After the nice feedback and overall audience response for the previous informative publication I made about Bon Jovi –“10 Facts You Probably (don’t) Know about Bon Jovi ” , I decided that I should make similar posts about other classic rock bands as well. Then, I thought that it’s been a while since I last wrote something about my most favourite classic rock band – Def Leppard, so here we are… The following publication will present some interesting facts and details about the band, accompanied by some of their most famous and loved songs. I know that there are many Def Leppard fans like me out there, so for some of you these stories and facts might be well-known. However, there are people who might also not be so familiar with the band. This publication is for everyone who wants to know more or re-fresh their fan memory. I do hope you enjoy it!
Before I continue, I would like to say a few words about the band and their legacy. Def Leppard debuted in 1980 with their excellent album “On through the Night”. That album launched the professional career of one of the most appreciated and respected rock bands in the world. With a bit of uncertainty and yet unrefined and not very well-polished sound, Def Leppard jumped on the rock music scene of the 80s with hopes and dreams of becoming the next “Led Zeppelin”. As years, projects and numerous hardships went by, the band members, as well as their sound significantly grew and evolved and as a result, they created some of the most well-written and highly-processed album of the era. Of course, we should mention the help of top producer Mutt Lange who was by their side. “Pyromania” (1983) and “Hysteria” (1987) are the albums that basically ruled the 80s and turned Def Leppard into absolute rock Gods. Catchy, radio-friendly and energetic songs, combined with a mixture of shiny new pop hooks and classic hard rock was their recipe for success. And what a success story that was…and still is…
1.Def Leppard is an ENGLISH band from the steel-producing town of Sheffield. In 1977, Rick Savage, Tony Kenning and Pete Willis were already the members a rock band, called Atomic Mass. Originally, Willis was on guitar, Savage on the bass and Kenning on the drums. At that time, Joe Elliot was only 18 years old. He auditioned for the band as a guitarist. However, during the try out it was decided that Joe is a better singer than a guitarist. He was hired immediately as a lead-vocalist.
2. Joe Elliot proposed the band adopt a new name. He suggested they call themselves “Deaf Leopard” – a name he came up with while writing reviews for imaginary rock bands in his English class. Elliot was always dreaming about forming a band in school. He was creating song lists, band logos and band names while his classmates were studying. Kenning, however, suggested that they should alter the spelling of the name to “Def Leppard” in order to seem less punk rock. (P.S. The name was also a reference to the band Led Zeppelin.)
3. In January, 1978, guitarist Steve Clark successfully auditioned and eventually was accepted into the band. According to Joe Elliot, Steve Clark did a phenomenal job playing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” in its entirety, without accompaniment. Later on, Steve Clark would be know as the “riff master” for his ability to come up with tons of catchy tunes for the band.
4. Tony Kenning – their original drummer unexpectedly left the band in the beginning of 1978. The mother of Rick Allen, who was 14 back then was the one to actually respond to the ad placed by the band, looking for a new drummer (“Leppard loses skins” was the ad’s headline). On his fifteenth birthday – November 1st, 1978, Rick Allen joined the band and eventually dropped out of school. Today, he is known as the “thunder God”.
5. Their first concert was in 1978 in a high school gymnasium in their home town of Sheffield, England. It’s said that only about six people went to it. It is said that the band smuggled beer into the event by hiding it in the drum kit.
6. Phil Collen – a former guitarist of the glam rock band called Girl was hired by the band in 1982 as a replacement of former guitarist Pete Willis. Pete Willis had to be released from the band because of his excessive alcohol and drug abuse.
7. Phil Collen and Steve Clark became very close friends and were eventually given the nickname “The Terror Twins” (a reference to Aerosmith’s Toxic Twins).
8. The famous producer Mutt Lange is the mastermind behind Def Leppard’s High ‘N’ Dry (1981), Pyromania (1983) and Hysteria (1987). He was also the executive producer of Adrenalize (1992) and co-wrote “Ring of Fire” and “I Wanna Be Your Hero” from Retro Active, (1993) and “Promises”, “All Night” and “It’s Only Love” from Euphoria (1999).
9. Def Leppard’s ultimate hit single “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” from their second album “High ‘n’ Dry” became one of the first rock videos to be played on MTV in 1982. The song’s working title was actually “A Certain Heartache” but they had it changed.
10. Def Leppard is one of the few rock bands that have had two studio albums which sold more than 10 million copies in the USA alone. As many might guess, those two albums are Pyromania (1983) and Hysteria (1987).
11. Pyromania’s (1983) lead single “Photograph” is probably their most essential song, as it completely established the name and image of the band among the mainstream audience. The video for “Photograph” succeeded Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” as the most requested video on MTV. The song became a daily “must play” for every rock station and a standard for any hard rock song in the 80s.
12. Drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash on 31st of December 1984, when he was racing in his Corvette outside the band’s home city of Sheffield. Rick flew through the windshield and his arm was ripped off by the seat belt. Despite the horrible disaster, Rick Allen was determined and fully committed to continuing his duties as Def Leppard’s drummer. Eventually, he realized that he could use his legs to play the drums. He worked with Simmons to design a special custom-made electronic drum kit. The other members were very supportive and never thought of replacing him with another drummer. In just a few months, the strength of Rick’s will and his enormous desire to make music resulted in his very powerful comeback. Allen gathered the other band members and played the intro to the Led Zeppelin’s version of “When the Levee Breaks” to show them his progress. According to Joe Elliot this was a very emotionally-intense moment for all of them.
13. Def Leppard’s Hysteria (1987) is one of the few albums which spawned not one, not two, not three, but SEVEN hit singles – “Animal”, “Rocket”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, “Women”, “Hysteria”, “Armageddon’ It” and “Love Bites”. Furthermore, up to date, Hysteria is Def Leppard’s best-selling album of all time – it sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. It also remained in the album charts for about three years. (wow!!!)
14. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is one of Def Leppard’s most famous and instantly-recognizable tunes. It is said that Joe Elliot came up with the title for the song while he was sitting in his apartment in London. He asked producer Mutt Lange for some sugar for his tea. Lange replied by asking whether Joe wanted one lump or two. Joe said, “I don’t care, just pour some sugar on me”…and the rest is history. (I should say that this story varies according to different sources.)
P.S. Upon asked about the title, Joe said, “It’s not for me to say, It’s for you to interpret”… so who knows? Joe also said that “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is “The metaphor for whatever sexual preference you enjoy”…
15. “Love Bites” (from Hysteria, 1987) is one of the most famous power ballads of the 80s. Up to date, it’s Def Leppard’s only number one hit single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
16. The “Riff-Master” – guitarist Steve Clark died of a drug and alcohol overdose on January 8th, 1991.
17. Between 1991 and 1992 the band held numerous auditions to replace Steve Clark. In February 1992, the band chose Vivian Campbell. Before joining Def Leppard, Vivian played in Dio and Whitesnake.
18. Def Leppard’s album “Adrenalize” was dedicated to Steve Clark and was released a year after his death – 1992. The album debuted at number 1 on the USA Billboard 200 and peaked number 1 position on the UK Album Chart as well. Adrenalize is Def Leppard’s final glam metal album. After it, the band started exploring different music directions and styles.
19. One of the most unique accomplishments of the band was achieved on October 23th, 1995 – Def Leppard entered the Guinness Book of World Records by playing three 45-minute shows on three different continents. The performances were in Tangier, Morocco, London and Vancouver, Canada. The band decided to carry out this rather stressful and extraordinary situation in support of Vault (Greatest Hits 1980-1995).
20. On the September 5th, 2000, Def Leppard were inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame on Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood by their good friend Brian May of Queen.
21. In 2001, VH1 produced and aired a biopic, titled Hysteria – The Def Leppard Story. The docudrama was portraying the band’s history between 1977 through 1986. The first broadcast of the movie produced some of VH1’s highest ever TV ratings. The movie is also available on DVD.
(P.S. I thought it was a very decent movie and I recommend it, especially for people who are very interested in knowing more about this awesome band.)
22. Def Leppard won an award for “Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist” and “Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album” for Hysteria during 1989’s American Music Awards. They also got numerous nominations in music video and best stage performance categories.
23. Def Leppard have an album which includes only cover songs from their childhood years. The album is titled “Yeah!” and it pays tribute to artists such as Blondie, The Kinks, ELO and others.
24. Up to date, Def Leppard has 11 Studio Albums, 2 live albums, 4 compilation albums, 8 video albums, 33 music videos, 50 singles and 18 concert tours. The band’s latest album called “Def Leppard” was released on the 30th of October last year and it debuted at number 10 on the Billboard charts. It became the band’s seventh album to peak at a top ten position on the chart. The first single from the album is called “Let’s Go”.
25. This past January, Def Leppard released their latest music video for the song “Dangerous” from their 2015 self-titled album.