In this first episode, we’re going back to the beginning when Marc and Slash become friends in elementary school and bond over their love of Aerosmith and dirt bikes. As their friendship developed, Slash found his calling with a guitar and Marc found his with a camera. We also interview Adam Greenberg, drummer for Tidus Sloan and Roadcrew.
In this first episode, we’re going back to the beginning when Marc and Slash become friends in elementary school and bond over their love of Aerosmith and dirt bikes. As their friendship developed, Slash found his calling with a guitar and Marc found his with a camera borrowed from friend and photographer Jack Lue.
When Marc and Slash reunited in high school, Slash invited Marc to a rehearsal of his new band Tidus Sloan. Marc couldn't believe how quickly Slash progressed with his guitar playing and decided to document his friend. And the journey of the First 50 Gigs began.
Slash playing a set during lunch at Fairfax High School, 1982. Photo by Marc Canter
Also on the episode, we interview drummer Adam Greenberg, one of the founding members of Tidus Sloan and Roadcrew with Slash. Adam and Slash went to Fairfax High School together and with Ronnie Schneider on bass, they played covers of Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and Aerosmith eventually adding a singer to what would become Roadcrew.
Tidus Sloan rehearsing at Fortress Studio in Los Angeles, 1983. Photo by Marc Canter
This episode includes some of the first-ever recordings of Slash playing live at Farifax High School. It also covers several house party gigs that Tidus Sloan played and one of the first "studio gigs" played by Roadcrew on New Year's Eve at Curly Joe's Studio, sharing the bill with Tracii Guns's group Pyrrus and Warrant.
Roadcrew playing on New Year's Eve in 1983 at Curly Joe's Studio. Photo by Marc Canter
Tracii Guns' band Pyrrus playing on New Year's Eve in 1983 at Curly Joe's Studio. Photo by Marc Canter
Adam Greenberg also describes the moment when he was replaced by a future Appetite for Destruction player.
2:16: Learn how Slash and Marc met and what inspired Marc to start documenting Slash's garage bands.
9:01: Hear Marc describe the day he captured Slash's first performance and hear live recordings from that gig at Fairfax High School.
11:40: Listen to Adam Greenberg describe the Fairfax High School gig and playing with Slash during those early days.
15:02: Hear Marc and Adam discuss NSFW t-shirt he wore to the high school show.
19:22: Learn how Tidus Sloan became Roadcrew
21:28: Learn from Adam and Marc how the songs came together and who was setting the direction of the sound.
24:02: Hear how it went down when Adam was told he was out of the band and learn who took his place (hint: popcorn).
27:12: Hear about the first time Slash went to see Rose and met up with Axl and Izzy and learn about a chance meeting between Izzy and Slash over a hand-drawn illustration of Aerosmith. You'll also hear about what ended Roadcrew and where Slash and Steven went next.
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Adam Greenberg, Jason Porath, Marc Canter, Slash
Jason Porath 00:02
You have the honor of being and Slash's first band.
Adam Greenberg 00:05
The first time I played with Slash he had this incredible sound, this incredible feel and we just knew he was superhuman.
Jason Porath 00:22
Welcome to episode one of the First 50 Gigs, Guns N' Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction, an eye-witness account of the origin story of Guns N' Roses, their rise on the Sunset Strip, and the making of Appetite for Destruction. In this first episode, we're going back to the beginning, when Marc and Slash become friends in elementary school and bond over their love of Aerosmith and dirt bikes. As their friendship developed, Slash found his calling with a guitar and Marc found his with a camera, borrowed from friend and photographer Jack Lue. Slash invited Marc to a rehearsal of his new band Tidus Sloan and the journey of the first 50 gigs began. Also on this episode, we interview Adam Greenberg, one of the founding members of Tidus Sloan and Roadcrew. Adam and Slash went to Fairfax high school together, forming the band with Adam on drums, Slash on guitar, and Ron Schneider on bass. It was in Adam's garage that the three musicians played covers of Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Aerosmith, eventually, they added a singer to what would become Roadcrew.
