Since childhood, it appeared as though Slash’s destiny was for him to become a rock star. Despite spending his formative years raised in Stoke-on-Trent, Saul Hudson’s childhood was like something akin to a Hollywood blockbuster, and the great David Bowie was just one of many superstars who was a familiar figure in his life.
When Hudson lived in England, his mother, Ola Hudson, was on the other side of the Atlantic, working as a costume designer in Los Angeles. Bowie was on her client list, as were Ringo Starr and Janis Joplin. His father also created artwork for Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, which further adds to the company of Slash’s rock ‘n’ roll credentials.
When his mother was stateside, a young Slash lived with his father and paternal grandparents in dreary England before moving across the pond at the age of five. It was during this time that he was able to live inside the underbelly of Hollywood, witnessing things he’d immediately wish to unsee.
When his parents split up some years later, Slash would often accompany his mother to work and got to experience her surreal life first-hand. Of course, it was normal to Slash at the time. Ola Hudson worked with Bowie throughout the mid-1970s, a period when his hedonism was at its chaotic, and she played a pivotal part in shaping his ‘Thin White Duke’ persona.
However, their relationship soon turned from a platonic one into a love affair, and Slash became accustomed to having Bowie being in and around his home. On one occasion, he accidentally caught a glimpse more of the singer than he’d have liked. “My mum started working with David professionally at first,” the guitarist explained to Australian radio in 2012. “I’m pretty sure that’s how it started. Then it turned into some sort of mysterious romance that went on for a while after that. She did his wardrobe for his whole Thin White Duke period and The Man Who Fell To Earth movie that he did. She did all that, and he was around for a while.”
Slash continued: “He was always over – they were always together. I caught them naked once. They had a lot of stuff going on, but my perspective was limited. Looking back on it, I know exactly what was going on. When I look back on that whole combination of people, I can only imagine how freaky it was.”
Slash later apologised for making the comments and revealed that he’d be sure that Bowie wouldn’t have appreciated the press surrounding the story, which shows the respect he still had for him. “All it was: they dated for a while, which is common knowledge,” he clarified. “All I said was there was one occasion where I happened to walk into the bedroom when they weren’t fully dressed… That was it. It wasn’t anything more lewd than that. End of story.”
In his autobiography, the guitarist spoke about a time when he bumped into Bowie decades later during a dark moment when he was going through drug-induced turmoil, and he was offered some words of encouragement that he’d never forget. “David was engaging and wise in the ways of chemical abuse,” he wrote. “He asked me about what I was doing drug-wise and what I was going through emotionally, psychically, and with the band. I rambled on for a while, but once I started talking about my little translucent friends, David interrupted me… He’d heard enough.”
Slash’s childhood was full of encounters with celebrities, and that’s just the world that he was raised in. Granted, seeing David Bowie in the nude was even unexpected by Hudson’s strange standards. Hearteningly, they maintained a special bond, and ‘The Starman’ later made up for his misdemeanour by helping the guitarist get clean.