Slash recalls his session work playing for Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan

Slash is the latest guest on Jeff Garlin and Jimmy Vivino's Couch Of Guitars show for Gibson TV and to be honest, it's a tough watch at times. Not because of Slash but because Vivino and especially Garlin keep loudly talking over him in their excitement. Still, one interesting insight is allowed to emerge from the Guns N' Roses icon's many-storied memory box; his experiences playing as a session guitarist for Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan

"It was cool, but more than anything for me it was an opportunity to grow as a player and learn to adapt to other people's situations," Slash says of the work for other artists he was offered after Guns N' Roses took off in the late '80s.


Michael Jackson and Slash in 1995  (Image credit: L. Cohen/WireImage)

"It was really humbling, because I wanted to do a good job and work within the idiosyncrasies of the people you were working with."

But Jackson wasn't present when Slash went into the studio to record his parts for the song Give In To Me from Jackson's 1991 album Dangerous.

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(Image credit: Lynn Goldsmith / Getty)

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Asked if he was given directions from Jackson in the studio, Slash replied; "No, he just left me there. Which was actually really cool. 

"We met at the Record Plant and he was with Brooke Shields. I was sort  of freaked out; it's Michael Jackson and there's Brooke Shields, and it was sort of a, 'woah' kind of thing. We met and exchanged niceties and he took off to dinner and left me with the producer and I just did my thing. That was it. 

"That's sort of what he was always like, just do your thing."

Slash also related his time tracking for Bob Dylan's 1990 Under The Red Sky on the much-maligned song Wiggle Wiggle. 

"Don Was hooked me up with Bob Dylan and said, 'Here's the song', it was a real basic I-IV-V blues kind of thing. 

"Don had suggested me to play the solo for this particular song, which was like an acoustic kind of thing. So there was a section and I went down to the studio and I went in and did what I thought was a really great one-off. So I said, 'Don, make me a tape when you guys are done and let me check it out.'

"So he sends me a tape the next day of the rough and the song's moving along; the lyrics and chorus go by and the solo section comes in and it's just me playing acoustic, strumming. And that's like two full progressions, whatever. And then back into the song. I said, 'What happened to the solo?' [Don said], 'Bob thought it sounds too much like Guns N' Roses.'

"So it was a great lesson learned for me," chuckles Slash. "At that time I hadn't done a lot of session work and it was a great learning experience."

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.