Influences: Phil Collen

The lead guitarist for Def Leppard, Phil Collen, is a well-spoken, hard-working, genuinely good person, who spearheaded the dual-guitar sound for the band for over 35 of the band's 40+ year career. After original Def Lep lead guitarist Pete Willis was fired due to alcohol problems, vocalist Joe Elliott called and asked Collen to audition for the band in 1982, during the "Pyromania" recording sessions.

After joining Def Leppard, Collen and fellow guitarist Steve Clark quickly bonded, becoming close friends and leading to the trademark dual-guitar sound of Def Leppard.

For me, the twin- and triple-guitar sounds of groups such as Iron Maiden, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Outlaws, Blue Oyster Cult, and Judas Priest held a special fascination, and Phil Collen was always near the top of my list of guitar influencers because it seemed he always knew where he wanted to go with his technique, his production ideas, and the interplay with his bandmates.

Life was good in 1987 when "Hysteria" was released, as the album featured seven hit singles, and went on to sell over 20 million copies (Double Diamond).

As one of the world's best-selling music artists, Def Leppard have sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Additionally, they are one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling more than 10 million copies in the US. Def Leppard were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

In this one hour plus interview, Sweetwater’s Nick Bowcott talks with Phil Collen about songwriting and arranging, the art of layering guitars and vocals, working with Mutt Lange, using heavy-gauge strings and metal pickups, Jackson guitars, his pre–Def Leppard years, and of course, their multi-million-selling Hysteria album!

Dan McAvinchey is a guitarist and composer living in Raleigh, NC.

He believes every musician or composer has the power to write, record and release their own music.

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