2018 has been a very productive year for a band of lads from Sheffield, England who arrived in America way back in 1980! Def Leppard has been around a long time. Back in those early days a lot of people were wondering how long they could last. At the time the oldest member of the band was twenty. You have to start young in rock n roll. Now they have arrived in a time when being a legacy act is a great thing to be.
As seen in the picture above from L-R are:
Rick Savage (Bass), Phil Collen (Guitars),
Joe Elliott (Vocals),
Rick Allen(Drums) andVivian Campbell (Guitars) the line-up since 1992. Original guitarist Steve Clarke died in January 1991 from drug and alcohol problems. A fine player who performed on the first 4 albums of their career, including their first blockbuster album “Pyromania”. Their first break in the USA came with their second release, “High N Dry” and the very catchy heavy rocker, “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”. Mr. Clarke is seen in the band’s first music videos too.
Among their influences are Queen. Joe Elliott said then he hoped they could become at least half the band that they were. Def Leppard would perform at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in Wembley Stadium in April of 1992! To this day Brian May remains a close friend. And the band’s layered guitar sound is quite distinctive. Later on this sound would change into a synth heavy guitar and percussion driven monster.
I became a fan of the band way back in 1982 when High N Dry was released. I never missed a record, although much to my chagrin have not seen them in concert yet. Their videos were on MTV a lot. Following the release of Pyromania in 1983 American fans shortened their name to Def Lep ( the moniker sounded like Led Zep) although not at all close musically. The singles, “Rock of Ages” and “Foolin” would enjoy frequent airplay on MTV and radio. But the first single, “Photograph” would be the biggest hit up to that point. As a Queen fan I was amazed by Def Lep. They had a unique sound and a big image. I felt they were one of the rarest heavy rock bands in the 1980s. Never resting on laurels.
A never say die group. It was hard to imagine their biggest selling record was yet to come. Funny how music works. On a recent interview in New York Joe Elliott gave to the YouTube sereis, BuildWorks, said that hit songs are impossible to predict. That is why there are so many one hit wonders. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s hard to write hits.
According to their Wikipedia page, both “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” are certified Diamond by the RIAA, Def Leppard are one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling over 10 million copies each in the US, alongside the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Van Halen. Both Pyromania and Hysteria feature in Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Their success never ruined them even after drummer Rick Allen had a car accident and lost an arm! The band stayed united. Altering his drum kit so he could still play the band would record again with producer John ‘Mutt’ Lange (AC/DC’s Back In Black). He made “Pyromania” with them.
In 1987 the album “Hysteria” would solidify their status as a classic rock act. 7 hit singles including their now signature number, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” arrived. The band played a massive world tour in the round. They could draw hardcore heavy metal fans as well as mainstream pop listeners.
This year Def Lep finally allowed their back catalog to go digital. They spent some time making sure their recordings would sound great and they got a deal with Universal Music Group to do so.
All of their albums are now on platforms like Apple music and Amazon Prime. A box set of their first four studio recordings has been issued on vinyl. All 7 hit singles from their monster seller, “Hysteria” are on a 7″ vinyl box set. They have been touring with Journey in stadiums. And are nominated for the rock n roll hall of fame. They currently lead the fan vote by a wide margin too. This is the year of the Leppard. I just hope Brian May will be on hand to induct them.
To vote for them go here: http://www.defleppard.com/
The Class of 2018 will be announced soon. Voting closes after Friday Dec 7th.
For videos and interviews plus their new Christmas song, “Everyone Needs Christmas” go to their official YouTube Channel.