Jason Porath 1:25
Mark Canter, welcome to the show.
Marc Canter 01:33
Love to be here.
Jason Porath 01:34
Adam. Welcome. And thank you for being with us.
Adam Greenberg 01:38
Glad to be here. Thanks, guys.
Jason Porath 01:40
Marc, you met Slash you met in elementary school, you were friends through junior high school. Sometimes you were hanging out together. Other times there was a gap in your friendship. There was a point in time that Slash picked up the guitar, actually, he was given a broken down one-string, beat-up guitar by Steven Adler and he literally found his calling from that. Around the same time, maybe a little bit later, Jack Lue invites you to cover a show and you take his camera and shoot a roll of film. And suddenly, you've got a new calling too.
Marc Canter 02:16
Yes, we became friends back in 1976 and we hung out on bikes and made havoc in the neighborhood. But then we got separated by junior high school, we switched schools and I kind of lost touch with him for about a year, maybe a year and a half. And when we met back up, it was the summer of 1981. We found each other and we were catching up on the time we had lost and he told me he was playing guitar now in a rock band. I actually knew Adam Greenberg and he told me he was in the band, so I knew instinctively that this was going to be good. That day I went with him to his rehearsal and was blown away by what I saw and what I heard and it gave me goosebumps. I knew that this was going to be something special. But at some point, Jack Lue was taking the photos when we go to concerts. Jack wasn't able to make it, gave me his camera, showed me how to work it and I shot a roll of film and I was blown away by the pictures. I actually ended up taking my sister's Canon AE 1 that was sitting in her closet from high school. She had it, maybe she had a photo class or something like that. The first time I shot Slash was at Fairfax High School and Tidus Sloan played there on June 4, 1982. And that was a very easy show to shoot because it was daylight. We didn't have to worry about that it was too dark or if we had the wrong color lighting. The only mistake I made was I brought one roll of film which I shot off in one song. I really was happy with the results of that too. And that was the end of that! I just started documenting everything they did from that point on. I followed Axl a little bit because I'd made friends with him when he was in Hollywood Rose through L.A. Guns and I met Duff when he was in Roadcrew briefly. The first time I met Steven Adler was actually at a Joe Perry concert in 1982, the summer of 1982. All I knew is that he was a friend of Slash's from high school, but had moved to the Valley. He didn't show up again until like somewhere in 1984. To me, it was just like a bunch of my friends playing rock n' roll and having fun and doing a good job at it. So I was happy to document it because I took pride in taking pictures and seeing the results and being I was a collector of Aerosmith, I knew as a collector how important that was to grab the ticket or save the flyer because one day somebody might want to know about that. It's just kind of like a scrapbook. That's what I was doing, was putting together a scrapbook.
Jason Porath 05:17
But Marc, I think you had lots of friends that were musicians at the time. So what was it about Slash that made you say, "I'm gonna spend my time documenting this?"
Marc Canter 05:28
Well, Slash was kind of superhuman. He's the kind of guy that if you raced him for three houses, he'd beat you by a whole house. He could beat anyone in an arm wrestle, no matter how big they were. And he had a talent for art and bike riding. He was doing things that now you see in X-Games, but nobody was doing in 1977, 1978. He was just superhuman and just different. He wore moccasins when everyone wore shoes. He just dressed a little different. When he picked up the guitar, of course that was going to be the thing that he made work. There's talented guitar players out there, but not every one of them will give you goosebumps and this one was giving me goosebumps. Slash was eons ahead of everyone else because he was just that talented.
Jason Porath 06:15
And in your mind, you had made a decision that you're going to document whatever he's doing.
Marc Canter 06:21
Something inside me wanted to do it. And I didn't miss anything. There were really two reasons to do it. One, I wanted it personally. I just wanted it because I was a fan. Even though he's my friend, I was a fan of what he was doing. And if a show goes on and you don't tape-record it, it's gone. What do you remember from that show a year, two years later. Slash played a party, who cares? I have it on tape because I could put it in and listen to it at any given time.
Jason Porath 07:10
Collecting was your thing and photography and recording the shows was just a means to that end.
