Slash, the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, is an icon of popular culture. One of the most dextrous musicians in recent history, the tone of his Gibson Les Paul is instantly recognisable, and without him, it is certain that the band would not have risen to become the legendary status that they gained after the release of albums such as 1987’s Appetite for Destruction.
Slash has given fans many stellar moments over his long career. Whether it be his classic work on ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, his punishing licks on ‘You Could Be Mine’, or even that hilarious yet timeless scene where he walks out of the chapel only to perform a cheesy solo in the video for 1991’s ‘November Rain’ — Slash’s contributions to the world of popular culture are manifold.
Even his sunglasses, top hat, and flowing locks are legendary, giving you a clear indication of his rank. It’s a testament to Slash’s work that he’s managed to remain so pertinent for 35 years, even though the brand of rock ‘n’ roll that Guns N’ Roses popularised is struggling for relevance amidst changing social attitudes and the explosion of more experimental musical modes over the past 20 years.
There’s a reason that Slash has been able to retain such cultural potency for so long. Aside from his undoubted genius, he is one of the most passionate musicians in the business, dedicated to his craft in a way that goes far beyond approaching it as just a career. He respects the guitar as an art form and approaches it in a way that only the greats do, with open eyes and a desire to constantly improve.
Given that he is such an icon of guitar playing, fans have forever wanted to understand Slash’s craft better, and much of this has can be found in the music that influenced him and shaped his sound. Well, luckily for us, back in 2012 he sat down with Matt Everitt on BBC Radio 6 for ‘The First Time With’, and revealed the name of the first album he ever bought, and just how important it was to him.
Slash explained that it was Led Zeppelins’s 1969 debut Led Zeppelin and that although his parents owned a copy of the record when he was a child, as a teenager, captivated by the power of the English quartet, he found himself buying his own copy and being blown away by their work.
He said: “I wanna say that is Led Zeppelin I, that’s the one that I thing it was probably the first one. I remember because my mom and my dad had it for years before. When I was in my teen years and really started to discover rock and roll myself I remember going back and getting that record again. Zeppelin, they were harder-edged, I always loved that and really rhythmic.”
Slash continued: “(They) definitely had a mesmerizing kind of groove, there was an ambience to Zeppelin that was unique into themselves. I always really liked them, I always liked the guitar playing, especially the drumming. I think that was the key thing for me, the drums were so sexy.”