“ 'Tangerine' from Led Zeppelin III was the very first song I mastered. I had a teacher at school who had a Les Paul and he was always playing Cream and Zeppelin licks and whatever. And when I heard him do that I said "That's what I want to do".
After deciding to form a band with friend Steven Adler, Slash decided to pick up the bass guitar as Adler had declared himself lead guitarist. Slash stopped in at Fairfax Music School and told the receptionist he wanted to play the bass, and at that time met his teacher Robert Wolin. Wolin told him that in order to learn he would need a bass of his own. Slash went home and asked his grandmother and was given a worn-out, single stringed flamenco guitar. After hearing Wolin play "Brown Sugar" by ear, Slash realized that the guitar was his calling. He subsequently dropped out of high school to focus on music. In a Rolling Stone magazine article, he remarked:
“ 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. ”
In 1983, Slash formed the band Road Crew, a Motörhead tribute band (named for the Motörhead song "We Are The Road Crew") with childhood friend Steven Adler. He placed an advertisement in a newspaper for a bassist, and received a response from Duff McKagan.
When Road Crew disbanded, Slash joined a local band known as Black Sheep. Headed by Willie Bass, the band shared an agent with another new group known as Hollywood Rose. In 1984, both bands opened for Christian metal band Stryper. After the show, Slash and lead singer Axl Rose were introduced to one another by a friend. The two quickly became friends, and several months later, Slash and Steven Adler were invited to join with Axl Rose, Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin as the band Guns N' Roses.
Guns N' Roses toured bars and opened for larger acts throughout 1985 and 1986. It was during this period that they wrote most of their classic material, including "Welcome to the Jungle", "Sweet Child o' Mine", and "Paradise City". During this time, they were scouted by several major record labels, and signed with Geffen and they were tagged the "Most Dangerous Band In The World". In 1988, Slash remarked:
“ For some strange reason, Guns N' Roses is like the catalyst for controversy, even before we had any kind of record deal. ”
With 28 million copies sold (18 million just in the United States), Appetite for Destruction is the best-selling debut album of all time worldwide and in the US. By 1988, Guns N' Roses scored its first #1 hit with "Sweet Child o' Mine," a song spearheaded by Slash's riff and guitar solo.
In 1988, Guns N' Roses released G N' R Lies. Though this album only had eight tracks (four of which had already been released), it sold over 5 million copies. In 1991, after a four-year hiatus, the band released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.
That year, Guns N' Roses embarked on the 28-month Use Your Illusion tour. Upon completion of the tour, Slash was naturalized, becoming an American citizen.
In the mid-1990s, Slash wrote several songs for what would have become Guns N' Roses' follow-up album to Use Your Illusion I and II. Rose rejected the material, leading Slash to form Slash's Snakepit, a side-project that saw support from Matt Sorum, Gilby Clarke, Dizzy Reed, Mike Inez, and Eric Dover. The band recorded Slash's material and released It's Five O'Clock Somewhere in 1995. Critically, the album was praised for ignoring the conventions of grunge and alternative music. It also fared well on the charts, eventually selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States with little promotion from Geffen Records.
After his departure from Guns N' Roses, Slash focused on his side-project, Snakepit, playing a few tour dates before disbanding the group in 1998. Over the next decade, Slash became an in-demand session musician, recording music with the likes of Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Insane Clown Posse, Ronnie Wood, Bad Company, Cheap Trick, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.
In 1990, Slash was contacted by Michael Jackson to work on his upcoming album, Dangerous. Slash played guitar on the single "Give In to Me"; he also appeared in the music video of the latter. On several occasions, Slash appeared onstage with Jackson, performing "Black or White" during the Dangerous World Tour. Slash and Jackson appeared together at the MTV Video Music Awards of 1992 and 1995. Slash played guitar on "D.S.", a controversial song from the HIStory album of 1995 and "Morphine" from the 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor. In 2001, Slash joined Jackson on stage at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special playing guitar while Jackson performed his songs, "Black or White" and "Beat It". Slash also plays the guitar solo for the Michael Jackson song "Privacy", of the Invincible album, right after Michael screams: "Slash!", Michael also does this right before Slash's solo on D.S.
