DEF LEPPARD

TWO STEPS AHEAD
Dave Bowler and Bryan Dray
B ~ X T R E E
Published in Great Brita in in 1996 hy
Boxrree Limited,
Hro.ul wallHou-a-, 2 1 Broa dwallc londrm SF.I '11'1..
€> 1')'11'. Dave Bowler and Bryan Dra y
The moral of the authors has been asse rte d.
All reserved. This publication may not he reprod uced,
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condit ion being impos ed on a subs eque nt pun:hawr.
Front COVl' r design: Shoot That Ti ger!
From cover photos: Rcma
Tn>CSl'l hy SXComposing DTI" Rayleigh, Essex
Primed by The Harh l' rccs, Hath
ISI\ N o 7.\22 114 1 4
I0 '1 S 7 f, '4 .'l 2 1
:\ e ll' ruraloguc is avarl.ibtc from
ti lt' Brirish ljhrury.
CONTENTS
lntr oducnon
Cha pter One: Nowhere to Run ? 5
Chapter Two: All the Young Dudes 12
Chapter Three: On the Crest of a New W3\' t: 2 1
Chapter Four: Into the Fire 32
Chapter Five: With a Little Help From OUf friends 43
Chapter Six: Wait ing for the Man 52
Chapter Seven: Fireproof 69
Chapter Eight: Animal Ma gic 85
Cha pter Nine: The Last Time t 15
Cha pter Ten : Time for a Change? 131
Cha pter Eleven: All We Wa nt Is Ever ything 138
Discography 142
Sources 147
DEDICATION
To Mom and Dad
' Bicycles, muscles, cigarett es' - Raymond Ca rver
And for Denise
The half moon in the sky to night, bright enough to come up with
an answer .. .
Alwa ys
David
To Trish, Emma and Rebecca
For all th eir love and support.
And Mu m, Dad, Gran, Joyce and Wa l
For all thei r help.
Bryan
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
It wouldn' t be possible [0 put toget her any book without the help of
a number of people. Paramount among these are Clare Hulton at
Boxt ree and Tarija Howarth and Mark Hayward who cont inue to
take care of business. We are grateful to the m all.
Much of the initial basic research was conducted at the Na tional
Sound Archive, an excellent facility. We are very grateful to all the
staff there who were unfai lingly helpfu l and able to suggest numerous
avenues of enquiry. Thanks too to those at the Colindale Newspaper
Librar y. Above all, we are most grateful to Denise Dean who, as
usual, gave far too much time to the research of (his pro ject , as well
as offering thoughts on the text .
Than ks too are due ro the very legendar y Hot Press. Q. Select,
Vox. New Musical Express. Kerrangl, Melody Maker. Raw, Metal
Hammer and Record Mirror whose articles on the band were an
excellent source of infor mation.
Wit hom the help of ' Ant hology 2' from the Bearles, sanity wo uld
have passed away much sooner than it did . The same applies to
Maria McKee' s 'Li fe Is Sweet ' and the Cowboy J unkies' ' 200 More
Miles' , No collection is complete wit hout them.
Finally, if there' s anyone on the lookout for other Def Leppard fans
to share infor mation with, you should send a large SAE to Kate at
Mid lands Met al International, 47 Thackeray Walk, Sta fford,
Staffordshi re ST17 9SE.
INTRODUCTION
' We want ed to be the biggest rock han d in t he world.' Before
embarking on the story of Def Leppard, it' s important that you take
not ice of that single phrase. As espoused by lead singer Joe Elliott,
that has long been the core philosop hy of the band, t heir manifesto,
the ir raison d'etre. Since thei r formation in Sheffield some twent y
year s ago at the height of the punk wa rs, virtually every move has
been made with that goal uppermost in thei r minds. Backed by an
American management ream that move wit h the precision of any
major indu stri al corporation, they have unfli nchingly aimed for the
to p and have made all the per sonal sacr ifices necessary to get there.
As l.eppard' s story unfold s, it becomes appare nt that t hat bal d
statement of fact and of ambit ion has been central to their survival.
You ma y feel it is a perfectl y sensibl e goal. You may commend their
honest y in ope nly confessing to the hidden agenda that moti vat es
most groups. Alternati vely you may he repelled by such naked
determination to pursue relentlessly the rewards of commercialism,
and be concerned that sales figures have obstr ucted the search for
musical pur ity, if such a thing exi sts. That is your choice, bur it does
not cha nge the facts. Def Leppar d wanted to be big.
The reasons for dwelling on thi s particular point will become clear
later on in this tale. Suffice it to say that these dreams lead them
unerringly towards expulsion from thei r homeland early on in their
career, victims of the vitri ol of British fans at a time when the musical
roost was ruled by the independent , by t he DIY et hic, by the belief
Def Leppard
that small was beautiful and that major label co rporatism was the
kiss of death for honest musical expression. Ridiculed in t he early
eight ies by the English press, Def Leppard had to make it abroad,
notably in America, before t he British too k them to their hearts; by
the time ' Hys teria' , its big rock sound and goo d time attit ude made
the airwaves in 1987, the ba nd was finally in sync with the prevailing
zeitgeist all over the 'civilised' world, including the UK. Dreams of
global do minati on had seen them through that initial rejection and
had helped them weat her personal tragedy in the most digni fi ed and
courageous manner. As a consequence, some see Dcf Leppard as a
collection of manipulative, cynical maneuverers, backed up by a
scheming, Machiavellian management team. Yet while rio-one would
pretend that they are nai ve idea lists - such people do not exist at the
top of the musical tr ee - single-minded determinat ion, a quality they
possess in spades, is the real secret of their success and their longevity.
If Def Leppard have been prophets without honou r in their own
land, then at least the profits pouring in from ot her lands have
provided ample consolation. Joe Elliott was to boast later , wit h good
reason, that Leppard had rewritt en the rul e book when it came to
writing and recording rock music. Equally, they helped change
British attitudes to the function of rock music and especially to
commercial success. Although cri ticism wounded them, their
deter minati on to make it big, to make themselves ' recession proof' as
Elliott termed t hem, enabled them to rise above the storm. Def
Leppard are living proof that success can be had, enjoyed, it can be
survived and it can be wort h having. all ideas t hat were largely al ien
to a British perspecti ve. Na me any British band that became an
international success in the sevent ies and you' ll find a gro up that was
instant ly reviled. Queen and Genesis are excellent examples of the
prevailing mindsct; lauded as innova tors at the outset of their careers,
once they began to accumulate a few gold records, the wa rmt h
accorded them by the crit ics fell in direct proport ion . Keen students
of rock history, l.eppard knew that a similar fat e wo uld inevitably
await them and so simply set thei r faces agai nst it and got on with the
job in hand, creating mouldbreaking, classic rock music.
Of course, such a view docs simplify things a litt le too much.
Credi bility, rhar nebulous ideal, dictates that it is almost alwa ys the
2
Introduction
dance acts, the remixers, the DJs and the avant garde industri alists
who get the credit for pushing back the musical frontiers yet Leppard
did as much as an yone to bring music int o the digital age. Thei r work
with Robert ' Mutt' Lange was tr uly groundhreaking and even such a
sage as Bono remar ked that ' Hysteria' was the first technological
record and one that had an intellectual impac t on the di rection U2
too k for ' Achtung Baby' and then 'Zooropa' , ut ilizing the equipment
that was at thei r di sposal. Just as Queen had blazed a trail in their era,
Dcf Leppard were the fi rst han d of thei r vint age to stretch t he
recording studio to its limits and ro use it as anot her instru ment, a
perfect ly valid respon se to the bewilderi ng growt h in musical
technolog y thro ugh the 1980s.
