Def Leppard

  • British glam rock band formed in 1977 from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Their most popular lineup from the 80s was Joe Elliott (lead vocals, keyboards, backing guitars), Phil Collen (lead and backing guitars, backing vocals), Steve Clark (lead guitar, backing vocals), Rick Savage (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and Rick Allen (drums, backing vocals). All members contributed to songwriting, with Clark as the principal songwriter.
  • Savage, Tony Kenning (drums) and Pete Willis (guitars) were secondary school mates in 1977 when they formed a band called Atomic Mass. Late that year, Elliott auditioned to join as a guitarist, but ultimately he was invited to join as the lead singer. Elliott proposed that the band change their name to one that he thought of in art class – Deaf Leopard. The band agreed, with Kenning suggesting that they alter the spelling. In early 1978, Clark joined the band after playing Freebird during his audition.
  • The group prepared to record their first EP, but Kenning suddenly left the band. He was replaced by Frank Noon for their 3 song EP recording, and then Allen joined as their full-time drummer – Allen was only 15 years old at the time. The EP, titled The Def Leppard EP, was sold at shows and given away to help gain exposure. Elliott delivered a copy to a popular DJ who played the song Getcha Rocks Off on his BBC Radio 1 show. This exposure got them many British hard rock and heavy metal fans. By 1979, record labels showed interest, and the band was signed.
  • Their debut album, On Through the Night, was released in the spring of 1980. The album initially had modest sales, though eventually it was certified platinum when the band became bigger in the future. They had supported AC/DC during a concert tour, and AC/DC’s producer Mutt Lange agreed to produce Def Leppard’s next album. High ‘n’ Dry was released in 1981 – while the album again sold modestly, the band developed their signature glam metal rock sound under Lange’s tutelage. Their popularity increased during their support of tours by Ozzy Osbourne and Blackfoot, and they began to get exposure on MTV – one of the first metal bands to get into heave rotation on MTV.
  • In 1982, while they were recording their third album, Willis was fired due to excessive drinking, and he was immediately replaced by Collen. They completed the album, and Pyromania became their breakthrough. It was certified diamond (10x platinum), driven by the singles Photograph and Rock of Ages. Both songs reached #1 on the Top Tracks chart, and they were #12 and #16 respectively on the Hot 100. Foolin’ and Too Late for Love also landed in the top 10 of the Top Tracks chart.
  • In 1984, drummer Allen was in a car accident, and his left arm was amputated. He was determined to learn how to perform despite his disability, learning to use his legs in place of his arm and learning to play with a custom set of electronic drums. Ultimately, he continued to perform with the band, and continues to do so today.
  • After 3 years of recording, Def Leppard released their fourth album, Hysteria, in 1987. It was even more popular than Pyromania, certified 12x platinum. They were one of only five rock bands to have two diamond certified studio albums (they were in good company – the others were The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Van Halen). The album had 6 singles in the top 20 of the Hot 100, with Love Bites topping the chart, Pour Some Sugar On Me reaching #2, and Armageddon It peaking at #3.
  • The band hoped to release another album quickly, but Clark’s addiction to alcohol got in the way. He was given a 6 month leave of absence in 1990, but ultimately he died in early 1991 of his addiction. The band decided to continue as a four piece group, with Collen handling Clark’s parts. In 1992, Adrenalize was released. It was another success, certified 3x platinum, with Let’s Get Rocked and Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion) both topping the Album Rock Tracks chart. After the album was released, Vivian Campbell was added to replace Clark on guitar.
  •  Between 1996 and 2015, the group released 6 more studio albums, trying out some different styles along the way. The Slang album had more alt rock and grunge, and had more of a pop rock sound. While no longer generating huge album sales, they continued to have hits in the late 90s and early 00s – Work It Out reached #6 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and Promises reached the top of that chart.
  • In 2019, Def Leppard was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. When you think about metal bands from the 80s, Def Leppard was one of the best selling of them all – and there were well over a hundred of them back then. Wanna relive those those days of 80s excess? Watch their video of Pour Some Sugar On Me! Ahh – those were the days!

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