Saul Hudson (born July 23, 1965), better known by his stage name Slash, is a British-American musician and songwriter. He is best known as the former lead guitarist of the American hard rock band Guns N' Roses, with whom he achieved worldwide success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During his later years with Guns N' Roses, Slash formed the side project Slash's Snakepit. He then co-founded the supergroup Velvet Revolver, which re-established him as a mainstream performer in the mid to late 2000s. Slash has since released three solo albums, Slash (2010), featuring an all-star roster of guest musicians, Apocalyptic Love (2012) & World on Fire (2014) recorded with singer/guitarist Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, along with rhythm section Brent Fitz and Todd Kerns, known on the album as The Conspirators.
Slash has received critical acclaim as a guitarist. Time named him runner-up on their list of "The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players" in 2009, while Rolling Stone placed him at No. 65 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" in 2011. Guitar World ranked his solo in "November Rain" No. 6 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos" in 2008, and Total Guitar placed his riff in "Sweet Child o' Mine" at No. 1 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Riffs" in 2004. In 2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with other members of Guns N' Roses.
Saul Hudson was born in Hampstead, London. He was named after Saul Steinberg, an artist. His mother, Ola J. Hudson (born Oliver; 1946–2009), was an African-American costume designer, whose clients included David Bowie, and his father, Anthony Hudson, is an English artist who created album covers for musicians such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Contrary to several reports, Slash's mother was not Nigerian, nor is his father Jewish. Of his mixed background, Slash later remarked, "As a musician, I've always been amused that I'm both British and black; particularly because so many American musicians seem to aspire to be British while so many British musicians, in the sixties in particular, went to such great pains to be black."
During his early years, Slash was raised by his father and paternal grandparents in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire while his mother left the family shortly after Slash’s birth to pursue her career, a decision that caused great stress on those involved due to the fact that Anthony had never gotten on well with his father, even going as far as to come to blows over simple difference of opinion. Anthony made it a habit to take Slash on outings often while they lived in England. Despite the fact that Ola had obtained her profession around a year after leaving for L.A. and Anthony’s bitter attitude toward his upbringings, it wasn't until Slash was around five years old that he and his father finally joined his mother in Los Angeles, California. In between the period of Slash moving to L.A. and his parents' separation, Ola made several attempts to make up for lost time with her son by taking him on outings with her friends as well as to work with her where Slash met several film and music stars. His brother, Albion "Ash" Hudson, was born in 1972. The separation of Slash’s parents in 1974 due to several issues like constant separation, Anthony’s dislike of Ola’s mother aiding with the family and Anthony’s love of alcohol constantly making him insult others led to Slash becoming extremely troubled and a self-described "problem child,". When the separation occurred, Slash chose to live with Ola and he was often sent to live with his beloved maternal grandmother whenever his mother had to travel for her job. He was given the nickname "Slash" by family friend Seymour Cassel, because he was "always in a hurry, zipping around from one thing to another."
In 1979, Slash decided to form a band with his friend Steven Adler. The band never materialized, but it prompted Slash to take up an instrument. Since Adler had designated himself the role of guitarist, Slash decided to learn how to play bass. Equipped with a one-string flamenco guitar given to him by his grandmother, he began taking classes with Robert Wolin, a teacher at Fairfax Music School. During his first lesson, Slash decided to switch from bass to guitar after hearing Wolin play "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones. His decision to play guitar was further influenced by one of his school teachers, who would play songs by Cream and Led Zeppelin for his students. As a result, Slash stated, "When I heard him do that, I said, 'That's what I want to do.'" A champion BMX rider, Slash put the bike aside to devote himself to playing guitar, practicing up to twelve hours a day. In an article in Guitar Player magazine, Slash has stated that anyone familiar with his guitar playing 'can trace a direct line to Jimmy Page.'
1981–1985: Early years
Slash joined his first band, Tidus Sloan, in 1981. In 1983, he formed the band Road Crew—named for the Motörhead song "(We Are) The Road Crew"—with his childhood friend Steven Adler, who by then had learned to play drums. He placed an advertisement in a newspaper looking for a bassist, and received a response from Duff McKagan. They auditioned a number of singers, including one-time Black Flag vocalist Ron Reyes, and worked on material that included the main riff of what would become the Guns N' Roses song "Rocket Queen." Slash disbanded the group the following year due to them not being able to find a singer, as well as Adler's lack of work ethic compared to himself and McKagan. He, along with Adler, then joined a local band known as Hollywood Rose, which featured singer Axl Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin. Following his time with Hollywood Rose, Slash played in a band called Black Sheep and unsuccessfully auditioned for Poison, a glam metal band that he would later openly deride.
