The Legacy of Steve Clark

SOURCE: Circus magazine May 31st 1991 | By Nick Bowcott

The death of Def Leppard’s talented guitarist, Steve Clark was a heart-wrenching tragedy the rock world will not soon get over. Certainly his absence will be felt in the Def Leppard fold forever.

Steve’s band mates frequently referred to Steve as the “Riff Master” and the songwriting credits on Def Leppard’s platinum-coated catalogue bear testament to the huge part Clark assumed in the group’s phenomenal success story.

Steve’s dual-guitar interaction with fellow “terror twin” Phil Collen was nothing short of criminally underrated. The pair complimented each other superbly and their [Clark’s] inspired use of counterpoint, syncopation, arpeggios, partial chords and space helped create Def Leppard’s distinctive sound.

Steve was born in Sheffield, England on April 23rd 1960. He was playing guitar by age 11. “I began by learning classical guitar and then I turned to rock after hearing ‘How Many More Times’ by Led Zeppelin.” Steve once told me. “As soon as I heard it I immediately thought, ‘This is it! This is my vocation in life!’”

Jimmy Page was a massive influence on Clark. “He’s the main reason I play with a Les Paul hanging at knee-level,” Steve said. “Apart from being a great lead guitarist, Page is an exceptionally clever rhythm player and also one hell of a producer and songwriter. He’s definitely one of the all-time greats and I’ve always loved listening to his work.”

Ironic words considering they came from the man whom so many are saying similar things about right now. And although Clark was a fine lead player (check out his emotion-soaked break in “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”), his real genius lay in songwriting and arranging.

Thanks to his unquestionable musical talents and his endearing personality, Steve has left us with more than photographs to remember him by. Below are just three examples of his penchant for memorable guitar riffs that are as simple as they are effective.

Steve Clark Gibson Firebird