There are lot of musically gifted incognergoes in the world, but none rock harder than Saul Hudson, a.k.a. “Slash,” founder of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver.
While a lot of people love late 80s/90s era “hair” guitar bands, the only one I ever liked was Guns ‘N Roses. I was into New Edition at the time and didn’t realize I liked them until “November Rain” came out and MTV played the long format version of the video 100 times a day.
Maybe it was the cinematic feel or the orchestral sound or the fact that it was an epic rock ballad, like everything ever made by Queen. But around view 50 of the song I didn’t know I liked I realized what it was.
It was Slash.
If you haven’t seen the video, my God! Stop reading this now and click here! But if you have seen it you’ll remember that around around 4:12 into the video Slash walks out of the church and into the desert and plays, what was at the time, the most “awesome thing ever” while a desert twister tosses that tangly mane and a cigarette clings on to dear life between his lips.
While my current “most awesome thing ever” varies between the Giants beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and cheap vanilla flavored coffee from Huck’s, Slash’s guitar solo from “November Rain” is still in the top 20, tied with Prince’s guitar solo on “When Doves Cry.”
It’s that good.
Since then Slash has reigned as king of the incongergo rock guitarists in my heart. (Sorry, Roxie Roker’s son.) And it’s not just because he can rock, oh no. It’s also because God gave us the same hair.
Now while mine is considerably shorter, it’s equally as unmanageable. And while Slash, I’m sure, doesn’t do anything to his ‘do, I seriously couldn’t live without conditioner and lots of hair product otherwise no one would ever be able to see my eyes either.
I also like the stove pipe hats. Tribute to Lincoln perhaps? And the ubiquitous cigarette. And the crappy T-shirts, leather and denim. You know exactly what to get Slash every birthday (besides fine grain alcohol, Colombian blow, some Hendrix and ass-less chaps). And as long as it doesn’t have a Hot Topic tag in the back–I gather he’d prefer Goodwill–he’ll likely wear it.
As an artist Slash pops up on his fair share of non-GNR/Velvet Revolver work. He was the only good thing on Michael Jackson’s crappy hit “Black or White” from the Dangerous album. Mike was more up to snuff on “Give In to Me,” also on Dangerous, also featuring Slash.
(It was his best rock guitarist collaboration since Steven Stevens ripped it up on “Dirty Diana.”)
Along with being nattily outfitted as a memorable rock deity, Slash also has a stamp on his sound and style. You know his music just by listening. You know his look even if you’ve never heard of GNR. Slash is so iconic in the guitar/metal/rock world that he got his own featured spot on the game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. You have to beat him in the final level of the game and after winning he becomes a playable character. To be honest, I never paid a lick of attention to Guitar Hero. (It’s all about Dance Dance Revolution.) But I was in love when Slash popped out of a dude’s mouth in a commercial for the game.
Slash gets his not-black-black person credentials for being the son of a white Brit and a black American costume designer, born in London and raised in Stroke-on-Trent in Straffordshire. At 11 his parents moved him to Los Angeles where later the rock bug would get him. At fourteen his granny hooked him up with a guitar and the rest was rock legend history.
Said Slash to Rolling Stone:
My big awakening happened when I was fourteen. I’d been trying to get into this older girl’s pants for a while, and she finally let me come over to her house. We hung out, smoked some pot and listened to Aerosmith‘s Rocks. It hit me like a fucking ton of bricks. I sat there listening to it over and over, and totally blew off this girl. I remember riding my bike back to my grandma’s house knowing that my life had changed. Now I identified with something.
Thank God. He could have grown up to become one of those boring not-black-black-people who live ordinary lives as doctors, business executives and St. Louis politicians.
No, no. Rock God is much better.
This entry was suggested by Snob reader Starrie. Thanks, Starrie! If you have any Incognegro candidates to recommend, just email me or post your suggestion in the comments below.