RIP, Ola Hudson

“Ola

Her name and face might not be instantly recognizable to many, but no doubt Ola Hudson was a stunning afrobella of note in her day. Check out her style in that vintage Dewars ad. That hair, those earrings. Ola Hudson was a certified show stopper.

She was a popular costume designer who clothed John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Diana Ross, and David Bowie, specifically for The Man Who Fell To Earth. Ola had two sons — Saul and Albion Hudson. Albion’s nickname is Ash, and Saul… well, his nickname is Slash.

From this awesome Rolling Stone interview:

Slash, whose real name is Saul Hudson, has been a resident of Los Angeles since his parents moved to America from England in the early Seventies. Slash’s mom, a professional costume designer named Ola Hudson, tailored outfits for such acts as John Lennon, Diana Ross and the Pointer Sisters, while his artist father, Anthony Hudson, created album covers for clients that included Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Raised in the neo-hippie environs of Laurel Canyon — which he still calls home — young Saul’s own creative instincts were nurtured early on. He was an enthusiastic artist and even contributed a series of animal illustrations to The Bestiary, an unpublished book of verse written by Joni Mitchell, who was a neighbor.

“He was drawing from the time he could pick up a pencil,” says Ola Hudson, who adds that he was weaned on her Led Zeppelin albums and raised in a very loving household. “I’ve been shocked at a lot of things I’ve read where it sounds like I left him on somebody’s doorstep in a basket. They make it seem as if he never had a family and grew up on the streets like an urchin, but that’s not true. It’s just part of his image. He’s not all leather and tattoos.”

So there you have it — Slash’s mom was all kinds of awesome, and her style directly influenced rock n roll as we know it. Ola Hudson passed away, succumbing to lung cancer on Friday at age 62. On his Twitter page, Slash confessed that he’s back in the studio, but having trouble concentrating. Thoughts and commiserations to the whole Hudson family. RIP, Ola Hudson.

Click here for one of my favorite G&R videos, Don’t Cry. It seemed fitting to end this post with one of Slash’s most poignant solos, even if YouTube won’t let me embed the video.

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Comments

  1. Afrobella, you never cease to amaze. Thanks for sharing Ola’s wonderful history.

    That photo is beautiful & look at that neck. She has Queen written all over her.

    Tafari

  2. What a fantastic tribute. Thank you for acknowledging that she was more than Slash’s mom (and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing).

  3. Genius and fascinating post. I’m going to link to it this week.

  4. L'afrique c'est chic says:

    Thanks for letting us know about her Afrobella. Its really uplifting to learn about the accomplishments of other sisters.
    Beautiful and talented.

  5. I love that ad.

    Laurel Canyon back in the day must have been an incredible environment to grow up in.

    She was talented and beautiful lady.

  6. Wow…I think I remember that ad. Actually I remember that neck. Yeah, I’m old…

    Did you see Slash in the HBO documentary The Black List?

  7. Courtie says:

    Wow — I am loving that ad — I want to frame it and put it in my living room.
    What a fierce lady.

  8. Fantastic post Bella! Very intriguing.

  9. I still love the OLD GnR! Great ad! Great article!

  10. Wow this is great. So Iman wasn’t the only one with the swan neck, heh? She could’ve been a model. Love those earrings!! And yes there are times I wish I could transport myself in time back to the 70′s so I could go to Studio 54 (thought they played rock and not disco), rent a $100/mo NYC apartment and hang out with Joni Mitchell and the other Ladies of the Canyon…..sweet!

  11. Wow. i had no idea a sistah was designing for all those legends!

    She was truly stunning. Thanks for the post!

  12. Wow, I had no idea a sistah was Slash’s mom! She was truly fabulous.

  13. Shuggie says:

    Thanks for letting us know, Afrobella. My condolences to Slash’s family. I was an extreme fan of Slash’s back in the GnR days – I had his poster on my walls for years. I even subscribed to Guitar magazine for a year (even though I never touched a guitar) b/c I saw him on the cover.