Marc Canter 07:17
Photography to me was more of a hobby because I wasn't just photographing Slash, I was photographing rock n' roll bands that came through; whatever came through our town. Every show after 1982 that I went to I brought my camera and shot it. That's including anything that Slash was doing. Even sometimes rehearsals I would shoot. So that goes to show you that, why am I shooting the rehearsal if it's not really a show? Because, I just knew that just to document it. Something instinctively told me to document what's going on. It didn't matter what band he was in. Any one of those bands could have made it one way or the other. It was just something I knew I wanted to do on my own. But at the same time, I knew that what I was doing was like someone should have done for Led Zeppelin when they first started.
Jason Porath 08:09
I don't think there's any band who had the good fortune to have somebody like you, who was documenting everything that was done, everything that led up to even the Appetite version of Guns N' Roses, and somebody who, over time, invested so much in the success of those individual players in that band. I think they're very fortunate to have somebody like that, who had their back and who was documenting them.
Jason Porath 8:45
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Jason Porath 8:56
The first show that you shot and recorded was Titus Sloan at Fairfax High School. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Marc Canter 09:01
It was a pretty good crowd there. And the crowd knew exactly who they were seeing because these guys went to Fairfax High School. Everyone there watching and we knew why they were there. They weren't just watching the band, even though they may have never heard the band play. They knew all the members of the band. So that made it more interesting. People were really excited to see that and there was a lot of energy there. Because it was outdoors it felt like they were playing a stadium for some reason. Long story short, they played like four songs: "Metal on Metal" which was a Tidus Sloan original, they played a song called "What a Change," which I really liked, they played a song called "Rats Ass Rock n' Roll." There's a riff in there that ended up being in the guitar solo of Paradise City later on. So whatever it was, Slash remembered it and conjured it back up when it was time. He broke a string during the third song, and he had to use my guitar as a spare. It was an Ivan S Les Paul copy. He didn't take me seriously when I said you need a spare guitar. And sure enough, he broke a string and so he needed it.
Jason Porath 10:12
I think that's a really interesting moment, right? You're there, and you're like, "Slash got to have a backup." And he was probably like, "No, no, I got this." You have the backup and he needed it. I think that's a really good metaphor for how you supported the band over time. You just had their back, right? You were there prepared for them, in case anything happened, or they needed anything over time.
Marc Canter 10:37
That's what I did. I just did what I could. If I saw something was not right, or something that could be done that could help, I put the effort in to make sure that that would happen. Back in those days, sometimes they would rehearse from midnight until two in the morning because that was the cheapest time to get it Five bucks an hour rehearsal space or something like that. I'd go with them sometimes and steal my parent's station wagon and help them lug the equipment in and out and come home at three o'clock in the morning to then get up for work at seven or eight in the morning. It just had to be done. So, and I was excited to be part of it, to be there to watch a new song develop. It was exciting.
Jason Porath 11:15
Adam, you were there, too, at Fairfax high school, outside. You were living the dream with Slash.
Adam Greenberg 11:32
It was great.
Jason Porath 11:35
Tell us about this day and then let's talk about how Tidus Sloan formed.
Adam Greenberg 11:40
That was a great day. Like Marc said, that stage felt so big. I guess because it was outdoors and we were a trio so we could really spread out there was a lot of room and we were looking onto the quad and the grass. You could see everybody at school having lunch, hanging out walking around. People were really enjoying it. The energy was so great. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out. We just powered through it. It was just great, it was a great day.
(Playing music from Fairfax High School)
Adam Greenberg 12:55
It actually felt that way the first time I played with Slash and Albert Gozale in my mom's hallway. As a musician, it works or it doesn't and it just clicked. I knew Slash was unique. He had this incredible sound, this incredible feel and this incredible look. He was the full package back then. We just knew he was...Marc used the word superhuman. That's pretty accurate. He was special. But that sound he could get, whether it be the Marshall or his Sun amp that he had problems with, you could hear him and you just knew it. And that that show was great because it was in front of all our peers or friends, people we didn't know as well. You had all these different cliques of people. You had punk rockers, the new wavers, the drama people. Everybody seemed to like it a lot. And the energy was really great.
