The first time I heard Slash play guitar was in 1984 in the basement of the Los Angeles townhome belonging to his mother, Ola, a woman who would later become like a surrogate mother to me during my early years in L.A.
Slash didn’t have to try to impress—he just picked up an acoustic guitar and started to play. Up to that point, I really thought I had seen and heard the whole gamut of the talent pool of my age group in America. I had toured extensively with punk-rock bands, and had seen just about every band that came through Seattle from ’79 to ’84. But when Slash played in that basement that night, all I thought I knew was suddenly swept aside.
Through the years, he’s been asked to play guitar with everyone from Michael Jackson to Rihanna, but it was sometime in late 1988—the year after our first band, Guns N’ Roses, had released its debut, Appetite for Destruction—that I knew Slash had transcended anything like flash-in-the-pan or local-hero status. It wasn’t due to the growing press he received, or some other outside force. It was from an Irishman—a call from guitar legend Rory Gallagher.
Rory asked our manager if Slash would like to come down and play on “Whipping Post,” the Allman Brothers Band’s rolling blues-rock anthem that Rory was well-known for playing live. It was, for sure, just a small gig at the Roxy, but from where I stood, I was proud that my friend and bandmate had stood his ground that night in the company of a legend.
Slash has been through the fucking ringer of rock-and-roll excess—blistering highs and soul-crushing lows—and has come through it all with a grin. And there are always plenty of grins to be had when Slash is in the room. I’m pretty sure that most of you don’t know that Slash is also a world-class Russian crouch-down-and-kick-your-legs-out dancer. OK, perhaps not technically world-class, but he has been known to bust it out from time to time when a comical moment is needed.
Earlier this year, Slash released a record that had been percolating inside him since at least 1992. Slash, his first-ever solo record—to which I am honored to have contributed—is a badass culmination of his hard-won songwriting skills and kick-butt guitar playing. The who’s-who of guest singers on the record—from Ozzy Osbourne to Fergie—shows how much respect Slash gets in our industry. If you are a fan of rock and fucking roll—or crazy Russian dance moves—don’t miss this gig.