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A young Saul “Slash” Hudson plays one of his first guitars, a late-’70s B.C. Rich Mockingbird, during a performance at L.A.’s Fairfax High School in 1982. Photo by Marc Cantor / Atlas Icons.
You’re known for your trademark sound. When you wail on a guitar, people know it’s you. Can you offer any advice for young players trying to find their voice?
Any passionate guitar player, a kid that’s going to pick it up and just loves the instrument and the way it sounds, even if they’re just starting out, they’re usually inspired by something, a handful of people, or a style. You just have to pursue that.
What turns you on about guitar?
The funny thing about it for me is I was raised in a guitar-laden environment and never knew it. I was turned on to rock ’n’ roll from the very get-go, because my dad and his brothers were all big rock fans and we were all living in England. All I heard was the Who, the Stones, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, and some Moody Blues in there. My dad said, “The most important part of the song is the guitar break.” I was surrounded by that.
Then I moved to the States and both of my parents were really big music people. I loved going to rehearsals and recording sessions of people that they were working with. Or going to gigs and that minute where people get up and pick up their instrument was a huge turn-on for me. The best part of the show was that—before the first song.
I always dug guitars but I didn’t aspire to be a guitar player. It wasn’t until I put a couple notes together that sounded like a blues lick, then it was like the heavens opened up, it was like “ahhhhhh.” I’ll never forget that moment. What I was looking for was the British guitar that turned me on all my life until that point. It was Aerosmith at first, that Rocks record of theirs really spoke to me and set me off in a certain direction. Simultaneously it was Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons … anybody who had a personality in rock-style guitar playing—that’s what really turned me on and that’s the direction I went. And I never faltered from that, that’s why I never became Randy Rhoads or any of those guys, especially in the ’80s.
No, you’re Slash.
[Laughs.] But at the time I was the only guy that started doing that, everybody was on this sort of ’80s guitar pyrotechnics wave kinda thing. But I was still really dialed into Mick Taylor and Keith Richards and stuff like that.
Slash closes out a show with his favorite song to play live, “Paradise City,” with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators in 2011 as part of Slash’s solo live album Made In Stoke 24/7/11. It was recorded in Stoke-on-Trent, England, where Slash lived as a child.
Recorded at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, this full concert is from the Apocalyptic Love tour. Check out Slash’s doubleneck solo at 33:27 during “Civil War.”
If you were banned from using a Les Paul, what would you play?
If I couldn’t play a Les Paul, then I might pick up a Melody Maker or a Junior or something lighter like that with humbuckers, or a Telecaster with humbuckers in it. There’s definitely something about Les Pauls and humbuckers and that warm, heavy, midrangey sound that attracted me when I was first starting. My first guitar was a Memphis Les Paul copy, so I automatically went there. Then I went through a whole period of trial and error with Strats, B.C. Richs, Telecasters, and other odds and ends, and ended back at Les Pauls.
Did you play your Appetite Les Paul in the sessions for World on Fire?
Most everything panned over to the right speaker and in the middle is my [Kris] Derrig guitar, and I also used a goldtop ’57 reissue for that creamy stuff where it’s sustainy smooth where I turn the tone down.
Can you give us an example of where you’re playing the goldtop?
The guitar solo on the very end of “The Unholy” and also on “Battlefield.”
If your music had an odor, what would it smell like?
[Laughs.] That’s the most original question I’ve heard in the last 30 years. It would probably be like barbecue sauce or something. It couldn’t be fresh cut grass and it wouldn’t be fresh flowers or raw meat or anything. It would have to be something spicy and something sweet but
something funky …
If you were stuck on a desert island and had to choose between your hat and your guitar, which would you choose? Oh, it’d be my guitar—come on!