Jason Porath 14:03
A lot of other people who were into other genres of music at that time resonated with this playing, including, like you said, the new wave people, the punks, and it seems like Slash brought everybody together. Is that accurate?
Adam Greenberg 14:18
Everybody knew he was special. Everybody liked Tidus Sloan. For the most part we were a cover band with some originals sprinkled in. I believe we were rehearsing two or three times a week. The first time I played with Slash again was in my mom's hallway. And that was with Albert Gozale. We did a few rehearsals with Albert. And then we brought in Ronnie Schneider. And that was it. That was the incarnation. Then we moved from my mom's hallway to her garage. We started playing in the garage and slowly we just started. As we got more equipment, and we needed more room to work on the show, we just kind of took over more and more space.
Marc Canter 15:02
I gotta say one more thing. I noticed that I'm looking at these pictures now, that Fairfax High School gig, nobody realizes this, but the shirt Slash was wearing was a picture of an orgy on the shirt but nobody really knows that unless you get really up close to it. He had a lot of balls to go on stage at his high school wearing a shirt with an orgy on it. Do you remember that?
Adam Greenberg 15:26
Wasn't it sumo wrestlers having an orgy?
Marc Canter 15:28
I don't know, but I'm looking at it now. And there's definitely something going on there.
Jason Porath 15:35
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Adam Greenberg 15:51
So let me tell you how Slash and I originally met. I was approached at Fairfax high. I had these two characters come up to me; long hair, sunglasses and long black coats. They came up to me and I didn't know if they were going to mug me or not. But they said "Yeah, we heard you play drums and what kind of music do you like?" We all liked Led Zeppelin, Sabbathm Aerosmith, of course, the Stones, AC/DC. Slash and I exchanged phone numbers. And that night, we talked on the phone and we talked for quite a while. And then we realized that we only lived a block apart. Immediately, when we realize that we just said, I'll see you by the alley. So we just hung up the phone. I walked up the street, he walked down the street. And we just sat down on the curb and we talked for hours. So that was the beginning of Tidus Sloan.
Jason Porath 16:47
So after that Fairfax gig, Tidus Sloan went on to play high school parties. You just went from one friend's house to another friend's house, probably when the parents went out of town and jammed and people knew where you guys were playing. But you kept kind refining your abilities.
Adam Greenberg 17:11
We found out whose parents weren't going to be home and then we gathered across the street from Fairfax, at Helens, which was a little Chinese restaurant. And we'd figure out whose house we were going to go to, so people would go get beer and what have you. And we'd meet there and we'd pick up our equipment and we would just play music and party all day. That's what high school was for most of us. We played some incredible parties. It was just crazy. We took all the furniture from the house and we moved it into the master bedroom. So the rest of the house was completely empty and just filled with people. I remember at some point, looking over my shoulder, and the whole front lawn was just covered with people. We called them heads; just covered with heads. There was quite a few house parties, but they were all memorable parties and just great experiences.
Jason Porath 18:05
And Marc, you documented a few of those parties. You were there as well. Would you consider those house parties part of the First 50 Gigs?
Marc Canter 18:15
Yeah, those parties were fun. And they were important, and they were all stepping stones. And at each party, they got better and better.
Jason Porath 18:25
And so eventually there was probably the first real gig that Tidus Sloan had or were you guys Roadcrew at that time?
Adam Greenberg 18:34
I would say it was Roadcrew, New Year's Eve. It was at Curley Joe's studio, right Marc? Because that was when we headlined with Pyrrus. Shyst and Warrant, right?
Marc Canter 18:47
Yeah. Those were four bands. Warrant became, with a few revolving members, the same Warrant that did the Cherry Pie song and Pyrrus became L.A. Guns which is still around. And Roadcrew somehow ended up being part of Guns N' Roses. So there you go with that. I think it was like $2.50 to get into that show. That was a good gig.
