During a recent interview, Guns N’ Roses icon Slash talked about his experience going on stage for the first time and recalled how his father encouraged him to perform and the way that he felt when he started playing in front of ‘more than two people.’
As you probably know, Ernie Ball is one of the most successful manufacturers of electric and acoustic guitar strings, bass strings, and other guitar accessories. Recently, they collaborated with Slash, with whom they created a new series of ‘Slash x Ernie Ball Signature String sets‘ which are now available for purchase.
As a part of the promotion of their latest product, Ernie Ball did an interview with Slash who talked about the first time he performed on stage at Al‘s, which was an adult bar filled with ‘bikers and older alcoholics.’ He said that his father would take him to bars since he was a child and that everything started when one night they went to Al’s to watch his friend Phil Lee perform with his band.
Slash’s father suggested that his 16-year-old son should join them on the stage, to which Slash happily and nervously said yes. In the interview, he recalled playing on stage and hearing cheers and shouts which highly encouraged him and enabled him to play better.
Slash also said that when he went to school on Monday, he showed off by saying that he went on stage at Al’s and played ‘a couple of Stones songs’ and that everyone was really surprised to hear that. He also remembers that the bar was crowded because it was Saturday night and is still surprised that Phil Lee‘s band gave him a chance.
Here’s what Slash said in the interview about his first time on stage:
“I remember the first show I ever did in front of people was at Al’s bar downtown. Al’s bar was like, Filthy Nastys. You know, if you remember what Filthy Me Nastys was like it’s an adult bar club kind of deal. It wasn’t like the hair metal scene that we have down here. This is like, just a lot of carousing and the sound of bottles and laughing and, you know, bikers and older alcoholics.
My dad had a friend named Phil Lee was his name and he had a band. And it was a touring band. I think they had just gotten a record deal. So he asked me if I wanted to go down and check it out. You know, I’ve been going to bars with my dad since I was a baby.
We went down there and my dad just sort of wantonly said, ‘Why don‘t you have you know, Saul going up on stage?’ Right? I think I was 16. I’d only been playing a couple of years. It was scary. But I didn’t have time to be scared because the option to do it was yes or no right there, in the moment.
So I just said yes, without thinking. Jump first ask questions later. As it was leading up to the time where they were going to call my name is when I remember getting a little bit more and more nervous as every song went on until it was like, right, you know, the song before I had to get out there.”
He went on to say:
“And then that was I was pretty petrified at that point. But you know, that’s how it goes. You just sort of you get up there and you just do it. I was like the guest guitarist so it was like they really sort of putting the spotlight on you know.
There was a Stones song. A Creedence Clearwater song, we did ‘Proud Mary,’ and Tina Turner, and a Beatle song. Fuck, I can’t remember which one. It was money. Absolutely. And then the other thing was, of course, although I know the songs and grew up with them, I hadn’t necessarily played them. So you just had to sort of wing it.
I think there was actually a positive reaction to the solos that I was doing. It was sort of like, some yells and stuff. So it was encouraging and I remember that I was encouraged. That was like a definite feather in the cap kind of thing. I showed up at school the following Monday, you know, I could say ‘I jammed over at Al’s bar last night, yeah. and, you know, I did a couple of Stones songs, you know?’ [Laughs]
So that was my first day and they kept me up for all those songs. It couldn’t have been too bad. But looking back on it now, you know, I’m thinking ‘Fucking God those guys really took a sort of chance getting me up there.’ It was a weekend so the place was crowded. So, that was my first ever you know, sort of professional gig but really, my first time ever playing in front of more than two people.”
You can check out Slash’s interview and Signature String sets that Ernie Ball posted on their Instagram account below.