In 1995, Quentin Tarantino asked Slash to contribute some songs to the soundtrack of his adaptation of the film Jackie Brown. Several Snakepit compositions can be heard throughout the film. In 1996, Slash collaborated with Marta Sánchez to record the flamenco-inspired song, "Obsession-Confession" for the Curdled soundtrack. The song was received well by Smooth Jazz radio stations. Later that year, Slash also played live with Alice Cooper at Sammy Hagar's club Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The show was recorded and released the following year as A Fistful of Alice.
In 1997, Slash (alongside the late Ol' Dirty Bastard and hit alternative rock band Fishbone) appeared on BLACKstreet's rock remix version of their hit single "Fix". In 2003, he participated in the Yardbirds' comeback record Birdland, released on the Favored Nations label. He played lead guitar in the track "Over, Under, Sideways, Down". In early 2003, Slash also made an appearance at a rally to protest the coming War in Iraq called "Peace on the Beach", performing the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. Ed Kowalczyk provided vocals during this performance.
In 2000, he chose to regroup Slash's Snakepit to release his second solo effort, titled Ain't Life Grand. The album did well on the charts, reaching platinum status. To promote it further, Slash embarked on an extensive world tour with AC/DC in the summer of 2000.
In 2002, he reunited with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum for a benefit/tribute concert for Randy Castillo. Realizing they still had the chemistry of their days in Guns N' Roses, they decided to form a new band together. The band that featured Slash, McKagan, and Sorum also featured former Buckcherry members Keith Nelson and Josh Todd. Later Duff put out a statement that Josh and Keith didn't quite fit with the band, and they added Dave Kushner as rhythm guitar and, after a long search, Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. In 2006, Slash performed a guest spot on keyboardist Derek Sherinian's solo album Blood of the Snake covering the 1970 Mungo Jerry hit single "In the Summertime", also featuring Billy Idol on vocals. A video was also made featuring Slash, Billy, and Derek for this song.
Velvet Revolver began as "The Project", a venture by Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum to find a new lead singer. On rhythm guitar, they initially worked with Izzy Stradlin, and they were offered to open for The Rolling Stones but Slash, Duff and Matt wanted to have a lead singer; after this Izzy became less involved. They would find their second guitarist in the form of Dave Kushner, who had previously played with McKagan in "Loaded" prior to this project. For many months, the four of them listened to demo tapes of potential lead singers, a monotonous process (documented by VH1). After many months, Slash and the others were almost ready to give up. However, Stone Temple Pilots had recently imploded, allowing lead singer Scott Weiland to volunteer to record a song with the band. Realizing there was chemistry between each member, Weiland officially joined the band in 2003.
Velvet Revolver played several concerts in the summer of that year and released their first single, "Set Me Free" as part of the soundtrack for The Hulk. In June 2004, they released their first studio album, Contraband. A 19-month long tour ensued, as the album went double platinum and re-established Slash as a mainstream performer. After the tour concluded, he and his bandmates took a lengthy break before beginning work on their second album. In July 2007, Velvet Revolver released the critically acclaimed Libertad, a follow-up to their multi-platinum debut. Following their second studio album, Velvet Revolver also began a second tour. On March 20, 2008 Weiland announced to their audience that it would be Velvet Revolver's final tour. Matt Sorum posted a message on his website the next day discussing the band's situation and said, "You could tell who was unhappy last night" and "some people in this business don't realize how great of a life they have". Weiland shot back by telling Blabbermouth.net, "Well, first of all, the state of my family affairs is really none of his business, since he is too immature to have a real relationship, let alone children. So don't attempt to stand in a man's shoes when you haven't walked his path." On April 1, 2008 Weiland officially split from Velvet Revolver.
On May 31, 2006, Slash was joined by Rob Zombie on vocals, another former Guns N' Roses axeman Gilby Clarke on rhythm guitar, Scott Ian of Anthrax on bass, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee on drums, and surprise guest Ace Frehley of Kiss for a rendition of God of Thunder. The occasion was a one-time supergroup tribute to Kiss for the VH1 Rock Honors Award Show.