Jason Porath 19:15
And so you guys were Roadcrew at that time. Adam, what led to the change from Tidus Sloan to Roadcrew?
Adam Greenberg 19:22
Ultimately we decided to bring in a singer named Chris. That's when we had our setlist became almost all originals. And Chris was our first actual vocalist. It's hard to imagine that we had so much success as a high school party band with no vocals. It was just covers with some originals sprinkled in. But Roadcrew was more original music and with vocals.
Marc Canter 19:56
You were asking before about the name, Tidus Sloan to Roadcrew. Basically, Slash, just one day decided that Roadcrew would be a better name than Tidus Sloan and then they all agreed and they became Roadcrew in the Fall of '83.
Marc Canter 20:11
They came up with a bunch of new originals working with the vocalists, so that was another stepping stone to getting from the garage to the stage. And you can't just be a garage band and play the Troubadour. It's not going to happen. You need a vocalist. So that was the next step into the journey of making something happen.
Jason Porath 20:36
I believe soon after that gig, Roadcrew started to kind of fray or break up. What was happening around that time going into 1984?
Adam Greenberg 20:46
Well, Ronnie was interested in doing more heavy metal. He always had an inkling for that. And we were listening to harder bands like Motorhead. We were becoming influenced by that. Things just kind of started to fray a little bit and then Steven Adler came into the picture.
Jason Porath 21:11
Adam, you mentioned that the direction of the band was starting to change that Ronnie had some heavy metal influence that he wanted to bring in. Maybe Chris Torres was bringing in something that he wanted to do, but who was really kind of setting the direction of the band at that time?
Adam Greenberg 21:28
I would say Slash and Ronnie we're doing the first set of woodshedding you know, writing and arranging the songs. And then they would bring them into me and allow me to set drums to it. I can't remember if Chris was also doing lyrics. I have a feeling that Slash and Ronnie were doing lyrics too, but I don't quite remember.
Marc Canter 21:56
Actually, as far as the lyrics go, Chris was writing the lyrics, but there were some things, some parts that Slash wanted to add in. And Ronnie might have had some input on that too. But as far as the direction of the band, I think what happened was, at that New Year's Eve party, Steven Adler showed up and he was freaking out. I'm trying to take pictures and he's pointing his finger right at Slash, like one inch away from where Slash was picking. "Look how fast his fingers are moving!" Shortly after that Steven somehow wanted to show Slash how good he got on his double bass drums. And somehow Steven convinced Slash to change the direction of where he was, how he was heading. There were no issues with Adam. Adam was great and what he was doing, but I think Slash wanted really wanted to incorporate those double bass drums and I think Ronnie had...it's not like Ronnie wanted Adam out either, but I think Ronnie probably had a grin on his face. "Now we get to have speed metal." I don't know what was going on exactly but that's what I can remember from my perspective. That's what I saw happening. Ronnie was in the band with Steven and Slash, and just about that same time that happened, Chris was out. There was a double switch. Adam and Chris were both out within a week apart somehow, maybe two weeks apart. And then it was just Ronnie, Slash and Steven.
Jason Porath 23:32
So Adam it sounds like Ronnie wanted to go in a different direction. Steven and Slash, as you know, they had a friendship this whole time, long before this moment when Steven invited him to listen to his playing. But nevertheless, you got bumped out of Roadcrew by Steven which probably felt really, really personal at the time. But the way that Marc's describing it, it was really about this desire to change the sound of the music.
Adam Greenberg 24:02
I had met Steven earlier on and then he came back around for the New Year's Eve show. And after that, he was around quite a bit. And Steve and I, we became more friendly. He would come to my house and he would play a song for me. I would play a song for him. We'd take turns playing in front of each other, trading fills and whatever. So all that was kind of going on right after that Curly Joe's New Year's Eve party. And Steven got this massive drum set. It was a Tama drum set; double bass, lots of toms, lots of cymbals, and he was really getting into double bass. And at that time Motley Crue was pretty big. He was doing the Cozy Powell thing, the Tommy Lee thing. He was really a good double bass drummer. He's a good drummer anyway, but he had the double bass thing going on. My background on drumming is a little different than his. He kind of grew into that metal thing. And I think that that was a big draw for Ronnie and Steven, they kind of approached Slash and said, let's give this a try. We were driving up to school, to Fairfax high, and I saw Ronnie walking on Fairfax. So I said to Shawn, I said, "Hey, there's Ronnie. Let me out and I'll walk the rest of the way." So I got out of the car. I said, "Hey, Ronnie," and Ronnie, like, jumped up. He's like, "I'm sorry, man. It wasn't my decision. I didn't know it." And he was just totally frantic and panicked and apologetic and I'm like, "What are you talking about? What?" And he's like, "Oh, you didn't know?" And I'm like, "No." So the burden was on him to tell me in and it was emotional. It was hard because we were friends. Never feels good, but that's a lot of bands. It's revolving doors of musicians until you find that correct mix, that recipe. Or not! Fortunately, this evolved into what would ultimately become Guns N' Roses. Everything happened for a reason. I remember that night, Slash had called me up and he was very somber and it was a very bittersweet conversation. He was very apologetic, and I knew he felt bad. I didn't have words and it was an awkward conversation between a couple of good friends and musicians that played together Thank God it happened because we got Guns N' Roses. So it's all good.
Jason Porath 26:44
But, you have the honor of being in Slash's first band. So that's pretty cool.
Adam Greenberg 26:52
And second! Tidus Sloan and Roadcrew.
Jason Porath 26:54
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Marc Canter 27:12
So after that New Year's Eve gig at Curly Joe's Studio, Roadcrew kind of finds itself struggling because even though Steven is now in and Adam is now out, and they have these double bass drums. It doesn't seem to fit because the singer Chris left and then Ronnie left a week or two into it to join some heavy metal band and Steven and Slash find themselves roaming around Hollywood looking for either musicians to put in their band or to find a band that they could both join. They heard about this band called Rose that has this really good singer and a good guitar player and they were going to have a gig, like a showcase gig, for Battle of the Bands at Gazzarri's. What we saw that night was Axl, Izzy, Chris Weber, Andre Troxx -- who's a guy I actually went to school with -- and the drummer was Johnny Kreis. There was a lot of energy and Izzy was running around, back and forth and Axl's vibrating and just giving you 180%. And it was pretty impressive. When Slash and Steven saw Izzy and Axl it only confirmed what they already knew. They had gotten a hold of a Rose demo tape. We actually all listened to it before we went to that gig and then when we went to see them not only did they sound good, they could perform well. They had stage presence. And so something had to be done, whether Axl and Izzy was going to join Steven and Slash and Roadcrew or was it going to go the other way around.
Jason Porath 28:54
Right but at that time Axl and Izzy didn't know Steven and Slash, did they?
Marc Canter 28:58
Izzy he had a moment with Slash. He came into a guitar shop that Slash was working at looking to get a hold of Aerosmith drawing that he had drawn for me a couple of years back. So they actually met not even knowing, as he was there for a means to an end to get that Aerosmith drawing and had no idea that Slash even played guitar. There's a small little bit of history there that sparked, "Oh yeah, I already I know this guy," kind of thing.
Jason Porath 29:28
Great. Well we're going to pick this up in another episode and talk about the moment that Slash and Steven join Axl in the New Hollywood Rose. But that'll be for another day. Adam, we want to thank you so much for joining the show and giving us the background of your friendship and your partnership in music with Slash and talking about the early days with Tidus Sloan and Roadcrew. It's pretty special.
Adam Greenberg 29:53
Thank you, Jason. Thank you, Marc. It was a lot of fun.
Jason Porath 29:57
And Marc, as always, thank you. We love your stories and we can't wait to hear more.
Marc Canter 30:01
Many more stories to come.
Jason Porath 30:09
We hope you've enjoyed this episode of the First 50 Gigs, Guns N' Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction. To watch the video podcast, access bonus episodes and galleries, and buy show merchandise, join our growing community on Patreon and subscribe.