Just over three weeks ago, Saul Hudson (along with rock journalist Anthony Bozza) released Slash via Harper Collins. While not as good as Motley Crue’s The Dirt or even The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx, Slash presents a fairly clear picture of life during the rise – and fall – of Guns n’ Roses.
Highlights of the book include learning about Slash’s unique upbringing. The guitarist didn’t begin acting out until his parents divorced. After stability was ripped from Slash, he chose a path of destructive behavior that has followed him for most of his life.
Some of the stories of debauchery are funny, but some clearly edited. While The Dirt just lets it all hang out, it’s pretty clear Slash was reserving some details and protecting identities. Many names are changed, or simply omitted. Major stories are scaled back into small paragraphs, which I found more than a little surprising.
The early workings of Guns n’ Roses are widely documented but still make for an interesting read. The planets aligned when Slash met the rest of the men that would go on to record Appetite for Destruction – and he admits as much. It is refreshing to know that such an iconic musician realizes his role in cultural history – and the rarity of his experiences.
While it’s great to read about the beginnings of the band, it seems like not enough time is spent on the actual Appetite recording sessions. Of course, that was the easy time during GnR history. I love reading about mega bands who scrapped in their beginnings. The stories of poverty and living (and rehearsing) in a storage unit are worth the price of the book alone. I never knew Axl Rose and Slash met keyboardist Dizzy Reed at the same storage unit complex. This gives me a whole new respect for Hookers n’ Blow (well, the band at least).
As the book moves forward, Slash (and therefore Bozza) do their best to convey the immense dysfunction within Guns n’ Roses. I’m not sure Slash really tells the entire story. For the most part, our favorite guitarist defends Axl while tearing him down. One page will explain how Axl is ruining the band, the next says something to the effect of “but I’m sure Axl has his own very valid rundown of events.” Is this music double-speak? Probably. While I’m sure Slash honestly wants to paint events as clearly as he can remember, it’s always easy to see that he is trying desperately not to enrage Axl. Even years after leaving Guns n’ Roses, Slash mentions on several occasions that others “can’t talk shit about Axl.” He feels he’s earned that right, but only because he worked with the moody frontman for so long.
Then there’s the women and drugs. As with all good rock n’ roll stories, there are tales of parties and debauchery on every page. Not of that lifestyle, it’s hard for me to completely comprehend but it’s an understatement to say that Slash has lived a crazy existence.
There are completely asinine moments in the book as well. Toward the end of the biography is a picture of Slash with his wife Perla and their two sons on a Disney cruise. I mean, seriously. Can you imagine having breakfast with the characters and realize that Slash is sipping coffee with Micky? Give me a break.
Of course, there is life after Guns n’ Roses, and that means Slash spends time talking about his Snakepit records and current work with Velvet Revolver. While both are interesting, Slash surprisingly spends little time discussing the shift in the record business by the mid-nineties. He makes mention of the changes, but doesn’t go into great detail, which I find a little disappointing.
Sadly, this first edition includes a lot of grammatical errors. I’m sure they’ll be cleaned up by the time to book goes to paperback. Still, Fred Coury of Cinderella suddenly becomes “Curry,” Zakk Wylde becomes “Wyld” and there are all sorts of misplaced words and punctuation. The good news is that the book contains several nice color performance shots of Slash throughout his life and career.
If you’re a big fan of 80s rock music – and therefore cultural history – then you definitely need to read Slash. It’s worth the hardback price, and I bet you’ll be able to find a copy on sale this holiday season.