If one word sums up the all-out rock stylings of Guns N’Roses, it’s this: Slash. The legendary musician and guitarist (real name Saul Hudson) became an unforgettable part of the lineup, alongside Axl Rose and others. From 1985 to 1993 he raised the roof with his riffs. Then he left and it seemed things wouldn’t be the same – until recently, when Rose and co got their act together and hit the road.
Slash has given a new interview where he talks about GNR in the 21st century, his own exploits and what happened during the making of an infamous and ultra-expensive music video.
Shooting the ‘November Rain’ video
Written by Axl Rose, “November Rain” was released as a single in 1992. Part of the chart-busting Use Your Illusion I album, it brought the budget to breaking point. The accompanying video cost approx $2 million in today’s money, according to Yahoo Entertainment. It also runs for nearly 10 minutes, giving fans a lot of bang for their buck.
Among the splashy visuals is the sight of one guitarist playing his guts out in the New Mexico desert. Director Andy Morahan rolled camera – but there was one thing he hadn’t told Slash about in advance. A helicopter was used to bag some epic, sweeping shots of the string-twanger in action. And what’s more, it was swooping pretty low to Slash. Too close for comfort, in his view!
“I thought, ‘Well, this’ll be my last day on Earth'” he told Yahoo. Though it wasn’t as if the hard rocker was going to balk in the face of a potential career-ender and more from above. He adds that he “didn’t have very much fear of death in those days.” Anyway, whirling metal blades or not, the result “ended up looking pretty cool.”
“November Rain” is probably on the modest side compared to 21st-century productions. However, the numbers still stack up mightily in the age of social media. Ultimate Classic Rock notes the video has had close to two billion views on YouTube at the time of writing. It also has the honor of being the first old-school 1990s video to reach a billion clicks.
Why Slash left Guns N’Roses
Drugs and – putting it mildly – difficult behavior played a big role behind tensions in the stadium-packing band. Slash got annoyed that his material wasn’t being used. Communications were at an all-time low. Amazingly, for such a loud group of guys, they just couldn’t get through to each other.
Grunge writes about a “feud” between Rose and Slash, based on the latter’s working with Michael Jackson. GNR’s singer wasn’t happy due to controversies around Jackson’s alleged abuse. Slash went on to claim “there were other entities involved that created a lot of havoc.” He left in 1993, and by ’96 was on record as saying he’d gone for good.
Slash has always been creative in his own right. He formed his own lineup, under the name Slash’s Snakepit in 1994. 2002 saw the beginnings of Velvet Revolver, another group. The latter saw fellow GNR members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum re-team with Slash.
Around that time, he received some troubling news. As mentioned by Yahoo, Slash was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. In short, he had congestive heart failure. Years of excess had apparently taken their toll. His worst-case scenario was that he had a matter of days to live!
Ditching the booze and banned substances, he moved toward new horizons. Including something unexpected…
The reunion with Axl Rose
2016 was the year GNR reunited, with Slash and Axl Rose tearing up the stage once again. Speaking to Heavy Consequence, Slash states the comeback wasn’t exactly planned at first. But since that first get-together, the rock express has stayed very much on the tracks.
“I’m really happy that finally after all those years of negativity and whatnot, that we got past all that,” he says.
From June 2022, Guns N’Roses are touring. Slash promises some new, and highly-anticipated, material. He’s also got an iron or two of his own in the fire. 4 is the new album from Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. That too will be getting its own live tour, showing that the top hat-wearing icon has a lot of rocking to do yet.
A ‘trifle’ confusing
Paul Elliott, former writer for Sounds and Classic Rock, had his own story to share about the band. Guns N’ Roses made their first trip to the United Kingdom in June 1987, although it didn’t entirely go according to plan. Although they gained some serious fans back in Los Angeles, they were greeted less than enthusiastically when they played the legendary Marquee Club in London. When they took the stage, the crowd started throwing their plastic cups at them. After a few songs, they changed their tune, enjoying the show.
Most of the reviews afterward were complimentary, except for one in particular; another Sounds journalist said Axl’s singing sounded like the squealing of a hamster “with its balls trapped in a door.” Axl marched the entire band down to the office, trying to find the reporter, but he wasn’t there. Instead, they went to a pub where they had their first encounter with the eccentricity of British desserts. Paul Elliott remembered Axl asking him about it a few days after, “What the f*** is spotted dick?”