People' s suspicions a bou t Leppard are generally roused by their
management struct ure. So str ingently are their affairs managed that
the music seems to be just another division of Dcf Leppard Inc., a
multina t ional moneyma king conglomerate. Music should have a
romantic air about it, there should be a hint of the medieva l
rroubadour about ar tists, minstrels making their merr y way from
(Ownto town. Sadly, the modern world does not live on romance hut
on hard cash and again, Leppard were among the first ro realize that
harsh fact of life. They'd seen man y musicians run crying ro the
papers to tell stories of how they'd been ripped off and they vowed it
would not happen to them. More than that though, they quickly
real ized - and were speedily educat ed in the realities by manager
Peter Mensch - that they could only reach the top and then stay there
by giving their absolute arrenrion to the finest of deta il. Genesis were
perfect examples of t hat and by the end of the 1970s they were one
of the top acts in the world. Their blueprint was followed and built
upon by Mensch and his staff to ensure that everything withi n the
Leppard organization worked smoothly. Given thei r ability to att ract
problems, it was as well that they had such a staunch and shrewd ally
as Mensch to fall back on - few other bands wou ld have survived the
hostile reception that l eppard got at Reading in 1980, the critical
panning they received in the UK in the early eight ies or the t rials and
tribulations that sur rounded the making of ' Hyster ia' . It was as much
a tri bute to Mensch' s wise counsel as the innate good sense of the
band that they not only surv ived bur prospered. Goo d business sense
3
Def Leppard
can be seen as soulless, the men in suits ruling t he group, but that' s a
gross disto rt ion of the facts. Even if it were true, such global
penetrat ion of the Leppard sound means that everyone has a chance
to hear their records and, if you' re a fan of classic rock, that can only
be a good thing. Def Leppard are anything but a bunch of
manipulated meatheads.
Self-sufficiency is their creed and their great est gift, crucial in the
changes they are currently going through. Unlike a number of their
contemporaries - not ably on the west coast of America - the
members of the band are down to eart h blokes who can live a nor mal
life away from the stage. Jt's hard to believe, but some rock musicians
are so pampered that they don't know how to buy postage stamps!
Def Leppard arc ordinar y men who have an ext rao rdinary job. They
are in tou ch with their fans, know that they are appreciated and are
normal enough to enjoy t he privileges. But above and beyond that,
they are content with the music they make. That has always been the
supreme test. If they make a record and love it at the end of the
recording process, t hat is now the real success, an indication of how
time has changed their att itud es. With more money in the bank than
they could ever need, sales graphs are less important. Having been the
biggest band in the world, Leppard embarked on a different road
with ' Slang' . Now they want to be the best. 'Slang' lacks the total
confi dence and convict ion that such a bold move requires, bur it is a
very enco uragi ng fi rst step and one that few in t heir position would
have tried. But that is Def Leppa rd in a nutshell - the most self-
sufficient, self-confi dent band in t he world.
How do they justify such arroga nce .. .
4
1
NOWHERE TO RUN?
' Def Leppard will play here in 1980: A simple scrawl on the granite
wall of Sheffield 's Ci ty Hall in the bleak midwinter of 1978. An
ephemeral chalk mark wa shed away by a rain storm, few would have
seen it at the time, yet Joe Elliott ' s concise statement is archetypal Def
Leppar d, for it reads in such a matter of fact manner that it seemed
incontrovert ible, defied quest ion. In Def Leppar d' s case of co urse, the
experience of the last twent y years adds immense significance to the
words. Viewed that way, it does look like a statement of fact, a lmost
a warni ng to the punter s to book ea rly to avoid disappointment. Such
a concl usion might reason abl y be dismissed as plain daft. the result
of hindsight and an unquenchab le desire to romanticize fur ther the
story of a major league rock ban d, suggesting that the hand of desti ny
has always been guiding Def Leppard' s fort unes. After all, there ate
plenty of similar messages written on halls in most major towns and
cities, the despera te words of an ambitious youngster looking
hopelessly for a break, trying to gain extr a att ent ion for his or her
group. The odd thing abo ut it though is that Joe honestl y believed
that those wo rds were a matt er of fact, that they were a warning to
get in line for tickets becau se he never had any doubts that his band
would soon be treading the boards that had already been graced by
his heroes, groups like Mort the Hoop le and Thin Lizzy.
Like many kids of his age, Joe Elliott found the mid sevent ies dan k
and depressing times. Born in Sheffield on 1 August 1959, he had few
aca demic pretensions and left school at the first opportunity, going
5
Def Leppard
straight out to work for a living - these were the days when Sheffield
was still a thriving town and the epicentre of the world's steel
industry. Jobs were plentiful and lads like Joe with no real
qualifications nor ambitions for a career were thought of as ideal
factory fodder. Early on he found himself working for Smith
Widdowson and Eadem Limited, on the treadmill in a factory that
produced cutlery, one of the city's staple products. With few
prospects and the tedious grind of the nine to five stretching out
before him for the next forty or fifty years, Joe was understandably
filled with the desire to escape. Again, nothing there to distinguish
him from thousands of others across the country, making the
contemporary journey into the heart of the rat race. Joe followed the
traditional escapist routes, immersing himself in pubs and football,
but he always felt that there had to be more to life than just this.
Music was his greatest passion, providing a very necessary outlet
for his fertile imagination. Later, he recalled that 'the first concert 1
ever saw was T Rex at the Sheffield City Hall in 1971. Marc Bolan
was the first pop idol 1 ever had'. The twelve year-old was bitten by
the rock'n'roll bug, those waking hours not reserved for Sheffield
United being spent on dreams of pop stardom. Those formative years
back in the early seventies were played out to a very strong pop
soundtrack, with glam rock holding sway in the charts, courtesy of
Slade, the Sweet, Gary Glitter, Roxy Music, David Bowie and Mott
the Hoople. That period is often ridiculed now, largely because of the
atrocious fashion sense displayed by the stars of the era, but if you
can ignore the lack of anything approaching sartorial elegance and
instead listen to the music, it's clear that there were some excellent
songwriters and musicians around at the time. Following in the
aftermath of the Beatles, whatever happened would have had to be
anti-climactic but in retrospect, the power pop sensibilities of Jimmy
Lea and Noddy Holder in Slade, the innovative intelligence of David
Bowie, Mick Ronson, Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno and the sheer
stupidity of Gary Glitter conspired to create some memorable
moments.
Joe Elliott was among those moved and inspired by what was
happening in the Top Twenty. 'I got off first on people like Led
Zeppelin and then on the commercial side of rock - glam rock if you
6
Nowhere to Run ?
like, harder edged pop. Mott the Hoopl e were my favourite band and
the good thing was that you' d get to see them and the Sweet or Slade
on the TV on Top of the Pops but you only ever heard about Zeppelin
at parties or from friend s.' With typical pugnacity, Joe decided there
and then that he was going to be a pop star, going so far as to inform
his careers teacher of the fact . Bands like Mott had such a hold on his
imagination that he created his own imaginary band, daydreaming
about playing the Cit y Hall while lessons went on around him. He
even went so far as to design gig posters for thi s ment al combo which
he had named Deaf Leopard. Hi s determinati on and his desire were
only reinforced every time he heard 'All The Young Dudes',
'Suffragette City' or 'Blockbuster' , though predictably his teachers
had little faith in his ability to emulate his heroes and were not
surprised when he quickly found his way on to the factory floor.
