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10 albums that changed Phil Collen's life

As lead guitarist for pop-metal megastars Def Leppard, Phil Collen knows a thing or two about making hugely influential albums.

By Jeb Wright

As lead guitarist for pop-metal megastars Def Leppard, Phil Collen knows a thing or two about making hugely influential albums.

After all, Pyromania and Hysteria were two of the biggest LPs of the 1980s.

Now, Collen, who’s also been making music with side project Man Raze in recent years, gives us the 10 albums that changed his life:

Deep Purple: Deep Purple In Rock Deep Purple was the first show that I ever saw. I was 14. My cousin got me listening to that album, and it freaked me out. That concert is why I started playing guitar. I was in the front row and Ritchie Blackmore was smashing his Stratocaster up.

The Police: Regatta De Blanc I probably like Ghost in the Machine better, but when this came out, it changed things. It was right around the time of the punk explosion. It had the punk attitude, but it also had these amazingly well-written songs by Sting. The Police are actually my favorite band.

Van Halen: Van Halen This was a very dynamic album. At the time, you had punk coming out of England, and over in America, you had Eddie Van Halen playing amazing guitar like that. It was very cool.

Jimi Hendrix: Cry Of Love Jimi actually died while he was making this album. Hendrix was my favorite guitar player for a while, but I got into him kind of late. I really appreciated him once I started getting into playing guitar. He was a total pioneer. He fused funk, blues and rock.

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II This album was very pioneering. Jimmy Page is an amazing producer and arranger. He had great insight and foresight into everything. This album was a whole different ball of wax than anything else that was out there.

Def Leppard: Hysteria This was really a life-changing experience for me. It is another example of an album that crossed over. We worked on it for three and a half years, and when we released Hysteria, no one really liked it because it was not enough of a rock album. However, other audiences picked up on it. I remember hearing R&B bands copying some of the vocal sounds. Every rock band, from Bon Jovi to The Scorpions, tried to copy it.

David Bowie: The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars I loved Mick Ronson’s guitar playing. There was also the whole Bowie image thing going on. The songs on that album were amazing. I was 14 or 15 when it came out, and glam was different than anything else going on at the time. This album really got me into many different types of music. 

Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols The Pistols changed both fashion and music. When the album came out, it really made a huge social statement ... it still has the same venom.

Prince: Purple Rain Prince was coming from R&B, but he was more than that. He can play anything. He got pop people liking his music and rock people liking his music. It was also nasty.

AC/DC: Back In Black They were getting there with Highway to Hell, but that was still more blues-based. With Back In Black they were really hitting on it. Every song had such a groove to it.