Absent Friends 1: Guitarist recalls the only time bandmate met his son – and accepts Def Lep aren’t studio smart

Phil Collen and Steve Clark

Memories: Collen and Clark

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen can’t believe it’s 20 years since bandmate Steve Clark died – but he’s still delighted to talk about his friend.

Clark passed away on January 8, 1991, after a heavy drinking session while on leave from the band in order to gain control over his addiction issues.

But Collen prefers to remember the positives. He tells Music Radar: “It’s really great to talk about Steve. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that I saw him.

“Steve was just the loveliest guy in the world. He was like my best friend – we’d talk for hour and hours about everything under the sun.

“It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for 20 years. My son Rory is 21 now; I can still remember Steve meeting him for the first time – and the only time, for that matter – when he was just one year old.

“Steve kind of rubbed Rory’s little bald head and smiled. It was very sweet. It’s a nice memory.”

Meanwhile, Collen says Def Lep have found a way to record that doesn’t give them the opportunity to lose their way in the studio – and admits they’ve never been at their best in the recording environment.

He says: “Joe Elliott and our co-producer Ronan get together and record stuff, then they put files in a universal online drop-box for the band. I’ll make my comments, do my guitar parts and vocals and send them back over.

“For us it works out beautifully. We’re a great live band but we’ve never been able to record ourselves that way. We get into the studio together and it just never works out.

“You can spend too much time trying to get things right, and what happens is you lose all the life and essence of the song.

“With my band Man Raze, we try to get things on the first take. If you don’t get them on the first or second take, you can usually forget it.”

Related stories: