Saul Hudson, better known as Slash of Guns N’ Roses, performs in Nuremberg, Germany, last year.
NEW YORK - When you see a top hat, three images typically come to mind -- W.C. Fields, Fred Astaire and Slash. The ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist has made a brand for himself outside of being Axl Rose's old sidekick.
The ax master -- born Saul Hudson -- recently released his second studio album, "Apocalyptic Love," formed his own band and is in the midst of an international tour. Newsday recently spoke to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer about the 25th anniversary of "Appetite for Destruction," working sober and why he clings to his top hat.
Q. There was a lot of drama surrounding your Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction -- whether Axl Rose would show. Was that a bizarre experience?
A. Given the history of the band, it really doesn't seem that bizarre. Originally I didn't want to deal with it. It was a big, unanswered question up until the 11th hour. We made do with what we had, and it turned out to be a really cool experience.
Q. "Appetite for Destruction" is 25 years old. Does that blow your mind?
A. It doesn't seem like that long ago. The concept of a quarter of a century is crazy. It's become a very iconic record, and I'm proud of that. One of the most significant things about it is being considered a must-have for everybody's rock 'n' roll collection.
Q. What kind of impact did your sobriety have on your creativity?
A. Whenever you give up one vice, you tend to pick up another one. Fortunately for me, I've delved into playing and writing more than I ever did.
Q. Do promoters constantly push you for a Guns N' Roses reunion?
A. I think that time is sort of passed at this point, but there was a period where big wads of cash were shaking in our direction. I think the concept of getting the band back together based on money is not going to happen.
Q. Is your top hat something you enjoy wearing, or do you think people just expect it?
A. I was very shy going on stage in front of people. I always kept my eyes closed. When the hat came along, I left comfortable in it, and that's still the case.
Wonder files for divorce from fashion designer
LOS ANGELES - Stevie Wonder is ending his 11-year marriage to fashion designer Kai Millard Morris.
The 62-year-old musician cites irreconcilable differences in papers filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. He filed the documents under his real name, Stevland Morris.
Wonder and Millard were married Sept. 1, 2001. According to court documents, they separated in October 2009. They have two sons, 10-year-old Kailand and 7-year-old Mandla. Wonder is seeking joint legal and physical custody of the two boys and agrees to pay spousal support to his former wife.
City drops case against actor
NEW ORLEANS - Misdemeanor battery charges related to a bar dust-up have been dropped against Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr.
City spokesman Ryan Berni saids an arraignment hearing was held Friday but there was no one to press the complaint.
As a result, he said, the city moved to drop the charges against Gooding, 44, who did not attend the hearing.
QE2 cameo a secret
LONDON - Even Prince William and Prince Harry were kept in the dark.
They told the BBC on Friday had no idea that their grandmother Queen Elizabeth II would play a cameo role in the Olympic opening ceremony.
The sedate, octogenarian monarch surprised many Britons by appearing in a film played at the Danny Boyle-directed opener last week.
The short tongue-in-cheek film shows the queen being picked up by James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) at Buckingham Palace before being whisked aboard a helicopter and flown toward the Olympic Stadium.
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Queen Elizabeth II