Frank Sidoris and I are talking at a small table inside the Beat coffeehouse, where he’s been detailing his life as Slash’s touring guitarist for the past hour. From his black boots and skinny jeans to his silver jewelry and long, flowing hair, he sticks out like a sore thumb among the rest of us non-rock stars inside the café. And finally I can’t resist asking: “So, what’s Slash like?”
He adjusts the beanie on top of his mop of hair and takes a sip of his iced Americano. “He’s one of the most well-read dudes you’ll ever meet,” Sidoris says. “He’s a genius. He knows more about dinosaurs than anybody. Anything he gives a sh*t about, he’ll go all in.”
“Dinosaurs?” I repeat back, confused. What about his otherworldly guitar shredding? His top hat collection? That unforgettable melody in “Sweet Child o’ Mine”?
Sidoris would know. Through years of work and a few moments of serendipity, the 25-year-old Las Vegan holds a job many musicians dream about—touring guitarist for Slash and his band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Sidoris returns home on August 2, when Slash and Co. will open for Aerosmith at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“I’m the underdog,” he says, comparing himself to his bandmates, all of them at least 10 years his senior. “I have to come out swinging at all times.”
Growing up in Henderson, Sidoris got his first taste of the spotlight early, hanging out on set while his mom worked as a showgirl at the Riviera revue Crazy Girls (yes, the one with the iconic billboard of butts). He started taking guitar lessons at 15, quickly advancing to classical guitar and theory.
“I was always into music my whole life. My mom and dad enforced that on me in some way,” Sidoris says. “I grew up heavily on Alice Cooper.”
After graduating from Coronado High, Sidoris played briefly in the local band Saint Rose, but it wasn’t until a chance encounter with Alex DeLeon, singer for Vegas band The Cab, while working at All Saints inside the Cosmopolitan, that Sidoris would land an audition and then a gig in the band. Overnight, he went from being just another jean-slinger on the Strip to a professional guitarist touring to Australia, the Philippines and Japan.
In 2012, after nearly a year with The Cab, Sidoris was recommended to Slash through friend and Conspirators drummer Brent Fitz. “I lost my mind,” Sidoris remembers. “I called my dad, I called my girlfriend at the time. I called everybody.”
For the next few months he learned the Slash repertoire in secret—Guns N’ Roses to Velvet Revolver to his stuff with the Conspirators. The day of his audition, Sidoris showed up to Mates Rehearsal Studios—the place where Guns N’ Roses recorded demos of Use Your Illusion—and was instructed, simply, to jam with Slash.
Sidoris is an excitable guy. When I first got to the Beat, he talked for 30 minutes about his favorite place to get coffee, and he has a list on his iPhone of every espresso joint he’s ever been to. But when he talks about his audition with Slash, he’s a completely different man. His enthusiasm skyrockets, as he acts out the motions of putting his guitar on, preparing for the audition of a lifetime.
“There was no ‘Hey, we’re gonna play this song,’” Sidoris says. “[Slash] just f*ckin’ played a song and I had to play with him.” Before he knew it, they were jamming through “Paradise City.”
“I had a very serious moment within myself, because [Slash] starts playing it, and I’m like, ‘This is nuts.’ As a guitar player, that was a very serious moment in my life.”
The next day, Sidoris got a call from Slash himself, offering him the job as a Conspirator.
Two and a half years later, Sidoris has played places like Dubai and Beirut and to crowds of more than 80,000. Still, he says, “it never really becomes commonplace for me. It’s never like, ‘Oh, this is normal.’ I’m still always excited.”
I believe it—the person in front of me is truly stoked on life, from talking about his Vegas roots to his designer duds. But his favorite memory thus far, Sidoris says, is when he got to play onstage with his idol, Alice Cooper.
“I’ve met Alice so many times as a kid,” Sidoris says, adding that his dad brought him to nearly every concert. “I was like, ‘Oh my God. This is gonna be the moment for Dad, this is gonna be the moment for my mom and my sister.’ I was so ready.”
And when the time came, “I wasn’t starstruck anymore. It was more so a nostalgic homecoming; a culmination of all these years of seeing this dude and then finally being on the same playing field.”
For a moment, Sidoris is quiet, as if he’s living it all over again. “[Alice] just kinda puts his hand on my shoulder and is like, ‘Hey man, good to see ya,’” he says, pausing. “The way he said it, was like he basically said, ‘Hey man, you f*ckin’ did it.’”