Exposure to the tedium of work onl y hardened Elliott's attitudes to
the future. Changing jobs, he felt even less inclined to build a future
for himself within a local firm. He remembered later the reason for
his belief in 'Deaf Leopard' . ' I wanted to get into a band to get out of
the factories. I was a storekeeper at Osborne Mushet Tools, stuck in
a basement where I had to buy in everything from paper towels to
Swarfega to oil rags to nuts and bolts to grinding wheels. The whole
idea of being in a band was to escape boredom, so I just created my
own form of escapism. When I was working, I just wanted to have a
great time at night before I went to sleep and woke up to the same old
crap. That' s what I did for five year s. I used to listen to my Alice
Cooper tapes during dinner hour and think " I don't want to work
here for the next fifty years. Anything to get out of this shit" .'
It' s a convenient phrase that we' ve all used countless times: 'I'd do
anything to be able to pack in this job and be rich and/or famous.'
Few people actually do anything about it though. They don't really
mean it, don't have the courage, the conviction, the determination,
the vision or the talent to do anything but dream. What set Joe Elliott
apart from the rest was his intense determination to succeed and his
incredible blind faith in his own ability to deliver that dream. Given
that Yorkshiremen are often fairl y opinionated and sur e that their
way is the right way, perhaps Joe's own self-assurance was just a
matter of heredity - it is the county that spawned the likes of Fred
7
Def Leppard
Trueman, Harvey Smith, Geoffrey Boycott and Foggy Dewhurst after
all and none of them could be described as shrinking violets or
lacking in self-confidence. Once he had embarked on a life in a band,
the very idea of failing simply didn't occur to him. Such confidence,
bordering on arrogance is remarkable when you bear in mind the
enormous failure rate within the music industry. Look at any local
gig guide and you can find dozens of bands of all kinds playing in the
pubs and clubs of your town or city - the chances are that none of
them will ever amount to anything more than just a good night out
in your locale. The likelihood of any of them becoming the most
successful band in the world is so infinitesimally tiny as to be not
worth considering. With a band up and running, Joe turned that idea
on its head so that the chances of them not becoming the biggest band
in the world weren't worth considering.
However good or determined you are though, luck always has a
part to play. Joe' s particular stroke of good fortune came when he
teamed up with another young man who was equally convinced of
his own particular destiny. Richard Savage was a year younger than
Joe, born in Sheffield on 2 December 1960. A useful guitarist, he was
an even more promising foot bailer and was on the books of Sheffield
United which was ironic since he spent his Saturdays on the terraces
at Hillsborough, home of Sheffield Wednesday. United were in the
First Division for much of his time as a schoolboy there and they were
keen to offer Savage a contract to stay at the club. The chance of a
place with a top flight football club is an offer that most young lads
could only dream of, yet for Savage the decision to sign or not was
more complex. He had ambitions that extended beyond the game of
football, for at the tender age of sixteen and with no realistic
expectations of success, Rick was adamant that he was going to be an
all-conquering rock musician. With the same swaggering arrogance
that characterized the teenage Elliott, Rick felt that it was just a
matter of time before he was in a major league band, an even more
tempting prospect than playing professional football. Oddly enough,
it was a decision that Iron Maiden's founder, bassist Steve Harris,
was making at the same time at West Ham United. Savage reasoned
that rock music was his first love, that music was much more
lucrative in those pre-Premiership days and that the rock'n'roll
8
Nowhere to Run?
lifestyle was more fun. You could stay out lat e, didn' t have to worry
about what you ate, drank or smoked, while Sheffield Unit ed didn't
get a lot of action on the gro upie front either. Most compelling of all
thou gh, it was the hated Unit ed rather than his beloved Wednesday
that were making him the offer. If Wednesday had come in for his
services, who knows? Maybe Def Leppard wo uld never have seen the
light of da y. Turning his back on the beautiful game, Savage took up
an apprent iceship with British Rail , though he never looked on that
job as more than a mere t ime filler unt il the day sta rdom beckoned.
Whil e Joe was looking for a break and goi ng to each and every
rock gig at Sheffield' s City Hall, Rick was taking the first tentative
steps towards putting a band together. At t he time, Rick' s group, in
which he played guitar, went under the unappeti zing moniker Atomic
Mass, a wholly and hopel essly derivati ve name, centred on heavy
metal ' s preoccupation with horror and holocaust. Alongside him in
the band was another local guitarist, Pete Willis. They had met at
Tapton Comprehensive School and had been kicking ideas around
together since they were fourteen or fifteen. Willis was clearl y the
more promising of the two on guita r, a more fluent and technically
capable player, but if anything it was Savage who remained the
driving force behind their dreams. Savage would not be deterred by
setbacks while the diminutive Willi s was mor e reserved in his
ambitions.
Most school groups crumble when the t ime to leave comes around,
the indi viduals all going their separate ways, but for some it is the
critical moment that propels them for ward. Having to get a job
merely brought home how ordina ry their futures might be and how
important the band could be as a launching pad towards better
things. Sharing similar tastes to Joe Elliott, Atomi c Mass would
rehearse a mixture of glam classics and hard rock sta ples, such that
they were never rooted purely in heavy metal but instead had a
poppier element to their sound, even at that earl y stage.
Joe met up with Pete Willis at the school's youth club and when, in
1977, Pete and Rick, along with drummer Tony Kenning, were
looking for a singer, Elliott came to mind. At that stage, Joe thought
of himself as a guitarist and freely admitted that ' the onl y singing I'd
ever done previously was in the junior school choir. Apart from that,
9
Def Leppard
I once played Elvis Presley in a school play when I was eleven. They
onl y asked me because I was the only person who could play the
proper guitar chords to "The Wonder Of You".' But Elliott had
made an impression on Willis who recognized in him the same
wholehearted commitment that made Savage such a valuable band
member. Such was Savage's desire to succeed, he had given up guitar
and moved to bass when no suitable bassist could be found, a la Paul
McCartney in the post-Sutcliffe Beatles. Nothing would stand in the
way of Atomic Mass becoming rock gods, so Rick himself plugged
the glaring gap. In the face of that sacrifice, Joe's protestations were
easily overcome. After all, he was tall, cut an imposing figure at the
front of the stage and wanted out every bit as badly as the others did.
Despite making a hash of 'Suffragette City' and 'Stairway to Heaven'
at the band's first rehearsal together, Joe was in.
So now they had a four piece, the classic Zeppelin and Sabbath
line-up of voice, guitar, bass and drums. Even as teenagers though,
the nucleus of Willis, Elliott and Savage could see the limitations of
such a rudimentary set-up. Willis in particular felt the band would be
restricted if he was the only guitarist and pointed to favourite bands
like Thin Lizzy, ACIDC and Judas Priest, all of whom used twin
guitars. In fairness to Willis, who is often seen as something of a fall
guy in the band's history, his was a very farsighted view for such an
inexperienced player and it was also a particularly unselfish one.
Given that guitarists are very often the focus of a heavy metal band,
over and above the singer, he was choosing to give up much of the
spotlight and share it with someone else. Since being in a band is
supposedly the best way for a young lad to attract girls and given that
Willis was not the most prepossessing physical specimen in the world,
it is even more remarkable that he was willing to concede such
territory. Clearly with Elliott in place, he too was beginning to feel
that Atomic Mass might be on the move and was gripped by the same
professionalism that marked those two out.
If they were on the move though, there were still a few things to be
sorted out, most notably the name. Atomic Mass was, quite simply,
useless. It was hard to imagine posters outside Earl 's Court or
Madison Square Gardens proclaiming the much awaited return of
Atomic Mass. Joe gathered the rest of the lads together in his
10
Nowhere to Run ?
bedroom for a band meeting. Making the most of the territorial
advantage, he resurrected his dream group, Deaf Leopard and
suggested that this was a more promising handle for the group.
Support was initially muted, but by the end of the evening, Joe had
got his way. The onl y concession he had to make was in the spelling.
Def Leppard was born.
11
2
ALL THE YOUNG DUDES
Creating a successful rock band that can live and work together over
a long period is a delicate operation, akin to building a successful
football team. Pure blinding talent is not always the vital ingredient,
though naturally it' s an important element. However, simply putting
together a collect ion of brilliant individuals does not guarantee
success, for you can over-egg the pudding and upset the balance. The
arrival of Faustin o Asprilla at Newcastle United has proved that. If
we look back into the lat e sixties, to the days when super groups were
springing up with monotonous regularity, few survived. Most, like
Blind Faith for instance, simply fell apart under the weight of
powerful egos, combustible characters and individuals who simply
didn't get on together.
Balance is the vita l and oft en elusive component of an y band with
pretensions to longevity and it's why groups that start as an extension
of a social life have so much more chance of survival. Genesis began
as songwriters at school and whil e none of them was necessarily a
virtuoso musician to begin with, the chemistry within the line-up was
right. Th e same is true of U2, who formed a band as somet hing to do
after schoo l. In that light, the omens were always good for Def
Leppard. Willi s and Savage had met at their comprehensive; they'd
run into Joe at their local yout h club. Even before they got a band
together, a camaraderie existed.
By 1977, they 'd all read enough to understand just how important
per sonal relati onships were within a group. Ian Hunter' s Diary of a
12
All the Young Dudes
Rock'n 'roll Star had been published, whil e interviews in the music
press pointed out time and time again that when a band was on tour,
the members had to live in one another' s pockets for months at a
time. Though Willi s, Savage and Elliott were very keen to find
another guitarist, the y were equally concerned that whoever joined
their ranks should not upset the chemistry of the group. Once more,
fate smiled upon them. Pete Willis was required to attend
Stannington College as pa rt of his job as an apprentice lathe
operator. Using the opportunity to his own adva ntage, he used the
college library to expand his own knowledge of the guitar, working
his way through the technical manuals the y had there. It was while he
was reading an effects book that Steve Clark introduced himself, the
two falling into conversation about their favourite bands, influences
and so on. Clark had already worked his way through a few groups,
leaving them when it became clear that they lacked the ambition to
turn their hobby into a way of life. Again, as he had done with Joe,
Willis identified the similarity between Clark's ambition and that of
Savage. This time though, he was a little more wary, worried that
Clark might not fit in with the group. Equall y, now that push had
come to shove, perhaps he was having second thoughts about sharing
the spotlight with such a supposedly accomplished performer, one
who might usurp him in the band.
Clark wa s not a conventional guitari st by an y means. Another
Sheffield lad, born in the Hillsborough di strict on 23 April 1960, he
had received his first guitar as a Christmas present from his parents
in 1971. The present was given on the understanding that Steve
would study the classical guitar and indeed he took a series of lessons,
learning pieces from Bach and Vivaldi . By the time he was into his
teens though, rock music had taken its hold on his imagination and
pretty soon Bach was replaced by Blackmore as a musical hero.
Nevertheless the classical lessons had been a vital part of his musical
education, providing him with a vocabulary that few contemporary
players could equal. It was obvious that her e was a precocious talent,
greater than that of anyone else in Def Leppard, so it's
understandable that Willi s should balk at the idea of bringing him
into the band. After all, someone like Clark who knew what he was
doing might easily eclipse the rest of them and take charge of the
13
Def Leppard
whole affair. Th e two parted after Willis had issued a vague
invitation for Clark to come up and see them some time at their
rehearsal room above a spoon factory in Bramall Lane.
If Willis was unsure of Clark's value to the band, joe Elliott had no
such reservati ons. A couple of days after his meeting with Willis ,
Clark bumped int o the two of them in the bar of the Cit y Hall prior
to a judas Priest gig. Following Joe' s rather warmer enco ura gement
and impressed by his hopes and dreams for Def Leppard, within a
matter of days, on 29 januar y, Steve was rehearsing with them.
Almost at once, he became an integral part of the band, sharing their
vision of a glori ous future together.
We're forced to return again and again to thi s incr edible self-belief
that surrounded Def Leppard, a belief that far outstripped their
ability as musicians. Th ey worked tirelessly, trying to play some
numbers of their own, always ready to fall back on the clas sics for a
littl e relief, but as 1978 wore on, rehearsals began to become stale
and musical progress was painfully slow. Steve had been in a number
of groups that had talked a good game but then failed to do anyt hing
about it and it was sta rting to dawn on him that perhaps Leppard
were just another in a long line of time wasters. By the end of June,
he had had eno ugh and taking refuge in the Dutch courage offered by
severa l pint s of bitte r, he told the band that if they didn't sta rt looking
for gigs, then he was leaving.
This came as somet hing of a bombshell to the rest of the band who
had been content simply to wo rk hard in practice. j oe admitted that
' I pani cked beca use 1knew that if Steve left, it could be the end of the
band' . Less natura lly gifted performers than Clark, they were
und erst andabl y nervous about making the next leap forward on to
the concert stage and there was a general feeling that they weren't
ready yet , having been togeth er for just a few months. Steve' s decision
to quit backed them into a corne r and, despite their individual
anxiet ies, they realized that they couldn't take the risk of him leaving
the group for he was beginning to show promise as a songwriter too.
Clark's game of Russian roulette had paid off and on 18 july, Def
Lepp ard played their first ever concert .
Th e venue for this earth-shattering event was the gymnasium of
Westfield School, the band pocketing the princel y sum of five pounds
14
All the Young Dudes
in return for their efforts. The gig itself may have been as low key as
they come, but it was absolutely critical in setting Def Leppard on the
path they would follow for the next three years, where playing
concerts would be central to their strategy. Their performance may
well have been ramshackle but it did prove to them that they had
something when they played together, that there was a certain quality
about them as a band, a spark that separates the men from the boys.
Physically of course, Def Leppard were little more than boys at this
stage. Joe was only just approaching his nineteenth birthday, Steve
had just turned eighteen while Rick and Pete were just seventeen
years old. The naive enthusiasm was enough to keep them going in
this early phase of their career, but equally, it did cost them their self
respect as they followed the dictates of youthful fashion. As Joe
remembered later 'you should have seen the ridiculous clobber we
had on to start with! Stripy trousers and leopardskin T-shirts and silk
and all that crap. We thought we were very sexy and, of course, we
weren't. It's amazing what you think when you're nineteen.' Some of
the photographs have survived to tell the tale, turning up regularly in
the more unflattering press features on the band.
