Def Leppard’s Phil Collen Picks Kurt Cobain As His ’Guitar Hero’


Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen recently spoke to Premier Guitar and admitted that his unexpected guitar hero is the late Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain.

Phil Collen got his first guitar, a red Gibson SG, when he celebrated his 16th birthday. From then on, he began teaching himself how to play the instrument. Afterward, Collen started playing with several bands, including Lucy, Tush, and Dumb Blondes. Leaving school, the guitarist focused on his career with Girl, and he began to rise in success.

In 1982, Collen joined Def Leppard while recording the ‘Pyromania’ album. When Leppard released their hit album, ‘Hysteria,’ a new grunge band named Nirvana emerged on the scene. With their iconic frontman Kurt Cobain, Nirvana rose to prominence rapidly after their 1991 album, ‘Nevermind.’

Although Cobain is mainly known for his anti-establishment persona, anger-fueled lyrics, raspy voice, and personal issues, he was also a talented guitar player with a rhythm guitar style that relied on power chords low-note riffs, and a loose left-handed technique. As it seems, Cobain was also an influence on Phil Collen.

Speaking to Premier Guitar, Phil Collen revealed that Kurt Cobain is his guitar hero, which may shock his fans. He then stated he loves the feeling of the solo in ‘In Bloom.’ Moreover, the Def Leppard icon mentioned New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders and said he’s constantly referencing him and Steve Jones, who he argued has a distinctive and powerful sound.

About his shocking guitar hero, Phil Collen said the following:

“My guitar hero that may shock fans; I love Kurt Cobain’s guitar playing. I love ‘In Bloom,’ the solo on it, it’s just awesome, and it’s a feel. We always reference Johnny Thunders from New York Dolls, who used to do this Chuck Berry style with that. But he would do it in such a fashion that it was just great. Actually, on the latest album, I said, ‘I’ll do the thing,’ it’s like Johnny Thunders at the end. He said, ‘Oh, that’s great!’ I’m always referencing Johnny Thunders and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols.

I’ve seen two guitar players in my life where I’ve gone ‘That is the best sound I’ve ever heard live.’ One of them was Steve Jones, at the Roxy Club in LA, which was like, ‘How can he sound that good?’ He was borrowing an amp of Billy Duffy, Les Paul knock-off, and it sounded like it’s obviously him. It was Steve Jones, which sounded the power and the vibe of what you hear on ‘Never Mind The Bollocks,’ the Sex Pistols album. So, Steve Jones is a guitar hero, Johnny Thunders, Kurt Cobain, not in that kind of vein of being punk, and it’s just a purist expression.”

You can watch the video below.