1985–1996: Guns N' Roses
In June 1985, Slash was asked by Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin to join the newly founded Guns N' Roses, along with Duff McKagan and Steven Adler; completing the line-up. They played nightclubs—such as the Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy, and The Troubadour—and opened for larger acts throughout 1985 and 1986. It was during this period that the band wrote most of its classic material, including "Welcome to the Jungle," "Sweet Child o' Mine,", and "Paradise City," As a result of their rowdy and rebellious behavior, Guns N' Roses quickly received the moniker "Most Dangerous Band in the World," causing Slash to remark, "For some strange reason, Guns N' Roses is like the catalyst for controversy, even before we had any kind of record deal." After being scouted by several major record labels, the band signed with Geffen Records in March 1986. Later that year, they began recording their debut album, but initially nothing was accomplished as Slash had developed a drug problem.
In July 1987, Guns N' Roses released its debut album, Appetite for Destruction, which as of September of 2008 has sold over 28 million copies worldwide, 18 million of which were sold in the United States, making it the best-selling debut album of all time in the U.S. In the summer of 1988, the band achieved its only U.S. No. 1 hit with "Sweet Child o' Mine," a song spearheaded by Slash's guitar riff and solo. In November of that year, Guns N' Roses released G N' R Lies, which sold over five million copies in the U.S. alone, despite containing only eight tracks, four of which were included on the previously released EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide. As their success grew, so did interpersonal tensions within the band. In 1989, during a show as opening act for the Rolling Stones, Axl Rose threatened to leave the band if certain members of the band didn't stop "dancing with Mr. Brownstone," a reference to their song of the same name about heroin use. Slash was among those who promised to clean up. However, the following year, Steven Adler was fired from the band because of his heroin addiction; he was replaced by Matt Sorum of The Cult.
In May 1991, the band embarked on the two-and-a-half-year-long Use Your Illusion Tour. The following September, Guns N' Roses released the long-awaited albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, which debuted at No. 2 and No. 1, respectively, on the U.S. chart, a feat not achieved by any other group. Izzy Stradlin abruptly left the band in November; he was replaced by Gilby Clarke of Candy and Kill for Thrills. Slash played his final show with Guns N' Roses on July 17, 1993. In November of that year, the band released "The Spaghetti Incident?", a cover album of mostly punk songs, which proved less successful than its predecessors. Slash then wrote several songs for what would have become the follow-up album to the Use Your Illusion twins. Axl Rose and Duff, however, rejected the material.
After three years of inactivity, Slash announced in October 1996 that he was no longer a part of Guns N' Roses. In his 2007 autobiography, Slash states that his decision to leave the band was not based, as widely believed, on artistic differences with Axl Rose, but on the following three reasons: the disrespect shown by Rose to their audiences and crew by causing the band to almost always take the stage late during the Use Your Illusion Tour; the legal manipulation that Rose forced on his band mates by demanding ownership of the band name and downgrading them contractually to hired hands; and the departures of Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin.
1994–2002: Slash's Snakepit
In 1994, Slash formed Slash's Snakepit, a side project that featured his Guns N' Roses band mates Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke on drums and rhythm guitar respectively, as well as Alice in Chains' Mike Inez on bass and Jellyfish's Eric Dover on vocals. The band recorded Slash's material originally intended for Guns N' Roses, resulting in the release of It's Five O'Clock Somewhere in February 1995. The album was critically praised for ignoring the then-popular conventions of alternative music, and fared well on the charts, eventually selling over one million copies in the US alone despite little promotion from Geffen Records. Slash's Snakepit toured in support of the album with bassist James LoMenzo and drummer Brian Tichy of Pride and Glory, before disbanding in 1996. Slash then toured for two years with the blues rock cover band Slash's Blues Ball.