Sartorially challenged though they might have been, Leppard
soldiered on. Having got the taste for live performance at long last,
they wanted plenty more of it. Again, they received another stroke of
good fortune by virtue of their geographic isolation from London.
1978 was the height of the punk and new wave boom that had
supposedly swept away all the old ideas about rock music and
replaced them with a brand new order. InLondon and the south east
where the word of the NME was law, rock venues were changing
their allegiance overnight in order to capitalize on this new
movement. Clubs and pubs that had regularly played host to hard
rock and heavy metal acts for years on end now refused to look at any
band that was not covered in safety pins. If you had long hair, you'd
had it. Iron Maiden, for example, had a terrible time finding places to
play in London when they were first starting out, Steve Harris
fighting an ongoing battle with all manner of promoters just to keep
his music alive.
InSheffield, punk was just another musical fashion that had come
along from out of the blue. At a distance of a couple of hundred
15
Def Leppard
mil es, the punters were less impressed by outlandish clothes and
antics and more interested in the product. Indeed, that wa s very much
the sto ry of punk away from the metropolis. Musicall y it was a
breath of fresh air, a wholly necessary chance to take stock of the
fut ure direct ion of roc k' n' roll, breaking free of the shackles of pomp
roc k and insipid pop music. The good bands survived the punk
onslaught, those wi th noth ing left to offer died beneath its wit hering
fire. But it 's wrong to run away with the notion that punk was rock's
' Yea r One'. It wa s anyt hing but, for the new wave was as rooted in
the past as any other offs hoot of rock'n 'roll. Jo e Elliott knew his st uff
by the time ' Never Mind the Bollocks' was released and his
assess ment of it was spot on:
You have to reali ze that in Sheffield we didn't see the Sex Pistol s
pla ying the 100 Cl ub, we didn't get all of those new fanzines, we
didn't see Johnny Rotten vomiting down the Kings Road. All we
got was the record of ' Anarchy in the UK' in the local reco rd
sho p at nine o'clock on the Monday morning it ca me out. We
got th is already ma rketed product . And when their album ca me
out, I thought 'This is fuckin' brilliant, hea vy rock the wa y I like
it! Ballsy but three chordish' . It had thi s guy that co uldn' t sing
and a guy that couldn't play solos, but basicall y it was a roc k
reco rd. So all the publici ty that sur ro unded punk di dn' t mea n
anyt hing. We just had anot her grea t roc k record to listen to' .
That wa s t he tale through much of provincial Bri tai n. Mohican
haircuts remained a pre tty rare sight outs ide th e ca pita l and things
musical carried on as normal, wi t h th e new wave sha ring the local
scene with more traditiona l roc k bands. For that reason , punk never
threat ened the evo lution of Def Leppa rd, never had the opport unity
to st unt th eir growth by de nyi ng them outlets for their songs. If
anyt hing, th e pu nk revolution pushed Def Leppa rd into the
spotl ight before they wer e ready for it, but th at' s a sto ry for a little
later on .
If punk had littl e obvious musical impact on the band, socio-
logicall y it was mo re significant. Three-minute songs were back in
vogue after years in wh ich no song was wort h its salt if it didn't
16
All the Young Dudes
include a three-minute solo. The excesses of progressive rock were
brutally hacked back so that rock music had to be concise once again.
Indeed, it had to be written in such a way that it might compete in the
singles chart, a revolutionary thought given the scorn that bands like
Zeppelin and Floyd had heaped upon the Top Twenty. For a rock
band , the ideal was now Thin Lizzy or Queen, groups with guts but
with an ability to turn out classic rock singles. That was an important
shift in emphasis for Leppard, for that was precis ely the direction
they were heading in, propelled by their collective enjoyment of glam
rock.
Punk' s other great legacy was the notion that you could do it
yourself. A punk band might write a song on Monday, record it on
Thursday and have it out in the shops on their own label the
following week. The idea of some patriarchal multinational record
company deciding what should and shouldn' t be released was
becoming an outmoded concept as small independent st udios began
to pop up around the country, offering a decent sound at very
reasonable prices. With pressing costs coming down too, a band with
a local following could easily record a single, recoup the cost by
selling it at their gigs and still have enough copies left to send to radio
stations all over Britain.
The unswerving self-belief that Leppard had in themselves and
their destiny has already been menti oned on numerous occasions, for
that incredible will to win was probably their strongest suit. Running
it a very close second was their ability to look two steps ahead of
where the y were, a knack they have yet to lose. As soon as they had
become a live band, they began to con sider where the y wanted to be
six months hence and how the y would get there. Getting beyond the
confines of Sheffield was the most importa nt step, one which they
would accomplish only by succeeding locall y and by having some
kind of calling card to show to promoters further afield - their own
single would do that job ver y nicely. There' s no doubt that that was
the next goal they were working towards. Th ey had scarcely left the
stage at Westfield School before they had begun to calcul at e when
they would be ready to make that first recording.
Now if punk never became the all-conquering force in the north
that it was in London, cities like Sheffield needed their own kind of
17
Def Leppard
music, music that could unite teenagers across the city. Like many of
the great industrial towns north of Watford such as Birmingham and
Newcastle, Sheffield's music of choice was heavy metal and the City
Hall hosted shows by all the major members of the metal fraternity.
It was a rare week indeed when one rock band or another wasn't
packing in 2200 fans. Clearly then, Def Leppard had a base from
which to work, a reser voir from which to draw support.
Paradoxicall y though, Sheffield's importance on the metal map made
things tougher for them. Th e people knew their rock music and there
wer e a number of bands trying to break on to the local circuit,
playing before crowds that weren't easily impressed - Yorkshire's
clubs are to rock bands what Glasgow's are to comedians, a potential
graveyard. If that wasn't enough, the very fact that the rock elite were
such frequent visitors to the City Hall tended to militate against the
small er clubs. If in anyone week you might be able to catch
Motorhead , AC/DC and Gillan for instance, you might be less
inclined to head off to the Limit or the Leadmill to see a band you' d
never heard of on one of your nights off. And woe betide the band
whose show happened to clash with Whitesnake' s visit to the cit y,
because it'd be liable to end up playing to the proverbial one man and
his dog.
Th e net work of working men 's clubs that dotted south Yorkshire
doesn't imme diately appear to offer a particularl y promising outlet
for an aspi ring rock band. Typically of Leppard' s attent ion to detail
though, they had evolved a plan in which those clubs were absolutely
central. Now out and about on the local circuit, Joe recalled that rock
venues offered very littl e by way of payment: ' After that first show,
we played loads of dingy dungeon-type places and got paid about
fifteen qu id a time. We did the rock pubs for that much and all we
could drink but a van would cost us £35 for each gig. When we did
the wo rking men' s clubs, we got better paid and we'd sign for our
money as Mic key Mou se so that we couldn't be traced. Those gigs
paid for what we lost whil e we were tr ying to break into the rock
circui t.' It' s a tribute to their versatility that they wer e able to get such
a lot of wor k in the working men' s clubs, not normall y regarded as a
heavy metal hotbed. Their own songs were in a slightly lighter vein
and, by playing covers such as Thin Lizzy' s 'Emerald' and ' Ros alie' ,
18
All the Young Dudes
the Bob Seger song they'd appropriated, they were able to keep those
audiences happy. The real test though would come on the rock
circuit, as they knew full well.
