Slash & Anthony Bozza,
(HarperEntertainment, 2007)

The story of Guns N' Roses is one of the most controversial in rock 'n' roll history. GNR has had a famously terse relationship with journalists and authors and, in recent years, former band members have publicly disagreed about the "real story" in the press. The band even threatened bodily harm to journalists in the lyrics of the Use Your Illusion albums!

Now, for the first time ever, someone on the inside has gone on record to describe the genesis of the band, how they wrote and performed one of the most definitive rock albums of all time, the changes in the band's lineup and, finally, the implosion of all things GNR. Who knew it would be the notoriously private lead guitarist, a soft-spoken man hidden behind a famous mop of hair, who would step up and tell the story?

Slash's memoir is the diary of a dope fiend (released a month after The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. the autobiography of his friend and former heroin-buddy Nikki Sixx). Well, the diary of a dope- and women- and coke- and crack- and alcohol-fiend. Have anything else debaucherous? In the late 1980s and '90s, Slash would have tried it for sure. During one cocaine-induced hallucination of an attack by blue-gray Predator-like creatures with machine guns, Slash punched out his glass shower door and ran naked into the streets in terror. The incident got Slash into rehab, but no sooner than his limo driver picked up the "cured" ax man, he was downing half a liter of vodka in the backseat.

What doesn't Slash want to talk about? Well, don't bother asking if GNR is getting back together (I'm not even going to acknowledge the current faux-lineup). Slash says it won't happen, ever. The 10-years-delayed release of Axl's Chinese Democracy album? Slash gets asked that question in every interview, and he leaves it out of his memoir. In an interview about the book, Slash stated "Axl works in a different time zone than I do. So what may seem like a long time to other people is a tick of the clock to him. It'll come out, though. It will." Even Axl's famous tour cancellations and delays are treated matter-of-factly -- Slash doesn't attempt to analyze or explain the behavior of his bandmate, nor does he seethe with anger or resentment.

Others have tried to write the history of the band, but most are hacks or fanboys who strung together quotes from numerous previously published sources. Before Slash spoke up, the only other worthwhile title was rock journalist Mick Wall's The Most Dangerous Band in the World (1992) and the VH1 Behind the Music production (2004).

Thank you, Slash, for letting all rock fans into the inner world of GNR, featuring your toxic twin Steven, current bandmate and forever friend Duff, the laidback and gifted Izzy, and the enigmatic Axl. You've treated the story with humor, candor, honesty, self-reflection and respect, even for those from whom you are currently estranged.

review by
Jessica Lux-Baumann

19 January 2008

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