There comes a time in nearly every long-established rock band when one of its members embarks on a solo project.
Four years ago, the chirpy, Hackney-born, lightening-fingered guitarist from Def Leppard decided to do just that.
It was back in his native London that Phil Collen, who now lives in sun-drenched southern California, first laid the groundwork for what has since proved to be one of the most intriguing underground bands on the noughties rock scene.
During his years with Def Leppard, Phil kept in touch with old pal Simon Luffy, a former bandmate in the glam-metal group Girl (which Phil left to join Def Leppard in 1982) and, while in London, the pair began writing new material.
Archive for 2008
Step inside, walk this way and prepare to be Leppardised. As Sheffield's favourite hair metal sons arrived on stage at Vector and cracked into Rocket the sold-out crowd rocketed to their feet – and they stayed that way for 90-minutes of pomp'n'roll.
This was stadium rock 80s-style, people.
Any thoughts Def Leppard might be hair metal has-beens – because, let's face it, 1983's Pyromania and 1987's Hysteria were the band at their best – were blown away as they made their first appearance in New Zealand in 16 years.
As an example of Def Leppard's enduring pulling-power, many in the crowd would have barely been born when Hysteria came out.
Def Leppard front man Joe Elliott ended the band's Auckland show with the words, "Don't forget us, and we won't forget you".
On that basis his band will not be forgetting the fans who packed out Vector Arena in a hurry.
Returning for their first show in New Zealand in 16 years, the British Gods of '80s rock music took the same fans who listened to their records 20 years ago on a whirlwind nostalgia tour through their greatest hits.
The band were under no illusions as to what songs the crowd wanted to hear as they played hit anthem after hit ballad over an hour-and-a-half on a stage stacked with guitar and bass cabs and a two-metre riser for one-armed drummer Rick Allen.
I've added a video of Foolin' performed on November 3, 2008 in Melbourne, Australia during the Songs from the Sparkle Lounge world tour to the Video section. Many thanks go to Kerrie McCoy for providing the footage.
A year ago, when the guys in Def Leppard heard that Taylor Swift wanted to do an episode of the Country Music Television show "Crossroads" with them, they had just one question: Who's Taylor Swift?
"There's always a first time when you discover a band, whether it's the Beatles or Taylor Swift," Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott said.
"So we Googled her and iTuned her and listened to it all and said 'Wow.' And you look at how many records she's selling and how lovely and pretty she is and how exciting it is to be at that point in your career, because we were there once — before you were born," he added glancing over at the 18-year-old Swift at a recent press conference.
Phil Collen doesn't need a chauffeur. After finishing an interview at a Los Angeles radio station, he jumps behind the wheel of his own car, gets directions and heads onto I-405. "I love living in California," says the guitarist for the British band Def Leppard. "The weather is beautiful every single day. Sure the traffic can be spotty, but it's a small price to pay for the lifestyle."
Currently on the first leg of their U.S. tour to support their latest CD "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge," the musicians will travel to Turkey, Russia and Greece later in the year. Which is fine by Collen. Besides loving to play live, Collen is a bona-fide travel junkie who says he has enough of the tourist in him to enjoy exploring places old and new. Once Def Leppard's tour is done, Collen will hit the road again with his side project Man Raze, a three-piece alternative rock band that also includes Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and rock bassist Simon Laffy.
I've added videos of Def Leppard's performance of Animal and Let's Get Rocked in West Palm Beach, Florida to the Video section. This show took place on July 10, 2006.
Def Leppard has been involved in cross-promotion with the National Hockey League (NHL). They performed at the 2008 NHL Face-Off Rocks season opening concert in Detroit and mixed a video of C'mon C'mon alongside NHL game footage.
Both the NHL promo video and the live C'mon C'mon performance are now available from the video section.
The Detroit Red Wings may be feeling a twinge of embarrassment after their 3-2 home-opening loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, in which the Stanley Cup champions passed the puck like a remedial-level pee-wee team.
That is, until Def Leppard's Joe Elliott redefined the concept of embarrassment during one of their NHL Face-Off Rocks segments at the Fox Theater in Detroit. This is what you get for booking a band from England: Drive on the wrong side of the road, place the holiest of holy hockey grails on a pedestal upside down.
KISS was right. This is Detroit Rock City.
Enough about KISS, though. This was a night for Def Leppard, a night for the hockey-crazed fans of Detroit, a night for rock-and-roll and this great sport to come together.
And boy, did they ever.
Thursday night proved to be a double-your-pleasure type of night. Those lucky enough to be at Joe Louis Arena at 7 p.m. had the opportunity to witness the fourth Stanley Cup championship banner to be raised to the rafters in the last 11 years.
But those who were unable to nab those tough tickets at The Joe had the chance for the next-best thing. The historic Fox Theatre, just down the street from The Joe, provided the opportunity not only to watch the game on a big-screen TV, but to see one of rock-and-roll's most successful bands put on a live performance.
A boy who was one of the youngest children ever to undergo open heart surgery in Northern Ireland has come face to face with his rock heroes.
Most youngsters dream of meeting their childhood heroes and for the Co Antrim boy this dream came true when he met rock 'n' roll legends Def Leppard.
Coleraine schoolboy JD Dinsmore met the Sheffield rockers in June and, says mum Gillian Shiels, the normally outgoing 11-year-old was left speechless.
"He would have been a bit shy about it," she explained, "but it was his dream come true. All he wants to be is a rock star. He loves his guitar and his rock and roll music. And he has always been into Def Leppard. There is no Daniel O'Donnell in this house!"
Gillian said the once in a lifetime meeting came about after JD's uncle, David Shiels, contacted the Make-a-Wish Foundation to see if it could help.
With over thirty years of chart-topping albums, sold out global tours and some of the biggest hair in heavy metal, Def Leppard have established themselves as one of the most influential bands in the world.
Barely out of their teens in 1977, the Def Leppard boys gathered a large pub following and made their name around the Sheffield area. Then, with the release of their spectacular debut record The Def Leppard E.P. in 1979, the band began touring with better-known metal bands. All of these elements, including their pin-up good looks made Def Leppard one of the leaders of the 1980s British Heavy Metal movement.
Joining the band in 1992, Vivian Campbell is technically the 'newest' member; however, after 16 years rocking the world with Def Leppard, Mr Campbell certainly has a lot of stories to tell. Sejal Davé caught up with him in Athens to find out how, after being part of the mainstream music industry for so long, and with the release of their latest album, these rockers just keep coming back for more…
After more than 30 years in the music business, rockers Def Leppard are seeing their audiences getting younger and younger–but, according to guitarist Vivian Campbell, that's not because parents who loved Def Leppard as teens are turning their kids on to the group.
"That's a byproduct of music piracy more than anything else," Campbell said in his Irish accent. "I'm not saying that as a negative. I think it's very positive.
"A lot of younger kids get turned on to classic bands because they're trading files. They have 4,000 or 5,000 songs on their iPod, that's $4,000 or $5,000 on their iPod, at iTunes' prices, at least. A 12-year-old can't afford that. When kids trade files, it's actually a good thing for classic bands such as us. It's not such a good thing for up-and-coming artists who need to sell records."