No-one could accuse the band's members of not working hard
enough for, true to their faith, Def Leppard became something of a
religion to them. In spite of their day jobs, if they didn't have a gig to
play, they'd rehearse for four hours a night, five nights a week as well
as on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Transportation difficulties
were finally solved in a novel fashion. Joe Elliott again: 'Eventually, I
got the sack from that store-keeping job - I got caught playing cricket
in the basement - and I got a job as a van driver which came in very
handy!' Surprisingly enough, the delivery van tended to moonlight as
Def Leppard's official transport. But even with Leppard's willingness
to play anywhere for anything - they supported fellow Sheffield band
the Human League at one point - they still found it terribly hard to
get gigs, playing a mere handful by the turn of the year. Not that they
weren't busy, for along the way they lost drummer Tony Kenning to
the clutches of a girlfriend who, understandably enough, did not
share the group's enthusiasm for rehearsing nor their unswerving
faith in their glittering future. Kenning was replaced by Frank Noon,
so the intensive practice schedule was now geared to helping him fit
into their overall sound.
What was that overall sound? Opinions vary - Joe Elliott was later
to argue that Def Leppard had never been a heavy metal band but
rather a commercial rock band. At the time , as an article of faith,
Leppard were adamant that they were heavy metal. In retrospect,
their sound seems very lightweight compared with what we regard as
heavy metal now, played by groups such as Metallica or Anthrax.
Nevertheless, at the time, bands such as Kiss and Van Halen were
indisputably from the HM end of the market and Leppard owed
much to both. In terms of stage presentation, still very much in its
infancy, they drew on their glam roots, spiced up by references to the
effusive showmanship of Dave Lee Roth. Costumes, for example,
were nothing if not garish according to Elliott. 'In those days we still
thought it was cool to have a perm because Robert Plant and Marc
Bolan had curly hair. So I got a perm done and it looked disgusting.
We used to wear women's clothes on stage. We used to buy all our
19
Def Lepp ard
clothes from Top Shop and Chelsea Girl. If you want to look a bit
different from the audience, you' re not going to get it in Burtons, so
I was regul arl y in Top Shop. We couldn' t reall y afford an ything else
- I only got about £28 a week.' How they survived the wo rking men ' s
club is anyone's guess, but survive they did, prosperi ng too, so much
so that by November they were ready to make that all-impo rta nt
debut recording.
20
3
ON THE CREST OF A NEW WAVE
Having only played seven co ncerts, Def Lep pard proba bly went into
the studio t oo ea rl y in man y res pects, before t hey had had the cha nce
to become a road hardened band in the way t ha t contempora ries such
as Iron Ma ide n had. Yet it was propheti c th at t hey sho uld choose to
do so, for it foreshadowed th e emphasis they would place on t he two
sides of ba nd life for the rest of their ca reer. Live wor k co uld be see n
as fun, enjoya ble and an important part of the group expe rience , but
it was rehearsing, worki ng on songs, hon ing t hem to perfect ion that
was the reall y important th ing. Putt ing a track down on t ap e was the
only mean s of gua ra nteeing immortality, and before it wa s recorded,
each new song had to be just right, hence t he hours and hour s of
pract ice.
Wi t h almost a year of hard reh earsing behind them, t he nucl eus of
Savage, Elliott, Willi s and Clark felt th at t hey had pu t a nice body of
songs toget her, from which they co uld select th e best. It' s clear how
important it was to th em t o mak e a reco rdi ng and finall y, th ey
seemed read y to make the ste p. Financial co ns ide ra t ions were
uppermost in their minds and ultimately, Joe had to borrow £.: 148.50
from his dad to enable them to mak e the short tr ip t o Hull to record
three songs at Fairview Studios.
Song select ion was crucial, for alt ho ugh t hey were viewing t he
recording sess ion as a chan ce mer ely t o demo so me songs, they had
greater ambition s for the t apes. Even if it did not turn into the debut
single they hoped for , at th e very least th ese songs would be their
2 1
Def Leppard
calling card when they approached booking agents across the
country. The first song selected itself. 'Getcha rocks off' was simple,
honest to goodness hard rock of a kind that had been especially
popular in the early seventies. It's most obvious reference point was
Deep Purple, for it bore the hallmarks of their 'Speed king'. No
masterpiece by any means, it was indicative of a band that could
handle their instruments and were promising songwriters. Despite the
reservations of Joe's mum - 'I can't understand why people like it. 1
think it's horrible' - 'Getcha rocks off' had to be the main track. It
was fitting that that should be the case, for the very idea of 'getting
your rocks off' was the central plank of Def Leppard's manifesto.
They were a good-time band, enjoying playing and loving the chance
to escape from the real world for however short a time.
The second track 'Ride into the sun', was in a similar vein.
Lyrically, it was all top-down cars, cruising freeways and drive-in
movies. Clearly the band had been watching plenty of Hollywood's
teen movies and were dreaming of the wide open spaces of America.
Given that their songs were written beneath the factory chimneys of
South Yorkshire in the midst of a particularly drab year for the
British weather, they could hardly be criticized for having these
widescreen, technicolour visions of escape to a land of opportunity
where the sun always shines. What bunch of British teenagers
wouldn't want to go and see the land of the free? At the time, such a
lyrical preoccupation barely merited any comment, but very soon,
these lyrical leanings would spark controversy, drawing the sharpest
of critical comment.
The final choice for the studio was interesting for it showed just
how heavy metal had changed over the years, thanks to overseas
influences. 'Overture' featured an extended instrumental blow-out,
its style, its execution, indeed its very title influenced by Canada's
Rush, notably the 2112 album that had proved extremely popular
among rock fans. Rush had been able to fuse the fairly basic attacking
instincts of metal on to the instrumental intricacy of progressive rock,
producing what was a unique hybrid at the time. Def Leppard were
obviously impressed by Rush's success, and that's understandable
because they were perhaps the seminal hard rock band in the mid-
seventies. 'Overture' was inevitably a pale imitation, but it did
22
On th e Crest of a New Wa ve
showcase the mu sical ability wit hin the ba nd. Steve Clark in
particul ar was beginning to cr eate a very interest ing and di stinct ive
guitar sound all of hi s own and in th at sense, 'Overt ure' is the more
interestin g of th e three offerings, showing th e greatest promi se. Its
Achilles heel, as with a number of Lep pard ' s songs, was in the lyrical
department. Fran kly, they we re abys ma l, wallowing in the alleged
mystique of dungeons and dragons, wizards and high- priests. If punk
was right abo ut just one t hing, it was th at thi s so rt of sub-sci-fi
nonsense wa s now out of place, a fact t ha t even Rush accepted on
their 1980 release ' Perma nent Waves'. Perhaps Def Leppard were st ill
too young and inexperi enced t o appreciate t hat , per ha ps t hey were
still proudl y di splaying t hei r lineage, slav ishly copying their
predecessors rather than absorbing t he lessons and producing their
own individual style. Whatever the reasons, ther e ca n be no doubt
that 'Overture' , along with many ot her ea rly Def Lep pard creat ions
was woefull y short of lyri cal origina lity.
