Back in 2000, the world was very different. No TikTok, no YouTube, no Netflix and no iPhones to watch any of it on anyway. No, the only source of entertainment back then came from what was actually on the TV. There were no other options. You either watched telly or you didn’t. Dark times.
Actually, it wasn’t that bad. TV – and especially live TV – occasionally threw up some unforgettable moments. Case in point: Slash’s appearance on British kids’ TV show CD:UK.
A little background. CD: UK was a Saturday morning music show presented by popular comedy duo Ant & Dec alongside future So You Think You Can Dance? host Cat Deeley. It featured a chart rundown alongside performances and interviews with the big pop stars of the day – Mariah Carey, All Saints, Steps.
Occasionally, though, the producers decided to throw in a curveball. And on an otherwise uneventful morning in December 2000, that curveball turned up wearing a top hat and seemingly in a state of mild ‘refreshment”. Hi, kids of Britain – meet Slash.
The former Guns N’ Roses guitarist was in town to talk about the second album from his solo project, Slash’s Snakepit, and the CD:UK interview was just another step on the promotional hamster wheel.
We’re not sure why the producers of a kids’ pop show thought it would be a good idea to book an alcoholic, on-off drug addict who claimed to have prompted US networks to instigate a seven-second live TV delay because he said “shit” onstage at the 1990 American Music Awards. But, boy, we’re glad they did.
The CD:UK interview starts well enough. Cat Deeley introduces the “legendary” guitarist to cheers from the studio audience. They exchange some fluffy banter (“How long have you been in the UK?” “A matter of hours”), before Deeley asks him about whether his new solo album means that GN’R is “finished”. “You know, I split from Guns N’ Roses, like, what, five years ago?” Slash replies patiently.
And that’s when things start to go off the rails. Deeley asks Slash what’s the worst rumour he’s ever heard about himself, to which the guitarist replies. “Getting a blow job in a bar…”
Deeley laughs nervously as she processes the fact that a rock star is talking about fellatio on Saturday morning TV, but Slash isn’t finished. “We didn’t get to finish it,” he concludes with a ‘what can you do?’ grin.
Credit to Deeley, who proves herself a true pro by swiftly moving on to a bunch of viewers’ questions. The first few are fairly innocuous: when was the last time he saw Axl Rose? (“It would take months of psychotherapy”). Why isn’t the media interested in rock music any more? (“I’m not really sure”). Does he still live the traditional rock’n’roll lifestyle? (“I have my moments”).
And then comes the question that brings the whole thing crashing down. A kid named Robbie from Hemel Hempstead innocently asks: “You collect reptiles and snakes as a hobby. Have’ you ever been badly bitten?”
“I just did, actually,” says Slash, showing Deeley a bite on his hand. “I just got the stitches out. You can’t actually see it. It’s actually here.”
The guitarist explains that the bite came from his pet rhino iguana, which he keeps in the back yard of his hours in LA.
“And he was loose, and he tried to take off – basically he was set for going down La Cienega Boulevard [in LA], and so I grabbed him by the tail and he turned around and bit the fuck out of me.”
Boom! There it is. The moment Slash drops his f-bomb live on Saturday morning TV.
Let’s be realistic here – it was always going to happen at some point during the interview, it was just a question of when. And by this point, Cat Deeley knows it, as she pivots away from the guitarist and brings things to a premature halt.
“Thank you very much indeed, Slash!” she says through a fixed smile, presumably dying a little inside. The audience don’t care – they’ve just heard a major rock star swear on live TV, and it’s not even lunchtime. Cue an explosion of loud cheers.
The repercussions were swift. Co-presenter Declan Donnelly appeared onscreen to apologise for “some of the comments” the guitarist made. A statement from the show’s producers read: “CD:UK cut the interview short and Slash was dropped from a further item in the show. He will also be edited out of the repeat.” “Slash embarrasses CD:UK.” trumpeted the BBC website (opens in new tab), presumably relieved that it happened on rival channel ITV.
CD:UK ran for another six years, though, unsurprisingly, Slash wasn’t asked back. The incident was a classic example of what happens when you let a jetlagged, half-cut rock star loose in front of the cameras – something that rarely happens these days, partly cos the opportunities for it to happen have fallen by the wayside and rock stars are just too well-behaved for their own good.
Watch the CD:UK footage below – it’s grainy but worth it…