April 14, 2008 12:00 PM

Guitar Hero God

The former Guns N’ Roses ax man, 42 (real name: Saul Hudson), spoke to PEOPLE’s Mark Dagostino about his style, his new line of Gibson guitars and life as a character in one of the hottest video games on the planet

The top hat, the long hair, the sunglasses—you look exactly like you did 20 years ago!

That’s just the way that I am. It would be too much of a hassle to try to think of something different to do. At least it’s not as far blown as the whole Kiss thing—that would have grown pretty tiresome.

What do you think of Guitar Hero?

I was really hooked on it the first time I ever played. So when they asked me to do Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, I was really enthusiastic. I would’ve appreciated a [percentage point of sales] on it though!

Do kids recognize you from it?

Kids 6, 7, 8—not all of them have records by Guns N’ Roses or [my current group] Velvet Revolver. So they know me as the fossil on Guitar Hero.

Did you ever think you’d have guitars named after you?

It hasn’t set in yet. One is modeled after a Les Paul that Gibson sold me during Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction tour, but as it looks now after 20 years—it’s got cigarette burns, belt buckle and bracelet scratches and a crack from when I broke the neck off.

How did that happen?

If you bend the guitar, it makes a dive-bomb sound. I did that too hard and snapped the neck in half. It hit me in the face; I had a hole the size of a nickel in my lip. But I repaired the guitar and it’s better than ever.

What was the first song you learned?

I had a one-string guitar, so anything I could play on one string: “Dazed and Confused,” “Smoke on the Water” …

Wait, your guitar only had one string?

Yeah. Eventually I learned how to put the other strings on and branched out on my repertoire.

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