Book Review: Slash – What went on under that top hat

Written by Slash and Anthony Bozza and published by HarperCollins Entertainment in October 2007, Slash is 480 pages of ruthless and inspiring honesty about a life of fame and excess as told by the man himself.

It seems excessive… But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

Slash is an autobiography that delves deeply into the excesses and inner workings of arguably one of the most iconic guitarists of our time, Saul Hudson, aka Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses.

It wastes no time in getting to the point as the first page of this outstandingly written account of rock stardom in the 80’s and 90’s jumps right in at a point where Slash recalls the time his heart stopped on stage during a performance.

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“It felt like a baseball bat to my chest, but swung from the inside… the pain made my world stand still. I kept playing,” he writes. “I finished the song…”

At the age of 35, after 15 years of excessive drinking and drug abuse, a doctor had installed a defibrillator in his heart. This is by his own admission the only thing that has kept death from his door on more than one occasion.

And that’s just the introduction.

In the first chapter, he recalls with great affection his childhood and his relationship with his parents, which he describes as having a permanent impression on him.

Born on July 23, 1965 to an interracial couple, Anthony and Ola Hudson, in Hampstead in the United Kingdom, he recalls that he was treated as an equal as soon as he could stand. This was the year that The Beatles released Rubber Soul and the Stones released Rolling Stones No 2.

“It was the year rock ‘n’ roll as we know it became greater than the sum of its parts; the year a few isolated bands changed pop music forever…”

While most of the book focuses on his experiences in the rock music industry from his years with Guns ‘n’ Roses to his departure from the band in the mid 90’s, his recollections of his youth give a more in depth understanding of the icon himself.

Slash spent his adolescence mostly getting into trouble with the law, discovering alcohol, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll on the streets of Hollywood after his parents split up. He achieved rather notable status as a BMX rider in this time as well, but his life changed the moment he picked up a guitar.

At the age of 15, he was given an old flamenco guitar with one nylon string by his grandmother and, believe it or not, that is how the legend that is Slash began.

The book describes the introduction of his trademark tophat, worn atop a signature mass of black curls that hang over his rarely seen face, barely missing the cigarette dangling from his lips during each performance. It’s a look he’s so well known for, but many are unaware of how it started.

He started playing in bands around the early 1980’s in Los Angeles, which eventually sparked the formation of Guns ‘n’ Roses. He discusses his reasons for leaving the band and the subsequent formation of Velvet Revolver thereafter, as well as everything in between… everything.

Drug addiction, alcohol addiction, heroin, pills, cocaine and more, were a big part of his life for many years, but in this spectacular autobiography, he gives a brutally honest and gripping portrayal of the struggle he faced in breaking the chains of addiction and eventually getting his life back on track.

Even autobiographies can have happy endings and, as outrageous as the journey may have been, Slash found his. At the time of publication of his autobiography in 2007, Slash was happily married and the father of two sons.

“If there’s one thing that made my bullsh*t recede, it’s fatherhood,” he writes in the final paragraphs of the conclusion.

Written by Slash and Anthony Bozza and published by HarperCollins Publishers in October 2007, Slash is 480 pages of ruthless and inspiring honesty about a life of fame and excess as told by the man himself.

“I’ve always had to do things my way. I play guitar my way, I’ve taken myself to the edges of life my way, I’ve gotten clean my way and I’m still here. Whether or not I deserve to be is another story.” – Slash.

Elaine Rodway

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