Even wit h th ese reservati ons, reservations which t he head stron g
group would never have accepted at the t ime, t hey had plenty of
reason to be happy with the tape th ey ha d pr oduced at the end of
their st int at Fairview. At a time when music was at its most nihili sti c,
when musical accompli shment was supposed to be somet hing to be
ashamed of, th e band had displayed a promi sing grasp of the hard
rock form with Clar k particul arl y pr ominent , unleashing an
impressive new tal ent. If Sid Viciou s sca rce ly knew which wa y up to
hold his bass guita r, Def Leppard had illustrat ed th at when the
musical tid e turned, as turn it must , when t he abi lit y to play was
revered once more, they would be in the va ngua rd.
Things had gone so well th at th er e was never any quest ion th at the
songs would be rel eased as a single. The ' Ce tcha rocks off' EP wa s set
for local release in January 1979, foll owing t he pr ecepts of the DIY
punk et hic. Having fail ed to penet rat e t he roc k circuit, Lep pard
hoped that the EP would provide them wit h t he kind of profil e they
needed to help them up on to th e next rung of the ladd er.
Whatever your feelings about the band, no- on e could ever acc use
Def Leppard of st upidity. They knew just ho w crucial the EP was to
their hopes of gett ing the band out of the bl ocks and running towa rds
stardom on a national scale. Showing th e pa tience for wh ich they
23
Def Leppard
were lat er renowned, they did realize that they had first to conquer
th e local market , somet hing they had so far singularly fail ed to do.
Even loca l reviewers were unde rwhelmed by their cha rms, as Joe
remembered: ' We supported the Human League and a reviewe r
ca lled us " bludgeon riffola" , a compl et e slag off.' Nevert heless,
showing resourceful st rengt h in th e face of ad ver sit y, 'To show th at
we di dn't care, we picked up on t he ph rase and used it for the record
label' .
Thus ' Getcha rocks off' made its debut on Bludgeon Riffol a in
Janu ary 1979. Starting modestly - a rest rictio n imposed on them by
th ei r shoes t ri ng budget - t hey pressed just 150 co pies wit h a cover
and signed lyric sheet. Stocks of th ese were qui ckl y exha usted and
within wee ks, another 1000 co pies were read y for sa le. Knowing how
importan t local radio and local record sho ps might be, they
bombarded these with copies of th e single. One recipi ent was Pet er
Mart in who ran Revolut ion Records; Martin being wi dely renown ed
as someone who wa s onl y too happy to provide a platform for any
local bands th at had ma naged to put out a record. Once he heard Def
Leppard' s EP, he knew t hat he was on to somet hing a little differ ent
to the generall y ent husiastic, energe tic, but fata lly flawed punk
product that he was used to receiving. Never a great punk fan
himself, Martin knew that the new wave had already seen its best
da ys. As we ente red 1979, it wa s just a matter of time before the nex t
musical tr end emerged. With his livelihood resti ng on record sa les, he
also knew th e value of the much- ma ligned 'classic rock' format, a
st yle which though universall y derided, sti ll made up a sizea ble
proportion of his sales. A new, young band in t hat style certainly had
a lot to offer in the years ahea d.
Martin sent a copy of the EP on to Frank Stuart-Brown, a well-
known local promoter, just the sort of perso n that Leppard needed to
br ing on boa rd if they were goi ng to start taking t hings on to anot her
level. He and Martin had worked together in the past as sa les reps for
WEA before going th eir sepa rate wa ys. St uart- Brown wa s now a
significant figur e on the music scene in t he North and, on hearing
Leppard' s songs, realized immediat ely th at the po ssibilities we re
limitl ess. Over the co urse of a phone ca ll, the two renewed t hei r
friendship and form ed a man agement company, MSB, wi th a view to
24
On the Crest of a New Wave
guiding the career of Def Leppard. Little more than a bunch of
enthusiastic kids trying to find their way through the professional
jungle, Leppard were only too happy to listen to the plans put
forward by this ambitious duo and a brief band meeting saw them
agree to sign up with MSB. Stuart-Brown had already endeared
himself to them by playing a tape of the EP to an old colleague, Andy
Peebles, who had an evening rock show on Radio 1 from 8 until
lOpm. Peebles and his producer Jeff Griffin were every bit as taken
with the recording as Stuart-Brown had been. Even at this early stage,
Griffin wanted to book the band for a prestigious Radio 1 session.
Yet more astonishing, the two of them persuaded the great guru of
the new wave, John Peel, to air Leppard's EP on his extremely
influential Radio 1 programme. In the late seventies, if Peel was
playing your record, those high up in the record industry would be
taking very careful note of you.
Although they were just feeling their way into the music industry,
the band weren't short of good ideas. Before MSB had arrived on the
scene, the group had come up with a shortlist of people who they felt
should get a copy of the EP. One such was Geoff Barton, a journalist
at Sounds. Barton's love of heavy metal, and Kiss in particular was
the stuff of newspaper legend. Given that Leppard ploughed a similar
glam rock furrow to that of Kiss, Barton seemed an ideal contact.
Penning a very straightforward letter, asking him to give them a
listen, their lack of pretension and self-promotional bullshit intrigued
Barton from the off. Playing the single through, he was the next in a
long line of influential figures to hear the sound of a major rock band
in the making.
In early 1979, punk was in its death throes had we but known it.
Though the NME and, to a lesser extent, Melody Maker tried to
prolong its life, it had entered the terminal phase that any trend faces.
The great bands having already made their impact, it was inevitable
that the bandwagon-jumpers would follow eagerly in their wake,
ever-paler imitations of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, cluttering up
the pages with their increasingly desperate attempts to gain publicity.
The policy at Sounds had always been a little different. Although it
too had covered the rise of punk in the minutest detail, it had always
kept one foot in the rock camp, continuing to give space to bands that
25
Def Leppard
were anathema to the NME. Writers such as Barton were tired of
having had the new wave rammed down their throats for the
preceding couple of years and were looking to find a way of moving
the agenda back on to their favoured hard rock territory. In its
typically cyclical fashion, it was time for the industry as a whole to
reinvent itself, seizing on the glories of a former era. Barton and
others felt that the era of the metal bands was ripe for rediscovery and
expl oitati on .
Th ere' s no doubt that on a purely commercial basis, the inst incts
of Barton and those who support ed him at Sounds were quite cor rect.
Although there was a concerted campaign to make it seem that heavy
rock was now thor oughl y redundant and had no adherents, all its
followers having seen the light and crossed over to punk, that kind of
simplificati on was a long way from the truth. A lot of peopl e had
tired of the dinosaur acts of the early seventies, that was why punk
had been such a success. But if you looked at an y maj or town or city
in the country, you wo uld find that Uriah Heep had just played there,
that Wh itesnake were coming next week and next month you' d be
abl e to see Hawkwind. In terms of coverage, rock music had gone
underground - though paradoxically that added to its allure - but it
had never perished. There was a huge groundswell of support just
waiting to be tap ped by any up and coming band that could breathe
new life int o heavy metal.
