Earl Slick (born Frank Madeloni in Brooklyn, New York, 1 October 1952) is a guitarist best known for his collaborations with David Bowie, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Robert Smith, although he has also worked with other artists including John Waite, Tim Curry and David Coverdale, in addition to releasing several solo recordings.
In the early 1970s, Earl Slick gained his reputation on New York music scene as a guitarist while playing in a band called Mack Truck featuring both singer-songwriter Jimmie Mack and his brother, drummer Jack Mack. His work with Scottish singer-songwriter Jim Diamond was as the duo Slick Diamond. They toured and gave performances for a short time in the late 1970s.
Slick was initially hired by David Bowie to replace Mick Ronson as lead guitarist for the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974 (the live album David Live was culled from this tour). Slick also played lead guitar on Bowie's Young Americans and Station To Station albums, released in 1975 and 1976 respectively. It was Slick's powerful playing that made the latter album's "Stay" an enduring favourite of fans of Bowie and of guitar virtuosity alike. After running afoul of Bowie's management, Slick was replaced as lead guitarist for the Station To Station tour (1976), his role being taken by Stacey Heydon. Slick continued working in the studio with former Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono, but also formed his own solo band, releasing both Razor Sharp and Earl Slick Band in 1976. Slick performed on Lennon and Ono's Double Fantasy. During the sessions for Double Fantasy, the material for 1984's Milk and Honey was recorded as well. Slick also joined Ono in the studio for her solo album, Season of Glass.
Slick returned to Bowie for 1983's Serious Moonlight Tour, which supported the Let's Dance album. Ironically, Slick, who had been ousted as lead guitarist from Bowie's 1976 tour, was the last-minute lead-guitarist replacement for this 1983 tour, substituting for Stevie Ray Vaughan.
After the Serious Moonlight Tour, Slick contributed to Box of Frogs' album, Box of Frogs. Slick then formed Phantom, Rocker & Slick with Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker. The band released two records, Phantom, Rocker & Slick and Cover Girl. Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones contributed a performance to the single "My Mistake" - an experience Slick cites as one of the most memorable in his career. Between the two Phantom, Rocker & Slick albums, Slick appeared with Carl Perkins and a host of other musicians including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Roseanne Cash for 1985's Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session.
In 1990, Slick collaborated with David Glen Eisley in the band Dirty White Boy, which only released one album, Bad Reputation (1990), and industry showcases in London and Los Angeles. He also played briefly in Little Caesar in 1991-92. Working with mentor Michael Kamen, Slick contributed to several soundtracks in the 1990s, including Hudson Hawk and Nothing but Trouble. He released another solo record, In Your Face, in 1991.
The early 2000s saw Slick return to Bowie's roster, appearing on the studio albums Heathen (2002) and Reality (2003). Slick toured with Bowie in support of those albums as well, and performed on the Bowie DVD and double CD A Reality Tour. Working with producer Mark Plati Slick released a solo album, Zig Zag, which featured guest performances by David Bowie, Robert Smith, Joe Elliott, Royston Langdon and Martha Davis of The Motels. Slick then contributed guitar tracks to a Mark Plati remix of The Cure's A Forest, which appeared on Join the Dots: B-Sides and Rarities in 2004.
From 2006 he was a member of both The Eons with singer-songwriter Jeff Saphin and Slinky Vagabond. Slinky Vagabond were Glen Matlock, Clem Burke, and Keanan Duffty. Slinky Vagabond (the name comes from the lyrics to the David Bowie song "Young Americans") played their debut concert at the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash in May 2007.
On February 11, 2011, UK-based Noble PR announced Slick had joined the New York Dolls for their March UK tour. New York Dolls' rhythm guitarist Sylvain Sylvain confirmed the report, "We made some calls and now we finally have got Earl Slick playing guitar. So Earl's going to be joining us for the upcoming tour. He's the newest member of the New York Dolls, if I can put that right now."
In a December 2011 interview featured in Sound Check magazine, Slick revealed that he is currently collaborating with up-and-coming indie artist, Me of a Kind.
In January 2013 it was revealed that he played the guitar for David Bowie on his new album, The Next Day.
The Earl Slick Band (1976),
Razor Sharp (1976),
Silver Condor (1981),
In Your Face (1991),
Lost and Found (2000),
Live '76 (2001),
Slick Trax (2002),
Zig Zag (2003),
With Phantom, Rocker, and Slick:
Phantom Rocker And Slick (1985),
Cover Girl (1986),
Slick's mostly used guitars while working on the last David Bowie album and while touring with New York Dolls in 2011/2012 were his Framus signature model and a Framus Mayfield Electric.,
Slick has a Sommatone signature model custom built to his specifications called the "Slick 18." He owns the first production model with Orange Tolex,
Custom Red Sommatone Roaring 40 Head and 2x12 Open Back Cabinet,
Slick uses DiMarzio pickups in his Gibson and his custom guitars. Pickups used: DiMarzio HS-2, PAF Pro, Super Distortion, DiMarzio Soapbar,
Endorsements and other ventures:
In 2010, Slick announced that he had begun marketing his own line of customized guitar straps, called Slick Straps, in an exclusive distribution deal with Guitar Fetish, an online guitar customizing shop. In addition to the Slick Straps line, Slick has been quoted as endorsing the GFS line of guitar effects pedals marketed by Guitar Fetish.
In 2011, Framus International announced the release of the Earl Slick Signature Model guitar.