Skip to main content

Did Paul Stanley ask a 17-year-old Slash to replace Ace Frehley in Kiss?

'Guns N’ Roses may have never happened,' says the guitarist's childhood friend Marc Canter

It’s well known that when a fledgling Guns N’ Roses were preparing to record their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, one of the potential producers brought in by the band’s A&R man, Tom Zutaut, was Kiss’ Paul Stanley. But after a meeting with Stanley in which he suggested reworking ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ the band passed.

A lesser-known fact – but one remembered in detail by Marc Canter – is that Stanley had actually sought out Slash years earlier, when the guitarist was just 17 years old, to inquire about whether he might be interested in replacing the departing Ace Frehley in Kiss.

Canter, who owns Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, is a childhood friend of Slash’s. He photographed Guns N’ Roses extensively during their formative days in L.A., which can be seen in his book, Reckless Road: Guns N’ Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction, as well as his latest audio/visual project, The First 50 Gigs: The Making of Appetite for Destruction.

In a recent discussion with VW Music Rocks, Canter discussed some of the stories that came up during interviews he did for his project, including one about Paul Stanley approaching Slash to audition for Kiss.

“Slash barely remembered this – I saw him a couple of weeks ago – and first he said he didn’t remember, then he said, “You know, I vaguely do remember that,” Canter recalled. “Paul Stanley called Slash when he was 17 and interviewed him to join Kiss when Ace Frehley left. But Paul doesn’t even know this, ‘cause all Paul knows is that he called some kid; he had no idea the kid was Saul Hudson. And how did he get that number? Because Slash was working at a Hollywood music store, and the owner saw that in between no customers, Slash would plug into something and noodle around. So, the owner saw that Slash was extraordinary, and when he found out that Kiss was looking for a guitar player, he recommended Slash.”

Canter continued, “So, Paul Stanley called him, but Paul knew he was only 17, and that could be a problem legally. I’m not saying there aren’t musicians that are underage – there are – but touring with Kiss can be a liability. You don’t know what could happen with a 17-year-old kid. So, Slash made it through the phone interview, but they never took a look at him. They never had him come down, learn a few songs, and see what he had. Had they done that, Slash would have probably been in Kiss and Guns N’ Roses may have never happened. That’s the joke of it. So, it worked out.

Regarding their conversation, Canter said, “Paul Stanley was asking, ‘Would you be able to tour? Are your parents cool with that? Could you record?’ He was asking him the right questions, but he just never got to the next level and Vinnie Vincent was hired, and that was the end of that.”