Def Leppard Guitarist Jabs at Today's Artists: 'All They Want Is to Be Famous'

Modern musicians lack integrity, Phil Collen adds.

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Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen took somewhat of a jab at today's artists, pointing at their lack of integrity and genuine desire to make art.

Chatting with the Examiner, Phil also gave a surprisingly honest opinion regarding MTV's impact back in the day, confessing that although it helped propel his band to superstardom, the iconic channel is also guilty of killing the rock mystique.

"The motivation to be an artist or a singer is to be famous," the guitarist said. "That's all people want to be, so they go on these karaoke shows and that's all they want. They want to be noticed and have people pay attention to them. Back in the day, people wanted to share their art. It was an art form. The Beatles, the Stones, they wanted to express themselves and share that kind of experience, so it was real.

"You don't get that anymore," Collen continued. "They just want to be famous. That whole integrity, if you like, it was everywhere. You listen to the Beach Boys, when they talk about recording and the passion and the pain, all of that. Little Richard, it was about a different era. That doesn't exist now. The artistic thing doesn't exist.

"I think people recognize and they can see pretty clearly that what's coming out now is based on bulls--t and 'Please pay attention to me.' It's like, 'F--k off.' So you go back to Dylan, Hendrix, Zeppelin, killer stuff. People see the mystique of it, which MTV destroyed, but at the same time had a massive part in breaking my band. We got on early there. We were able to share our stuff and be seen," Phil added.

"We were right time, right place, and it helped us, where it killed a lot of artists and it was the final nail in their coffin. It killed the mystique, but in our case it made us famous. So I can see why all these things happen and I love the journey, which I'm still on. It's not anywhere near over. It's just starting, the way I look at it."

Agreeing that "MTV didn't kill the mystique as much as social media," the guitarist concluded, "Everything began something else. Napster kills one thing, then something kills that, and it will continue happening. It’s fascinating. I don't look at it as bitter or negative. I look at it as taking all this experience and making me better."

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27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    As an honest musician, this really offends me. This guy needs to stop watching American Idol and start going to gigs/supporting the scene. Talent shows don't speak for everyone, dick. And Def Leppard's music (fun though it is) is hardly oozing with integrity. As if nobody in the 60's/70's/80's made music just to get famous!
    That's not what he's saying. He's saying that people who do go on those shows only do it to get their 15 minutes of fame, and don't have a great love for the music. For the most part, he's right. He's not bashing underground bands, because everyone knows they're not in it for the fame or the money. It's hard enough to get noticed now days when the majority of popular culture is dedicated to churning out the next one hit wonder or boyband sensation. I drove past Hammersmith Apollo the other day, and there were people queuing up for Britain's Got Talent auditions. Most of them probably had very little talent, but want the fame. I didn't see a single advertisement for a band performing there.
    "Back in the day, people wanted to share their art. It was an art form. The Beatles, the Stones, they wanted to express themselves and share that kind of experience, so it was real. You don't get that anymore ," Collen continued. "They just want to be famous." I dunno, but that sounds to me like he's attacking everyone, not just talent show contestants. If he had said "You don't get that any more in these talent shows ", maybe I would agree with you.
    My thoughts exactly. It's total bullocks to call out everyone from this generation of musicians as lacking integrity based solely on shows like The X-Factor. It seems clear to me that Collen's not digging through the contemporary rock scenes even close to deep enough, if he's even digging at all
    Something to think about is the longevity of American Idol. The winners are usually top news for the week after the finale and then disappear. 15 minutes of fame, almost literally. Not to mention even in the early days of recorded music it was still the watered down music that was selling records for profit instead of things like blues or jazz artists that would be the real shapers of music (or composers like Stockhausen if you go forward a couple of decades). And attention itself isn't all bad since music has been a very visual art form as well as auditory. Let the ones looking for quick fame find it and let the ones looking to share their art share it.
    Got to admire him for that last comment. I personally can't stand DF's music, but he seems like a pretty cool guy.
    First of all, I would argue that Def Leppard did the same thing. To me, they're just generic hair metal; just as formulaic back in the day as pop stars are today. Also, there are TONS of great musicians out there. I agree that MTV killed the MAINSTREAM music industry, but there are so many great underground artists and some great artists at the forefront. I do agree that the art used to be there in the mainstream, now it's lost, and the general public doesn't care about music the way it used to. That saddens me.
    I took that as the only reason people go on those shows are because they want fame. And that kind of offended me. That is the case for some people but i would go on there in a heartbeat simply to get started. Show my art and talent and be recognized. Not just to get the spotlight but I mean you have to start somewhere and there's no better place to start than worldwide television. I don't k ow if that made sense but that's my opinion.
    Basically you represent everything he said, You want to go on National TV to get started and get famous... Instead of putting in the years of hard work, writing, practicing, recording and working with shitty people and finally earn your place. You would just rather start on National TV and skip the hard work process.
    Though to be fair, some of the contestants that get to the finals on those types of shows are people who have been writing, singing and playing live for many years. And I think they see those shows as a platform to show case their vocal talents. There are many bands from the 70's and 80's who guaranteed their spot in the music industry by playing/winning radio station contests.
    This is bullshit,i dont think anyone wants to be a musician just for the art alone, if thats the case do music and let somebody else play it, everybody wants a little recognition and to be on the spotlight, c'mon the Beatles where in it just for the money...
    There is a difference between wanting to share one's art with as many people as possible and trying to get as much attention as possible for the "fame." Now I'm not going to go all elitist and say that the latter is inherently evil, I just think there is a difference between the two. One wants attention for their art and the other wants attention for themselves. Some artists blend the two, making themselves an equal part of their art, while others solely focus on one of those things.
    Floyd Phoenix
    Trouble is, all I want to do is to be able to make a decent living out of playing and making music, music as my job cause I love it so much... But it seems the only way to do that these days is to be famous, hence the problem.
    I mean sure, kudos to Rick Allen for being able to play drums with just one arm. But their music overall? Yuck.
    X Factor being on doesn't stop anyone starting a band or supporting their favourite band. Integrity will only take you so far. If people are obsessed with fame and are willing to do crap karaoke, so what? This is the problem with rock/metal - so much whining about pop music and the charts. Since when was that ever the concern of the ALTERNATIVE music scene? Just don't watch it. Maybe even write a song and go and perform it!
    Correct for guys like LMFAO but don't pit every like good bands, just like that Im listening to The Strokes (Heart In A Cage) and find this far from lacking integrity.
    Oh yeah mean like you??!?!?! Please talk about the pot calling the kettle black. And I'd like to quote Kid Rock here, "Def Leppard sucks!"