From Jimmy Page to Jimi Hendrix: Slash’s 16 favourite guitarists of all time
The mercurial guitarist Saul Hudson is better known to his fans and everyone else who hasn’t been living under a rock as Slash. One part of the generation-defining band Guns ‘N’ Roses, Slash also found fame as one of his era’s greatest guitarists of all time—but who were his own favourite guitar heroes?
The son of legendary rock costume designer, Ola Hudson, Slash was always likely to jump on the highway to hell and pick up as much rock and roll road rash as he could along the way. His early adoption of the devil’s music meant he was always destined to be a guitar hero himself.
The list of Slash’s favourite guitarists includes the crème de la crème of the instrument. Whether it is a searing solo ability or the talent to make normal riffs feel magnetic, Slash has covered off some of the greatest players of all time. Below, you can find the full list as well as an introductory playlist for the artists mentioned.
The first name on the list is likely one of the first names on most people’s collection, the incredible talent of Jeff Beck. While many of the mentioned guitarists are happiest when performing the rock arena, Beck is content to provide the tunes for any genre or sub-genre you can think of. Slash even declared one of Beck’s solos to be his favourite of all time.
“‘There’s a song called ‘Come Dancing’ on the Jeff Beck record ‘Wired’,” Slash once said. “I mean there’s so many great guitar solo’s but that one was one I remember picking up on when I was a kid and going wow that was fucking awesome,” he added with high praise.
As well as the inclusion of artists such as Queen’s Brian May, the proverbial guitar idiot Ted Nugent, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Slash also picked out arguably one of the most underrated guitarists of all time; Rory Gallagher. That’s not to say the Irish blues musician wasn’t appreciated by his contemporaries, more that they seemed to be the only ones who paid attention to him.
Often cited as Jimi Hendrix’s favourite guitarist of all time, Gallagher’s name rightly belongs in the pantheon of rock. Sitting alongside him is, of course, Jimi Hendrix. Arguably the most heavily influential guitarist in history, Slash is full of admiration for the left-handed player: “He was the pioneer for electric lead guitar,” Slash told NewsHub, “Even the guys before him — like Clapton and Beck and all that — but the thing about Jimi is he came along and he was definitely the primal wild man, shit coming out of his pores.
“It was the extremes of all the different nuances that all the different guitar players before him had and just coming out in droves and saying it in a certain way that was uniquely Jimi and nobody else. Jimi’s still the man. It’s funny because you hear about him so much but he was that great. And his material stands the test of time all these years later.”
Another Slash favourite is Eric Clapton, an icon of the instrument and likely a big name during Slash’s early childhood living in London. Clapton was one of the most influential players of his day working with Cream among other acts and while speaking to Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, Slash shared his thoughts on the band, “Cream had a hell of a lot to do with it, Derek and the Dominoes was really good, and there’s a bunch of cool stuff that he [Clapton] did,” he said.
Slash, talking about his five favourite guitar heroes with Jones, explained: “Clapton, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, I’m gonna put the guys from Aerosmith in as one [laughs], and Jeff Beck, it’s hard to do it in five ya know. I put Keith in their and Mick Taylor for sure, Keith’s a big one but then there’s Jimi Page and Jimi Hendrix and I could go on and on ya know.”
Across countless interviews, Slash has done just that, selected reams of different favourite guitarists for different occasions. However, The Rolling Stones duo of Mick Taylor and Keith Richards will always be special for him. In fact, they feature on his favourite albums of all time, “I was going to name a favourite record that has been a favourite for all my life it would probably be either Beggars Banquet or Let It Bleed from the [Rolling] Stones,” said the guitarist.
“Actually, Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed, Beggars Banquet, Exile on Main St. — those four records in a row are pretty much my favourite music of all time,” he added.
While many of the guitarists mentioned are from the past, perhaps operating as Slash’s greatest influences, there is one performer on the list which is almost a contemporary of Guns ‘N’ Roses, Eddie Van Halen. He’s a guitarist who, according to Slash, has had a huge impact on music: “I’m a huge fan of Eddie as a person and as a player. And I loved [1978’s] Van Halen when it first came out. That style that he did, I’ve always thought that was something that he did and nobody else did it like him. And then it became a thing.”
Looking back it is easy to see how Slash became the virtuoso guitarist we all know and love to this day. Unlike any other guitarist in history, Slash as been nurtured in the nursery of rock ‘n’ roll. His list of favourite guitarists shows that he was always happy to act the magpie, happy to pick and choose the shiniest moments of each player’s style.
From a very young age, Slash had an education in performance and panache and it’s something he has taken to all of his work ever since. If one man is a student of rock then it’s Slash and here he’s offering the next guitarists a little bit of extra-curriculum reading we should all dive into. Below we’ve pulled together the full list as well as a complete playlist by way of introduction.