Slash is best known as the guitarist for Guns N’ Roses from 1985 to 1994. He also formed the group Slash’s Snakepit, which recorded two albums, and then was a member of the supergroup Velvet Revolver, in which he and former Guns N’ Roses members combined forces with Stone Temple Pilots’ lead singer Scott Weiland for two albums. He released his first official solo album in 2010. He often rates as one of the best guitarists of all-time according to various lists, including lists by the BBC and Time magazine.
Slash was born to an African-American mother who designed costumes for David Bowie and others and an English father who created album art for musicians such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. His family moved from England to Hollywood, California when he was 11 years old. He acquired his nickname from a family friend because he was "always in a hurry, zipping around from one thing to another.” WK
By 1983, Slash had decided to drop out of high school and formed a Motörhead tribute band called Road Crew with childhood friend Steven Adler. A newspaper ad attracted bassist Duff McKagan. Road Crew didn’t last, but Slash’s next band, Black Sheep, shared a bill with a group called Hollywood Rose as openers for Christian metal band Stryper. Slash became friends with Axl Rose, the lead singer of Hollywood Rose, and eventually Rose joined forces with Adler, McKagan, and Izzy Stradlin to form the group Guns N’ Roses.
Guns N’ Roses (1985-87):
Long before they recorded their monstrous debut album, GNR were making a name for themselves on the L.A. circuit, becoming known for their partying ways. Slash stood out with his mound of curly hair that covered his face and stuck out from his top hat.
In 1986, the band recorded a live EP, Live Like a Suicide, which would emerge again later as part of the much bigger selling G N’ R Lies in 1988.
Appetite for Destruction (1987-89):
On the strength of the band’s 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction, Guns N’ Roses became the biggest rock band in the world. To date, the album has sold 18 million copies in the U.S. and 29.5 million worldwide. Sweet Child O’ Mine was a #1 U.S. hit while Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City were both top 10 hits. “Sweet Child” made Guitar World’s list of the ‘100 Greatest Guitar Solos’.” WK
Even while Appetite was still riding high, the band released G N’ R Lies, which was a collection of four new songs matched with the previously released Live Like a Suicide EP.
Use Your Illusion (1990-92):
It took four years before the band finally released a proper follow-up to Appetite, but when they did it was a double album project. In the interim, the band released a couple songs, including a cover of Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, and Civil War for the Days of Thunder soundtrack and various-artists cause album Nobody’s Child, respectively.
Those two cuts would also appear on the Use Your Illusion collections and would be album rock hits along with seven other songs pulled from the albums. Four of those songs would also become top 40 hits.
Perhaps most notable amongst the pair of album’s 30 cuts is November Rain. It “holds the record for the longest guitar solo in a U.S. top 10 hit” WK and consistently rates as one of the best videos of all time. It also was ranked “at number 6 in the ‘The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos’ by Guitar World.” WK
Slash’s Snakepit (1995-2000):
Guns N’ Roses released another album in 1993, but it was just a batch of covers. The band wouldn’t emerge with a studio album again for another 15 years – and by then Axl Rose was the only one left. Meanwhile, Slash recruited the Guns’ own guitarist Gilby Clarke and drummer Matt Sorum to help on his own Slash’s Snakepit project, which released an album in 1995.
That same year, Slash’s Snakepit would contribute to the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown. Slash often toured with a group known as Slash’s Blues Ball, which would cover GNR and Snakepit songs alongside blues covers, AMG but they never recorded.
Another album would emerge under the banner of Slash’s Snakepit in 2000, but with a new lineup comprised of singer Rod Jackson, ex-Venice drummer Matt Laug, Griparic (aka “Johnny Blackout”) on bass, Teddy Andreadis on keyboards and harmonica, and Kerry Kelly, who had formerly worked with Warrant and Ratt, on rhythm guitar. AMG
Of course, while the future of the Guns looked unsure, Slash also lent out his axe to other projects. He contributed guitar to “Give in to Me” on Michael Jackson’s 1991 Dangerous album, the song “D.S.” on the 1995 HIStory album, “Morphine” from the 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor, and “Privacy” on the 2001 Invincible album.
Other collaborations during the same time frame included work with Alice Cooper, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, BLACKstreet, and even a Yardbirds’ comeback album (Birdland) in 2003.
Velvet Revolver (2002-2008):
After reuniting with Guns N’ Roses members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum for a benefit concert for Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo, the trio realized they wanted to work together again. They tried out a couple members from Buckcherry before settling on Dave Kushner on rhythm guitar and former Stone Temple Pilots’ singer Scott Weiland.
The band’s first release was Set Me Free, for the soundtrack of 2003’s The Hulk. The 2004 chart-topping album Contraband followed, giving the band two #1 album rock tracks (Slither and Fall to Pieces).
A second album, Libertad, followed in 2007, but with a little less success. It was still a top 5 album and had the #2 album rock track She Builds Quick Machines. That same year, the band played two covers of Van Halen at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the band. It wasn’t meant to last, though – Scott Weiland officially split from the band in April 2008.
After more than 20 years in the business, Slash opted to record his first solo album. He recruited a different singer for nearly every track, making for an impressive guest list including Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell, Lemmy, Fergie, and Kid Rock. The only vocalist to appear on two tracks on the album was Myles Kennedy, who formed the band Alter Bridge with ex-Creed members and released two albums. Rumors have swirled that he would be the new vocalist for a third Velvet Revolver album.