- ROCK OF AGES
- TRACK x TRACK
Phil's first guitar, an entry-level 1970s Gibson SG-200. Phil remembers: "It originally came with a strange pickup selector, switching system and two single coil pickups. But after playing it for a while I felt I needed a bit more oomph, so I had the local guitar shop in Walthamstow route out a hole and stick a Gibson humbucker in it. I loved it and couldn’t put it down. It also became obvious as I got a little older what a cool thing it was for my parents to get me this for my sixteenth birthday, as they weren’t exactly loaded." From the Collection of Phil Collen.
Phil's purple ankle cowboy boots by pskaufman..., worn on the Def Leppard World Tour, 2015. From the Collection of Phil Collen.
Phil's Rockman X100 headphone amp, circa 1983. Created by Boston's Tom Scholz, the Rockman was an analogue practice amplifier that simulated a full-volume guitar sound through a standard headphone jack. This little unmodified amp powered almost every guitar sound on Hysteria. In a 2012 interview with Guitar World magazine, Phil recalled the role this Rockman played in their recording process: "There were so many layers of tracks, and the sound was so huge that if you had had a massive Marshall sound, it wouldn’t have fit sonically. The guitars would have smothered the vocals and drums...The big amps are fine if you don’t do a lot of overdubs. But we were moving into something more nuanced, with a lot of depth." From the Collection of Phil Collen.
Phil smooths the worn edges of his original Girl sticker in support of the band's debut 1980 album Sheer Greed. The Sheer Greed cover photo used for the sticker was taken by Fin Costello. After playing in the bands Lucy, Tush and Dumb Blondes, Phil was a member of Girl, along with Phil Lewis of L.A. Guns, from 1979 to 1982. From the Collection of Phil Collen.
Phil sits at an outside table in Germany, circa 1987. Photo: Uschi Brem-Freund. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil plays his Jackson "Black Cracklejack" live on the Hysteria Tour, circa 1988. "This was definitely my main guitar for the Hysteria Tour and was featured in tons of Lepp videos. I think I got the guitar in '86...The finish was silver but basically covered in black and shrink-dried until the black cracked, giving it its unique finish. I love this guitar and brought it back out on the 2006 US tour with Journey, after about a fifteen-year hiatus. Oh, yeah, almost forgot, it has my name on the 24th fret." From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil plays the first model of his Signature Series of Jackson Guitars on the Hysteria Tour, circa 1988. Phil collaborated with Grover Jackson on the guitar's design over the years, beginning with the Hysteria Tour. Phil recalled that he and Grover started the project "with a shape on paper that kind of looked like a Fender Jaguar and stretched it to look kind of like what would become a Surfcaster...We finally settled on this shape, carved out of a single piece of wood...The only problem was the amount of time it took to do all of this. They have machines now that would bang it out in about five minutes. But back then it had to be done the old-fashioned way". Photo Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil holds the silver version of his Jackson Phil Collen Signature Series PC1 Archtop in the portrait, circa 1992. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil wields his 1980 Ibanez Destroyer under the bright lights of the Pyromania Tour, circa 1983. "This one's famous. I had guitar companies copying this one, trying to entice me to use them. I received this in the post after I returned from the Girls Japanese tour in 1981. Soon it became my main guitar. I mean, it looked weird and was like a parallel universe version of the Gibson Explorer with a bit more flash...This guitar could do it all and take me through any kind of journey, and it did that very well right up until the end of the Pyromania Tour...You can hear this on the solos on "Photograph", "Foolin'", and "Rock of Ages" among others." From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Early PolyGram Records promo photo, taken not long after Phil joined Def Leppard, 1982. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil takes a couple of his trusty Pyromania-era axes for some fresh air as he sports a t-shirt promoting Def Leppard's 18 April 1983 show with Billy Squier at the San Diego Sport Arena. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Hysteria-era portrait of Phil in a blue velvet bolero jacket, circa 1988. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil's solo shines through in this fan-designed gold dual-tone metallic sticker, circa 1987. Inventive spelling, no extra charge. From the Collection of Joe Elliott.
"I’m predominantly a songwriter and producer that plays guitar. Of course, the guitar is the tool of expression for me, and I can get a lot out....I always tell other musicians if you really want to be badass, play a solo that regular people can hum, and you get only one bar to show off and do your badass run. The time you have for that stuff is very limited...you can really ruin the groove by playing something that doesn’t belong there."
