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Def Leppard Happy And Ready To Rock

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Def Leppard had to postpone its April concert in Detroit because singer Joe Elliott was ill. But guitarist Phil Collen says the blame actually starts with him.

“There were three of us that had ... like, some weird virus. I actually got it first,” confesses Collen, 50. “I don’t know what it was all about, but it was very bizarre. Everyone was dying ...”

The quintet wound up postponing six shows, which Collen says doubled the number of concerts it’s called off in his 25 years with the band. “It’s something we’ve never done,” he notes. “In 25 or 30 years we’ve only ever canceled, like, three shows, and then all of a sudden we had to cancel six. That was weird.”

All hands are healthy now, however, the postponement does allow the group to come back with its latest album, “Songs From the Sparkle Lounge,” now out and familiar with fans — including the first single, “Nine Lives,” a collaboration with country star Tim McGraw.

“He really stepped up to the plate in the rock sense,” Elliott, 49, said of his duet partner, whose tour manager is the brother of Def Lep bassist Rick Savage. “He goes off on his own kind of twangy tangent for the beginning part, but after that even me and him could barely distinguish one of us from the other.

“A lot of people have been asking — jokingly, most of the time — ‘Have you guys gone country?’ I just say, ‘Nah. Listen to the song. Tim’s gone rock!’ “

Def Leppard, Styx and REO Speedwagon perform at 7 p.m. (Aug. 23) at Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit. Tickets are $75, $55 and $35. Tickets from the postponed April 19 show will be honored. Call (313) 471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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