Why Not Slash?.

It seems like whenever you're making music arguments along the lines of Who's The Greatest?, you're at a Default Ignorant level if you vouch for anybody or anything after the year 1976. And, as far as the Greatest Guitarist Of All Time, if you say anybody who appeared after 1969, you'll be shouted down like the British Parliament.

But what if hardcore blues-based rock n' roll a la Jimi Hendrix just ain't your bag? What then?

My brother's heard all the Jimi Hype throughout the years and he's not buying it. Now, he'd be the first to admit that he's no music scholar, but he's listened enough to know what he likes and feel that his opinion is valid in a land where every non-felon gets a vote. He asked me one night, he said, "Is Jimi Hendrix really that great?" and when I nodded without hesitation he said, "Really? I dunno, Slash is pretty fuckin' good."

At the sound of this, I readied myself to pounce like a lion on an arthritic zebra, but I had to stop and think this one over. How do you convince someone who hasn't done his homework what 99% of the eggheads know to be true? Am I supposed to drug him, tie him up, gag him, and force him to listen to Jimi's three studio albums followed by the dozens and dozens of live shows and in-studio compilation discs that have been released throughout the posthumous years? Do I go note-by-note and explain every variation of every guitar solo ever caught on tape? Do I just play the two-song A-Side of 'Band of Gypsys' and hope he comes around to the dark side?

Appreciation of Jimi Hendrix's true talents as the greatest guitarist of all time doesn't come all at once. First, you have to set up a solid base of classic rock bands from Creedence to Cream. Follow that up with a little Santana, The Who, and The Doors. THEN, you might be ready to tackle the onslaught of Jimi records. You can't just jump into his Woodstock performance and think you're going to fall in love with the man. That show was one of the sloppier on record and if you're not a fan of feedback or his more obscure jams, then you're not going to like that show.

Slash, on the other hand, is very user friendly. If you like Guns N' Roses, you like Slash. You don't need a base knowledge of heavy metal music to get into Guns either; they've got singles for all walks of life. Slash has many talents as well, his riffing is top notch, his solos can be shredder fast to high-fallutin' and whimsical. 'Welcome To The Jungle', 'Paradise City', and 'Sweet Child O' Mine' will tell you all you need to know about what Slash is capable of. Granted, that's quite a bit more than your average bear, I won't deny him that, but evolving from Slash to Jimi is the difference between a High School Diploma and a Master's Degree.

No offense, but people who think Slash is the be-all, end-all are the same people who thought Columbus would fall off the flat Earth; they're the same people who are picking ticks off each other while the Jimi fans are walking erect and inventing the fucking wheel.

I say that with full knowledge that it's totally elitist and I have a hard time seeing myself like that. After all, Guns N' Roses by all accounts is my favorite band of all time, so how can I say such things? Why NOT Slash? You can't argue that it's because among his influences IS Jimi Hendrix; because surely Michael Jordan had basketball influences and he went on to be the best ever. You can't argue that it's the genre of music, because GNR wasn't your everyday metal band, they just came out at a time where Heavy Metal ruled the airwaves.

The only real intangible I can come up with is music appreciation. I believe that Jimi had a greater appreciation for the art of music and especially the art of guitar playing. Slash was a party-hardy metal maniac and the guitar came naturally to him. Jimi lived the guitar. Jimi made love to his music on a nightly basis. While Slash was pounding Jack Daniels and looking cool throughout his prime, Jimi was taking music to heretofore unseen heights of potential.

Why not Slash? Because on November 27, 1942, a certain James Marshall Hendrix was born to little-to-no fanfare. He would go on to master the guitar while everyone before or since would simply play it.