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Both of Slash’s parents were involved in the music industry. His mother was African American and designed costumes for David Bowie and other artists. His father was an English artist who designed album covers for singers like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Slash was originally born Saul Hudson in England but moved to Los Angeles to live with his mother when he was 5.
Slash’s nickname was given to him by a childhood friend who thought he was always in a hurry, running around from one thing to the next. He started playing guitar after watching a music teacher play “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones. As a teenager, Slash was a champion BMX rider, but he decided to give up sports for music. From then on, Slash practised guitar for up to 12 hours a day, every day.
In the early ’80s, Slash joined a band called Hollywood Rose which already featured future Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin. Slash also auditioned to be in the glam metal band Poison, but he didn’t make the cut. In 1985 and 1986, Hollywood Rose filled out its lineup with Duff MacKagan on bass and Steven Adler on drums and gained notoriety by opening up for bigger bands at several L.A. venues such as Whisky A Go-Go and The Troubadour.
In 1991, Slash contributed guitar parts to two songs on Michael Jackson’s highly successful album Dangerous. Slash played lead guitar on the single “Give in to Me,” as well as the guitar riff in the intro to Jackson’s infamous tune “Black Or White.”
Slash is a self-described film geek. He’s appeared in several movies and TV shows over the years, including the 1988 Dirty Harry film The Dead Pool, the 1994 horror anthology Tales From The Crypt, and the 1997 Howard Stern flick Private Parts. He’s also appeared in The Drew Carey Show, MadTV, and Kid Notorious.
Slash is an animal lover and has been recognized for his contributions to the welfare of animals around the world. He’s a board trustee for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and is a long-time supporter of the Los Angeles Zoo and other zoos all over the globe. Slash especially loves reptiles and used to have a large collection of them that have appeared in various videos and stage shows over the years. The guitarist relocated his collection after his son was born in 2002.
Slash claims he hasn’t spoken to former band mate and current Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose in person since 1996, despite the fact that Rose has repeatedly slammed Slash in the press over the years. In April 2012, Slash told Rolling Stone that Rose “hates his guts” and that their dispute is “over a lot of different stuff.” Slash added that an original Guns ‘N Roses reunion would be unlikely as there is no communication between the two rockers.
After the departure of Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland in 2008, Slash and some of his old Guns ‘N Roses band mates auditioned Slipknot/Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor for their band Velvet Revolver, but the rehearsal didn’t pan out. Slash believes it was his fault, saying that Taylor was “obviously a f–king awesome frontman and a great singer” but that his own intuition was that it wouldn’t work out. Slash elaborated by saying, “it’s just a different style than what I had in mind for Velvet” and that “I was the odd man out there.”
Slash has had a defibrillator implanted since age 35. Years of drug and alcohol abuse had given him congestive heart failure, and he was given between six days and six weeks to live in 2001. Slash survived through physical therapy and the implantation of the device.
Early on in Slash’s career, he was on the lookout for a cool hat to complete his stage wardrobe. One day in 1985, he was wandering about Melrose Boulevard in Los Angeles when a black felt top hat in the window of a store called Retail Slut caught his eye. Slash went inside and bought it, then spotted a Native American-style silver concho belt in a vintage shop next door, called Leathers & Treasures, The guitarist got the concert belt, cut it up and put it around the hat. He wore it that night for the first time at Hollywood Rose’s Whisky a Go Go gig and the headgear went on to become Slash’s trademark.