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Guitar World
Guitar World
Matt Owen

“I have probably modeled myself after that. I go, ‘Well B.B. did it, so I can do it!’” Slash reveals one of the biggest lessons he learned from his blues hero, B.B. King

Slash and B.B. King performing live.

Last week, Slash released Orgy of the Damned – his first-ever solo blues cover record, which saw the Guns N’ Roses rocker team up with a string of high-profile artists to tackle a string of blues classics.

The release marked the completion of a career goal for the Gibson Les Paul loyalist, whose own playing style and music has been deeply influenced by the blues – and, specifically, one of the genre’s biggest legends, B.B. King.

In Slash’s own words, B.B. King has had an incalculable impact on his playing. In fact, Slash was first introduced to his music long before he even thought about picking up the electric guitar.

Speaking in the latest issue of Total Guitar, Slash discusses all things B.B. King, reflecting on the times he was fortunate enough to jam with the late blues great, and revealing the biggest lesson he learned from the Lucille master. 

“He was the guy, when I was a kid, way, way before I ever thought of picking up a guitar, he was the first traditional blues artist that I was exposed to,” Slash says. “My grandmother played me B.B. King and it stuck with me. 

“I heard a lot of blues artists after that, all around the family and stuff, but B.B. King, the first time I ever heard it, it really stuck with me, and so he ended up being my favourite blues guitar player out of all the greats that I really dig.”

Over his career, Slash has performed alongside King on a handful of occasions. One key encounter took place at the Royal Albert Hall, when the two Gibson players shared the stage with Ronnie Wood, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi to cover The Thrill Is Gone.

For Slash, the gig was merely an affirmation of B.B.’s commitment to his craft, as well as his evergreen approach to working as hard as possible. It's a mindset that has inspired and propelled Slash throughout his own career, and a mentality of his that he attributes solely to the late blues great. 

Slash continues, “He was so cordial to me, and so almost fatherly and nice and generous with his time. That had a positive effect on me. And I played with him a couple of times over the years, and the last time I played with him was at the Royal Albert Hall, and Ronnie Wood was there. 

“It was just a lot of fun. I remember being a little bit nervous, and not really feeling comfortable trying to play, but I was there, so... whatcha gonna do? But it was a really nice moment to spend with him. He was a really sweet guy, and a genuine road dog. 

“This was a guy who spent 70 per cent or even 80 per cent of his entire life working, and I have always admired that. I have probably modelled myself after that because I am a total workaholic. 

“I go, ‘Well B.B. did it, so I can do it!’ Anyway, it was just a great moment. Just being in the same space as one of your all-time favourite and most influential artists.”

Elsewhere in his Total Guitar interview, Slash explained why he swapped his Les Paul for a Fender Stratocaster to cover a Peter Green track.

Visit Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Total Guitar.

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