The Led Zeppelin song that changed Slash’s life

Whilst Led Zeppelin has influenced countless musicians over the years, I don’t think anybody would be surprised to hear that one of the most prominent of these is Guns N’ Roses’ resident guitar hero, Slash.

At face value, numerous similarities can be drawn between Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses, but when you concentrate on the resemblances between Slash and Zeppelin’s axeman and mastermind Jimmy Page, you start to truly understand from where Slash takes many of his cues. In terms of the parallels between Slash and Page, there are many, not to mention their use of the Gibson Les Paul, incredible technique, and attitude-laden licks.

When speaking to Raised On Radio back in 2019, Slash discussed his love for Led Zeppelin and revealed which track of the band’s had the most profound effect on him. Unsurprisingly, he opted for the 1969 effort ‘Whole Lotta Love’ taken from Led Zeppelin II. The swaggering hard-rock masterpiece announced to the world that the time of The Beatles was over and that there was a new group in town, and they were about to take music to unprecedented levels.

Discussing the song, Slash said: “There is a song that even before the Rocks Aerosmith record came along that definitely had a big influence (on me). I mean, I didn’t have any aspirations to be a musician. But I really loved music all my entire childhood.”

Adding yet more context, the guitarist added: “So I was really drawn to it and loved pulling out records, putting them on, listening to them. I think I can name classic records that (I used to like) when I was a kid. But one that really had an impact on me was the Zeppelin II record. The song that means the most to me because it had such an impact on me would be ‘Whole Lotta Love’”.

But for Slash, the track has a deeper level of impact: “I think that sort of speaks to a subliminal thing that later on when I started to play guitar (was) what I was drawn to. So a lot of the music I was really into as a kid, without ever having thought playing guitar turned up later as having a really big influence on me”.

Slash then concluded this segment by explaining how the song inspired him to experiment with distortion and the Gibson Les Paul, reflecting just how important hearing it was to his artistic development and him forging his own musical identity, which is now equally as iconic as Page’s. He said: “So ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was just this really sexy, sleazy, guitar-driven thing that I just loved. That actually ended up being sort of the catalyst for my first experimentation with distortion, Les Paul’s and that kind of thing. Oh god, it was so cool. It was just such a great introduction to the 70s, where 70s was going to go.”

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