With his signature black top hat, cascading black curly hair and ever-present sunglasses, hard-rock guitarist Slash has long cut as distinctive a figure visually as musically. But it wouldn’t matter what he looks like if he weren’t responsible for some of the most muscular and melodic Guitar Hero riffs during his tenure over the last three decades as lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, fronting his own band Slash’s Snakepit and performing as a solo act.
Slash grew up in England to parents with strong rock 'n' roll ties: His mother handled clothing design for David Bowie’s film “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” and his father designed album artwork for Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and others. When he was still young, Slash’s family moved to Hollywood, where he made the musical connections that were crucial to his emergence as one of rock music’s most revered electric guitarists.
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea remembers him as a kid who lived down the street and used to climb his back fence to get a peek at the Chili Peppers during that group’s embryonic stage. But it was his association with drummer Steven Adler that led in the mid-1980s to the creation of GNR, one of the most successful hard-rock bands to emerge from Los Angeles.
The group’s wild lifestyle mirrored its outsized music, and after a string of hit albums, including 1987’s “Appetite for Destruction” and 1991’s “Use Your Illusion I and II,” Slash parted ways with singer Axl Rose in hopes of keeping his attention focused on the guitar-driven rock he’d always loved.
With the hard-rock supergroup Velvet Revolver and Slash’s Snakepit, the guitarist kept the swagger high, and in recent years has been happy to tour on his own with singer Myles Kennedy, whom he has lauded as a dramatic change of pace from some of the volatile vocalists he’s worked with previously. Slash’s latest, “Apocalyptic Love,” quickly shot into the Top 5 of Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart upon its release in May 2012. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of Guns N’ Roses.