I was really dubious about reading Slash's self-titled autobiography when it first hit the shelves. Guns N' Roses remain one of my favourite bands of all time, and I really didn't want to learn anything that would damage the high esteem in which I hold their music. I've intentionally ignored and blocked out any knowledge of bad behaviour and I was reluctant to burst my happy bubble by delving into Slash's autobiography. Alas, it's been several years since publication, and curiosity finally got the better of me and I wanted to find out how the band fell apart.
Well, I think it's fair to say that my bubble was completely and utterly decimated within the first 50 pages. The biggest shock of the book was learning that Slash has a pacemaker! His drug abuse took such a toll on his heart that eventually he had a heart attack and was dead for eight minutes before being brought back to life. Unimaginable!
I've now resigned myself to the fact that one of my music heroes was either on drugs or drunk when he recorded the solos and songs I've grown to love and which formed a significant part of the soundtrack of my youth.
Having said that, I really enjoyed discovering how each of the songs were written and which band members came up with the riff, chorus, lyrics, melody and how the albums came together. These details about the music and recordings had me listening to the songs with new ears. The most surprising snippet for me was that there weren't any strings in the original recording of November Rain. After the band members had recorded their parts to November Rain, Axl used his synthesizer to add all of the melodies and 'strings' which are so moving in the song. Amazing!
I learned more about Axl - his talent and behaviour - and Slash is both complimentary and critical throughout the book. Hundreds of people in the music business were named in Slash, and he also chronicles his relationships in the lead up to his second marriage to Perla and the birth of his two kids.
I was relieved to finally get some closure by reading Slash's reasons for leaving the band, and an understanding of why a reunion of the original lineup of Guns N' Roses is completely out of the question.
I would recommend this autobiography to readers who enjoy reading about successful rock bands and their outrageous behaviour, or fans of Guns N' Roses and Slash.
My rating = ***