaving, with Slash having both "creative and personal" differences with Tobias. However, in his 2007 autobiography, Slash stated that his decision to leave the band was not based on artistic differences with Axl Rose, but on Rose's constant lateness to concerts, the alleged legal manipulation Rose used (since denied by Rose) to gain control of the band, and the departures of Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin.
1994–2002: Slash's Snakepit
Main article: Slash's Snakepit
In 1994, Slash formed Slash's Snakepit, a side project that featured his Guns N' Roses bandmates Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke on drums and rhythm guitar respectively, as well as Alice in Chains' Mike Inez on bass and Jellyfish's Eric Dover on vocals. The band recorded Slash's material originally intended for Guns N' Roses, resulting in the release of It's Five O'Clock Somewhere in February 1995. The album was critically praised for ignoring the then-popular conventions of alternative music, and fared well on the charts, eventually selling over one million copies in the US alone despite little promotion from Geffen Records. Slash's Snakepit toured in support of the album with bassist James LoMenzo and drummer Brian Tichy of Pride & Glory, before disbanding in 1996. Slash then toured for two years with the blues rock cover band Slash's Blues Ball.
In 1999, Slash chose to regroup Slash's Snakepit with Rod Jackson on vocals, Ryan Roxie on rhythm guitar, Johnny Griparic on bass, and Matt Laug on drums. Their second album, Ain't Life Grand, was released in October 2000 through Koch Records. It did not sell as well as the band's previous release, and its critical reception was mixed. To promote the album, the band—with Keri Kelli on rhythm guitar—embarked on an extensive world tour in support of AC/DC in the summer of 2000, followed by their own headlining theater tour. Slash disbanded Snakepit in 2002.
2002–2008: Velvet Revolver
Main article: Velvet Revolver
In 2002, Slash reunited with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum for a Randy Castillo tribute concert. Realizing that they still had the chemistry of their days in Guns N' Roses, they decided to form a new band together. Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin was initially involved, but left after the others decided to find a lead singer. Dave Kushner, who had previously played with McKagan in Loaded, then joined the band on rhythm guitar. For many months, the four searched for a lead singer by listening to offered demo tapes, a monotonous process documented by VH1. Eventually, former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland joined the band.
In 2003, Velvet Revolver played several concerts during the summer and released their first single, "Set Me Free". In June 2004, they released their debut album, Contraband, which debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. chart and sold two million copies, re-establishing Slash as a mainstream performer. A year-and-a-half-long tour followed in support of the album. In 2005, the band was nominated for three Grammys: Rock Album of the Year, Rock Song, and Hard Rock Performance for their Contraband single "Slither" which won their first and only Grammy. In July 2007, Velvet Revolver released their second album, Libertad, and embarked on a second tour. During a show in March 2008, Weiland announced to the audience that it would be the band's final tour; he was fired from the band in April 2008 and Slash insisted "chemical issues" led to the split.
The following month Weiland rejoined Stone Temple Pilots. Despite Weiland's departure, Velvet Revolver did not officially disband.
In early 2010, Velvet Revolver began writing new songs and auditioning new singers. By January 2011, the band had recorded nine demos, and was reportedly due to make a decision on their singer. However, the following April, Slash stated that they had been unable to find a suitable singer and that Velvet Revolver would remain on hiatus for the next few years while its members focus on other projects.
2009–present: "Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators"
showBand members Slash and vocalist Myles Kennedyperforming with the Conspirators in June 2015 In September 2008, Slash began production on his debut solo album. He described the process of recording by himself as "cathartic."
He also mentioned working on the album gave him a chance to "...take a little bit of a break from all the politics and the democracy that is a band and just sort of do my own thing for a little bit. Slash's wife Perla revealed that many different artists would appear on the album, saying, "It's going to be Slash and friends, with everyone from Ozzy to Fergie." The album, simply titled Slash, debuted at No. 3 on the U.S. chart upon its release in April 2010. It featured an all-star roster of guest musicians, including Osbourne, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold, Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell and Iggy Pop. The album also features musical collaborations with former Guns N' Roses members Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler and Duff McKagan.Preceding the release of the album, Slash had released the Japan-only single "Sahara", featuring Japanese vocalist Koshi Inaba (from B'z). It charted at number four on the Oricon Singles Chart, as well number six on the Billboard Japan Hot 100. It has been awarded Western "Single of the Year" award at the 24th Japan Gold Disc Award by RIAJ. To promote the album, Slash embarked on his first solo world tour with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge—who also appeared on the album—on vocals, Bobby Schneck on rhythm guitar, Todd Kerns on bass, and Brent Fitz on drums. Slash opened for Ozzy Osbourne for a leg of Osbourne's Scream World Tour. Slash began working on his second solo album in June 2011. He collaborated with his touring bandmates Myles Kennedy, Todd Kerns, and Brent Fitz, with the resulting album billed to "Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators". The album, titled Apocalyptic Love, was released on May 22, 2012, debuting at number 2 on the Canadian Albums Chart. In 2013 Slash received the award for "Best Guitarist Of The Year 2012" from Loudwire. Slash embarked on a tour in the summer of 2014, opening for Aerosmith as part of the Let Rock Rule Tour. In May 2014, Slash revealed details of his third solo album World on Fire. The album was again billed as "Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators" and was released on September 10, 2014. It debuted at No. 10 on The Billboard 200 chart. In March 2018, Slash revealed that a new album with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators was to be released later in the year. In June 2018, he announced that the album was titled Living the Dream, to be released on September 21, 2018. The group tour for the album began in September 2018, starting with a show in Del Mar, California at the KAABOO Del Mar Music Festival. The tour was concluded the US and Canada again 2019 after completing the Asian leg and Hawaii show with Guns n' Roses. Former touring guitarist Frank Sidoris joined the band full-time for the recording sessions. In an October 2020 interview with blabbermouth.net bassist/vocalist Todd Kerns confirmed that there would be a new album in 2021, referred to as "SMKC4". On July 26, 2021, it was confirmed that the record was to be released via Gibson's new record label Gibson Records in February 2022. On October 18, 2021, Slash officially confirmed via Instagram the first single's title "The River is Rising", along with its release date, October 22, 2021. On October 22, the release day of first single, it was announced that the album 4 will be released on February 11, 2022. The tour was also announced the same day, scheduled to start February 8, 2022, in Portland, Oregon.
2016–present: Return to Guns N' Roses
Axl Rose and Slash performing with Guns N' Roses in 2018 On December 29, 2015, several days after a Guns N' Roses-related teaser was released to movie theaters, Billboard reported that Slash would rejoin the band to headline Coachella 2016, filling the lead guitarist spot vacated when DJ Ashba left the band. Guns N' Roses were officially announced as headliners of Coachella on January 4, 2016, with KROQ reporting Slash and Duff McKagan would rejoin the band. Slash performed with Guns N' Roses for the first time in 23 years during the band's secret warmup gig at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on April 1, 2016. The band then embarked on the Not in This Lifetime... Tour.