For the casual fan, Def Leppard can present itself as a hair metal band with British roots. But in truth, the English quintet has deep roots in ’70s glam / glitter rock that was so huge across the pond when alien creatures like Marc Bolan, Mott the Hoople and The Sweet dominated the charts. and TV.
The Leps have always been avowed fans and later friends, with prominent figures like Mott’s Ian Hunter. When David Bowie recently passed away at the age of 69 on January 10, it was a huge blow to the group. Guitarist Phil Collen, who has been a fan of the Thin White Duke since he first saw Bowie perform on The top of the pops when Collen was 14, was a longtime fan.
Not only did he form a David Bowie cover band called Cybernauts in 2001 with teammate Joe Elliott, keyboardist Dick Decent and former Spiders from Mars members Trevor Bolder and Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, but he got the singular thrill. to sing backing vocals with Elliott at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness on April 20, 1992.
At this show at Wembley Stadium, Collen and Elliott were invited by Brian May of Queen’s to sing the backing vocals on a cover of “All the Young Dudes” as part of a team that also included Hunter, Roger Taylor of Queen. , David Bowie and Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson, who ended up performing for the last time before passing away a year later. So to say that Phil Collen is an avowed David Bowie fan is an understatement. To that end, here are some of Collen’s favorite Bowie gems.
“Moonage Daydream” by The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the spiders of Mars (1972)
“It still touches me today. Just the imagery, I think it’s a great song and it’s kinda over there besides being artistically amazing.
“Aladdin Sane” by Aladdin Sané (1973)
“Mike Garson’s piano is just off the charts. It’s amazing, it’s jazz, it’s classical, that’s all. These are the mixed martial arts of the piano.
“Life on Mars” / “Queen Bitch” by Hunky-dory (1971)
“I just heard that ‘Life on Mars’ has been voted England’s most popular song. I thought it would have been something else like ‘Jean Génie’. The lyrics and pictures of ‘Queen Bitch’ are fantastic. When I was starting this song my cousin was playing Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and everything in between including Stevie Wonder and Pink Floyd with Bowie. [My cousin] lived on the eleventh floor and in that song there is a line that says, “I’m stuck on the eleventh floor and looking at the cruisers below”, and to me it was literally like he was singing to us. Bowie sang about New York but for us it was a suburb of London. If you can write a song like that, that says it all and Bowie has done it all the time.
It was glam rock, punk, rock, it was artistic. That was all. It was really theatrical and artistic. That’s what I loved about the whole song and you can pretty much tell about all of his songs.
Def Leppard will appear with REO Speedwagon and Tesla on 11 July at Nikon @ Jones Beach, 1000 Ocean Pkwy. at Wantagh. For more information, visit www.jonesbeach.com or call 800-745-3000. Visit www.longislandweekly.com to read a full article on Def Leppard.