In 1999, Slash chose to regroup Slash's Snakepit with Rod Jackson on vocals, Ryan Roxie on rhythm guitar, Johnny Griparic on bass, and Matt Laug on drums. Their second album, Ain't Life Grand, was released in October 2000 through Koch Records. It did not sell as well as the band's previous release, and its critical reception was mixed. To promote the album, the band—with Keri Kelli on rhythm guitar—embarked on an extensive world tour in support of AC/DC in the summer of 2000, followed by their own headlining theater tour. Slash disbanded Snakepit in 2002.
2002–2008: Velvet Revolver
In 2002, Slash reunited with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum for a Randy Castillo tribute concert. Realizing that they still had the chemistry of their days in Guns N' Roses, they decided to form a new band together. Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin was initially involved, but left after the others decided to find a lead singer. Dave Kushner, who had previously played with McKagan in Loaded, then joined the band on rhythm guitar. For many months, the four searched for a lead singer by listening to offered demo tapes, a monotonous process documented by VH1. Eventually, former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland joined the band.
In 2003, Velvet Revolver played several concerts during the summer and released their first single, "Set Me Free". In June 2004, they released their debut album, Contraband, which debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. chart and sold two million copies, re-establishing Slash as a mainstream performer. A year-and-a-half-long tour followed in support of the album. In July 2007, Velvet Revolver released their second album, Libertad, and embarked on a second tour. During a show in March 2008, Weiland announced to the audience that it would be the band's final tour; he left the band the following month to rejoin Stone Temple Pilots. Despite Weiland's departure, Velvet Revolver did not officially disband.
In early 2010, Velvet Revolver began writing new songs and auditioning new singers. By January 2011, the band had recorded nine demos, and was reportedly due to make a decision on their singer. However, the following April, Slash stated that they had been unable to find a suitable singer and that Velvet Revolver would remain on hiatus for the next few years while its members focus on other projects.
2008–present: Solo career
In September 2008, Slash began production on his debut solo album. He described the process of recording by himself as "cathartic." Slash's wife Perla revealed that many different artists would appear on the album, saying, "It's going to be Slash and friends, with everyone from Ozzy to Fergie." The album, simply titled Slash, debuted at No. 3 on the U.S. chart upon its release in April 2010. It featured an all-star roster of guest musicians, including Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold, Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell and Iggy Pop. 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, Bobby Schneck on rhythm guitar, Todd Kerns on bass, and Brent Fitz on drums.
Slash began working on his second solo album in June 2011. He collaborated with his touring band mates Myles Kennedy, Todd Kerns, and Brent Fitz, with the resulting album billed to "Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators". The album, titled Apocalyptic Love, was released on May 22, 2012. In the beginning of 2013 Slash received award for "Best Guitarist Of The Year 2012" by Loudwires readers.
Slash has embarked on a tour in summer 2014 with Aerosmith. His third solo studio album, World on Fire, also billed as "Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators" was released on September 10, 2014.
In 1991, Slash played lead guitar on the single "Give In To Me" off Michael Jackson's album Dangerous, as well as in the opening skit for the song "Black or White" off the same album. In 1995, he played guitar on "D.S.", a controversial song from Jackson's HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I album, and in 1997 appeared on the song "Morphine" off the remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix. In 2001, Slash played on "Privacy" off Jackson's final studio album, Invincible. Slash also played at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards with Jackson on "Black or White" (and the introduction of "Billie Jean")—he would rejoin Jackson during the 2001 Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special concerts for "Black or White" and "Beat It".
In 1991, Slash collaborated with Lenny Kravitz on "Always on the Run", the lead single from Kravitz' album Mama Said. In 1993, Slash appeared on the album Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, performing "I Don't Live Today" with Paul Rodgers and Band of Gypsys. Slash also guest appeared in Carole King's 1994 live concert, which was captured on her Carole King – In Concert album. Slash and King appeared on David Letterman to promote the concert. In 1996, he collaborated with Marta Sánchez to record the flamenco-inspired song "Obsession Confession" for the Curdled soundtrack. Later that year, he played with Alice Cooper at Sammy Hagar's club Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The show was released the following year as A Fistful of Alice. In 1997, Slash appeared alongside rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard on BLACKstreet's rock remix of their hit single "Fix"; he also appeared in the accompanying music video. Also in 1997, he played on the single "But You Said I'm Useless" by Japanese musician J. That same year, he contributed music to the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown; several compositions by Slash's Snakepit can be heard throughout the film. He also appeared on the Insane Clown Posse album The Great Milenko on the track Halls of Illusion.
