During a 1992 Guns N’ Roses concert in Argentina, Saul Hudson, better known as Slash, gyrates his head back and forth during a guitar solo like he’s keeping time with a metronome. Trademark top hat atop that mop of curly hair, no eyes are visible, only plump lips. His abstention from regarding his rapt audience oddly complements the narcissistic stage presence of bandmate Axl Rose. At one point during the guitar solo, Axl scampers up behind Slash and dislodges his hat, punking the enigmatic guitarist in front of the audience. Slash continues playing, unfazed, keeping time. Axl returns the hat to its rightful place, tapping it gingerly. Meanwhile, Slash’s unruly hair has completely covered his face. He continues to play. It’s as if Cousin Itt of The Addams Family is playing guitar, and it’s a wonder he can see the frets. Yet his fingers flit between chords, the guitar singing as he plays with time signatures in a definitive nod to blues legend B.B. King.
Slash is understated, but his solos take center stage. In his biography,Slash, he said “It’s always been a paradox with me; I stood out but I didn’t crave or court obvious attention.” Just as many fans don’t know what his face actually looks like, many have no idea about the elusive star. Guns N’ Roses will reunite to play six events: Las Vegas on April 8 and 9, Coachella on April 16and 23 and Foro Sol in Mexico City on the 19 and 20. On the eve of the oft-anticipated reunion, here’s an assortment of facts you may not know about Slash.
He’s not an American.
Slash was born in Hampstead, England, in 1965. He currently holds dual citizenship in the U.K. and the U.S.
His parents were hippies.
His British father, Tony, and African-American mother, Ola, met in Paris. His mother was a clothing designer who created performance outfits for Ringo Starr, David Bowie, The Pointer Sisters, Linda Ronstadt and John Lennon. His father was an artist and painter.
He likes exotic animals.
Slash once owned a mountain lion named Curtis, and possesses many snakes, including an anaconda and a boa constrictor named Pandora. The constrictor was a gift from Lisa Flynt, the daughter of Hustler publisher, Larry Flynt.
Joni Mitchell used to be his neighbor.
Slash grew up in Laurel Canyon, an area of Los Angeles that shares the same zip code as Hollywood, but straddles the mountainous area between the Sunset Strip and Studio City. The enclave was home to numerous artists during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
He used to hitch rides on the bumpers of cars from Hollywood to Reseda on a BMX bike. As teenagers, Slash and his friends would commute about 15 miles to a track in Reseda, California, to ride BMX bikes. They would ride on bumpers to reduce travel time.
Slash was a kleptomaniac as a teen.
He once stole a chameleon. He also stole his first top hat from a Hollywood store called Retail Slut.
He got the nickname Slash because he never stood still for more than five minutes.
The actor Seymour Cassel gave him the nickname because he thought Slash was perpetually working on his next hustle or scheme.
The first practice space Guns N’ Roses used was a storage unit on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
Axl and Slash both lived in the unit before it became an after-hours party destination. The song “Night Train” was written about these late-night shenanigans.
Guns N’ Roses had a difficult time finding a producer for their first album.
Potential knob-turners included Tom Werman (producer of Mötley Crüe, Poison, Twisted Sister, Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick), Paul Stanley of KISS, Spencer Proffer (Tina Turner and Quiet Riot) before the band settled on Mike Clink, producer of UFO, Heart and Jefferson Starship.
Guns N’ Roses opened for Aerosmith on the Permanent Vacation tour.
The members of Aerosmith had recently endured rehab and were sober at the time, so issues arose when the hard-partying members of Guns N’ Roses ordered $1,000 worth of booze from room service during the tour.
Slash once dated porn star-cum-musician Traci Lords.
Slash’s band Velvet Revolver debuted their first album, Contraband, at No. 1on the Billboard charts in 2004.
After Guns N’ Roses disbanded, Slash created Velvet Revolver with G N’ R alums Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, as well as Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and Dave Kushner.