The Record that Changed My Life: Slash Discusses Aerosmith's 'Rocks'

by Slash
Posted Aug 26, 2013 at 1:03pm

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Slash chooses (and discusses) the record that changed his life.

Aerosmith
Rocks (1976)

I first heard Rocks when I was 13 or 14. There was this girl, Laurie, and I'd been trying to get into her pants for what seemed like forever. She was the hottest chick in school and just exuded-no, excreted-sex appeal.

One day I rode my BMX bike over to her place. We smoked a bunch of pot, and she started playing me records.

My parents were in the rock and roll business, and I was raised on a lot of music — the Kinks, the Who, the Stones, Small Faces, Animals, Beatles, Bowie, Led Zeppelin — so I'd already heard the stuff she was playing. Except for Rocks.

From the moment she put it on and "Back in the Saddle" (see video below) started playing, I was glued to the album. She just vanished into the shadows, and I completely forgot about her.

I'd been into records by Black Sabbath, Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but Rocks sounded like the Rolling Stones, who had been my favorite band from age 3 to 13. It had the blues-based rock and roll thing, but turned up to 15. Aerosmith delivered the songs with such urgency, and the music had an almost punk attitude, with its powerhouse rhythm section and guitars that were all over the place.

Rocks was loose and frenzied, and I could relate to the emotional angst-filled vocals of "Last Child" and "Combination." It wasn't pristine and perfect, but it gelled together perfectly. It's an amazing record.

Rocks was also right up my alley because I was one of those kids. I was bad in school. I had long hair and wore jeans. I smoked. I didn't fit into the yuppie crowd. I was basically just a punk who didn't fit in anywhere. At that time I knew nothing about the guitar, either. I had been to a lot of recording sessions with my parents, but I didn't know anything about anything. But I always dug music, and Aerosmith's drunken, chemically induced powerhouse sound just sold me and changed me forever. Rocks was aggressive, loud and swaggering. It fit my personality perfectly.

After I digested the album six or seven times at this chick's apartment, I just got up, grabbed my smokes, jumped on my bike and went home. I never did get laid. But not too long after, I picked up my guitar, and I've been doing this ever since.


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