In 2002, Slash played on the title track to Elán's album Street Child. In 2003, he participated in the Yardbirds' comeback record Birdland; he played lead guitar on the track "Over, Under, Sideways, Down." In 2006, Slash played on a cover of "In the Summertime" on keyboardist Derek Sherinian's solo album Blood of the Snake; he was also featured in the accompanying music video. In 2007, he appeared on Paulina Rubio's single "Nada Puede Cambiarme". In 2008, Slash played guitar on the film score of The Wrestler, composed by Clint Mansell. In 2009, he was featured on Rihanna's single "Rockstar 101" off her album Rated R. In 2011, he contributed the song "Kick It Up a Notch" to the Disney Channel animation Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension; he appeared in both live-action and animated form in the promotional music video.
A self-described "film buff", Slash has had small parts in several films and television series. In 1988, he appeared with his Guns N' Roses bandmates in the Dirty Harry film The Dead Pool, in which his character attends a musician's funeral and shoots a harpoon. He played radio DJ Hank in a 1994 episode of the horror anthology television series Tales from the Crypt. In 1999, he appeared as the host of the Miss America Bag Lady pageant in the widely panned film The Underground Comedy Movie. He has also appeared as himself in several projects, including Howard Stern's Private Parts in 1997, The Drew Carey Show in 1998, MADtv in 2005, and Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno in 2009. Slash voiced a recurring caricature of himself in Robert Evans' animated television series Kid Notorious, which aired in 2003 on Comedy Central. As in real life, Slash is Evans' close friend and next-door neighbor on the show. On May 5, 2009, he appeared as the guest mentor for the rock 'n' roll week of American Idol. In 2010, Slash formed Slasher Films, a horror film production company. Its first film, Nothing Left to Fear, was screened in select cities on October 4, 2013, before being released on DVD and Blu-ray the following Tuesday. Slash appeared on the October 26, 2014 episode of Talking Dead. He is reported to be a massive fan of horror movies.
Slash's autobiography, simply titled Slash, was published on October 30, 2007. It was co-written with Anthony Bozza. Slash also made several contributions to The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, the autobiography of Mötley Crüe bassist and back-up singer Nikki Sixx, which was also published in 2007.
Slash is a pinball enthusiast and collector. He has participated in the design process for the 1994 Data East Guns N' Roses pinball machine, and the 1998 Sega machine Viper Night Drivin'. Slash is a playable character in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, released in 2007. His performance was motion captured to record his movements for the game. Slash's character becomes playable after a player beats him in a one-on-one competition, which then leads to the player and Slash playing the master track of "Welcome to the Jungle".
A keen artist, Slash designed logos & artwork for several of his pre-Guns N' Roses bands (some of which can be seen reproduced in Marc Canter's book Reckless Road), as well as the famous circular GN'R logo. He is also credited as having provided some artwork for Aerosmith's 2012 album, Music From Another Dimension!, as it reproduces a picture of the band drawn by Slash when he was still a teenager. The picture can also be seen in the aforementioned book Reckless Road.
Slash is a fan of the Angry Birds series of video games, and created a hard rock version of the Angry Birds Space theme song. In addition, Slash has a Birds avatar shown in the game, released in March 2013.
On October 10, 1992, Slash married model-actress Renée Suran in Marina del Rey, California. They divorced in late 1997 after five years of marriage. Slash married Perla Ferrar on October 15, 2001 in Hawaii. They have two sons, London Emilio (born August 28, 2002) and Cash Anthony (born June 23, 2004). In August 2010, Slash filed for divorce from Ferrar, but the couple reconciled two months later. The family lives in Los Angeles, California.
In an article published by Us Weekly, Slash called himself a "proud dual citizen" of the United Kingdom and the United States. A British national since his London birth, he has resided in Los Angeles since 1971 but did not acquire American citizenship until 1996. He said in an interview for The Telegraph in 2010 'I do consider myself British. I have very strong feelings about my British heritage. My first years were there, I went to school there, and I have seemingly endless family on that side of the pond. So I’ve always felt most comfortable in England.’