    I knew about his Mom, but I had never seen a picture of her before now. I see the talent and looks run deep. I didn’t know he was on Twitter – maybe I’ll start following (if he’ll let me). :)

  14. I didn’t know Slash’s mom was sick. Sorry to hear that she passed away. I was reading “Slash” by Slash earlier in the year and you could tell how much he loved and respected his mother and his bohemian upbringing. What a talented and beautiful woman. RIP

  15. Thanks for this post. I did not know this. She was gorgeous!

  16. wisdom goddess born says:

    afrobella as always a well constructed tribute to another beautiful black woman. Thank you for always taking the road less travelled and letting us know about women of all types. RIP Mrs Hudson, condolences to the Hudson fmaily.

  17. Martamique Ngozi says:

    wow, that is extremely
    sad. I hope he finds a
    good way to cope with his
    loss.

    RIP OLA HUDSON

    she sounded like an amazing
    woman

  18. She’s lovely.

  19. thank you for this: my condolences to Slash. Lost my Mom of the same thing at the same age: it is much too young…

    and yes, Ms. Hudson was gorgeous!

  20. cipytweet says:

    deepest sympathy to Slash & Ms. Hudson’s family. thx for sharing such interesting facts re:her.

  21. She is so regal! Wow I never realized Slash was bi-racial, wish I would have known that back in high school (G&R hey day)

  22. Thank you for dropping that awesome bit of knowledge! Now this lady sounds like someone I wished I had had the chance to meet. What a great spirit!

  23. BAK N THE DAY (1990′S)WHEN I WAS WORKING WITH GROUPS LIKE
    POETIK JUSTUS>TAMLA ROBINSON,MANIACAL ONE>RUTHLESS,
    LUNAR PUNCH>TERRORIST ACTZ I MET HER AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS QUEEN ,AND WE USED TO SIT AND TLK FOR HOURS SEEN A LOT OF HER ART WORK ,DINED WITH HER ,AND WAS BLESSED ENUFF TO KISS HER ,AND I WE REMAINED GREAT FRIENDS,THANX CEASARIO FOR INTRODUCING US…..SLEEP WELL
    YOUR MAJESTY………DJ EL

  24. MI?OSZ -SLASH says:

    DZI?KUJE PANI OLA HUDSON ZA SLASHA I ASHA

  25. I truly hope I bring no ill-will with my words, but there is something about this woman and her ex-husband I must get off my chest:
    I must say, that I have never understood the deal with the way Ola and Anthony handled things with Slash’s birth and I turn to this site with the hopes that I may receive answers: Why was Ola okay with leaving her newborn son in the care of two men who brought the worst out in each other?
    Let me explain to those who do not know about what I am talking about: shortly following Slash’s birth, Ola made the decision to leave the family and work on her career in L.A. whilst Slash was left behind with his father, Anthony, an alcoholic who, while not violent, was not afraid to start raging arguments whilst drunk and truly believed that he could make an entire living off of his artwork and never having to bother with a job that provides a sturdy paycheck, even with such serious matters like supporting his child. It wasn’t until Slash was around 5 that the two finally decided to move to L.A.. During this period, Anthony and Slash lived in the house of Anthony’s parents. Anthony and his father did not get along in the slightest and even came to blows over simple difference of opinion, some that had not changed during this time if Slash’s autobiography is to be believed. Surely Ola had to have known this in the few years of marriage she shared with Anthony before Slash’s conception, so why move to L.A. solo? Why not get a sturdy job and make the move when the whole family can be involved? Even more confusing, she managed to obtain her profession of a respected costume designer a mere year after leaving, so why wait 4-5 years? Why not just move them down when she started getting work? Her mother was there and only too happy to aid in the family’s well being. Also, Ola was living quite well, among stars, when the move finally DID happen, so surely she could have afforded a basic two-bedroom apartment at a much earlier time.
    Another fact received from Slash’s book was the fact that during the time in England, Anthony and Slash made several outings where they basically lived like hippie bums several days at a time, sleeping on couches and chatting with weirdos. Was Ola unaware this was happening? Did she ever come to visit during this time? Did she even write and call on a regular basis? Slash certainly does not imply that she does in his book. We are simply told that she moves to L.A. and never hear of her again until the move to L.A. happens.
    I am sorry for the harsh tone of my words but from what I’ve heard, it seems to me that Anthony and Ola did a poor job when it came to Slash’s early years: They simple didn’t wish to take on the responsibility and sacrifice that comes with parenthood until they either had no choice or it was convenient for them and were only to happy to have another couple to do most of the work for them.
    Did working with famous L.A. stars not pay well back then? Did Ola not get enough work? Was it really asking Anthony too much to get a solid job and make the move out process quicker, ESPECIALLY considering how much he hated his upbringings? What is the deal here? Why did they make things THIS complicated?
    I just don’t understand.
    I know this is old and may be a bit inappropriate given the material of this article, but I need closure. Why did they do this poor of a job and if I have not received any details concerning the matter I would like to hear them. I will be checking back on this very forum for my answer, so please post it here. Do not e-mail me.

