Slash’s honest-to-badness biog skips the psychobabble
‘Lucky and her boyfriend came rolling in with all of this crack and smack and I’m sitting on the floor watching them spread out all of the drugs across the coffee table. They’ve got rigs, pointers, shooters, tools, hardware – whatever you choose to call them – and they’ve got brand new needles. We get it all going, the three of us, and we are all fiending hard.”
Fiending hard. It’s a beautiful phrase and one of many surprise turns in Slash: The Autobiography. The former Guns N’ Roses guitarist decided to set the record as straight as he could because, in his new band, Velvet Revolver, the only questions he gets asked are about his Guns N’ Roses days.
“I would never write an autobiography just to talk about myself,” Slash says, hilariously (whether intentionally or not). “This was the only format I could find where I could stop people asking me stupid questions about my life.”
You expect a good deal of drugging and drinking in your average rock memoir, especially from a member of Guns N’ Roses. Slash doesn’t disappoint, but the curious brilliance about this book is the absence of the usual rocker bravado in the storytelling. While this isn’t exactly a moral fable (it’s more “Oh dude, I really fucked up there”), there is honesty and integrity at play.
In the “fiending hard” episode of 2000, Slash’s heart stopped beating for eight minutes. He was 35 at the time and as a result he had to be fitted with a threeinch cardio-defibrillator. He’ll always have the defibrillator, even if he is now clean and sober.
In the rock autobiography, you can really only do so much with tales of drinking three bottles of Jack Daniels a day and piling the cocaine and heroin into you. So many of these books attempt to crowbar some “meaning” into the narrative. Slash, however, never feels the need to psychobabble. Hey, when you’re in one of the biggest rock’n’roll bands in the world, you behave like the role central casting assigned to you.
There’s an engaging artlessness to Slash’s life, from his mixed-race background in Stoke (of all places), to having his life turned upside down by one listen to Aerosmith’s Rocks album, to his early partying days on LA’s Sunset Strip. And it’s a pleasant surprise to have the guitarist say of his long-running and bitter feud with Axl Rose: “Axl has his version of events that is every bit as valid as mine.”
Slash has a cameo in another just-published rock memoir, this one by Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe. Heroin Diaries memorably opens with Sixx crouching in his house with a shotgun in one hand and a needle in his arm. His entry for February 18th, 1987, reads: “Slash came over today. We were playing guitar and having a few drinks and watching MTV and I went for a piss. When I came back, Slash was looking at me funny. He asked why I still have my Christmas tree up with unopened presents under it. That’s a good question.” By not attempting any thoughtful analysis of rock’n’ roll excess, both books provide fantastic insights. Stripped of any attempt to explain, justify or condone, they simply let their own stories do the talking.
Slash has already had interest from Hollywood for a film of his book. Producers will have to decode his following statement: “The one thing I wouldn’t
have them do or allow them to do would be to actually do the book with the characters in it, the way that they are in real life, as far as who they are.”
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