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Adrenalized: Life, Def Leppard, and Beyond Hardcover – October 27, 2015
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About the Author
Phil Collen is the lead guitarist of the legendary rock band Def Leppard. He has been a vegetarian for thirty-one years, alcohol-free for twenty-eight years, and vegan for over four years, busting the myth of the classic rock star stereotype.
Chris Epting is the author of many books, including Led Zeppelin Crashed Here, All I Really Need to Know I Learned from KISS, and Hello, It’s Me—Dispatches From a Pop Culture Junkie.
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Top Customer Reviews
“Adrenalized” doesn’t begin as interestingly as it ends. Collen’s retelling of his childhood felt like a book report, an obligatory section to get out of the way before the more glamorous rock ‘n’ roll parts. In my view, he could have added an exciting adolescent story or two to spice things up. But the tale heats up quickly when the guitarist hooks up with Girl, his first notable band. Collen was wild in his early years, taking drugs and drinking with abandon. Unlike many rock stars, however, he doesn’t revel in this aspect of his life today, saying plainly in the book that he never intended to write about such debauchery when he was practicing it. Collen tells a few wild stories and offers more than enough background info to give readers the general idea: “Rock and roll is no safety net,” as Def Leppard themselves once conveyed on the great “High ‘n’ Dry” album.
Reading about Collen’s relationship with the deceased Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark, who was his best friend, is one of the coolest parts of “Adrenalized.” These guys were hardcore partiers, but they also had deep conversations and looked at life and music way beyond the constricted boundaries of a studio. For instance, at the start of Chapter 3, Collen talks about how he and Clark were awakened inside by the beauty and art of Paris, where they lived. One recurring theme from Collen in “Adrenalized” is on the dumbing down of society that is so prevalent, thanks to so many pointless distractions everywhere. Back in the 1980s, Clark and Collen observed this phenomenon for the first time in their lives and made efforts to enter into a “third dimension” of life to try to sidestep all its inanities. This may sound like a pretentious attitude, but I actually admire these guys for having such a mature outlook so young, when they were unattached rock stars who could have been completely self-indulgent.
Of course, Collen has spent a great part of his life in the entertainment industry contributing to what some might say is the watering down of society. He knows this, which I think is partly why he spends the other half of his life living and thinking the way he does. My view is that Collen is way more authentic than most multimillionaire celebrities, but thankfully he’s not preachy or condescending about his cleaned-up lifestyle.
Like many of these types of books, Collen’s life becomes a jet setting whirlwind after Def Leppard’s popularity hits its apex, a series of relationships, travels, kids, heartbreak, and joys. The writing is a bit scattered at times, moving from one topic to the next at breakneck speed. Collen mentions that the Leppard album “Slang” could have been enhanced with a bit more focus on the songs. I disagree because I think that album is perfect, but I would apply the same principle to his book: Collen could have put more work into his life story to make it really stand out. One huge disappointment is that he talks little about the personalities of his bandmates. What is his relationship like with Rick Savage, for instance? Who in the band does he hang out with most and why? Perhaps he was being a gentleman to avoid friction, but Def Leppard fans want to know this stuff.
Ultimately, I’m a “microscopic pinpoint of existence in this universe,” as Collen describes himself in the last line of “Adrenalized.” Who am I to judge what he includes in his life story? Collen wrote a book, and it’s a darned interesting one that’s a bit different for a rock star. Maybe the next Def Leppard bio will dish on the entertainment side more to satisfy the masses, leaving the loftier stuff to Collen.
The fact is this is painfully mediocre. No reflection on Phil, or Def Leppard. But as a rock and roll biography, it's mostly a waste of time. If you've read "Animal Instinct" by David Fricke, you won't need to read this. As other reviewers have noted it's short -- about 200 pages -- and pretty ho-hum in it's storytelling. Phil is not a writer, nor are his editors, apparently, as I lost track of how many times he punctuated a sentence with "all of a sudden" and "really" (as in "I really like that.")
I loved hearing him admit that "Adrenalize" sounded dated the moment it was released, and other off-hand quotes. But there's nothing really revelatory in this book that couldn't be gleaned by online surfing. I was expecting more about his lifestyle -- his diet, his exercise regime, some intimate stuff like that. Honestly, just a chapter about his personal workout would have made sense in his book, as he has become almost as well known for his incredibly healthy lifestyle. But that's relegated to some pithy "why kill animals" mantra of veganism. (No disrespect intended, but he didn't sound very convincing about his lifestyle change.)
The book came alive at the last chapter when he started asking the bigger questions and then, suddenly, just stopped. I finished the book wondering what I learned. I learned that he has had sex with a lot of women while being in relationships with other women. I learned that everyone agrees that he should write a book because he has an interesting life. I didn't learn a whole lot more.
At the end of the day it's hard not to notice this book came out at the same time as Def Leppard's most recent album. It's hard not to be cynical and suppose he felt rushed to put out this product to coincide with the album. Bummer. I think it would have been a much better book had he spent more time on it.
Phil. It was an all around interesting read, but was left wanting the details to be more in-depth. I didn't need anydrama or juicy details but felt that Phil was holding back. Nonetheless I would recommend it for any Lep fan for a glimpse into Mr. Collen's life pre and post Hysteria!