    • Yes ‘Anon’it IS VERY inappropriate. This blog article was to pay tribute to a truly amazing and talented woman, Ola Hudson, and your apparent need to get whatever it is off your chest, does indeed read as what I would describe as ill-will. Why on earth do you ‘need closure’ and why are you asking people to provide you with further details? And saying ‘don’t email me’… Why would anyone want to email you?! I should imagine people have better things to do with their time than to gossip and make assumptions about the lives of other people. You didn’t personally know Ola Hudson, and you don’t personally know Slash or his father. You also don’t know the reasons why Ola and Anthony made the decisions that they did, or why, and yet you see fit to pass judgement on them when in all honesty, what has it actually got to do with you? It is none of your business.

      You make reference to Slash’s book and you ask why this and that wasn’t explained. Perhaps Slash didn’t feel that he really needed to explain anything more, or that it was relevant.

      Slash has made it clear how his childhood had such a huge impact on him in a very positive way, and talked about the music/art he was exposed to, and the lasting impressions that all this made on him. He has said that all this has made him who he is today. The great bond that Slash has with his own young family only goes to show what a positive influence that his own father must have been on him, and how emotionally he must have been nurtured in a very positive way, by both his parents.

      Ola Hudson was very much loved by her family. Ola and Anthony Hudson certainly never did and don’t owe you any explanations about anything regarding their own personal lives, and neither does Slash, or anyone else.

      • The physical and emotional well being of your family ALWAYS take #1 priority.

        You have kids, you grow the hell up. Simple as that.

        Pursuing that dream means you have to bail on the family for a while? You suck it up and put it on hold until that isn’t the case.

        New baby means you have to get a job, save your money and not go out as much as you used to? Tough, that’s life.

        You have a bad drinking problem? Get it under control. To not do so is inexcusable.

        You and your kid live with a guy you simply can’t get along with? Who you get in big fights with on a regular basis? You sort that out posthaste and don’t be slow about it.

        You don’t shirk your duties as a parent and try to “repaint” life to work exactly your way. You get with the program. You can’t handle all that at the moment? Don’t have kids.

        Everything I said before “I am sorry for the harsh tone of my words” has documented proof, straight from the horse’s mouth to back it up, if they didn’t want people talking about this and weren’t willing to provide further answers, they shouldn’t have brought it up in the first place. If my questions on this forum are so hard to deal with, tell the mods and they can take them off.

        • A guy who is just tired of this says:

          Dude, stop. Just… STOP.

          #1: You’re griping about stuff that happened OVER THIRTY TO FORTY YEARS AGO. MY. GOD. Why do you even care?

          #2: Jocelyn is absolutely right. This behavior is uncalled for. The real-life version of this would be to go to her grave and piss all over it. THE WOMAN IS DEAD. FROM CANCER. MEANING IT PROBABLY HAPPENED WHILE SHE WAS IN GREAT PAIN AND IN SOME COMPLEX HOSPITAL TREATMENT. I think she’s already suffered enough. Give the woman and her family a break. None of this concerns or effects you AT ALL.

