Not many musicians can be recognized by only one name. Even less are known by their signature look. But Saul Hudson, better known as Slash, along with his famous top hat is definitely an exception. He’s one of the most recognizable rock stars around.
The guitar god is best known as a member of Guns N’ Roses, which was arguably the biggest band in the world in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Today just so happens to be Slash’s 56th birthday. So let’s take a look back at his incredible career as we celebrate his 56th trip around the sun on July 23.
Slash, Guns N’ Roses And Their Rise To Stardom
Slash began playing guitar at a very young age. By the time he was 14 years old, he had already started a band with his future Guns N’ Roses bandmate Steven Adler. Supposedly the guitarist used to practice his instrument 12 hours a day while growing up and attending Beverly Hills High School in Los Angeles.
But it wasn’t until the pair hooked up with Axl Rose, Duff McKagan, and Izzy Stradlin in 1985 that Guns N’ Roses took shape. The hard rock band quickly gained a reputation in L.A. for being wild and rebellious, which added fuel to their already considerable hype.
The band became staples of the L.A. nightclub scene of the ’80s. They often played shows at the Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy, and The Troubadour. Over the next year, the band would write classic songs that have stood the test of time to this day. “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, and “Paradise City” were all written by 1986.
To this day, their 1987 debut album Appetite For Destruction is one of the best-selling albums of all time across the world. It’s in the pantheon of the likes of Michael Jackson‘s Thriller, Led Zepplin‘s IV, AC/DC‘s Back in Black among other classics. In addition, its 18 million copies sold makes it the highest-selling domestic album in U.S. history.
Axl’s screeching vocals paired with Slash’s technically gifted guitar playing led the band to unprecedented popularity. Some of Slash’s work on the album has become some of the most well-known riffs and guitar solos in the history of rock music. If you need a refresher of Slash’s incredible talent, look no further than the band’s magnum opus “November Rain.”
His solo around the four-minute mark of the single’s music video is iconic to say the least.
The Guitarist’s Career Outside Of Guns N’ Roses
Slash will always be known for his work with Guns N’ Roses first and foremost. But he has also worked on many other popular projects. Some may not realize it, but Slash has worked with multiple famous artists throughout his decades-long career.
For example, when Michael Jackson needed a guitarist for a song on his newest album, he called Slash. While making 1991’s Dangerous, Slash lent the guitar parts for the song “Give In To Me.” He also starred in Jackson’s hit from the same album “Black or White.”
Yet it was his work with another band that once again solidified his place as a rock legend. In 2002, Slash reunited with some of his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates to create a new band. After months of searching, they enlisted legendary Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland as their frontman. The five musicians banded together to create Velvet Revolver – one of the most successful supergroups of all time.
In June 2004, they released their debut album Contraband. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and earned three Grammy nominations while winning one for their single “Slither.” Slash was already a guitar icon, but the group helped re-establish him in the mainstream.