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From Jimi Hendrix to Chuck Berry: Slash picks the 20 greatest guitar songs of all time

“Guitar is the best form of self-expression I know. Everything else, and I’m just sort of tripping around, trying to figure my way through life.” – Slash

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. 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. But what songs does he consider to be the ultimate guitar anthems? Well, here’s 20 of them to get you started.

As part of a conversation with Q magazine, the Guns ‘N’ Roses guitar slinger shared 20 songs which he deemed to be classic guitar tracks. The kind of songs that make people over 40 embarrass themselves with air guitar strumming and solos complete with drastic knee slides. Simply put, it’s an album filled with the best and brightest of rock ‘n’ roll, all those who could more with a guitar than any of even attempt with our tennis racket replacements.

There’s some truly classics songs on the list and classic guitarists too and, naturally, there is room for three Jimi Hendrix efforts. 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.”

There’s also a spot on the list for Hendrix’s friend Eric Clapton. A song from both his own work (‘Cocaine’) and his time with Derek & The Dominoes (‘Layla’), Clapton has always been someone Slash admired, telling Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones on his radio show, “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.

There are also two spots on the list for Aerosmith while the mercurial talent of Jeff Beck is also widely celebrated with three songs. Naturally, there’s a spot on the list for the heaving talents of B.B King and Chuck Berry which points to one thing. Contrary to what he might want you to believe, the rock ‘n’ roller, Slash, is actually a pretty good student. 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 guitar songs 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 in the incredible playlist below.

Slash’s 20 favourite guitar songs:

  • ‘Machine Gun’ – Jimi Hendrix
  • ‘No Quarter’ – Led Zeppelin
  • ‘Nobody’s Fault’ – Aerosmith
  • ‘Walk This Way’ – Aerosmith
  • ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers’ – Jeff Beck
  • ‘I Aint Superstitious’ – Jeff Beck
  • ‘Rock My Plimsoul’ – Jeff Beck
  • ‘Purple Haze’ – Jimi Hendrix
  • ‘All Along The Watchtower’ – Jimi Hendrix
  • ‘Running With The Devil’ – Van Halen
  • ‘Gonna Raise Hell’ – Cheap Trick
  • ‘Cocaine’ – Eric Clapton
  • ‘Layla’ – Derek & The Dominoes
  • ‘Shapes Of Things To Come’ – Gary Moore
  • ‘Rock Bottom’ – UFO
  • ‘Fly To The Rainbow’ – Scorpions
  • ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ – B.B. King
  • ‘Johnny B. Goode’ – Chuck Berry
  • ‘Burn’ – Deep Purple
  • ‘Wheels Within Wheels’ – Rory Gallagher
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