|This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2008)|
|Birth name||Stephen Maynard Clark|
23 April 1960|
Hillsborough, Sheffield, England
|Died||8 January 1991
|Genres||Heavy metal, hard rock|
|Associated acts||Def Leppard|
|Gibson Les Paul XR-1
Gibson Les Paul
Stephen Maynard Clark (23 April 1960 – 8 January 1991) was an English musician, best known as one of multiple songwriters and co-lead guitarist for the British hard rock band Def Leppard up until his death in 1991 due to a combination of alcohol and multiple prescription drugs. In 2007 Clark was ranked #11 on Classic Rock Magazine's "100 Wildest Guitar Heroes".
Childhood and adolescence
Steve Clark was born and raised in Hillsborough, the north-western suburb of Sheffield, England. From an early age he showed an interest in music — at the age of six, his mother took him to a concert to see The Shadows perform. At eleven, he asked his father, a taxi driver, for a guitar, and his father gave him one, on the condition that Steve would learn to play.
Clark primarily used Gibson guitars during his time with Def Leppard. He occasionally used other guitars, such as a Fender Stratocaster in the "Love Bites" video. This Fender Strat was given to Steve by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page.Page was a key influence upon Clark, who learned numerous Led Zeppelin songs note for note.
Career with Def Leppard
Before joining Def Leppard in 1978, Clark played cover songs with his small band, Electric Chicken, in Sheffield. Around that time, he met Pete Willis (Def Leppard's original guitarist/founder). Clark asked for a spot in the band and joined Def Leppard in January 1978. According to Joe Elliott in Behind the Music, Clark auditioned for Def Leppard by playing all of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" without accompaniment.
While a guitarist for Def Leppard, he contributed to the band's music and lyrics. Clark and Pete Willis shared lead guitar duties, and Clark was nicknamed as "The Riffmaster" according to Joe Elliott in VH1's Classic Albums series featuring Def Leppard's Hysteria. When Willis was asked to leave, guitarist Phil Collen was recruited into the band.
Clark and Collen quickly bonded, becoming close friends and leading to the trademark dual-guitar sound of Def Leppard. He and Clark became known as the "Terror Twins," in recognition of their talents and friendship.
Part of their success as a duo was attributed by Collen (on BBC's Classic Albums show) to their ability to swap between rhythm and lead guitar, often both playing lead or both doing rhythm within the same song. Lead singer Joe Elliott told the same programme that Clark was not a technician, he was a guitarist who wore his instrument a few notches too low, and his style was a key part of the band's chemistry. Elliott called Clark the creative one, and Collen a 'total utter technician.'
Whereas Collen quit drinking alcohol during the 1980s, and also stopped eating meat, adopting a generally healthy lifestyle, Clark did not manage to quit, and died due to alcohol abuse in early 1991.
Clark contributed to half of the songs on the band's 1992 album Adrenalize just prior to his death. In 2011, Phil Collen revealed, on a Q&A series of web clips (covering 20 fan questions about Steve Clark), that he and Steve Clark began working on the song which would become "White Lightning" on the Adrenalize album together. The song was never finished prior to Clark's death and ironically when it was complete, the song actually describes the effects of Steve's alcohol and drug addiction in great detail. Collen described this as spooky in a way as Steve had actually written & recorded demo riffs prior to his death. 
Def Leppard enjoyed their most successful years commercially during the Steve Clark era.
Clark was engaged to american top model Lorelei Shellist until shortly before his death. The couple had been together since 1984. Shellist included details on her relationship with the rockstar on her memoir Runway Runaway. She has stated that his addiction played a big part on their breakup. It was after the couple split that Clark and Janie Dean, his girlfriend at the time of his death, got together.
At the time of his death, Clark was on a six-month leave of absence from Def Leppard.
On 8 January 1991 Clark was found dead on his couch by his girlfriend Janie Dean. He was 30 years old. The autopsy revealed he had died from an overdose of codeine and had Valium, morphine and a blood alcohol level of .30, three times the British legal driving limit. There was no evidence of suicidal intent. Daniel Van Alphen, Clark's drinking companion the night before, testified that the two went to the local pub and returned to the guitarist's home at midnight to watch a video.
He was buried at Wisewood Cemetery, Loxley, Sheffield, near the Clark family home.
- The Def Leppard E.P. (1979)
- On Through the Night (1980)
- High 'n' Dry (1981)
- Pyromania (1983)
- Hysteria (1987)
- Adrenalize (1992) (songwriting)
- Retro Active (1993) (songwriting)
- Mutt Tracks: What Do AC/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner, The Cars, Bryan Adams and Nickelback Have in Common? Ted Drozdowski, 8 March 2010
- JIMI HENDRIX, DIMEBAG, TONY IOMMI, EDDIE VAN HALEN Are Among 'Wildest Guitar Heroes'. Blabbermouth.net
- "Interview: Def Leppard". Rocksucker. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- The tombstone tourist: musicians By Scott Stanton p. 303
- "Top 5". The Cairns Post (Cairns, Australia: News Limited). 11 March 2010. p. 14. "Inspired by the death of producer and C+C Music Factory founding member David Cole, as well as Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark, 90s R'n'B doesn't get much sweeter than this."
|Def Leppard Lead Guitarist