Player Spotlight – SLASH
The Guitar Hero of Guitar Heroes 🎩
Rock ‘n’ roll royalty is a status that’s given and not taken; to have such an unspoken position in a world dominated by iconic figures is some achievement.
The focus of this instalment is one of the most recognisable guitar players in the world, everybody who’s anybody has seen his iconic image at some stage or another, he’s embedded into modern society as the pinnacle Guitar Hero.
Born in England but formulated in L.A. here’s the journey of a living legend and a phenomenal player, ladies & gentlemen please tip your hats for Mr Saul Hudson aka. “Slash” 🐍
“The guitar is basically a vehicle to be able to express feelings of anxiety, feelings of anger, feelings of passion, feelings of love, feelings of excitement, feelings of violence, feelings of sex… all of these kinds of emotions are, for me, very well expressed through the guitar.”
– Slash – Unspoken Expression. – ernieball.com
Jet Setting Rock ‘n’ Roll Youth
Saul Hudson was born on 23rd July 1965 in Hampstead, London but was raised in Stoke-on-Trent, England, to artistic parents both involved in the entertainment industry. His mother was a clothing designer who worked on David Bowie’s film The Man Who Fell to Earth, and his father designed album art for such artists as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
You could say he was born into the industry and rock ‘n’ roll was in embedded into his formative years.
At age 11 Saul moved to Los Angeles with his mother while his father remained based in England. Born in the UK, Saul was an immigrant in the United States and was to remain one for many years. The family eventually lived together again in L.A. where Saul had a rough transition to conservative Southern California. The long hair, jeans and t-shirts that he wore even then didn’t exactly fit with the other kids. An outsider at school, he lived a bohemian life at home. Surrounded by artistic friends of his parents, Saul grew accustomed to the moods and eccentricities of those in the music world. Frequent visitors at the Hudson household included Joni Mitchell, David Geffen, David Bowie, Ron Wood and Iggy Pop. Saul has said that these surroundings prepared him for coping with the stress of the music industry, the conflict between artistry and business.
As we’ve discovered many times in the past with such iconic guitarists the guitar wasn’t always in the picture, for those of us not aware Saul Hudson was an extremely late starter to the world of Guitar in hindsight.
His initial passion was actually BMX riding, he joined the scene and began to ride with lots of others and quickly developed a serious skill and daredevil approach.
He actually turned professional at the sport and began to get awards and some level of financial rewards. 🚲 .
At this stage he was skipping school and missing classes and he became that child that liked to disappear from the realities and restrictions of conformed school life.
In regards to the want to be in education, funnily enough actually, took a turn for the worst when Saul received his first guitar at 14-15 years old, a gift from his grandmother.
All of a sudden it seemed something clicked and made sense, like a point in time when destiny strikes and something is presented to somebody that was the missing link in the creative make up.
Early musical influences were Led Zep, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith,Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Neil Young. He credits the Aerosmith album ROCKS as a pinnacle life changing moment.
The connection was made and Saul found a new level of drive and devotion to the guitar, locked away practising 12-hours a day absorbing everything the guitar had to offer and music had to give.
When it came to finally getting his hands on a guitar, Slash’s first experience was with the “one-string wonder” – an old Spanish guitar with a single string that his grandmother gave him. “That was my first discovery of being able to put fingers in different places and come up with something that you actually recognised,” he recalls.
The most significant moment, however, was when he got himself an electric guitar with a full complement of strings. “When I got a real guitar, I started working out chords with those top three strings,” he recalls. “I think the most memorable moment was when I was able to do a real blues thing – that was all, but it was an overwhelming parting of the sky!”
Josh Gardner – guitar.com
The BMX was soon put aside and more school and classes were missed, Saul would just disappear and converge with the guitar like a missing piece of the puzzle.
The following video by the legendary guys at Ernie Ball an incredible glimpse into his first gig …
Saul was soon to be known by another name… How did this come about? It’s speculated that he was given the nickname “Slash” by actor Seymour Cassel because he was always in a hurry, zipping around from one thing to another.
That first performance is always one to remember, having only been playing for few years Slash made his mark.
His fearless drive to get out there and perform has never changed. Suddenly Slash had found a different path and all of a sudden he felt like a cool kid in town. 😎
Speaking of his first outing as a guitarist made him quite the attraction. 🤘
Image Credit – Ernieball.com
Slash, now hungry for music, guitar playing, and drawn to venues, began to seek out other musicians to hook up with.
The scene was incredible in L.A at this time with such a great buzz and so much going on in regards to music, art, expression, and creative opportunity.
Networking as it was back then Slash met up with fellow musician Steven Adler a drummer then formed an outfit called Road Crew, although this venture didn’t gain momentum it led to the meeting of the minds.
Slash and Adler soon crossed paths with a young Axel Rose.
Guns N Roses 🌹
“You know where you are? You’re in the jungle baby. You’re gonna DIE!!!!”
