Slash’s hon­est-to-bad­ness biog skips the psy­chob­a­b­ble

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

‘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.”

Slash: not gun-shy when it comes to Axl

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