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Music / Tune Tales
From lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses to international touring guitarist in his own right, and everything in between, there aren't many musicians like Slash. We're taking a look at his evolution.
As the top-hat-wearing lead guitarist for Guns N’Roses, Slash’s Snakepit, and Velvet Revolver, Slash has become one of the most recognisable musicians in the world. Before he heads to Spark Arena in January we’ve decided to take a trip through his career.
Technically, we’re counting this one as the beginning of Slash’s evolution, seeing as the song’s roots pre-date Guns N’ Roses’ existence. In 1983, Slash, alongside childhood friend Steven Adler and Duff McKagan formed a band called Road Crew. While the band was short-lived and didn’t go anywhere, they did write the main riff of Rocket Queen together. Following Road Crew, Slash joined Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin in Hollywood Rose, before playing in a band called Black Sheep and unsuccessfully auditioning for glam-metal band Poison.
It’s pretty hard to single out just one track from the early days of Gun N’ Roses, but since Sweet Child O’ Mine‘s success is largely spearheaded by Slash’s guitar riff and solo we picked this one. In June 1985, Slash –alongside McKagan and Adler – joined Rose and Stradlin in a band they’d recently formed called Guns N’ Roses. They played LA nightclubs like Whisky a Go Go and The Roxy, as well as opening for bigger bands throughout 1985 and 1986. It was during these days that Slash shoplifted his signature top hat. It was also during these years that the band wrote most of their classic hits like Welcome To The Jungle, Sweet Child O’Mine, and Paradise City. They went on to release their huge debut album Appetite for Destruction in July 1987.
Slash went on to make three more albums with Guns N’ Roses – G N’ R Lies (1988), Use Your Illusion I (1991)and Use Your Illusion II (1991). While G N’ R Lies is a largely forgettable step in Guns N’Roses career, the latter two represented a sonic change for the band, slightly moving away from the aggressive hard-rock sound of their debut to incorporate elements of other genres like blues and classical music. Double Talkin’ Jive – from part I – features Slash performing a huge, extended flamenco-style guitar solo, with live performances stretching from it’s original three-minutes to more than eight minutes long. Slash played his final show with Guns N’ Roses when the Use Your Illusion tour ended in 1993. After the band failed to collaborate, Slash officially announced his departure in 1996.
In 1994, before officially announcing his departure from GNR, Slash formed a side project called Slash’s Snakepit. Featuring GNR bandmates Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke, as well as Alice In Chains’ Mike Inez and Jellyfish’s Eric Dover, together they recorded the material Slash had originally created for GNR. In February 1995 they release It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, earning critical praise, before disbanding in 1996. Slash then toured for two years with blues cover band Slash’s Blue Balls before resurrecting Slash’s Snakepit in 1999 with a whole new lineup. Their album Ain’t Life Grand didn’t do as well as the debut, but they did tour the world in support of AC/DC before again disbanding in 2002.
In 2002, a Randy Castillo tribute concert inspired Slash to reunite with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. After finally locking down a lineup, Velvet Revolver released their first single, Set Me Free in 2003, with their first album Contraband released in 2004. It debuted at #1 on the US charts and re-established Slash as a mainstream performer. They released their second album, Libertad, in 2007 before firing their vocalist Scott Weiland in 2008. In early 2010, Velvet Revolver began writing new songs, but in 2011 when they couldn’t find a suitable vocalist, the band was put on hiatus.
In 2008, Slash began working on his debut solo album. Featuring an all-star roster including Fergie from The Black-Eyed Peas, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Ozzy Osbourne, and Dave Grohl as well as musical collaborations with former Guns N’ Roses members Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler and Duff McKagan. 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.
From here, a new chapter in the Slash story began. When Slash started working on his second solo album in 2011, he collaborated with touring bandmates Myles Kennedy, Todd Kerns, and Brent Fitz, with that album – Apocalyptic Love (2012) – credited to “Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators”. 2014’s World On Fire followed, with their most recent album Living The Dream continuing their winning streak.
With rumours of his return flying towards the end of 2015, Slash performed again with Guns N’ Roses for the first time in 23 years when they took to the stage in Los Angeles in 2016. While no new music has eventuated, the band are still touring regularly.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators will take over Spark Arena, Auckland on Saturday 26 January. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.co.nz