Cover for the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock with Slash in the middle and two other playable characters in the game, Judy Nails (left) and Lars Ümlaüt (right).
Slash is a playable character in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and his likeness appears on the game cover. Slash did motion capture with RedOctane to record his movements for the game. Beating Slash in a one-on-one competition (playing an original composition he recorded solely for the game), unlocks him as a playable character. Beating him in this challenge leads to the player and Slash playing the master track of "Welcome to the Jungle" as an encore song.
In 2007, Slash performed with Paulina Rubio on the hit Latin single "Nada Puede Cambiarme". On March 12, 2007. Slash and Velvet Revolver paid tribute to Van Halen by inducting the band into the Rock N' Roll hall of fame. The band also played two covers.
Slash appears on the cover of Guitar World for their July 2007 issue, the "20 year salute to Appetite for Destruction", entitled "The Cat In The Hat Is Back". It pictures Slash holding his guitar with a snake crawling up the neck.
Slash made numerous contributions to The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx, published September 18, 2007. He also played guitar with them at Crüe Fest.
An autobiography titled simply Slash was published on October 30, 2007. It was co-written with Anthony Bozza. Slash will also be appearing in the HBO book and Documentary The Black List Vol. 1, he can be seen in a portrait on the cover of the book. It was announced by Kerrang! Magazine that Slash was going to appear on Ace Frehley's next solo album.
Slash planned to record a solo album after the third Velvet Revolver album, but after the departure of singer Scott Weiland and time-consuming searches for a new singer for the band, he decided to record a solo album first. On September 30, 2008, he began recording demos for the upcoming album. Slash was quoted saying that the work alone in the studio on the solo album was "cathartic", and that he really enjoyed working alone in the studio. He also said he plans to bring a different singer for each song on the album, and that he has a list of guests to appear on the album, and most of them are already committed, though he refused to tell who are those guests. Rumored singers for the project include Lenny Kravitz, Sebastian Bach, Alice Cooper, Vince Neil, and past Guns N' Roses bandmates Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan.
According to Slash's wife during an interview with Rockerrazzi.com, both Ozzy Osbourne and Fergie will make appearances on Slash's upcoming solo album, saying, "It's going to be Slash and friends, with everyone from Ozzy [Osbourne] to Fergie." Other musicians set to appear on the release include Josh Freese, Chris Chaney, Travis Barker, M. Shadows and Jason Bonham. In 2009, he played the guitar parts on the film score of The Wrestler, composed by Clint Mansell.
On June 30, 2009, Slash performed his first solo show, at the Quart Festival in Norway. His band was comprised of Franky Perez (Scars On Broadway) on vocals, John 5 (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson) on guitar, Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction) on bass, Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner) on drums and Teddy Andreadis on keyboards. Special guests included Chris Cornell, Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie and Ron Wood. His touring band will be fronted by Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy, who provided vocals on Slash's song "Starlight" from his self-titled debut solo album.
Slash also plays guitar on Rihanna's 2009 album Rated R, on the track "Rockstar 101".
In 1990, a heavy metal video called "Hard N' Heavy" was released containing music, concert footage and interviews. The video included Slash and McKagan appearing with the band Great White at a "Children of the Night" Benefit concert in LA for abused homeless children, the performance helped raise money for housing to aid the underprivileged. He also performed at an anti-Iraq War festival in 2003.
Slash is married to Perla Ferrar, with whom he has two sons, London Emilio and Cash Anthony. The family lives in Los Angeles.
