Slash, the legendary guitarist for hard rock legends Guns N’ Roses, is lucky to be alive. His history of drinking and drugs is well-documented, and thankfully he made it out to the other side alive. Now he’s reflected on his notorious past in Rolling Stone, and how he’s been able to stay with his sober.
Back on the Road and Sober
Guns N Roses are currently enjoying a remarkable comeback touring around the world, but it was almost not to be. Guitarist Slash has had numerous near-death experiences from drugs and alcohol, but these days he’s clean and sober. “I’ve been really fortunate that I finally got to that point where I was just over it,” he says. “And I haven’t had an issue since then. I haven’t had the desire to go back and do that.”
The guitarist adds, “All addicts and alcoholics have to always know that it’s there. And I think, probably I’m at my weakest if I don’t have a bunch of shit going on.”
One of the keys to his sobriety is keeping busy. Not only is Slash playing all over the world with GNR, but he’s also producing horror films as well. “It’s a little crazy, but it’s way better for me to be fucking busy running around and doing that than for me just to be sitting around [laughs].”
Guns N Roses is now a consistently good live band, which they weren’t in their years of chemical indulgence, and Slash is performing sober for the first time in the band. “From ’86 to ’94, there was definitely not a day or a show that I was sober. [Today] it’s the same people and a lot of the same songs, and it still seems like a new experience. Which is probably a testament to the frame of mind I was in back then.”
Rock N Roll and Recovery
GNR bassist Duff McKagan got sober first in 1994 when he was near death to excessive drinking. Slash also had to get a pacemaker because his drinking had weakened his heart. “It’s still in there, I’ve never taken it out. The battery ran out a long time ago, but my heart came back to normal. They could take it out, but they would have to detach the leads to it, which are attached to my heart which is more of a risk than just leaving it in there.”
Once he was ready for recovery, Slash checked into rehab on July 3, 2006, and as he wrote in his biography, “I fully surrendered…First I kicked the drugs, then I cleared my head and did some work on figuring out why I liked to put myself in the same position over and over again. I learned more about myself than I had ever thought was possible…I’ve been sober ever since.”
Closing a Chapter
When Slash became a father, he wrote his autobiography to hopefully close a chapter on his very excessive life. Duff also wrote a book when he became a father hoping to reconcile his wild past.
In advising his young children today, Slash says, “For me, it’s sort of like, ‘You don’t necessarily wanna do that. I mean some of that stuff [I did] was really stupid, and I’d like to be able to tell you the difference between fun and smart and fun and stupid.”