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Def Leppard’s Phil Collen: Whitney Houston’s Death a Sad Reminder of Steve Clark’s Passing

Phil Collen
David Livingston, Getty Images

We recently had the opportunity to talk to guitarist Phil Collen about his bands Def Leppard and Manraze, and one of the topics that came up was the recent death of pop superstar Whitney Houston.

Collen told us that the news hit home as it brought back memories of the tragic loss of Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark, who passed away in 1991 as the result of a lethal mix of prescription drugs and alcohol.

“It’s awful and it really hit me,” Collen told us about Houston’s death. “I’ve known people and lost people who’ve been through the exact same thing. What really irritates me when someone special dies is the outpouring and everyone loves to show up for the funeral but they don’t really want to help when the person needs it.”

Collen added, “When Steve [Clark] died, that really pissed me off. There were people coming out of the woodwork and I was like, ‘Whoa, where were you when he really needed you?’ and in fact all they were doing at that time was actually encouraging him to be the way that he was that ended up killing him. So I have a very kind of weird attachment, even to Whitney, it’s like, ‘Wow, she came out of the same time as us.’ It really sucks because she was so talented and amazing.”

Collen went on to mention a few music stars who’ve recently passed away under similar circumstances. “The Michael Jackson thing — it happens all the time. With Steve, it would be the same thing, in and out of rehab centers. Amy Winehouse, same deal. There’s some people trying to help but I think there are a lot of enablers around there and they really need a lot of help. It’s just tragic and what a great voice [Houston had], she was the blueprint of, certainly now, how people sing. You see ‘X Factor’ and ‘American Idol’ and they’re all doing Whitney Houston stuff because that’s how you want to sound.”

Stay tuned for more from Ultimate Classic Rock’s Phil Collen interview, in which he discusses Manraze, Def Leppard’s upcoming tour with Poison, the ‘Rock of Ages’ movie and other topics.

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