In 2007, Slash admitted to going to Rose's home with the intention to settle a long-standing legal dispute and make peace with his former band mate. Slash elaborated on the incident in his autobiography, claiming that what actually occurred was that he simply went to Rose's house while intoxicated and left a note asking Rose to contact him to settle a pending lawsuit. He also added that he had not actually spoken to Rose in person since leaving Guns N' Roses in 1996. Slash further stated that incident's publicity created a rift in Velvet Revolver; as his bandmates were unsure of what Slash had actually done and Slash had confronted Weiland over his scathing reply to Rose, feeling that Weiland did not have the "right" to criticize Rose, not actually knowing him. In March 2009, Slash responded to an interview in which Rose referred to him as "a cancer", saying that "it doesn't really affect me at all. The fact that he has anything to say at all it's like 'Whatever, dude.' "
Slash owns more than 100 guitars. The guitar he recorded Appetite For Destruction with was a hand made flame-top 1959 Les Paul replica with no pick guard and two Seymour Duncan pickups. His main live guitar is a 1987 Les Paul Standard with three piece top (Factory Second). It has a cracked neck in two places, but he has had it repaired and continues to use it. Most of Slash's electric guitars have Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups which are low output pickups.
One of Slash's favorite guitars is the aforementioned hand-made Gibson Les Paul Copy. He received it during the recording sessions for Guns N' Roses debut album, "Appetite for Destruction". When he couldn't get the right sound he was looking for, the band's manager found a 1959 Les Paul Standard copy. He has used that guitar on every album he has recorded with Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver. The guitar was also the basis of the instrument his doppelgänger used in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
On stage, he only uses Marshall amps. He used a rented vintage 1960s Marshall 1959 modified by Tim Caswell at SIR studios for the recording of Appetite for Destruction. Slash liked the amp so much he tried to keep it, telling the store that it had been stolen, but it was returned accidentally by a roadie. During the 1980s Slash was using a Marshall JCM 2555 Silver Jubilee Anniversary amplifier made in 1987. It featured EL34's power tubes and three ECC83 preamp tubes.
For the recording of Velvet Revolver's debut, he used a Vox AC30 and small Fender tube amps (for "oddball" sounds). For the recording of Velvet Revolver's second album, he used the new Marshall Vintage Modern 2466 amp.
The Gibson Guitar Corporation custom made two guitars for Slash in 1988. The first "Inspired" Slash Les Paul is a replica of one of the two guitars given to Slash by Gibson in 1988. The guitar is finished in a faded Heritage Cherry Sunburst, fitted with Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups and the neck is made to the exact specs of Slash's original Les Paul.
Slash Les Paul Standard is a recreation of Slash's favorite Les Paul and is made of solid mahogany and is finished with a Antique Vintage Sunburst. Just like the custom shop version the guitar is fitted with Seymor Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups and a neck modeled after Slash's original. The guitar will be made in a limited run of 1600 guitars.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop is made to be a more affordable version of the two Gibson versions while still being able to offer a high quality instrument. As the Gibson versions it is equipped with Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups which he says he decided to place in all his guitar models, and is finished in Dark Tobacco Burst.
In 2008, the Slash signature Les Paul "Gold Top" limited edition guitar became available. Epiphone's Les Paul model has a solid mahogany body with a gold top finish, and the standard long neck he came to request on all his guitars, preferring the closest similarity in the neck as his first Les Paul. Again, Seymour Duncan Alnico II pro humbuckers, a standard item on all his guitars. This version also featurs Epiphone's locktone stop tailpiece and tuneamatic bridge system, which Slash feels makes it an easier instrument to play, particularly for newer guitarists.
The BC Rich Handcrafted Mockingbird SL is an unofficial signature model of Slash's Mockingbird guitar. The SL features a maple neck through a mahogany body with a quilt maple top (Slash's Mockingbird does not have a quilt maple top), Grover Super Rotomatic tuners, ebony fingerboard with large diamond inlays, an Original Floyd Rose, Seymour Duncan Alnico II humbuckers, partial active electronics, and is finished in a transparent red.
Slash was the first musician to own a signature amplifier created by Marshall for him. In 1996 the Marshall Slash JCM 2555SL was launched, it was built with the specs of Slash's own original 1987 Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555 amplifier. A total of 3000 of these amplifiers were made before it was discontinued.
As of 2010, Slash is currently touring solo as "Slash" with his new "Live" line-up of bandmates; Miles Kennedy [lead vocals], Bobby Schneck [rythym guitar], Todd Kerns [bass guitar], and Brent Fitz [drums].