"Whether you're 20, 40 or 60 years old, grew up in Los Angeles or hopped right off the bus a la Axl Rose in 'Welcome to the Jungle,' if you're a music fan, the Sunset Strip's legacy and continuing eminence as a rock n' roll nucleus is and has been an undeniable draw. It may have lost some luster over years, but in the last few, it's definitely come to recapture the old magic, albeit in a new way."
The third annual Sunset Strip Music Festival kicked off last Thursday, August 26, with a benefit for its 2010 honoree, guitar legend Slash, at the House of Blues. The festival culminated Saturday, August 28, with performances by over 50 bands including Slash with Myles Kennedy and Fergie, the Smashing Pumpkins, Semi Precious Weapons, Filter, Kid Cudi, Common, Travie McCoy, Warner Drive, The Binges, Beth Hart, David George, Delta Rose, Whiskey Six, The Outline, Thick as Thieves, Tucker Jameson & The Hot Mugs, and more.
In addition to interviews with Slash, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Richard Patrick of Filter, Steven Adler of Adler's Appetite/ex-Guns N' Roses, and Warner Drive, L.A. Weekly reached out to other performers during the festival to talk their favorite Slash stories and the impact that the guitarist has had on their careers and lives.
Read on for more about hearing the solo in "November Rain" for the first time, watching Slash shred with Michael Jackson at the MTV Video Music Awards, and one particular sexual fantasy involving both the axe man and Debbie Gibson...
"When I was 10, I wanted to bang Debbie Gibson. When I was 11, I wanted to bang Slash while Debbie Gibson watched. What changed? My oldest brother Johnny drove me two hours from Chicago to Indiana to see Faith No More, Metallica, and Guns N' Roses! After seeing Gn'R I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to be an Axl, but I needed to find my Slash god damn it! So really Slash changed my fucking life. I'd probably be a chorus boy with out him. And really, I'd still like to bang Slash while Ms. Gibson watches, or bang Debbie while Slash watches, either one would be fine." -- Justin Tranter of Semi Precious Weapons
"Slash is the Sunset Strip. The Sunset Strip is Slash. Cheers to one of the coolest dudes in history... to hear him soloing on the Strip will be a perfect storm." -- Cisco Adler
"You cant play rock n' roll without a guitar, and you cant play rock n' roll guitar without being influenced by Slash. The very first time that any of us had ever heard the uncontrollable solos of 'Paradise City' we knew that you do not have to be the lead singer to have the voice of the band. The style of this nonchalant rocker is equally inspirational not just through the music, but also through his image. Top hat, radical hair, and snake skin boots are just the exterior of what Slash's mystique is all about. Seeing Slash without a guitar is like seeing Santa Claus in a bikini, and no one wants to see that. His ability to project the soul of his music through his onstage performance, is a gift witch is coveted by any musician. Slash has no greatest guitar riff, because there are simply too many legendary licks to choose just one. He will remain a supreme rock figure to us forever, and is more than worthy to be honored at the 2010 Sunset Strip Music Festival. We'll always turn up the stereo when his famous Les Paul is playing through the speakers. Rock n' roll!" -- Forrest Goss of Delta Rose
"My brother is 9 years older than I am, so at the tender age of 5, I was introduced to Appetite for Destruction. My mom often talks about me as a little kid, jumping on my bed, head banging along to Slash's solos. I've long since destroyed that cassette, due to too many plays, but thank you Slash for planting a love of shredding in my early brain. I think from here on out I'll call you Little Shred Riding Hood." -- Graham Fink of The Outline
"When I was 7 years old 'November Rain' was the most popular video out, but my mom wouldn't let me watch MTV. Sometimes, I would secretly scan past the channel in the living room just to see if I could catch a glimpse of it and I would sneak downstairs into the basement to watch it. I learned every note of his solo's from piano sheet music. It was painful, but worth it. Slash was and still is the epitome of cool. He transcends generations and remains one of the greatest rock stars of all time. " -- Alex Mercier, singer of Thick as Thieves
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"It was the 1995 MTV VMAs. I was just 7 years old but I was glued to the TV to watch two legends perform -- Michael Jackson and Slash were dueling it out over 'Black or White.' Michael was screeching his series of falsetto yelps and squeals while accompanying them with bad-ass dance moves, but then it was Slash's turn. He comes out on stage dressed in his top hat and rock star attire and starts tearing through the end of the song. The music stops but Slash keeps going, Michael jumps around and finally goes off stage to get ready for the next song. Even a techie tries to usher Slash off the stage but Slash slaps him away! There he was, knees planted on the ground, guitar raised in the air and letting out a wailing solo in spite of all forces moving against him. He embodied all the attitude and glory that rock stood for, he was and is still, the true champion of rock n' roll." -- Tucker Jameson of Tucker Jameson & The Hot Mugs
"The first time I recall hearing Gn'R was at a girlfriend's house. About 6 or 7 of us stopped over after the bars closed to continue our intoxication. I remember someone put Appetite for Destruction on and I literally sat there frozen until someone flipped the record over (yes, it was vinyl). The music scared the shit out of me! Slash's guitar playing combined with Izzy, Duff, Axl and Steven were the dirtiest darkest most magnificent sounds I ever heard. We must have played the record for 4 more hours. I wouldn't let anyone stop it! The intro to 'Welcome to the Jungle' sucked me back in every time the needle hit the record.
I was also fortunate enough to spend about 3 weeks on tour with Velvet Revolver in 2004. I would sit off stage at every show with my jaw wide open watching Slash. His effortless attack on the Les Paul just didn't make sense. I actually got to jam onstage with all the techs during sound check and was handed Slash's Les Paul. It was like holding a Excalibur... and I was not worthy to wield it! The last day of the tour for us I was able to spend a few minutes backstage after the show and have a brief conversation with Slash. He was extremely genuine and courteous. He is definitely nobility when it comes to the kingdom of rock." -- David George
View photos from the festival in Timothy Norris' slideshow, "Sunset Strip Music Festival 2010."