Phil Collen

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Phil Collen
Phil Collen in Australia.jpg
Phil Collen Australian Tour in 2017.
Background information
Birth namePhilip Kenneth Collen
Also known asOne-half of "The Terror Twins" with co-guitarist Steve Clark: 1983–1991
Born (1957-12-08) 8 December 1957 (age 62)
Hackney, London, England
GenresHard rock, heavy metal, glam metal
Occupation(s)Guitarist, songwriter, vocals
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1974–present
Associated actsDef Leppard, Lucy, Tush, Dumb Blondes, Girl, Man-Raze, Cybernauts, BB Steal, Tesla, Spinal Tap
WebsiteOfficial website

Philip Kenneth Collen (born 8 December 1957) is an English musician. He is the lead guitarist for the rock band Def Leppard, joining the band in 1982 during the recording of the Pyromania album.[1]

Early years[edit]

Phillip Kenneth Collen was born in Hackney, London, England. Collen got his first guitar on his 16th birthday, a red Gibson SG, and taught himself how to play.[2] He then joined a line-up of early bands including Lucy, Tush, Dumb Blondes.

He left school to work in a factory as a motorcycle dispatch rider until his band Girl got their first record contract.[3] During his tenure with Girl, Collen's career began rising, spurred by the relative success of the albums Sheer Greed and Wasted Youth, which allowed Collen the opportunity to play at more significant venues.[4]

A young Phil Collen can also be seen on the back cover of Deep Purple's live album Made in Japan as the live photo was actually taken at the Rainbow theatre in London, a concert Collen attended, and not in Japan.[5]

In a recent interview, Collen revealed that he was approached by Steve Harris to join Iron Maiden replacing guitarist Dennis Stratton.

Def Leppard[edit]

Before Collen's entrance into Def Leppard on 12 July 1982 during the recording of Pyromania, he had previously been asked to consider joining the band during the 1981 tour for High 'n' Dry by Joe Elliott and Steve Clark, whom he knew at the time. Despite this invitation, there was no need to replace Pete Willis yet and as a result, Collen stayed as a member of Girl for the time being.

Recruitment and friendship with Steve Clark[edit]

After Willis was fired due to alcohol problems, Joe Elliott called and asked Collen to audition. He was asked to perform solos on the songs "Stagefright" and "Photograph" during the recording sessions of Pyromania.[6] Mutt Lange, the band’s producer, said to Phil “just have fun on it, play some solos on it.” Photograph, Rock of Ages, Foolin, Stagefright, Rock till you Drop were all songs that he played solos on. His solo on Stagefright was the first take of anything on the album[7] He and fellow guitarist Clark quickly bonded, becoming close friends and leading to the trademark dual-guitar sound of Def Leppard. Collen and Clark became known as the "Terror Twins," in recognition of their talents. By this time, Collen had also become noted for his trademark bare-chested stage appearances.[8]

Changes in lifestyle, death of Clark and Adrenalize sessions[edit]

During the 1980s, Collen quit drinking alcohol, which he had developed into a serious addiction, stopped eating meat, and adopted a generally healthy lifestyle. According to Collen, he began suffering from blackouts due to alcohol and quit when he realized that he was losing control of his addiction, which was starting to dominate his life. In contrast, Clark did not follow such standards and died due to alcohol abuse in early 1991.[9]

After Clark died, Collen was faced with the challenge of not only dealing with the loss of a friend and bandmate, but also with the burden and responsibility of the "Adrenalize" recordings. The music had already been written, but Clark's playing style differed so much from Collen's that recording Clark's parts proved very difficult. While Clark's playing style was rhythmic, melodic, and sometimes even characterized as "sloppy," Collen's style was technical and precise, leading to difficulties in mimicking the sound of Clark's playing style. Due to the aftermath of Clark's death, as well as the issues with the recording of "Adrenalize", Collen seriously considered leaving Def Leppard.[8] According to Joe Elliott, Collen didn't want to continue in the band anymore with Steve not being there. He said, "I'd rather be a plumber."[10]

Clark would ultimately be replaced as the band's co-lead guitarist by Vivian Campbell, formerly of Dio and Whitesnake, shortly before the Adrenalize tour. This relieved Collen of some of the pressures of the "overkill" production style of Def Leppard, as well as the challenge of reproducing Clark's guitar parts for live shows.[8]


In 1989, Collen worked with Jackson Guitars to develop an ergonomically correct electric guitar, although according to Collen, he designed them because "they looked cool," and they ended up having bad balance, as well as a "really weird shape."[11]

Recently, his live rig with Def Leppard consists of various Jackson PC1 guitars, some are modified, all equipped with Dimarzio pickups and Floyd Rose Tremolo Unit and Sustainer. For acoustics, Collen uses several Fenders acoustics. For strings, Collen uses D'Addario 0.13 - 0.54 and 0.13 - 0.56 gauge strings.[12]

Side projects[edit]

Collen performing in 2018.