          #3: She almost CERTAINLY kept in touch and visited during this period and you know it. Slash didn’t mention it because it went without saying. What you also fail to mention is the fact that Ola got sole custody of Saul and his brother following her’s and Tony’s separation and that all the fighting crap you mentioned happened while Tony himself was young. NOWHERE does it say he got in fights regularly while with Saul. You don’t have an inkling of an idea how things went down the way they did and TWO TO THREE DOUBLE SPACED PAGES WITH FANCY BORDERS THAT ALSO TAKE A GOOD CHUCK OF SPACE UP IS NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH “DOCUMENTED PROOF STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH” TO BACK YOUR CLAIMS UP. Maybe business was just really crappy in the part of England they lived in. Maybe Tony just loved England and wanted to show Saul some things before they left and needed time to set that up. Maybe Ola had bad financial problems. Housing, food and the like for a family is expensive. Another fact you gloss over in the book is the fact that they needed help from Ola’s mother to pay the bills on several occasions after the move happened.

          You have no business here if all you’re going to do is just be a piece of crap to a woman who can’t defend herself.

          If you need to vent about something, find a healthier and more civilized way to do it. Trolling on the internet like a twelve year old is inexcusable in this day and age. I WILL be reporting this to the mods so that they can hopefully get this filth of this memorial before Saul sees it (God hoping he hasn’t already) and loses his lunch at this… travesty.

          I’ll bet you’re not even a GaR fan. Just some mental and inconsiderate ass with a computer who read a wiki entry and decided today was a good day to be a bastard.

          You have a lot of growing up to do.

          • No, I’ll think I’ll go on, because something occured to me: Tony, if you ever stumble across this: Did you have a backup plan for if your parents ever said “no” or kick you out early? I want you to put yourself back in your “repaint everything” mindset and honestly tell me what you would have done. Hell, is that why you made the move when you did? Because all your stuff was on the front porch with some cab fare and plane tickets after one of your London runs?

            Everyone is aware that Tony’s parents could have legally given him the boot anytime they wanted and there wasn’t jack anyone could have done about it, right? And that if the proper care for Saul couldn’t be provided, if would have been on his and Ola’s heads?

            I think the reason all this pisses me off so much is because of the ungodly amount of stuff that broke their way when it shouldn’t of.

            I’m sorry, I was raised in a household where we didn’t take things for granted. Where we actually made sure business was in order before leisure. Where we took notice of how what we did effected others. Where we didn’t make the grandparents waste their retirement practically raising their grandchildren and provide the essentials when there was absolutely no reason the parents couldn’t. Sure, they were involved and babysat every now and then, but that was it.

            You can sit there and tell me these people designed for this and that and that they were loved deeply by their families. You can tell me how Slash constantly praises them in his book but it doesn’t change that fact that, at least in the event of Slash’s early years, they simply didn’t have their heads together and just got lucky most of the time.

            One last detail that irritates me: When the separation happened, they decided Slash’s brother should go with Ola because they suddenly decided a baby needs his mother. Where was that when Slash was born?

  26. Also, thank you for letting me vent a bit here.

  27. As a David Bowie Fan thank you Ola for being responsible for The Coolest Look in rock n roll ie STATION TO STATION and Man Who Fell To Earth.

  28. elizabeth peltekian says:

    My deepest condolences to the Hudson family. I worked for Ola in the mid 70′s for 2 years until I moved away. I was recruited from LA Trade Tech at the time with the recommendation of one of my instructors.
    Ola would take me along for all the fittings and she was very protective of my well being, she was aware of my sheltered background and made sure that it remained that way. I frequently reflect back on how she took on that responsiblity upon herself, and i cherish and appreciated that about her.
    Every time she came with work she would bring her mother with her, my mother and Ola’s mother visited while we worked together, they enjoyed oneanother’s company.
    These are my memories of Ola Hudson and Clydele her assistant for a short while.
    I loved making her sketched designs mentioned above, she also designed for Minnie Riperton, Roberta Flack, Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon and David Bowie.
    And now I live in Washington state, own and operate a sandwich shop from fashion to sandwiches, from good looks to good eats.
    My love to the Hudson family and thank you for the fond memories.
    elizabeth peltekian

  29. I am closing comments on this thread. Thanks.