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Def Leppard’s Collen Talks About Meeting Kiss Three Decades Ago

Charles Epting for Ultimate Classic Rock

On Monday March 17, 2014, the members of Kiss and Def Leppard gathered at the House of Blues in Hollywood, CA to announce their summer ‘Heroes’ tour which will donate part of all ticket proceeds toward veterans groups.

After the live-streamed event (which also featured many veterans in attendance), Ultimate Classic Rock had a chance to sit down backstage with several members of Def Leppard to talk about the tour, along with their recent recording sessions in Ireland. For guitarist Phil Collen, playing with Kiss will not exactly be a new experience. “Back in the early ’80s, their last makeup tour in the U.K., my band Girl played several shows with them and they were amazing. I’ll never forget when Gene (Simmons) came into our dressing room and said to all of us, “Do you want to meet my girlfriend?” Then he led us down the hall to his room, and introduced us all to Diana Ross, whom he was dating at he time. He remembered all of our names and that made us feel amazing.”

That warm glow has remained intact over the years, according to Collen. “Kiss has always given Def Leppard a ton of respect and we send it right back to them. If you’ve been doing all of this as long as our bands have, you’ve had to have passed a bunch of tests to get here after all these years. People will get an amazing amount of entertainment on this tour. I think there will be a lot of crossover amongst fans and that we’ll also, both bands, pick up some new fans along the way.”

Recently, Def Leppard has been holed up in Dublin, Ireland at lead singer Joe Elliot’s home studio where they have been working on some new tracks. Guitarist Vivian Campbell is pleased with where it is all heading. “With us it’s usually baby steps to start, but we actually got a lot done.”

Collen concurred. “Amazingly productive. My fear was that after a month we’d have little to show. But this was the opposite. Originally, we’d planned on maybe cutting a single, or perhaps an EP. But now, its going to be a full-blown new Def Leppard album which is very exciting for us.”

Collen also told us that he recently connected with Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo who will now be playing on a new side project of his, Delta Deep, a bluesy R&B excursion featuring soulstress Debbi Blackwell-Cook.

Campbell’s latest side project, Last in Line (featuring his former Dio bandmates) will also have a new album coming out soon.

At the press conference, many vets made their way to Def drummer Rick Allen to express how much respect they have for him in light of how he has thrived since the 1984 car accident that cost him one of his arms. Allen told Ultimate Classic Rock, “I meet so many amazing men and woman as a result of what happened to me. They always tell me how much I’ve taught them, but the truth is, they teach me just as much if not more. It’s a privilege that our tour this summer will be able to help so many brave soldiers in the armed services.”

Next: Top 10 Def Leppard Songs

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