Our series of brilliant guitarists continues…

There was no entry last week because I was busy and because someone else wrote a post that I felt deserved some attention and I didn’t wish to detract from their brilliant entry. I’m also becoming rather busy. Still, there’s lots of artists to write about and I can manage to fit this in most every week.

Without further ado, our forth entry:

#4 Slash

I know, I know… And you’re wrong. In fact, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Slash is just a guitar god. He probably could be #1, but he got shunted to #4 because the first three get special privileges. If Slash had been earlier on the scene, he’d at least be somewhere higher on the list.

What, you thought I was going to suggest he be lower on the list? Surely, you have to have bumped your head. I’m not kidding when I say he’s also a guitar god. From solos that rock the very fabric of the universe to chordal patterns that could only have come from a mind that lives and breathes music, Slash has it all.

First, some facts about Slash:

Slash was born with a black Gibson Les Paul in his hand. Slash was born with the hat. Slash has always known the fretboard – as it’s all Slash understands. Slash speaks no languages other than tab and guttural grunts and wild gesticulations. If Slash does speak, it’s actually the hat speaking on his behalf. Slash once performed successful heart surgery on a homeless man in Nepal, using nothing but a pick and a guitar string.

Now for some truth:

BB King once stole his hat. Slash was too busy playing to kill him. There might have been some mutual respect involved, and Mr. King – who is not actually on my list, simply because I can’t just list every guitarist better than Hendrix, gave him the hat back. It was actually one of the more tender moments I’ve ever seen and BB King is very gregarious to guests on his stage.

Allow me a moment to wander…

BB King is, sadly, probably not on this list. He was a good guitarist and had a brilliant career. King was, and always will be, a master of the blues and an artist who should need no introduction. I’ve never seen a more gracious stage personality than Mr. King.

For all the respect I have for King, and that’s a lot, he doesn’t belong on this list. He belongs on many lists, but he’s not someone I’d nominate for Guitarist of the Century. Every single person on this list is someone whom I’d nominate for that recognition – and is someone more deserving than Hendrix. In the pantheon of guitar gods, BB doesn’t get a place for technical guitar playing.

Someday, maybe, I’ll write a list of Guitarists I Really Like – and he belongs on that list.

Now, back to Slash…

Rolling Stone, in their sheer brilliance, placed him at #65 on their list of Top 100 Guitar Players. My guess is that this decision was made after a bout of heavy drinking, sniffing ether, and throwing darts at a dictionary – and hitting on the word slash and simply getting lucky that it was actually a musician, because they surely didn’t actually bother to learn anything about music before making this decision.

Seriously, who the hell edits Rolling Stone? How the hell did they put him way down at #65? Are they deaf and blind? Here I am wishing I could place him higher on the list, and there they are putting him way down in 65th position.

If you don’t believe that Slash is a guitar god, go learn not just the solo to November Rain – but make it sound like Slash and do so consistently. Go on, I’ll wait. I’ve got the tab, if you want it.

From Sweet Child of Mine to November Rain, from Welcome to the Jungle, to his brilliant rendition of Knocking on Heaven’s Door, he’s pretty much a flawless composer and player. If you listen to his guitar work, there’s no point in time when one can logically conclude that there were better choices to be made. That’s not to say every song is perfect – it’s to say you work with the material you have.

If you don’t think he’s a fantastic artist with a wide variety of skills, I highly encourage you to see the above mentioned show with BB King. (The stage is loaded with talent, as many of King’s concerts were.) In fact, screw it. I’ll link it and you now have no excuses for not watching this show.

That’s a bit long but it’s absolutely worth watching.

At some point, there’s some things that are no longer matters of opinion and they’re just facts. The fact is, Slash belongs on this list. We could maybe debate his position on the list, but his inclusion is absolutely mandatory. I really can’t place him lower on the list – because I’ve replicated his sound and I realize exactly how difficult it is.

I shouldn’t have to justify his inclusion – it should just be something a human knows by intuition. But… Let’s justify it anyhow, ‘cause who doesn’t want to hear some GnR? If you play, go learn these and come back to tell me that I was wrong about placing him where I did.

November Rain:

Welcome to the Jungle:

Yeah… See?

Here’s a fine documentary about Slash. It’s short and worth watching for those who wish to know a bit more about him as a person. (He doesn’t tell you about the magical guitar powers granted him by the hat, but he wouldn’t let that secret out.)

(Also, he’s kinda chubby in that video.)

If you’d like to see the “facts” that the evil Wikipedia has, then click here.

However, they don’t actually tell you that he was born with a guitar in his hand and wearing his signature hat. I presume this is a conspiracy, but I can’t actually fathom the reason. If I had to wager a guess about the motives for the conspiracy, I’d say it probably had something to do with Slash’s hat actually being magical and the source of his guitar power – but that’d be idle speculation and we’re here on this site for serious scholarly discussion!

I’ll send you out with a bonus track. If you want to see divinity, it kicks in at just about the 2:35 mark. Listen carefully. There’s not one single note that I’d change. When I play this for people, I play it exactly like that. Well, to be fair, I do that with everything – but in this case, it’s a delight and perfect in every single way.

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