5 Things You Didn't Know About Slash

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for SiriusXM

You know him as the top-hat-wearing lead guitarist for Guns N'Roses, Slash's Snakepit, and Velvet Revolver. Do you know where he got his signature hat and the name "Slash," though? Let's take a look at the man who's darn near unbeatable in Guitar Hero.

1. He Grew Up With Rock

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Slash was born Saul Hudson in Stoke-on-Trent, England, in 1965. The Hudson family lived there until Saul was 11, when they moved to Los Angeles. Slash had a pretty good foot in the door of the rock world from the time he was born. His mother, Ola Hudson, designed costumes for John Lennon, the Pointer Sisters, and Diana Ross, and his father, Anthony Hudson, designed album covers for Neil Young and David Bowie, among others. The family also lived near David Geffen and Joni Mitchell. Not a bad way to get into rock music.

Slash's parents broke up in the mid-70s, and his mom started dating Bowie. In 1990 Slash talked to Rolling Stone about his childhood feelings for Bowie: "I really didn't like him that much, because he was the new guy in the house. I was really resentful."

2. Even the Nickname "Slash" Has a Famous Origin

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Film buffs know the veteran character actor Seymour Cassel as a frequent player in movies directed by John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson. (Cassel played Max Fischer's dad in Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaum's fellow elevator operator in The Royal Tenenbaums.) When Slash was growing up in Los Angeles, though, Cassel was just his buddy Matt's dad.

Even as a teenager, Saul Hudson had a lot of frenetic energy, and one day he was zipping from one room to another at a party at the Cassels' house. The actor gently ribbed Hudson's constant motion by asking, ""Hey, Slash, where ya going? Where ya going, Slash? Huh?" The nickname stuck.

3. He Shoplifted His Top Hat

In 2007 Slash told the Huffington Post that he acquired his signature top hat in 1985 when he went shopping for a memorable accessory to wear for a show in Los Angeles. Since the aspiring guitar god was broke at the time, the line between "shopping" and "shoplifting" was pretty blurred.

According to Slash, he spotted the top hat in a store called Retail Slut and fell in love. Since a top hat can't exactly be hidden under your shirt, Slash simply grabbed the hat and walked out, apparently unseen. When he got home he realized the hat looked a little plain, so he wrapped it with a belt he'd swiped on the same outing. And just like that, his trademark look was born.

Ironically, when Slash's hat was stolen during a round of Grammys after-parties a few years ago, he had to rely on the police to regain the purloined lid. Here's a video of the man himself telling the story:

4. He Also Swiped One of His Guitars

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When Slash showed up for a 2007 ceremony honoring his career at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, he had a surprising gift for his hosts. Slash returned a guitar that he'd swiped years earlier from the dressing room of the Hard Rock in Orlando. As he told the story, "It was in the dressing room. I didn't know what it was doing there, so I took it. I mean, it was in the dressing room and no one claimed it. So I've had it all these years and been playing it."

What made Slash return the guitar that he'd pinched in an apparently perfect crime? He told reporters, "I thought what better way to honor the Hard Rock for honoring me than to give it back, sort of." At least he eventually did the right thing.

That's not the only high-profile guitar Slash has given away, though. In 1981 Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry sold his sunburst-finish 1958 Gibson Les Paul to scrounge up some money for Christmas. Ten years later, Perry got nostalgic and started looking for the guitar. He quickly found it; Slash was playing it in a Guitar Player centerfold.

Perry was one of Slash's boyhood idols, but when he called to see if Slash would sell him the guitar, Slash wouldn't budge. Perry understood and later said in an interview, "I mean if I had a chance to get hold of the white Strat Jeff Beck played on Wired, I'd have a hard time letting go of it!" In September 2000, though, Perry was playing with Cheap Trick at his own 50th birthday party when a guitar tech walked onto stage and handed him his long-lost guitar as a birthday gift from Slash.

5. He's a Friend to Elephants

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You might not know it, but Slash is a huge supporter of animals and the environment. Earlier this year he got behind the cause of Billy, an endangered Asian elephant who lives at the LA Zoo. When Slash learned that funding for the zoo's Pachyderm Forest was in jeopardy, he filmed a broadcast-and-YouTube plea urging the Los Angeles City Council to complete the new habitat.

At the time, one of the zookeepers told Reuters, "I've always been impressed with Slash's knowledge of animals. In many cases, he is even able to identify the different subspecies, something that most people can't do." Not too surprising for a guitar god who once owned 80 snakes.

'5 Things You Didn't Know About...' appears every Friday. Read the previous installments here.

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Which Fictional Character Are You? This Online Quiz Might Give You an Eerily Accurate Answer

Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While watching a TV show or movie, you might find yourself trying to draw parallels between you and a certain character you’d want to be. If you’re like many viewers, it’s probably one of the heroic ones—the handsome private investigator with a tortured past and an unerring moral compass or the fearless queen who builds her kingdom from nothing and defends it to the death, etc.

