Def Leppard Guitarist Phil Collen Shares His Craziest Live-Concert Experiences
Since the band’s beginning 30 years ago, Def Leppard have become rock-and-roll legends with more than 65 million albums sold worldwide and two prestigious Diamond Awards to their name. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal pioneers' latest milestone is Mirror Ball, Def Leppard’s first live album, which comes out on June 7. In addition to the new release, Def Leppard is kicking off their national tour on June 15 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Along with the album and tour, guitarist Phil Collen and the guys will be releasing the book Def Leppard: The Definitive Visual History. Collen’s musical interests have expanded over the years, and in 2004, he decided to express himself via another creative outlet in a band called MANRAZE. Joining him in the group are Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols and Simon Laffy of Collen’s former band Girl. MANRAZE’s new album, punfunkrootsrock, will be released on August 2 through Rocket Science Ventures in U.S. and Canada. Still, despite everything he has going on, Collen found time to share with us some of his craziest live-concert experiences.
TACKLE OUT FOR THE AMERICAN MARKET
"The first weird onstage experience that springs to mind was on the '87 Hysteria Tour, in the round (staged in the middle of the arena like a boxing ring). We were playing an acoustic song and I was sitting on the drum riser. I looked up and saw everyone immediately in front of me and all the way up...pointing. I kinda looked around but then realized that my Levi's had completely ripped open and everything was hanging out and actually everyone was pointing at my bollocks."
A MILLION AND COUNTING...
"This one wasn't scary or anything but just really interesting. We were playing in Philadelphia on the famous Rocky steps for the Live 8 Concert. There were a million people in attendance. It was really weird seeing that many people in one place. I couldn't see past the first 100,000."
"This was in the '80's--I can't remember the exact year--but we were playing in Switzerland. We were killing it. We were actually playing really, really great. And then all of a sudden, at least half the audience disappeared within seconds...just running out the doors. I couldn't quite figure out what was happening until the tear gas hit us on stage. We had to stop playing and that was the end of that. Some idiot in the audience had let off tear gas."
IT'S ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL YOUR GUITARIST LOSES AN EYE
"After being in a band for, like, 30 years, we've obviously seen and had a bunch of things thrown on the stage at us--ninja stars, scissors, a live cat, a three-foot-long double-headed dildo, bottles, etc. But the one that really affected me most was getting smacked in the eye by a heel from a woman's "Fuck me" pump in Portland, Oregon in '83. I remember it really hurt and it gave me a black eye but I kept on playing. It wasn't until a few years later that I discovered it was the trauma from the shoe that led me to having cataract surgery at the extremely young age of 30 something (you don't usually get them 'til you're about 60, right?)."
"Me and Joe [Elliot, vocals] are the only two band members fortunate enough to have not fallen off the stage. However, during the guitar solo on 'Foolin' at the Meadowlands Arena in '88, I made one step forward and realized I was looking at the ceiling. I slipped so fast I turned upwards. All the lights were on me because we were playing in the round. But the weird thing about that was seeing the ceiling then feeling the bump. I actually didn't know I had slipped because it all happened so quick. I had slipped on oil from all the smoke machines. I jumped up really fast and thought I had gotten away with it until a fan in Boston said he'd seen one of our three shows at the Meadowlands. I asked him what night he went and he said, 'The one where you fell over!' Obviously, I'm not as slick as the oil."