In a recent WTF with Marc Maron interview, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash discussed quitting smoking and criticized a Cher concert he attended.
“I quit smoking nine years ago, almost 10 years ago. When I did it, I had pneumonia, and pneumonia is what helped me quit smoking. That, and I saw Cher the night before, and that’s when I caught the pneumonia. So Cher helped me quit smoking. Anyway, I couldn’t smoke. I tried — I couldn’t breathe — so I had two weeks on my back. So I quit, and then I used the patch to sort of get the edge off. Then I started doing the snus [smokeless tobacco] thing, and I was doing that for years. My significant other talked me out of doing it, and so I started doing the [nicotine] gum. And I sleep with the gum.”
Slash gave up smoking after his mother died from cancer.
“She was one of those smokers that always said, ‘I’m gonna quit one day,'” he recalled. “But while she was in the hospital, I would literally sit with her, go outside and smoke a cigarette, come back and sit with her. And then the Cher thing happened, and that’s when I said, ‘You know what?'”
Slash was “dragged” to the Cher concert in Las Vegas by his ex-wife Perla and her friends, and he wasn’t impressed. “I had to leave for every song and go outside and smoke,” he said. “And I think I’d worn myself down from smoking so much, and Cher just took me over the top. Every time she revisited one of those periods [during the concert]… She had a closet on stage and she’d go in the closet and she’d come out and she’d be the Indian. Every single thing that she’s been over her career… When she started with the Sonny & Cher thing, it just killed me — I couldn’t take it. So I would smoke… I just didn’t have any fond memories of that show or any of the other stuff.”
Slash says he does get tempted to smoke again, “You’ve got these triggers all the time. They only last for maybe two seconds or so, but they’re really, really potent. And you can just get it watching somebody smoke on TV. I saw somebody smoking at a bus stop, and I said, ‘Ohhh…’ It happens at least once a day every day.”
Slash called himself a ‘compulsive’ smoker, smoking 60 cigarettes per day at one point.
“I was in Calabasas one time. It was one of the first times I’d ever actually been there. And there’s some sort of outdoor mall-y kind of thing with a theater — it was like a pavilion of something — and I got out of the car and I lit a cigarette and I was walking wherever we were walking to through the parking lot. And they said, ‘You can’t smoke in here.’ And I said, ‘We can smoke in here. We’re fucking out here. This is out here.’ And it was, like, there’s a rule — you can’t smoke on the street. So enough of that kind of stuff [happened].”
Slash said that his cigarette habit affected his live performances, especially after a smoking ban was introduced in enclosed work places in the U.K. back in 2007.
“I was smoking at gigs, and I was on tour in the U.K., and they told me, ‘The smoking ban’s coming,'” he said. “I said, ‘You guys are gonna have some serious problems.’ It was in Ireland. [I said] ‘You know they’re gonna riot. It’s not gonna work.’ And so we finished the tour, and I came back maybe six months later, and they had passed this thing. And it was people sitting outside all smoking their cigarettes with their cocktails, and they were sitting on benches. And some hotels had put monitors outside so you could watch TV and smoke, and they just went down quietly. And it was, like, ‘Wow!’ No repercussions whatsoever — no violence, stoning or anything.”
“They were trying to fine me for every cigarette I smoked on stage. So it was, like, a hundred quid for every cigarette. So we had to make up a bunch of stories, and we got out of it. But I couldn’t believe it had gotten to that point.”