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Collen’s Delta Deep began in tea shop

Def Leppard guitarist revels in blues project with flavours of Aretha, Tina Turner, Van Halen, Led Zep, James Brown and more

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen has revealed his Delta Deep blues project took form when he heard a Wilson Pickett track in a tea shop.

The side-project features vocalist Debbi Blackwell-Cook, drummer Forrest Robinson and Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo, with guest spots from David Coverdale and Joe Elliott, plus lyrics co-written by Collen’s wife Helen.

He tells Glide: “Me, Helen and Debbi were in New Zealand having a break. We were in a tea store, a Wilson Pickett song came on the radio, and it just inspired something – just the vibe of it.

“We went back and wrote Miss Me, and that was the first song we actually got together on. All of a sudden we’ve got this sound, and we started writing more.”

The band recently performed their first live show. “It was almost a spiritual experience,” Collen reports.

“It sounded like the record, but it sounded like the first Van Halen album. It had that kind of feel. It reminded me of Led Zeppelin II a lot as well.

“But then, Debbi’s vocals sound somewhere between Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. So you’ve got all this stuff coming together. We’d slip off into James Brown grooves and it was like, ‘Shit, where’s this coming from?’ It was just amazing.”

While Def Leppard remains Collen’s day job, he has much more musical exploring in his sights. “I’m only just getting started,” he insists. “I love Indian classical music, African rhythms, soul music, pop music. I think making a hybrid is a wonderful thing to do.”

Delta Deep’s self-titled debut is on sale now.

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