Black and white portrait, circa 1996. Photo: Cynthia Levine. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
That's not practice drums you're hearing, it's Phil soloing on the portable heavy bag backstage. This pre-show workout happened backstage at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida, during the 2022 Stadium Tour. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil fills the space at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri as part of the 2022 Stadium Tour. This night marked the 42nd anniversary of Def Leppard's first stadium show at 1980's World Series of Rock in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Ryan Sebastyan. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil means business in a suit for this 1984 portrait. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil keeps his routine steady and strong with assistance from his trainer. This workout was in a backstage area of Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas during the 2022 Stadium Tour. Photo: Kevin Nixon. From the Collection of Def Leppard
Phil and Steve get out of the water as fast as they got in during a beach excursion in Honfleur-Deauville, France, during the Pyromania Tour. Courtesy of the Lorelei Shellist Private Collection.
Phil and Steve enjoy the sights of Paris during a break from the Pyromania Tour, circa 1983. Courtesy of the Lorelei Shellist Private Collection.
Phil finds some solitude with his Adrenalize Jackson PC1 in this photo captured during the "Seven Day Weekend" Tour, 1993. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Steve, Phil, and Rick take a moment to get in tune before taking the Hysteria Tour stage, circa 1987. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Steve's got a great view of the sights thanks to Phil, circa 1987. Photo: Uschi Brem-Freund. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Terror Twins Phil and Steve explore Germany, circa 1987. Photo: Uschi Brem-Freund. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Joe and Phil walk with unified purpose during an X Tour stop, 2003. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Def Leppard is always blown away by the creativity and passion shown by the Rock Brigade, as evidenced in this hand-drawn portrait of Hysteria-era Phil. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Western Union Mailgram, dated 2 August 1990, congratulating Phil on Hysteria's "Armageddon It" ASCAP award and informing him of the address for the ceremony. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
"This is what I tell everyone – if you’re able to sing it yourself…do it. Even just to build your confidence and learn how to write songs, so you know when to play and when to not play. Forget about the singer ego thing, it’s not that at all. It’s a confidence and knowledge thing."
Phil sings back-up vocals on the Pyromania Tour, April 1983. Photo: Mark R. Swindler. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Viv lands an acrobatic riff as he makes way for Phil's epic kneeslide during the 1993 Slang Tour. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil summons powerful riffs on his Gibson Les Paul during the Pyromania Tour, circa 1983. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Phil's guitar work soars during a performance on the Adrenalize "Seven Day Weekend" Tour, circa 1993. Photo: Ross Halfin. From the Collection of Def Leppard.
"In March 2020, when we found out our world tour with Mötley Crüe wasn’t going to happen, I decided to have a break from watching what I ate and a regular workout routine. I hadn’t done this in over 30 years, and I ended up the heaviest and the unhealthiest I’d ever been.
I decided to set a goal based on and totally inspired by Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee was the same height as me, 5 feet 7 inches, and depending on who you asked, 140 pounds or less. So, with consistent working out and cutting calories, while still eating healthy, within six months, I managed to get down to my target weight of 140 pounds and felt the best I'd ever felt."
Colour portraits of Phil achieving a new fitness goal, 2023. Photo: Helen Collen. From the Collection of Phil Collen.
The boys were current on their dues according to this Musicians' Union Membership Card from 1984. The union's Sheffield Branch Secretary included a sticker on the tan envelope carrying the cards that reads "musicians' union says keep music live". From the Collection of Def Leppard.
Steve and Phil didn't forget their guitars for this memorable photo shoot, circa 1988.
The moose and bear claw slippers exemplify Def Leppard's commitment to comfort and fashion, but it's Phil's classic Signature Jackson graced by a glow-in-the-dark image of Bela Lugosi that often stole the show. "Bela," according to Phil in a 2018 backstage interview with Jackson Guitar's YouTube channel, "has been on more magazine covers than I have". Slippers: From the Collection of Def Leppard. Photo: Courtesy of the Lorelei Shellist Private Collection.
Phil holds an unreleased demo cassette tape that was recorded during the writing of Hysteria. Tracks include riffs and verses, some of which would go on to become songs on the album. From the Collection of Phil Collen.
Celebrate the newest Leppard Vault collection honoring the one-and-only Phil Collen with this limited-edition signed Stadium Tour plectrum display. Own three of Phil's own personal plectrums: one signature design and two official Diamond Star Halos designs! (Specific plectrum designs may vary from display to display.)
The plectrums are showcased between two striking full-color live captures of Phil performing on the 2022 Stadium Tour photographed by Ryan Sebastyan.