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.
It means that across his bands, including Velvet Revolver and other work with top performers like Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz, Slash has delivered some of the most searing guitar performances in modern times. Below, we’ve pulled together ten of our favourites.
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.
Slash’s abilities aren’t restricted to his guitar, the mercurial musician has an unstoppable canny ear for a rock and roll anthem. While not all of his major hits are represented below, each of the tracks here provides a searing solo and acts as a reminder of Slash’s power.
Slash’s 10 greatest solos of all time:
10. ‘Don’t Damn Me’ – Guns ‘N’ Roses
Taken from Use Your Illusion I this track may not find its way on to many of the Guns ‘N’ Roses greatest lists but this deep cut is a worthy reminder of Slash’s power. The guitarist isn’t always revered for his technical prowess but on this song, he really goes wild.
The song was created in response to their previous record and the kickback they received from releasing it. Here, Slash allows his guitar skills to truly shine out and makes this one of the most tantalising tracks on the album.
9. ‘Always on the Run’ – Lenny Kravitz
The first track on the list to not feature Guns ‘N’ Roses is a guest spot on the Lenny Kravitz song ‘Always on the Run’. It’s a momentous track that sees two giant rock icons meet to form one powerful song.
Slash’s impressive solo is the stuff of legend and made all the more fantastic by Lenny Kravitz previewing its arrival by screaming “Slash!” The searing solo confirms this as one of Slash’s finest moments on record.
8. ‘Coma’ – Guns ‘N’ Roses
10 minutes of an emotional Axl Rose could sound like a recipe for disaster depending on your feelings for the controversial singer. However, on ‘Coma’, Rose once again shows that he’s capable of creating some amazing moments.
“I tried to write that song for a year, and couldn’t,” said Axl Rose. “I went to write it at the studio and passed out. I woke up two hours later and sat down and wrote the whole end of the song, like, just off the top of my head. It was like, don’t even know what’s coming out, man, but it’s coming. I think one of the best things that I’ve ever written was maybe the end segment of the song ‘Coma’. It just poured out.”
While the song is all Axl in content the song is finished off with a flourish by Slash and his sensational solo. It rides the rollercoaster of the track gilding the cutting edge of the song at every available moment.
7. ‘Fall To Pieces’ – Velvet Revolver
When Velvet Revolver got together in the early noughties hopes of a new rock and roll revolution were ignited. While that would never really come to pass, Velvet Revolver did provide some standout rock classics. One such song is ‘Fall To Pieces’.
A power ballad that is tinged with sadness and honesty, sees Scott Weiland try to deal with his heroin addiction through song. Somehow Slash manages to convey all these emotions with his guitar and he does it from the very beginning.
6. ‘Slither’ – Velvet Revolver
When Velvet Revolver did arrive the first song to really grab the attention of a new generation, not necessarily fans of Guns ‘N’ Roses but still captivated by Slash and his powerful guitar.
As well as a slamming bass line from Duff McKagan, Slash arrives on record to deliver a powerhouse performance that not only proved he was still capable of destroying any solo put in front of him, but he was happy to do it whenever it was needed.
5. ‘Patience’ – Guns ‘N’ Roses
A recent cover of ‘Patience’ performed by Chris Cornell has been making the rounds this week and he does a fine job of matching Axl Rose’s vocal performance—but nobody could match Slash’s explosive performance.
The song appeared on G N’ R Lies and was released as a single in 1989, peaking at number four on the charts. The gentle turn for the band is a refreshing refrain but that doesn’t mean Slash can’t still noodle on the guitar. Now, when played in recent years, Slash performs the track on the electric guitar and turns the song up another notch.
4. ‘Nightrain’ – Guns ‘N’ Roses
Taken from the band’s seminal album Appetite for Destruction, ‘Nightrain’ is one of the band’s fan favourites. It remains a lasting ode to a brand of cheap Californian fortified wine Night Train Express—a favourite of the band for its cheapness and high alcohol content.
Naturally, the track is a boozy and woozy trip into the dark side of rock ‘n’ roll. According to Slash, the song is “an anthem we came up with on the spot”. The original riff came from Slash and Duff’s casual strumming on the floor but it remained without lyrics. That was until the band, sharing a bottle on a late-night stroll, screamed “I’m on the night train!” and the lyrics stuck.
It’s widely known as Slash’s favourite song to perform live: “That song has a rhythm to it in the verses that from the start always made me go crazy. The first time we played it, even, I started jumping up and down – I couldn’t help it. When we had our huge stage later on, I’d run the length of it, jump off the amplifiers, and lose it just about every single time we played it. I’m not sure why, but no other song we’ve ever played live made me move like that.”
3. ‘Paradise City’ – Guns ‘N’ Roses
Another masterpiece from the most dangerous band on the planet, ‘Paradise City’ remains one of the finest moments on Appetite for Destruction, one of the band’s seminal records.
While the song is the only track on the album to feature a synthesiser, Slash’s performance still remains supreme. Slash wrote the song with Axl Rose after the pair were humming the song and Rose sang “Take me down to the Paradise City,” with Slash instantly replying “Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.” The stuff of legend.
The track deserves a somewhat kismet construction as it has helped screaming frat boys and partying spring breakers bouncing on dance floors for many years.
2. ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’ – Guns ‘N’ Roses
Quite possibly the most iconic guitar solo of all time, Slash’s performance on their legendary song ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’ will go down in history as one of the finest of all time and it was all a big joke.
“The thing about ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine,’ it was written in five minutes,” remembers Duff McKagan. “It was one of those songs, only three chords. You know that guitar lick Slash does at the beginning? It was kinda like a joke because we thought, ‘What is this song? It’s gonna be nothing, it’ll be filler on the record.’ And except that vocal-wise, it’s very sweet and sincere, Slash was just fuckin’ around when he first wrote that lick.”
The slow pace and deliberate precision makes the solo instantly recognisable and turns this classic song into the stuff of legend.
1. ‘November Rain’ – Guns ‘N’ Roses
To the majority of people, a guitar solo is quite low on the list of things they love about rock ‘n’ roll. The intent guitar player, lost in the purity of precision fretwork, can be a tiresome watch for all involved but Slash somehow manages to transcend that old trope. Instead, he keeps it dangerous and decadent and makes every solo entirely desirable.
There’s probably no better showing of that temptation than on ‘November Rain’, a song which literally puts Slash shirtless in front of a white chapel while wailing on his guitar. A sight for many that confirmed the iconography of the guitarist and his place in the history books.
It is our favourite because Slash manages to turn all of Axl Roses’ lyrics into a lead guitar line that tells every lick of the story.