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Phil Collen on Ritchie Blackmore's Influence

Legendary Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore celebrates his birthday today (April 14), and without saying, he’s had an incredible influence on guitarists the world over.

If you’re looking for a specific story, look no further than Def Leppard’s Phil Collen.

We spoke with Collen recently and asked what the catalyst was for becoming a guitarist, and he shared this story:

“My cousin, Dave, he got me into Zeppelin, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple.  I love Deep Purple and Ritchie Blackmore!  I went to my first concert, which I was 14, at the Brixton Sundown, which is now the Brixton Academy.  We were front row, and it changed my life.  It was so profound.  Ritchie Blackmore was playing this Strat, and he smashed it up, and it was right in front of me.  What he was actually playing…I actually went home to my mum and dad and said, ‘Look! I have to have a guitar!’  And it took two years before I actually got it, but I pestered on and on, and it was that event that really done it.  Seeing Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple playing that close and just being affected by it in such a profound way…and I got to reach out and touch his hand.  Years later, I got to jam with him on stage.”


Talk about coming full circle!


Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock reporter. The first man she ever loved was Jack Daniel.  (True story.)