LICKS, RIFFS, GUITAR HERO & GUNS N’ ROSES: Slash

Gunners’ erstwhile axe maestro at the Guitar Center
Sessions Sept. 3.

By JOSE MARTINEZ

 

 

Billed as an evening of
dialogue and insight with guitar hero Slash of Guns N’ Roses fame, I’m not sure
how much insight could be bestowed on a crowd standing for hours on an asphalt
parking lot as cheers from “We want Slash!” soon transformed to “We want weed!”

 

 

For reasons unknown, the
folks at Guitar Center
opted for this “intimate” session with Slash to be housed at their Northridge
store in the San Fernando Valley. You’d think
the Sunset Strip location would have been ideal. After all, GNR was the
quintessential Sunset Strip band that took the world by storm nearly 20 years
ago. But after making the trek down the dreaded 405 Freeway to Northridge,
which does a have a pretty big parking lot aptly accommodated the over 1,000
fans that showed up, everyone waited for nearly two hours past start time for
Slash to finally make his appearance. Clearly Axl wasn’t the only member of GNR
that ran on his own time schedule.

 

 

Seated on two thrones, the
interview session with Slash was hosted by Brad Tolinski, Editor of Guitar World. Describing Slash as an
“icon,” Tolinksi said Slash is the “living embodiment of a guitar hero.”

 

 

Just as aspiring guitarists
and wannabe rock stars always had to learn to play “Stairway to Heaven” and
“Smoke On the Water,” Tolinski proclaimed learning to play the opening of
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was ” not an option, it’s a requirement!”

 

 

Dressed in leather pants
with his famous top hat on, a chain smoking Slash finally made his way onstage
much to the delight of the ravenous fans who had been waiting for hours. Explaining
he and his guitar were “inseparable” growing up, Slash, born Saul Hudson, explained
his early influences, at age 13, were Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, as well as the
likes of Led Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, and Ted Nugent.

 

 

Eventually developing his
own blues-inspired style, Slash noted he is attracted to “sexy” and “fucking”
music, much to the glee of his fans which included many people too young to
have witnessed GNR back in the day. “It’s an enigma,” Slash noted about the
band’s fame, “it’s bigger [now] than it was back in the day.”

 

 

The cover boy for Guitar Hero 3 game, Slash admits he was unaware of the impact it would have.
“My audiences has definitely widened. Guitar Hero has turned a lot of young
people into rock & roll.”

 

 

Currently working on a solo
record while trying to find a new vocalist for Velvet Revolver, Slash, who confessed
he’s “sick of putting bands together,” described the origins of signature riffs
of his from rock staples like “Welcome to the Jungle” (“that was the 5
[original Gunners] taking an idea and making it our own”), “Sweet Child O ‘Mine”
(“I accidentally stumbled on that riff”), “November Rain” and “Slither.”

 

 

A former guitar store
employee himself, Slash relished the obligatory tech talk and even showed off
his brand new Gibson signature guitar line. Explaining that he loves technology
(“I embrace it,” Slash declared), the guitarist, who recently said he hopes the
person arrested for leaking Axl Rose’s Chinese
Democracy
on the Internet “rots in jail,” may not be a fan of all types of
modern advances.

 

 

Finally giving into fan
pressure, a timid Slash picked up his trusty Les Paul and strummed a few lines
of “The Godfather” or “Godslobber” as it used to be called when GNR played it.
“I don’t know what to play,” Slash said with a grin. But he delighted everyone
when he unleashed the intro to “Welcome to the Jungle,” followed by snippets of
“November Rain” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

 

 

Slash was then joined
onstage by good friend Marc Canter, co-author of Reckless Road,
a photo-driven book that chronicles GNR’s first 50 gigs. “It’s the best rock
& roll book I have ever seen,” Slash noted.

 

 

After the discussion
session, which Guitar
Center likes to say is
all about “education, conversation and inspiration,” Slash and Canter signed
copies of Reckless Road. A true guitar hero, Slash is part comic book character and part
just plain bad ass. Having recorded with heavyweights like Ray Charles, Bob
Dylan, and Michael Jackson, Slash, hardly the world’s most proficient
guitarist, never disappoints and is always a fan favorite.

 

 

 

Jose Martinez is an LA-based journalist and a
frequent contributor to Blurt-Online. His latest book,
Edgar Hernandez: POW – An American Hero, will be in stores this month.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Jose
Martinez]

 

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