Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash discussed his early music experiences in a new Music Aficionado interview.
“I was born in Hampstead, London, and my dad was a huge rock ‘n’ roll fan. His brothers, too. I was weaned on the Who and the Yardbirds, the Stones and the Beatles, the Moody Blues—everything that was going on over there. My dad and his brothers were very hardcore.
My mom was a big music fan in Los Angeles. Eventually, we packed up and moved there. Both she and my dad got in the business—my mom designed clothes for all these different artists, and my dad worked for David Geffen at Asylum. I went to the Troubadour and the Forum a lot with my parents, and I loved that whole thing. Whenever the bands came on, it was orgasmic.
Even though I was raised around all that, I had no aspirations to be a musician. I didn’t pick up the guitar till I was 15, and I only picked it up because Steven Adler played guitar. We used to play air guitar to Cheap Trick and Aerosmith. Like kids do, we said, “Let’s start a band.” We had the whole fantasy. Because he played guitar, I decided to play bass. I went to a music school and talked to this teacher. He had a guitar on his lap and he started playing the riff to Sunshine of Your Love, and I said, ‘That’s what I wanna do!’ Then he told me, ‘Well, that’s not bass. That’s guitar.’
My grandmother had a Spanish acoustic buried in a closet—I knew I’d seen it. It had one string on it, and I started to play on that. I took it back to the guitar teacher and he showed me how to put the other strings on. Then he started teaching me the basics—scales and patterns. But he told me that once I was done with my lessons, he’d teach me anything I wanted to learn. So at the end of each lesson, we’d put on a record and he’d pick up the riff by ear. I thought, ‘Fuck, I can do that.’ That’s what I ended up doing.”