FORMER GUNS N’ ROSES GUITARIST SLASH HAD HEART SCARE AT MICHAEL JACKSON SHOW
June 27, 2009
Paul Cole of www.sundaymercury.net reports that playing live with Michael Jackson almost gave Midland rock star Slash a heart attack.
The former Guns N’ Roses guitarist from Stoke-on-Trent faced a medical crisis of his own while appearing at Jackson’s 40th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden.
Slash – real name Saul Hudson – reveals that it was his first gig after having a major heart operation.
“Years of drinking had swollen my heart to the point of bursting,” he recalls. “It reached the point where the doctors gave me between six days and six weeks to live.
“They installed a defibrillator to keep my heart from stopping and keep it beating at a steady rate. After the operation I began therapy and miraculously my heart started to heal.
“I was out of circulation for four months before I picked up a guitar. It was the darkest period of my life – but in 2001 I agreed to play at Michael’s birthday celebration.
“This was my first gig since the operation so I was looking forward to it. It certainly turned out to be memorable.”
Slash did two days’ rehearsal for the September show, which boasted a bill including the reunited Jacksons, Marlon Brando, Liza Minnelli, Gloria Estefan and a host of Jacko’s celebrity chums.
“On the day it was a great show,” he recalls. “Everyone in the Michael Jackson entourage was rocking out, and I was doing the best I could to stay away from alcohol.
“After all, I now had a pacemaker.
“When the doctors put the defibrillator in me, it was for maintaining a normal heart rate. For most people this isn’t a problem, but it was for me.
“Once I get up onstage my heart rate sky-rockets. When I took the stage with Michael and got into it, I was suddenly hit in the chest by a shock and my vision flooded with electric blue light.
“This happened about four times during each song, and I had no idea what was going on.
“I thought I had a short-circuit in a guitar cable or a photographer’s flash had popped in my eyes.
“Each time it happened I had to stand there and make it look as if everything was normal. I saw it later on TV and you couldn’t tell, so I guess I pulled it off.
“It was extremely disconcerting until I figured out what was what.”
Slash, 43, who described Jackson’s death as “very sad” adding that he was “a talent from on high” first met the superstar after a phone call came out of the blue.
“I was staying at the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard when I got a call from the Guns N’ Roses office,” he recalls.
“Hey Slasher, Michael Jackson is trying to get in touch with you,” said our manager. “He wants you to play on his record.”
“‘Oh wow!’ I said. ‘Okay.’ The next call was from Michael himself. ‘Hello Slash,’ he said in his typically nervous, timid voice, and off we went from there.
“I was flattered and I was intimidated but the sessions came off great. We did two songs – the cooler one was Give In To Me, which was like a new take on his song Dirty Diana.
“Michael was there with Brooke Shields, who he was dating at the time.
“It was trippy and the studio was dimly lit. I shook hands with them both and played.
“‘I really want to thank you so much for being on my album,’ Michael said. ‘I really can’t wait to hear what you come up with!’
“Then they split, and went off to dinner.”
A few days later Slash returned to record a guitar solo for hit single Black And White, famously mimed by Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin in the video,
“I think he saw me as a rock and roll caricature,” adds Slash, who later filmed a live video of Give In To Me with Jackson at a secret gig in Munich.