Slash’s First Impression of Axl Rose: ‘Soulful, Bluesy, Melodic’
Do you remember the first time you heard Axl Rose's voice? For many, it was the unabashed aggression pulsing through Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle," but for Slash, he had a little different first impression upon first hearing his future bandmate.
Speaking with Kerrang!, Slash recalled, “The first time [I heard Axl] was on a cassette that Izzy [Stradlin] brought over to my house. There was all this noise and then there’s this really intense high voice over the top of it. My first impression was that it was very soulful. It had a bluesy, melodic thing to it, which was rare for that type of voice. You didn’t often hear somebody hold that melody together so naturally."
But the first time seeing Rose in person provided yet another perspective for the guitarist. "Then I went to see him and Izzy play one time. I didn’t actually realize I was going to see the same person that was on that cassette," recalled Slash. "They were fucking hardcore onstage. Izzy was doing knee slides and Axl was bashing down. It was cool, like, 'Fuck.’”
Fans would eventually see the more "soulful" and "melodic" side of Rose that Slash was speaking of as the Appetite for Destruction album grew in popularity and fans became more familiar with the record. GN'R would push boundaries even further on their future releases.
Reflecting on their early rehearsals, Slash says, “The first time that we jammed together was at a rehearsal place in Hollywood and it was intense. We started working together at that point, we did some shows and it was always very unpredictable and wild. Like, ‘Okay, let’s see what happens.’"
He adds, "It was pretty surreal being back on this [reunion] tour because the first time that Axl, Duff [McKagan] and I were back in the same room in person, there was this unquestionable, powerful chemistry that I hadn’t really thought about because it had been 20 years. I always knew that we had this thing. It just happened as soon as we plugged in and started playing, and it was really like an overwhelming feeling of, ‘Oh yeah.’”
While Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction is widely regarded as one of the biggest debut albums in rock history, Slash admits it came as a bit of a surprise. “I would say I was blindsided by the success. Realistically in doing a record – a cool record – we were that gang that walked into a room like, ‘You don’t want to fuck with us. We do our thing, and we do it better than everybody else, so don’t even fuck around.’ I don’t know how to explain it. So there was always that confidence in what it was that we did, but I didn’t have any big expectations for the first record" says the guitarist. "I was just happy to have done a first record. We went on the road as the opening band for God knows… everybody at the time, and when 'Sweet Child O’ Mine' connected [in 1987], the whole thing blew wide open.”
Appetite for Destruction went on to top the Billboard 200 Album chart and has been certified 18 times platinum by the RIAA.
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