In 2001, at the age of 35, Slash was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a form of congestive heart failure caused by his many years of alcohol and drug abuse. Originally given between six days and six weeks to live, he survived through physical therapy and the implantation of a defibrillator. Slash has been clean and sober since 2005, which he credits to his wife Perla. In 2009, following his mother's death from lung cancer, he quit smoking.
Slash has received recognition for his longtime contributions to establishing environmental welfare programs. He is a board trustee of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and has long supported the Los Angeles Zoo and zoos around the world. Slash's love of reptiles was for many years a notable aspect of his public persona—with several of his many snakes appearing with him in music videos and photoshoots—until the birth of his first son in 2002 forced him to rehome his collection.
Slash's former friendship with Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose has soured since his departure from the band. In 2006, Rose claimed that Slash had shown up at his house uninvited the previous year to offer a truce. He alleged that Slash had insulted his Velvet Revolver band mates, telling Rose that he considered Scott Weiland "a fraud" and Duff McKagan "spineless", and that he "hated" Matt Sorum. Slash denied the accusations. In his 2007 autobiography he admitted to visiting Rose's home with the intention to settle a longstanding legal dispute and make peace with his former band mate. He claims, however, that he did not speak with Rose and instead merely left a note. Slash maintains that he has not spoken with Rose in person since 1996. In 2009, in response to a statement by Rose in which he referred to Slash as "a cancer", Slash commented: "It doesn't really affect me at all... It's been a long time. The fact that he has anything to say at all, it's like, 'Whatever, dude.' It doesn't really matter."
Slash is an honorary board member of Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit that works to restore and revitalize music education programs in disadvantaged public schools. He has visited Little Kids Rock students, jammed with them and donated instruments and his time. Slash's passion for music is evident in his charity as well as his art. "Being a musician is something that is good for the character because it teaches you a lot about discipline," Slash said. "I think it's a really great creative outlet."
Guitars and amplifiers
Slash owns more than 100 guitars. He prefers the Gibson Les Paul, which he has called "the best all-around guitar for me." Gibson has credited him and Zakk Wylde with bringing the Les Paul back into the mainstream in the late 1980s. His main studio guitar is a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard replica, built by luthier Kris Derrig, which he came to own during the recording sessions for Guns N' Roses' debut album, Appetite for Destruction. He used that guitar on every subsequent album he recorded with Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver. For many years, his main live guitar was a 1988 Gibson Les Paul Standard.
Since 1997, Slash has collaborated with Gibson on thirteen signature Les Paul models—five through Gibson USA; four through the Gibson Custom Shop; and four through the Gibson subsidiary Epiphone. He has also collaborated on signature equipment with other companies. In 1996, Marshall introduced the Marshall Slash Signature JCM 2555, an authentic reissue of the Marshall "Silver Jubilee" JCM 2555 released in 1987. It was the first signature amp ever produced by Marshall, with production limited to 3000. In 2007, Jim Dunlop introduced the Crybaby SW-95 Slash Signature Wah, designed after Slash's own custom-built Crybaby wah pedal. In 2010, Seymour Duncan introduced the Alnico II Pro Slash APH-2 pickups, which were designed to recreate the tone of Slash's main studio guitar. Also in 2010, Marshall introduced the Marshall AFD100, a recreation of the Marshall 1959 that Slash used for the recording of Appetite for Destruction, with production limited to 2300.
On stage, Slash prefers Marshall amplifiers, particularly the Marshall "Silver Jubilee" JCM 2555 amp. He used a rented early-1970s Marshall 1959 for the recording of Appetite for Destruction. Slash enjoyed the amp so much that he tried to keep it, telling the rental company, S.I.R., that it had been stolen. However, the amp was repossessed by S.I.R. employees after a roadie accidentally brought it to rehearsals at the store. For the recording of Velvet Revolver's debut album, Contraband, he used a Vox AC30 amp and small Fender tube amps, and on their second album, Libertad, he used the Marshall "Vintage Modern" 2466 amp. On his eponymous debut solo album he used a Marshall JCM 800, issued as "#34", and later, on the subsequent world tour, Slash used his signature Marshall AFD100 amp.
Guitar rig and signal flow
Detailed gear diagrams of Slash's 2003, 2007 and 2011 guitar rigs are well-documented.