During a recent conversation with The Sunday Times, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash discussed his signature top hat, saying he’s not too comfortable with looking fans in the eyes while performing.
You can check out a part of the interview below.
Since the start of your career, you have been known for your black top hat. It has become as recognizable as, for example, John Lennon’s glasses. Where did you and your top hat meet and how on earth does it stay on your head when you rock out on stage?
“I do not really know how I do it but my hat just always stays on, yeah. I realize it has become a very recognizable look, yet it was never planned.
“Early in my career, I was always on the lookout for a cool hat to complete my stage wardrobe. In 1985, we were playing the Whisky a Go Go [in West Hollywood] and I went to Melrose Boulevard in Los Angeles, where I spotted this top hat in the window of a store called Retail Slut.
“I went inside and checked it out and thought it looked really cool, so I got it. In the vintage shop right next door, called Leathers & Treasures, I got a concert belt that I cut up and put around the hat. That became my hat and I wore it that night for the first time at that gig.
“From that night on, my hat became something that I feel comfortable in.
“It has also become something I can hide behind, as even though I love performing, I have never been good at looking into the eyes of the audience who are watching me. So, my hat and my hair in my face has just been my thing ever since.”
You are synonymous with the famed brands Gibson and Marshall and own a mammoth guitar collection. Is it possible to have a favorite?
“I indeed have a lot of guitars and I love them all for different reasons. But I have one guitar that I have pretty much used my entire professional career. I use it now as my main guitar in the studio and I would say this is likely my favorite.
“I, however, have several guitars I love that I have been using live for a really long time now, like my 1987 Les Paul Standard that has been part of my live rig forever. I also have a B.C. Rich Mockingbird that, albeit not a Gibson, is one of my favorites to take out on the road since probably around 1991.
“I also have several great guitars I have been using with The Conspirators that are simply killer live guitars. So, I would consider these on the top of my favorite list, but I love all my guitars, and each has its own personality.”
As an iconic axeman, you have worked with some of the top vocalists of our time. Looking at all your collaborations, what stands out in retrospect?
“Like my guitars, each collaboration has been unique and special to me. I have indeed been fortunate to work with many great artists and my work with Michael Jackson is one that stands out.
“Also, my collaborations with Iggy Pop over the years have been exceptional. He is just an enigmatic talent that made a huge impact on me since growing up. Getting to work with him, seeing how he works and experiencing the spontaneous and true rock ‘n’ roll individual that he is, has just been amazing!
“I also loved working with Alice Cooper and Lenny Kravitz and, during my solo record [2012’s] ‘Apocalyptic Love,’ I got to meet Myles Kennedy. I had such an amazing experience making that record and working with all those great artists was special.”