When examining the life and career of the notorious musician, Saul Hudson, better known, of course, as the Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist, Slash, one uncovers a great many gems. For example, the UK-born musician was high school classmates with the handsome rocker, Lenny Kravitz. Slash’s parents were also well-respected celebrity artists. His mother, Ola, was a costume designer for artists like David Bowie and Janis Joplin and his father, Anthony, created album covers for musicians like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. In fact, says Slash, seeing Mitchell strumming the guitar in the studio at an early age is one of his fondest memories.
“I always liked Joni Mitchell when I was a kid,” Slash says. “I was around her a lot. I remember going to a couple Joni sessions at A&M Studios in L.A. and I was very intrigued by that whole environment. It was her and her acoustic guitar. She was just sitting in the studio by herself, singing and playing. It was really beautiful. Just to watch somebody basically produce those sounds so perfectly in the studio by themselves is impressive. I didn’t know that much about the technicality of it all but to watch that raw, human talent was very impressive.”
Growing up, because of his parents’ professions, Slash was around a swath of famous faces. Another he recalls is the soulful singer, Linda Ronstadt. He remembers his mother creating clothes for the 70s vocalist and Slash remembers seeing Ronstadt perform at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, awed by the spectacle. Now, though, Slash is often the biggest star in the room or on the stage wherever he goes. And to prove that, the Hall of Fame artist recently announced a collaboration with Gibson Guitars, which is also the company’s first permanent collaboration with an artist.
“I’ve been a Gibson guitarist, I’ve been using primarily Gibson instruments for the better part of my career,” says Slash. “It’s always nice to be involved with them, ever since the early 90s when I really first started to develop a professional relationship with the company, itself.”
Slash, ever since his days with the multi-platinum-selling Guns N’ Roses, is widely considered one of the world’s greatest electric guitar players. He has helped make the flame-burst Gibson Les Paul a household name. And his new “Slash Collection,” which includes multiple acoustic and electric guitars, is part a new invigorated direction for the company, the Guns N’ Roses member explains. In 2018, the historic guitar brand filed for bankruptcy. Later, to provide new stewardship, Gibson appointed James Curleigh the new president and CEO.
“It feels inspired at the moment,” Slash says of the guitar company. “There was a little bit of a wandering aimlessly there for a minute. But now it’s back on point and that’s exciting to be a part of.”
Throughout his life, art – and especially music – has been a constant for Slash. He says he was “born into a pretty healthy diet of music” and, as a kid, he was particularly intrigued by music venues. At the concerts he attended, Slash would watch the crew set up the gear before the bands even took the stage. Slash, of course, always loved the guitar, too, especially the electric. It excited him. But it “didn’t occur” to him, he says, to pick one up for himself until 15-years-old. And despite his famous career that’s included playing in front of tens of thousands of people many nights in a row, Slash jokes that he’s still yet to impress himself on the instrument.
“I’m still working on that,” he laughs.
Maybe it’s because he grew up in the world of celebrity, expression, art and glamour that Slash doesn’t romanticize his myriad accomplishments. In fact, when asked if there is a particular moment in his vast and tumultuous career that he’d like photographed and hung from his wall, Slash says, “No, I’m not that kind of person.” Indeed, one gets the sense that Slash’s eyes are either on his six-string or staring straight ahead at the future’s horizon. Nevertheless, music remains a mainstay in Slash’s life – even if he’s yet to impress himself while doing it.
“I suppose that that moment might come,” Slash chuckles. “But it’s not really what I would consider my focus. I just love to play music. I love playing guitar, I love writing and I love playing live more than anything. It’s just what I love to do and I’m really fortunate and lucky that I was able to do it.”