― Guns N’ Roses – Welcome-to-the-jungle
“Slash was a pure product of the eighties, to the point that he even auditioned for the kings of glam, Poison. But he managed a beautiful metamorphosis by joining Hollywood Rose, the group that would become Guns N’ Roses. He and singer Axl Rose reinvented themselves as bad boys, junky dandies, and post-glam rockers, breathing new life into the model of the dangerous duo of a singer and his lead guitarist, based on the model of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. With rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, Slash created a guitar sound that became the soundtrack of the late 1980s with the huge album Appetite For Destruction (1987), on which there are as many unforgettable riffs as there are tracks; Welcome To The Jungle, Nightrain, Mr Brownstone, and many more. The next album, Use Your Illusion (1991), confirmed the band’s status as a global colossus, embarking on a two-year non-stop tour. Slash was at the height of his fame, and all the teenagers of the time wanted a Les Paul to learn how to play the intro to Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
GnR became one of the biggest and most successful bands in history. The sheer excess was the driving force and the selling point behind the band or a combination of many things that have come before and after them.
Slash had found his sound and his band and had quickly transcended into a guitar God!
Image courtesy of – https://www.guitarnoise.com
“Guns n’ Roses spent 1985 and 1986 writing songs and making a name for themselves around the L.A. bar scene. In 1987 they released their first album Appetite for Destruction. The album would become the best selling debut album as well as the fastest selling album of all time. To this date it has sold over 28 million copies. This album is a virtual greatest hits of 1980s hard rock staples like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and that staple of guitar store noodlers everywhere, “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”
Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Slash, Steven Adler and Duff McKagan at L.A.’s Stardust Ballroom in 1985. Photo credit: Jack Lue/Getty Images
The Les Paul & The Marshall
As an icon Slash became synonymous with his signature and his signature set up. He single-handedly bought Classic Guitars back in fashion with a vengeance, wielding a Les Paul and surrounded by Marshall stacks.
This was the quintessential image of a modern rock ‘n’ roll guitar hero. His image is now in embedded into musical history and modern day society, Slash is what we think of as soon as we think of the term Guitar Hero.
For such a late starter to the instrument he is an incredible player. His tone is second to none and one of the most desirable parts of his playing is his expression and freedom.
To this day Slash still coverts the guitar and talks openly about his extended passion for it and lifelong relationship.
“Guitar for me definitely is sort of a comfort zone… it becomes sort of an extension of what I’m all about, that I feel more secure with it. You know if not in my lap or hanging off my shoulders, at least having it in the room.”
Slash – Unspoken Expression. – ernieball.com
Slash has become an ambassador of the Gibson Les Paul and has been synonymous with the guitar from the early days. He has worked closely with Gibson on many signature models and limited runs.
“Without Slash, it is likely that the Les Paul would be nothing more than a relic of the past that would only interest hard-core Clapton fans. Yet, with the sheer force of his legendary riffs and the wet, seductive sound he gets out of his Les Paul, this ultimate guitar hero brought the sunburst back into fashion and even made it his trademark, just like his top hat and long curly hair.”
💪 Slinky Slash 🐍
“My go-to guitar writing is just a non-amplified Les Paul, because I don’t like anyone to hear what I’m working on – I’m very self-conscious that way!” he explains. “The electric guitar played acoustic is great if you don’t want people to pay attention to what you’re working on. I haven’t really grown out of that. I’m still a very self-conscious and insecure guitar player!”
Slash for Josh Gardner – guitar.com
A long-term association with the industry giants Ernie Ball, Slash has pretty much put his faith in the hands of Ernie Ball from day ☝️ .
“I’ve never used anything but Ernie Balls”
Slash talks in great detail about his love and trust in Ernie Ball and how the string has to be right as it’s the first point of attack, it’s what you hear before the pick up.
Slash’s aggressive and heavy handed style means he’s prone to string breakages so when Ernie Ball introduced the Paradigm technology it was a true step up and has revolutionised his playing experience to some degree.
“To this date, I haven’t broken a PARADIGM string yet. They hold up.” Slash and his longtime guitar tech, Adam Day, recently sat down with us to talk about how Ernie Ball PARADIGM strings have impacted his history of breaking guitar strings without affecting his feel and signature tone.
Ernie Ball PARADIGM guitar strings are the latest innovation from the world’s premiere maker of guitar strings since 1962. PARADIGM delivers superior strength, unparalleled durability and the legendary Ernie Ball tone we’re known for, guaranteed.
This career spanning dedication to one brand has been an incredible relationship with both artist and product, it’s more than an endorsement and almost like Slash assists the brand in moving forward in different ways through the eyes of the artist.
The process of experimentation with new found products and technology pretty much get artist approved by Slash 🐍 .
To further cement this inseparable bond and he will have now produced one of the most incredible limited edition Signature series of Strings we have ever seen here at Strings Direct. CLICK HERE TO GET A SET (While stocks last)
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