Collen has been involved in several side projects over his career, most notably the band Man Raze, formed as a joint collaboration with former Girl bandmate Simon Laffy as bassist and drummer Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols.[13]

In 1990, Collen co-produced the On the Edge album of the Australian band BB Steal.[14]

In 1991, Collen offered a song he had written, "Miss You In A Heartbeat" to the band The Law, which was featured on the band's self-titled album. This album was the band's only release. "Miss You In A Heartbeat" was later recorded and released by Def Leppard.[15]

In 1993, Collen executive produced the album Sublime To The Ridiculous for the band, Sheer Greed, composed of former members of Girl, an act Collen was also associated earlier in his career.[16]

Collen has also worked in side projects with Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott. One of these recent projects was a tribute to David Bowie and Mick Ronson. He and Elliott also joined with Trevor Bolder and Mick "Woody" Woodmansey from Spiders from Mars and keyboardist Dick Decent to form the band Cybernauts. In 2001 they released a live album of Bowie songs.[8]

In 1996, Collen performed as a featured guitarist on the Jeffology: A Guitar Chronicle album - a tribute album to Jeff Beck. Collen performed on the single, "'Cause We've Ended As Lovers" from the album.[17]

In 2010, Collen recorded the song "Hard Times Celebrate" with rapper Bazaar Royale, featured on the album "The Ride."[18]

Phil Collen formed a blues project by the name of Delta Deep with vocalist Debbi Blackwell Cook of the 80's group The Jammers, which released an eponymous debut in 2015.

In 2017, Collen was featured on three tracks of the reunited The Professionals album "What In The World." [19]

Collen joined Joe Satriani and John Petrucci on the 2018 edition of the G3 Tour in the United States.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Collen has lived in the US for 25 years, and currently resides in Orange County, Southern California. He commented, "I'm almost a California native now." He has five children; Rory (born 1990), Samantha (born 2004), Savannah (born 2009), Charlotte (born 2014), Jaxson (born 2018).[21][22] He was married to Jacqueline Collen-Tarolly (1989) and Anita Thomas-Collen (1999). He married actress costume designer Helen L. Simmons in 2010.[23]

Collen is a vegan[24] and has been a vegetarian for 35 years.[25] Collen is also colorblind.[26]

Collen has been training extensively in martial arts for over twenty years. He began his martial arts training in Kempo Karate,[27] earning a black belt. He also has studied kickboxing with Benny Urquidez, and Muay Thai with Jean Carillo.[28][29] He currently works out off and on tour with Eric the Trainer.[30]


With Girl[edit]

With Def Leppard[edit]

With Man Raze[edit]

With Delta Deep[edit]

  • Delta Deep (2015)


  1. ^ 35 Years Ago: Def Leppard Replaces Pete Willis With Phil Collen at Ultimate Classic Rock; by Martin Kielty; July 2017
  2. ^ 10 questions: Phil Collen at Music Radar; September 12, 2014
  3. ^
  4. ^ Phil Collen NNDB. 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  5. ^ How Phil Collen ended up on the back of DP's "Made In Japan"
  6. ^ Spera, Keith (15 August 2009). "A conversation with Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 23 January 2017 – via
  7. ^ Phil Collen Recommends... at Music Aficionado; retrieved 2019
  8. ^ a b c d "Biography". Phil Collen website. 2008. Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  9. ^ "Q&A: Phil Collen". Irish Independent. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  10. ^ Adrenalize (Media notes). Def Leppard. Mercury Records. 1992.CS1 maint: others (link)
  11. ^ "Rock of Love Bites: An Interview with Def Leppard's Phil Collen". Classic Rock Revisited. Archived from the original on 14 February 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  12. ^ "Rig Rundown - Def Leppard's Phil Collen". YouTube. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  13. ^ "About". Man Raze official website. 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  14. ^ "BB Steal – On the Edge (Release Year – 1991)". Hard Rock Hideout. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  15. ^ "Biography". Allmusic. 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  16. ^ "Sheer Greed". MusicMight. 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2010.[dead link]
  17. ^ "Jeffology: "A Guitar Chronicle"". Guitar Nine Records. 2008. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  18. ^ "Bazaar Royale: Hard Times Celebrate".
  19. ^ "THE PROFESSIONALS Album Ft. DEF LEPPARD's PHIL COLLEN Out Now". 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Joe Satriani Announces 'What Happens Next' Album + G3 2018 Tour With John Petrucci + Phil Collen".
  21. ^ "Def Leppard Interview". The Gauntlet. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  22. ^ "Third time lucky? Def Leppard rocker Phil Collen weds just nine days after second divorce". The Daily Mail. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  23. ^ Laudadio, Marisa (17 July 2010). "Def Leppard Guitarist's Rockin' Sunset Beach Wedding". People. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  24. ^ James S. Fell (27 June 2015). "How Def Leppard's Phil Collen traded the booze for a better body". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Phil Collen - Rig Rundown". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Fighting talk with Def Leppard's Phil Collen". Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  30. ^

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Girl Lead Guitarist
Succeeded by
Pete Bonas
Preceded by
Pete Willis
Def Leppard Lead Guitarist