10 questions: Phil Collen

We quiz the Def Leppard guitarist

10 questions Phil Collen
(Image: © Gene Blevins/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Phil Collen He sold 100 million records with Def Leppard and inspired countless kids to pick up a six-string. But will he get 'hysterical' when he confronts the 10 questions we ask everyone?

1. What was your first guitar and when did you get it?

"I'd pestered my parents for a guitar since I saw Deep Purple when I was 14"

"It was my 16th birthday and I'd pestered my parents for a guitar since I saw Deep Purple when I was 14. There was an entry-level Gibson SG in Exchange And Mart for £200, which was completely out of their range, but I'd hassled them for so long. I've still got it and it's a beautiful guitar. It still sounds really cool. It was like porn: 'Oh my God! I can touch a Gibson! Wow!'"

2. The building's burning down - what guitar from your collection would You save?

"I don't know... there are the two [Jackson] PC1s that I'm really close to – one that's a solar colour and one that's natural. They're my two favourites, but I love the [Jackson PC] Supreme with the maple top. It's so heavy and fat. I'd try and grab three!"

3. What's the oldest guitar you own?

"A 1954 Gibson ES-175. I've used it on this new blues project album I'm recording called Delta Deep, which sounds like really authentic blues but with Led Zeppelin playing it. I bought that guitar in Holland when we was doing Hysteria."

4. Is there a piece of gear you regret letting go?

"Brian May gave me this pedal that he'd made and he'd used it on the early Queen albums"

"Brian May gave me this pedal that he'd made and he'd used it on the early Queen albums and on Killer Queen. He let me have it and I said, 'Oh my God, this is amazing!' It was this boost pedal, and I used it on Hysteria for Run Riot. It was really cool, but someone stole it."

5. When was the last time you practised?

"I don't really practise anymore, but I had a weird thing happen last year when my tendon slid off the bone and I had to have it stitched back on the knuckle. I had a cast for six weeks and, when I got it off, I couldn't play... so I learnt to play slide."

6. What are you doing five minutes before you go on stage?

"I do push-ups! I used to play before I went on stage, but I found that it made me uptight. When I stopped doing that, I just started relaxing and I enjoyed it a lot more."

7. ...And five minutes after?

"I'll be halfway through the show and I'll be thinking something like, 'I'm starving, have we ordered Indian food tonight?' So a lot of the time, I get off stage and I'm actually really quite hungry, so I'll jump in the shower and then go and eat."

8. What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you on stage?

"This kind of mini tornado came through when we were doing an outdoor concert near Philadelphia... It moved our tour buses!"

"This kind of mini tornado came through when we were doing an outdoor concert near Philadelphia. We saw this thing coming, and it moved our tour buses a few feet and everything fell down and the roof fell off.

"We had a little hurricane happen in North Carolina and the roof came off there, then all the water came in and it ruined all the gear. Luckily, no one was hurt."

9. What's the closest you've come to quitting music?

"I was very upset when Steve [Clark, Leppard guitarist 1978-91] died. I didn't just lose a best friend, it also made me think about all the stuff that we'd done together as a band and everything. I didn't really feel like carrying on but we did, obviously."

10. What song would you play on acoustic round the campfire?

"Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley gets everyone going... and some Motown stuff. Me and Debbi Blackwell-Cook, who's doing this Delta Deep thing with me, started out playing some acoustic stuff at a benefit. Then everyone said, 'Oh my god, are you doing an album?' So we are now!"

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