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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 6:03 am | Fair 47º


Paul Mann: Sunset Strip Music Festival Pays Tribute to Slash

Rock stars descend on the Hollywood House of Blues for opening night

Rock stars came out in force Aug. 26 to the Hollywood House of Blues to pay tribute to Slash on opening night of the third annual Sunset Strip Music Festival.

The iconic veteran rock guitarist received a fitting tribute from some well-known peers and city officials alike. The evening began with a red carpet reception for some of Hollywood’s rock guitarist royalty. Then the veteran musicians lingered in the maze of private upstairs rooms, sipping expensive cocktails and eating gourmet food. Below, fans with VIP passes for the three-day festival were treated to free food and an open bar.

After rock stars and fans alike were well lubricated, the presentation began. Personal tributes came in the form of video salutes from entertainers currently on tour, including last year’s honoree, Ozzy Osbourne. Live tributes came from Nikki Sixx most notably of Motley Crue, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead fame, and Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains.

Then the mayor and city council of West Hollywood presented Slash with a plaque, making it officially Slash day in the hair band capital of the world. In his humbling acceptance speech, Slash told an anecdote of his first visit to the legendary Sunset Strip club scene.

When he was 17, Slash decided to go to the Rainbow club with his friend Steven Adler (who later became his bandmate in Guns N’ Roses). It was ladies night at the nightclub, and a suspicious doorman spotted Slash’s fake ID, although Adler managed to get in.

A saddened Slash went home and solicited the help of his mother, an accomplished costume designer. Together, they concocted a drag outfit that fooled the doorman and got him into a Sunset Strip club for the first but definitely not the last time. Now the entire strip is honoring the legendary guitar player, who perhaps personifies the local music scene more than any other living musician today.

After the presentation, the doors were open to the general public for a free concert. The Head Cat played their first song joined by Slash for an ear-piercing jam. The Head Cat includes bassist and lead vocalist Kilmister. His trademark primal scream growl was probably the first of this kind of guttural sound that became so popular with hard-core metal bands over the years.

Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats), the most well-known rockabilly drummer in America, kept the rhythm. Rounding out the trio, guitar virtuoso Danny B. Harvey (Lonesome Spurs and The Rockats), gave Slash a run for his money in a blistering guitar war during the first song.

This new psychobilly band found their groove after Slash departed for another late-night surprise gig at The Whiskey. With Kilmister’s growling voice and fanatical bass playing at the center, the other two more traditional rockabilly wizards exploded into a frenzy of American classic cover songs. The band has actually been getting together to jam for nearly a decade and released their first studio album in 2006. But their live performance is what makes this band one of the most special groups to ever play this iconic American sound.

It was truly a fitting opening for the bawdy atmosphere of the third annual Sunset Strip Music Festival.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributor.

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