3 Guitarists Who Influenced Slash

Slash’s new solo album “Orgy of the Damned,” released May 17 through Gibson Records, is a collection of blues standards featuring guest appearances from Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes, Gary Clark Jr., Chris Stapleton, and Demi Lovato, among others.

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Slash covers blues standards like “Crossroads,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” and “Killing Floor,” songs that shaped the bands that influenced him.

Saul Hudson was born in London, England, on July 23, 1965. As a child, he moved to Los Angeles and later discovered rock and roll as a teenager. He’d often accompany his mother Ola, a fashion designer and costumier, to work. On one occasion, the actor Seymour Cassel called him “Slash” because Hudson’s son was always “zipping around.”

Of course, the man under the top hat long ago reached legendary status, and hopeful shredders for decades have become obsessed with his slithering licks. Here’s a look at three guitarists who influenced Slash.

Jimmy Page

Slash said his parents had the “best rock and roll record collection of anybody I ever met.” He discovered Led Zeppelin II as a kid, and it struck him even further as he learned to play the guitar.

The album opens with an iconic Jimmy Page riff, “Whole Lotta Love,” and Slash has said he still plays along to the album. Meanwhile, Led Zeppelin’s acoustic sound from “Ramble On” echoes in Guns N’ Roses’ “Patience.”

However, “Heartbreaker” may be the catalyst for Slash’s sound. Page told Guitar World that “Heartbreaker” features his first recording using a Gibson Les Paul and a Marshall “stack” amplifier, which sonically define both Page and Slash. Midway through the song, John Paul Jones and John Bonham stop playing, and Page erupts into a frantic standalone guitar solo. Page recorded the guitar break at a separate studio location from the rest of the track, noticeable in a slight change in the guitar’s pitch. Page’s guitar solo is a precursor to another of Slash’s idols, Eddie Van Halen, and his groundbreaking work “Eruption.”

Joe Perry

You can hear Joe Perry’s influence on Appetite for Destruction. In fact, Aerosmith’s imprint is all over Guns N’ Roses’ debut, including Axl Rose’s Steven Tyler impression: Cha-na-na-na-na-na-na, knees, knees on “Welcome to the Jungle.”

Aerosmith’s Rocks reached Slash when he was 14. The guitarist said the album’s “bluesy swagger” and attitude spoke to him. Listen to “Back in the Saddle,” and you’ll hear the framework for the brashness of Appetite for Destruction.

Slash discovered the album at a girlfriend’s house, though when he heard it he was so enthralled he blew off the date. He said Rocks “set me off on a path of picking up the guitar.” The attitude Slash described as “sleazy, raunchy, f–k you” was something his own band perfected.

Pete Townshend

The songwriting on Who’s Next impacted Slash before he picked up an instrument. While many guitarists from the era focused on flashy guitar solos, Slash set himself apart with his rhythm playing and songwriting—both hallmarks of Pete Townshend.

Even within Slash’s marathon guitar solos, there are strong compositional threads—unforgettable solos within unforgettable songs. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is brilliantly thought out, and the opening riff became as recognizable as anything written by Page, Perry, or Townshend. Townshend is famous for his rock operas, and his instinct toward detailed arrangement is evident in how Slash structures his music.

The Hall of Fame guitarist called Who’s Next “one of the best rock records ever.” Again, it’s another album he discovered through his parents. While most teenagers rebel against their parents’ music, it’s a different story when the grown-ups spin Led Zeppelin and The Who around the house.

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Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella

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