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Gun For Hire: Slash the Sideman

Michael Leonard
|
04.27.2013

Slash has been the guitar star for Guns N’ Roses, Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and, currently, his own “solo” band. But Slash also has played sessions that would make many guitarists-for-hire weep. Sure, the fame of his name got him many gigs, but Slash’s session story is a whole world in itself: 2004 and 2007 are the only years since 1988 when Slash hasn’t guested on at least one other artist’s recordings.

From rock to metal, from blues to R&B, from hip-hop to pop, Slash’s Gibson Les Pauls have been places you wouldn’t necessarily know. And not on other songs you thought he was on.

Here’s a selected rundown of recordings where artists have decided the missing ingredient is Mr. Saul Hudson.

With Alice Cooper…

Guns had only just hit big when Slash made his first guest apperance in 1988’s The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, appearing on  “Under My Wheels” by Alice Cooper. Slash later spilled some insane guitar wailing on Cooper’s “Vengeance is Mine.” He also played on Cooper’s “Hey Stoopid” and on the live album, A Fistful of Alice.

With Michael Jackson…

The King of Pop and Slash were unlikely friends. After Jackson’s death, Slash even described himself and MJ as “very similar people, it was always all about the music.” That said, Slash also was at pains to clarify what he did and did not contribute to Jackson hits. Speaking to CNN in 2010, Slash said of a popular misconception: “I never played on ‘Black or White.’ I played on ‘Give in to Me’ [also from Jackson’s Dangerous album] and in the ‘Black and White’ video, when Macaulay Culkin was trashing around, that’s me playing.” “Black or White”’s recorded guitars are played by co-writer Bill Botrell and the solo by L.A. session player Tim Pierce.

But Slash did famously play with MJ on a medley at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1995. Slash also played on that year’s “They Don’t Care About Us” and “D.S.” and “Morphine” (from the 1997 remix album Blood on the Dancefloor.)

With Lenny Kravitz…

Slash was a key ingredient on Kravitz’s sophomore album of 1991, Mama Said. The music for “Always on the Run” was written by Slash for Guns N' Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums but Guns’ then-drummer Steven Adler apparently had difficulty playing it. So, Slash kept the tune on stand-by until he hooked-up with Kravitz.

“Working with Lenny was great, and if the opportunity again presented itself, we could come up with some more great music,” Slash revealed on his own www.snakepit.org site. Slash also played on Mama Said’s “Fields of Joy.”

Kravitz and Slash attended the same school years before. “I knew [Slash] from the hallway, just like, ‘Hey, what’s up, man?’” Kravitz told Details. “We didn't meet again until the American Music Awards in 1990. He came up to me and told me that Guns N' Roses were big fans of Let Love Rule. In fact, Axl had a button on his leather jacket that said LET LOVE RULE. We started talking, and I realized he was that kid named Saul from high school.”

With Gilby Clarke…

Clarke’s 1994 solo album featured not only Slash, but Axl Rose, Matt Sorum and Duff McKagan. All starred on different Clarke tracks which may say something about the internal relationships of Guns at the time. Slash plays on two of Pawnshop Guitars strongest tracks, “Cure Me… or Kill Me...” and “Tijuana Jail.” Clarke, of course, then ended up playing in Slash’s band Snakepit, contributing “Monkey Chow” to the band’s album It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.

With Iggy Pop…

Slash and Iggy go way back. In fact, Slash’s mother once dated David Bowie, via whom the young Saul Hudson got to know the older Jim Osterberg. “Home,” on Iggy’s 1990 album Brick by Brick album, is the main notable collaboration, with Slash’s guitar work lifting a rather perfunctory song. Iggy eventually returned the favor, singing on Slash’s “We’re All Gonna Die” on his 2010 solo debut album.

With TLC, Eazy-E, Insane Clown Posse and the Bee Gees

The early-to-mid-’90s may have found Slash bored. He dropped-in celeb solos and licks for TLC (“Red Light Special”), Eazy E (“Luv 4 Dem Gangsta’z”), Insane Clown Posse (“Halls of Illusions”) and even The Bee Gees (“Size Isn’t Everything”).  

With Chic…

This was only a live Japanese date in 1999, but it’s a bizarre union nonetheless. The disco legends already boast one of the world’s greatest funk guitarists in production/writing mastermind Nile Rodgers, but Slash was called upon anyway.

With The Yardbirds…

The British blues rave-up band of the 1960s boasted Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in their lineup at various times so when it came to a reunion album, they wanted stellar players. Slash, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Johnny Rzeznik, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Brian May all were guests on 2003’s Birdland album.

With other ex-Gunners…

Slash and Gilby Clarke (see above) worked together plenty, but Slash also found time to play on GN’R bassist Duff McKagan’s albums Believe in Me (1993, on the title track and “Just Not There”) and Beautiful Disease (1999, on the tracks “Hope” and “Mezz.”) Izzy Stradlin also played on Beautiful Disease. Most of these tracks are throwbacks to Guns’ punk-metal beginnings and could have been great Guns material except they don’t feature Axl Rose.

Slash also played on Matt Sorum’s 2003 Hollywood Zen album (on “The Blame Game.”)

With everyone else…!

Proving he’s never one to turn down an invitation, Slash has also guested with Ray Charles, Edgar Winter, Eric Clapton, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, Motörhead, Bob Dylan, Blackstreet, The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, Daughtry and on various movie/video game soundtracks.

The strange fact is Slash has recorded/appeared live on nearly 80 tracks by other artists, more than he recorded for the first five Guns N’ Roses albums, even including Lies. Slash will next guest on Unusual Suspects, the September release from Mountain guitarist Leslie West.

We guess that if Slash never does find another permanent singer, a singer will always find him.

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