At the age of 16, Phil got his first guitar (a red Gibson SG), taught himself how to play, and left school to pursue a career in music. He then joined a line-up of early bands including Lucy, Tush, Dumb Blondes, and Girl. Some sources claim that Lucy's lead vocalist was Paul Meuse and that the band's bassist was Pete Webb. The band reportedly had four members. Collen had already known Joe Elliott and Steve Clark since 1981 from the London music scene and had been asked to consider joining then.
However, there was no need to replace Pete Willis at the time. But when Willis was dismissed from Def Leppard, Collen wasn't formally asked to join the band. Elliott evaluated Collen's ability to play the guitar after he handed out a demo recording of "Photograph" during the band's Pyromania sessions, in hopes of performing a solo that fit in with the bands' style of music. Soon after, Collen officially joined, and his ability on the guitar impressed producer Mutt Lange and the rest of the band. He quickly bonded with fellow guitarist Steve Clark, with whom he created Def Leppard's trademark dual-guitar sound.
He and Steve were even known as "The Terror Twins". Over the years, Collen quit drinking, stopped eating meat, and adopted a healthy lifestyle (He became a vegetarian); Clark however did not follow such a healthy way of life and, like so many rock heroes, ended up losing his life to alcohol and prescription drugs in early 1991. After Clark's death in 1991, Collen faced the challenge of not only dealing with the loss of a friend he had bonded with for so many years, but also with the burden and responsibility of the Adrenalize recordings. The music had been written by this time, but Clark's playing style differed so much from Collen's that actually recording all of his parts proved very difficult. (Clark's playing style was rhythmic, melodic, and sometimes even characterized as "sloppy," whereas Collen's style was technical and precise.) During this time, it is rumored that Phil actually considered leaving Def Leppard.
However, Vivian Campbell joined the band to replace Steve Clark shortly before the Adrenalize tour, relieving Collen of the pressure of Def Leppard's "overkill" production style as well as the challenge of reproducing Clark's guitar parts for live shows. n 1989, Collen teamed up with Grover Jackson of Jackson Guitars to develop an ergonomically correct electric guitar called the PC Archtop. He has since designed three more Jackson electric guitar models (PC 1, 2 & 3). The PC1 is currently produced and sold through Jackson. Phil was also endorsing Ibanez Destroyer guitars since the early 1980s, which he still uses. Phil uses steel guitar picks made by Dunlop.
He plays GHS 12-52 strings tuned to E'flat. In November 1992 he was quoted in Guitar School as using the following equipment. Guitars: Jackson/Charvel custom Pickups: DiMarzio Super 3 (bridge), Fast Track ( neck ) Amplification: Randall RRM2-200 Cabinets: Randall custom 4 X 12s/Celestion Vintage 30s Effects: Digitech GSP 21s, Rockman XPR, TC Electronic 1128 EQ, Scholz stereo choruses, BBE 442 Sonic Maximizers, Rane MPE 28, Palmer Speaker Simulaton In 1990, Phil co-produced the "On the Edge" album of the Australian band BB Steal This same year, Collen performed by invitation on Donny Osmond's "Eyes Don't Lie" album and single (subsequently released with Osmond's "Best Of..." album in 1994.) Def Leppard management determined that it was not in the best interest of the band for Collen's name to be associated with "a Donny Osmond release,' and Collen's contribution was credited under the name Rory James Collen - Phil Collen's son's name. (In a later statement, Osmond commented that he understood the band managements' decision, and held no ill will toward them or Collen.) 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. In 1993, Collen executive produced the album "Sublime To The Ridiculous" for the band, Sheer Greed.
Collen also made a guest appearance with the band on the song "Everybody Wants". This album was released only in Japan. Collen has worked in numerous side projects, some of them together with Joe Elliott. One of his recent side projects was a tribute to David Bowie and Mick Ronson. He and Elliott also got together with the Trevor Bolder and Mick "Woody" Woodmansey from Spiders from Mars and keyboardist Dick Decent to form Cybernauts.
In 2001 they released a great live album of classic Bowie hits. In addition, Collen has also appeared on a number of other music projects. In 1996, Collen performed as a featured guitarist on the "Jeffology: A Guitar Chronicle" album - a tribute album to guitarist Jeff Beck. Collen performed on the single, "'Cause We've Ended As Lovers" from the album. Recently, Phil organized a band of his own called Man-Raze, comprised of former Girl bandmate, Simon Laffy, and the drummer from the Sex Pistols, Paul Cook. They released "Surreal", their first full length CD, on January 2008.
The album itself has received great reception. Collen currently resides in Southern California. Collen has a son, Rory James Collen (who also became a vegetarian), and a daughter, Samantha Collen Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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