But which character would you actually be? Openpsychometrics.org, a site that develops personality tests, has a new online quiz that might give you an uncannily accurate answer. You’ll be confronted with a series of 28 questions that ask you to pinpoint where you fall between two traits on a percentage-based spectrum. For example, if you’re more playful than serious, slide the bar toward the word playful until you’ve reached your desired ratio. The ratio could be anything from 51 percent playful and 49 percent serious, to a full 100 percent playful and not a single iota of seriousness at all. Other spectrums include artistic versus scientific, dominant versus submissive, spiritual versus skeptical, and more.

Once you’ve completed the quiz, you’ll find out which fictional character your personality most closely matches from a database of around 500 television and film characters. To pinpoint the personalities of the characters themselves, the quiz creators asked survey participants to rate them on a series of traits, and those collective results are then compared to your own self-ratings.

If you scroll down below your top result, you’ll see an option to show your full match list, which will give you a much more comprehensive picture of what kind of character you’d be. My top two results—which, ironically, were the same as Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy’s—were The West Wing’s C.J. Cregg and Joey Lucas, suggesting that we both have a no-nonsense attitude, a perfectionist streak, and an apparent aptitude for national politics that (at least in our cases) will likely go unfulfilled.

The fictional twin of managing editor Jenn Wood, on the other hand, is Game of Thrones’s Tyrion Lannister, unofficial king of witty side comments and all-around fan favorite. This was not surprising. As runner-up, Jenn got her personal hero, Elizabeth Bennet, which, in her words “makes me feel better about myself.” (Jenn has Pride and Prejudice-themed “writing gloves,” which seems important to mention.)

Take the quiz here to find out just how much you have in common with your own personal (fictional) hero.

Beyond Tiger King: 10 Fascinating Animal Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now

A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
Markham Street Films

By now, you've probably already binged Netflix's bewilderingly bonkers docuseries Tiger King (2020). If you're ready to dive deeper into the animal kingdom, there are plenty more documentaries out there. From wildcats to whales, these 10 films will take you on a cinematic adventure around the world, introducing you to captivating creatures and the people who love them.

1. The Tigers of Scotland (2017)

The Tigers of Scotland (2017) brings viewers as up close and personal as possible with a small but mighty feline: the Scottish wildcat. The film delves into the efforts to conserve the disappearing Highland tiger, as well as the history and mythology surrounding the UK’s only “big cat.”

Watch it: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes

2. Ghost of The Mountains (2017)

This 2017 Disneynature documentary will transport you to the world’s highest plateau in search of a family of snow leopards. These cats are famously tough to find, so Ghost of the Mountains offers viewers behind-the-scenes footage of what it’s like to track the elusive beasts.

Watch it: Netflix, Google Play, Youtube

3. Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018)

This delightful documentary takes you deep into the competitive cat show circuit. Both charming and at times cutthroat, the film brings viewers on a journey to see which of the many cool cats and kittens will be crowned Canada's top cat.

Watch it: Netflix

4. Kingdom of the White Wolf (2019)

Follow along as a National Geographic explorer and photographer embeds with a white wolf pack in the high Arctic. These wild wolves aren't used to seeing people, giving the filmmakers—and audience—an intimate window into the pack's daily lives and familial bonds. In addition to showcasing captivating footage of the animals, the three-part docuseries also features sweeping views of the starkly beautiful Ellesmere Island.

Watch it: Disney+, YouTube TV

5. Dogs (2018)

This docuseries, which highlights various dogs and their humans from around the world, celebrates the bond between people and their pups. But it’s more than just a montage of feel-good moments about humankind’s best friend: Each episode tells a broader tale about the human condition, crafting an emotional narrative that pulls at the heartstrings like a puppy tugging on a toy.

Watch it: Netflix

6. Dancing with the Birds (2019)

These birds will put your dad moves to shame. Watch the male avian performers shimmy, shake, and flash their feathers while attempting to woo their female mates. The documentary, narrated by Stephen Fry, offers a colorful look at the wonderfully wacky world of bird mating rituals.

Watch it: Netflix

7. Honeyland (2019)

This documentary follows Hatidze Muratova, one of the last wild beekeepers in a remote village in North Macedonia. She lives with her ailing mother, nurturing a traditional way of beekeeping passed down through the generations and striking a balance between making a living and maintaining ecological balance. But everything changes when a nomadic family settles nearby, threatening Muratova’s way of life. The resulting story is both sweet and stinging.

Watch it: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

8. Virunga (2014)

This 2014 documentary highlights the park rangers fighting to protect the Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. As poaching and oil exploration threaten the park, the rangers and conservationists risk their lives to guard the rare creatures that inhabit it.

Watch it: Netflix

9. Harry & Snowman (2016)

In the 1950s, Harry deLayer bought Snowman, a run-down plow horse destined for slaughter, for just $80 at an auction. Within months, the two were taking the show jumping circuit by storm, launching both horse and rider to new heights. This documentary tells the story of the friendship the two developed, and chronicles their lives both in and out of the competitive spotlight.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

10. The Whale and the Raven (2019)

The waters around Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest are a haven for whales, who feed and find refuge in the quiet channels. With stunning visuals, this documentary highlights the tension of a community’s push to protect its wild places against the pressures of the ever-encroaching natural gas industry.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

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