There's an old photograph in Slash's autobiography of him and actor Charlie Sheen on a private jet, where they're probably headed to Las Vegas. Sheen wears the guitar legend's signature black top hat and mugs for the camera, while Slash, Heineken in hand, dons sunglasses and a silver vial necklace described in the caption as the one he used to keep “loaded with coke.” But those days are long gone, and as comedian George Lopez joked on Monday alongside his “Lopez Tonight” talk show guests Slash and Sheen, there comes a point in a man's life when the party ends, the commitment to family begins, and playmates get replaced with your children's play dates.
Slash laughs as we begin our interview the morning after Lopez's show: “What's funny was I took my kids over to Charlie's house… he's got two daughters and I have two boys… so we've never been invited back. My kids are just so crazy. Girls are mellow, you know? They're very cool, quiet and collected. But boys are like fuckin' little mini Tarzans. They just run all over the place and scared the shit out of [the girls]. So anyways, so much for play dates with Charlie.”
At this point we're both laughing, but playmates versus play dates aside, the real reason L.A. Weekly got Slash on the phone was to discuss his involvement with the Los Angeles Youth Network and the LAYN Rocks benefit concert happening this Sunday, November 22 at Avalon in Hollywood. As previously announced, the “Slash & Friends” charity event will be hosted by the aforementioned Lopez and feature performances by Ozzy Osbourne, Perry Farrell, Billy Idol, Travis Barker, Chester Bennington, Andrew Stockdale, Dave Navarro, Tom Morello and some surprise guests. Well, according to our conversation with Slash, one of those surprise guests will be none other than original Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler.
Read the interview below for more about the concert, LAYN's efforts to help homeless youth, and Slash's own experiences with life on the streets.
L.A. Weekly: So about the LAYN Rocks benefit…
Slash: Yeah, it's this Sunday at the Avalon. My wife and I are both big supporters of the Los Angeles Youth Network which is this really cool non profit organization. Basically they take in homeless kids anywhere from 12 to 21 years old and give them a new lease on life. Most of them are either abused or in some kind of deep trouble. They've been through a lot at a young age. It gives them the wherewithal to get on their feet, get into the world, be independent and get their shit together. They really take good care of educating these kids on all different levels, housing them, all sorts of stuff. It's a great support group and I'm just amazed at how the kids have turned out. I'll go and visit on occasion and see what they've got going on. It's really cool to see the developments so we're trying to help LAYN stay on its feet because it's expensive to keep all these kids together.
L.A. Weekly: Do you find that these kids relate to you because of how open you've been about the shit you've gone through?
Slash: Yeah, I definitely feel a bond with these kids. Even though I wasn't abused or anything, I chose to hang out on the streets from a very young age so I've seen a lot of the same stuff they're going through first hand. I've been through it and can just totally relate. So, yeah, I hadn't even really thought about that … [laughs] that's probably why I was so attracted to the [organization]. I can understand how violated some of them feel because I've seen kids go down the same paths who weren't lucky enough to have an organization like this to help them get out. When I was in junior high school, in 7th grade, we had girls that were prostitutes in Hollywood. I remember running in to one of them in Griffith Park doing these three guys in a burned out old car and it turned out she was turning tricks for money because she didn't have any parents. She was lucky to be in school. I saw all sorts of weird shit like that.
L.A. Weekly: The LAYN Rocks benefit has a pretty big lineup.
Slash: Yeah, this will be the first “Slash & Friends” gig I've ever done in L.A. We did one in Vegas recently and I did one in Norway a while back. I try and get as many cool people as possible but this is unique because I've [performed] with Ozzy before, Ozzy's great, but then all these other cats I haven't really worked with in this capacity: Andrew Stockdale from Wolfmother; Billy Idol who I'm friends with but have never done one of these gigs with; Chester and Perry Farrell I have; Dave Navarro which is great; and Travis Barker who I've never jammed with before either. Then there's Chris Chaney who played bass on my record which is coming out next year … and Frankie Perez who's the house band vocalist. He's fuckin' killer. It's just going to be one of these rocking gigs. Steve Adler's coming up for one song. Tom Morello's coming up as well. It's going to be rad. We've managed to sell a lot of tickets so I'm glad we've been able to come through for LAYN. We want to sell it out.
L.A. Weekly: How much money does it take to keep an organization like LAYN going?
Slash: I don't know exactly but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to imagine how much money it costs to provide housing for all these kids. Imagine everything that it takes to support one person. Basically it's fund supported. It runs from donations. They've been running into a bad patch at this particular point in time which probably has a lot to do with everything else having a hard time. We just want to try and keep LAYN going.
LAYN Rocks featuring “Slash & Friends” takes place this Sunday, November 22 at Avalon in Hollywood. Doors are at 8 p.m and you can still get tickets at laynrocks.com. For more information on the Los Angeles Youth Network check out layn.org.
“Guitar Legends: Slash Remembers Friend and Mentor Les Paul, A Total Fuckin' Maverick,” 2009