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Music

When Slash recorded for Bob Dylan

Saul Hudson might not be a name you are familiar with, yet it belongs to one of the most instantly recognisable musicians of the past 40 years, Slash, of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame.

Slash is well known not only for his trademark dark frizzy locks and black felt top hat but also for his unrivalled proficiency on the guitar, particularly when using the Gibson Les Paul, the six-string that Slash considers the “best all round” axe going.

As well as his work with Guns’ n’ Roses – with whom he recorded one of the best-selling albums of all time in the shape of Appetite for Destruction – Slash also formed Velvet Revolver with his former colleagues Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum in 2002, after they realised they still had the musical chemistry that made Guns’ n’ Roses so popular.

Slash’s unique talent for ripping into a tasty guitar solo has also made him a highly sought-after session musician. He has regularly been invited to feature on many other famous musicians’ records, including Alice Cooper, Michael Jackson, Iggy Pop, Lenny Kravitz, Motorhead, Carole King, and even on an unlikely partnership with Eazy-E of N.W.A stature.

However, Slash’s introduction to featuring on the tracks of others began in 1990 when he was invited by producer Don Was to record a guitar piece for Bob Dylan‘s track ‘Wiggle Wiggle’. The track featured on Dylan’s 1990 album Under The Red Sky and, along with Slash, had guest contributions from the likes of Elton John, George Harrison, David Crosby and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“It was a real basic one-four-five blues kind of thing,” Slash said of the feature. “Don had suggested me to play the solo for this particular song, which was like an acoustic kind of thing… I went down to the studio, went in, and did what I thought was a great one-off. So I said, ‘Don, make me a tape when you guys are done and let me check it out.'”

Slash added, “So he sends me a tape the next day of the rough, and the song’s moving along – the lyrics and chorus go by, and the solo section comes in, and it’s just me playing acoustic, strumming… And then back into the song. I said, ‘What happened to the solo?’ [Don replied,] ‘Bob thought it sounds too much like Guns N’ Roses.’ So it was a great lesson learned for me. At that time, I hadn’t done a lot of session work, and it was a great learning experience.”

Slash also opened up on the collaborative features that followed his work with Dylan. Of his feature on Michael Jackson’s 1991 album Dangerous, he said it was “an opportunity to grow as a player and learn to adapt to other people’s situations. I was sort of freaked out – it’s Michael Jackson, and it was sort of a, ‘Whoa!’ kind of thing. We met and exchanged niceties, and he took off to dinner and left me with the producer, and I just did my thing. That was it. That’s sort of what he was always like: ‘Just do your thing.'”