Def Leppard on Deep Purple

Damian Phelan was doing a bit of surfing and turned up a ‘my favourite guitar solos’ feature by Phil Collen from Def Leppard. Both Blackmore and Bolin made his top ten, as Phil explained:
“(Highway Star) had a huge impact on me, and it was very instrumental in my wanting to pursue the guitar. Actually, it was the first proper solo I learned how to play. Listening to it now, the tone is a little too clean for my taste – I prefer a much dirtier sound – but I’m still very impressed by Ritchie Blackmore’s choice of notes. He doesn’t do anything obvious, nor does he play what a lot of guitarists did back then – all those Jimmy Page blues-rock patterns. Of course, I love Jimmy Page, so I’m not knocking him. I’m just saying that Blackmore took things ‘outside’. A very unconventional guitarist.
Blackmore picks each note with total precision, but he plays with unbelievable fire. The man’s rippin’! Even on some of the stuff that’s sort of classical, he’s going for it.”
“Billy Cobham’s Spectrum is one of the first jazz-rock fusion records. It totally turned people’s heads around. And Tommy Bolin, who had replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, is an absolute monster on it. On the song Quadrant 4, he’s going nuts with the wah-wah, the Echoplex, the whammy bar. God, he’s just making the guitar scream! But what’s super-impressive is how he keeps his licks right in place and never loses the rest of the band.
The great thing about Tommy Bolin is that he had a wonderful ‘fuck-off-ness’ to his playing. But it wasn’t for the sake of being arrogant; he was just being himself, being free. The guy lived and breathed music, and it’s really sad he died so young. He would have evolved and contributed so much.”
You can read the full feature at the Music Radar site. I’ll have to check with my brother, he jammed with them once at some scout hut or other in their very early days (but didn’t think they’d make it!).

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9 Responses to “Def Leppard on Deep Purple”

  1. Dave Norman Says:

    It’s oft been noted that most of the “soloing” on Quadrant 4 from Billy Cobham’s Spectrum album is actually Jan Hammer (he of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Miami Vice theme tune fame) playing a Mini Moog Model D synthesiser through wah wah and valve amp. Even Hughes and Coverdale are on record as realising their faux pas when Bolin spilled the beans after getting the gig ! Taking nothing away from Tommy’s playing, which is genius too of course. Just a cases of credit where it’s due …. have another listen !!

  2. Roy Davies Says:

    I recall in an interview a Roger Glover comment about the Def Leppard support slot with Rainbow in 1981. Apparently Rog eavesdropped a huge argument among the Leps after their set, caused by the fact that the band had not properly synchronised their jump off the drum riser and they had not jumped together- and they were arguing whose fault it was!!

    • Mark Maddock Says:

      Gillan told the same story on Phil Easton’s radio show back in the Gillan band days, so either the “Daft Leotards” (copyright David Coverdale – he should talk with his legwarmers and ‘mousse abuse’ hairdo!) had regular co’ ups and barneys, or RG stole the tale off IG, or vice versa…

  3. Geoff Noddings Says:

    Tommy Bolin is the greatest, and most underrated, guitarist ever in my opinion. The next best, and again in my opinion, is Ty Tabor of King’s X – very underrated also, but as Phil Collen says about Tommy – lives and breathes music. Mick Ronson comes in very close behind!

    • MKJ Says:

      Bang on Geoff. Bolin was a brilliant guitar player, and still to this day I can’t get over the ignorance that was shown over the CTTB LP when it came out

  4. Ian Douglas Says:

    Love Tommy Bolin still my favourite artist ever! The songs, the voice, the appearance, the playing – when on form of course but we must judge flawed greats by their best works. After all even John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix had plenty of off-days and sidetracks but they’re rarely mentioned in (due) appraisals – the same should be warranted for Tommy. Watch out for Whirlwind coming your way. . . !

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