Def Lepp ard were ideally qualified to make the most of thi s
possible resurgence of interest in their kind of music. If Barton' s
putat ive relau nch of the genre was to succeed, he desperatel y needed
sta ndard bearers, a new act around whom he could build his
coverage. Leppard wer e such a band. Relatively photogenic -
certainly compared wi th the rest of the new metal bands of the time
- their image had possibili ties. Instrumentall y they were ext remely
accomplished and professional while if Joe' s voice was something of
a weak link, he made lip for it with his confident del iver y and
imposing personality. Their style, if a littl e cliched, was insta ntly
recognizabl e and appea ling to roc k fans and there was also a
pleasingl y poppy edge to the materi al that might allow them to gain
some success on the singles charts. All of these were vital ingredients,
though London' s Iron Mai den might have made very similar claims.
26
On t he Crest of a Ne w Wave
What rea lly dist ingu ished Leppard from the crowd was t heir ext reme
youth - Joe, the oldest member of t he t roupe, was still just nin eteen.
That mad e all th e difference, for t hey had no baggage to carry with
them; none of them had been in ban ds before punk ca me along, none
had to hid e emba r rass ing membership of some awful hippy gro up in
1973. When the new wave had come along, it was supposedly
untaint ed by th e pa st . Def Leppard could claim similarly virgi nal
status for th eir brand of heavy rock.
That claim was substantiated yet further when Fra nk Noon, never
more th an a tempo rary member of the group, decided to leave the
band. A local newspaper ran a sto ry, ' Leppard Loses Skins', along
with an adve rt for a replace men t. Sheffield' s musical co mmunity had
anot her wunderkind at th e ti me, Rick Allen, born on 1 November
1963. Thi s pr ecociou s ta lent had drummed wi t h loca l group Smo key
Blue when he was just a ten year-old but had grown tired of playing
drums in his ado lescence. It was his father Jeff who first picked up on
the art icle and, failing to coax his son into cont acting t he ba nd, ca lled
Def Leppard himself. He finall y arranged for Rick to meet up wi t h
Steve and Joe and, ove r t he co urse of a long conversation, it beca me
clear that Allen was the boy for t he job, being offered - and acce pting
- the positi on without the need for an audition. He left school to join
the band because 'my mum and dad to ld me I was neve r goi ng to get
another oppo rt unity like th is' . Angus Young might dr ess like a
schoo lboy with AC/DC, but Leppard went one better. They had a
real schoolbo y in th eir band!
No ne of t hese development s made any dent in Barton' s desi re to
featu re Def Leppa rd . The problem wa s t hat, as a wri ter based in
London and wo rking on Sounds' editorial staff, it was difficult for
him to find t ime to see Leppard in action. Given t hat t hey ha d yet to
play outs ide their locale - and they pla yed infrequently even ther e -
it was an insuperabl e obsta cle for some litt le time. By th e ti me he did
get to see them in the early Summer of 1979, Def Leppard alrea dy
had the roc k world interested in them.
A lot of th e credit has to go to the MSB management. They were
heavily cri ticized later in t he group' s career, but they worked long
and hard to get things moving for t he group and t hat merits attent ion.
In May, th ey ens ure d th at anot her 15,000 copies of 'Getcha roc ks
27
Def Leppard
off' were pressed and sold, guaranteeing that the record would be
avai la ble all over the country, being played in rock discos the length
an d breadth of th e land. Like Iron Maiden's ' Soundhouse tapes',
Leppard's debut offering featured regularly in th e Sounds Heavy
Metal charts, spreading their name further and further afield.
With th e success of th at EP came recognition in Sheffield. Picking
up on the buzz of anticipation that sur ro unded thi s gro up that had
sudde nly emerged from nowhere, Hallam Radio' s Co lin Slade offered
them th eir first session, Slade having been th e first per son anywhere
to pla y the EP on the radi o at th e start of the yea r. Thi s th ey accepted
with al acrity for no t only was it excellent exposure for th eir music, it
offered them inva lua ble ex perience in a recording st udio. The five
songs , recorded in May 1979, were ' Answe r to the ma st er' , 'Glad I'm
alive', ' When th e wa lls ca me tumbling down' , 'So rro w is a woman'
and 'Beyond t he temple'.
Things were rea lly on the up and up now, with MSB having a
prominent part to play . St ua rt -Brown continued to lean on his
friends hip wit h Andy Peebles, getting the OJ to br oad cast the EP on
Rad io 1 quite regularly. Fina lly, the call came from Broad casting
Hou se to record t heir first session for Peebles. These recordings were
to be mad e in t he BBC' s Manchester, rather th an London st udios,
and we re to be produced by Jeff Griffin. In one of t hose nice
co inci dences that crop up from time to time, Leppard were set to
reco rd on 7 June 1979, for t ransmission over four days begi nni ng on
18 June, t he very week when Geoff Barton ' s deb ut feat ure on the
group wo uld run in Sounds. The sessi on we nt especially well, four
so ngs bei ng recorded wit ho ut undue difficult y, the band clearly
benefi ti ng from their practice- run at Hallam. They chose to play
'Wasted', 'Answer to the master' , 'Glad I'm al ive' and 'So rrow is a
woman ' , th ree of which wo uld mak e it to the ir debut album. Tha t in
itself was significant for in t he mo nt h that separat ed th e two sessions,
t hey had clearl y dec ided t hat a song like ' Beyond the templ e' wa s
simply too outdated for conside ration, yet had produced 'Wasted'
which was a lot closer to th e pop rock sound that th ey wo uld go on
to patent . With its Kiss-like so und, you might even th ink they'd
wri tten it in honour of Geoff Barton's visit . Whatever t he case, Def
Leppa rd were on a roll now, produci ng songs wi t h ease, consta nt ly
28
On the Crest of a New Wave
updating and improving their repertoire so that they would be ready
when the call came from the majors. For come it surely would.
It was the neat synchronicity of the Peebles session and the Sounds
feature that changed the lives of Elliott, Willis, Savage, Clark and Allen
for good . By the end of June, they were the hottest unsigned property
in Britain. Geoff Barton's feature was rhapsodic, so unerringly
favourable that they might have written it themselves. Def Leppard
produce 'high powered heavy rock played to a degree of tightness
usually only achieved after a half dozen gruelling American tours' he
wrote, making it clear that the band had his unequivocal support.
Sounds were about to pin their colours to the mast of a new
musical movement, the fabled 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal',
the NWOBHM. For those on the staff who shared Barton's musical
tastes, this was no hardship for it gave them the opportunity to report
on the music closest to their hearts. More important though was the
editorial stance on the situation. Britain's three weekly music papers
- the NME, Melody Maker and Sounds - were locked into a fairly
restricted market place and the competition for circulation between
the three was fierce, the rivalry intense. By becoming the first paper
to distance itself from punk, Sounds was taking something of a
gamble, hoping that in offering a clear alternative to the two, it might
attract a new readership who had become bored with the tribal
loyalties of punk. If the NWOBHM was going to give Sounds that
edge, it needed a focal point. There were countless new metal bands
doing the rounds at that stage and Def Leppard were not the best
known by any means. Iron Maiden, Samson, the Tygers of Pan Tang
and several others had claims to a wider audience than Leppard. Yet,
as already noted, Leppard were the group that had everything to
offer, notably a potentially commercial sound where groups like
Angelwitch were still turning out music that was solely rooted in the
past. Def Leppard were the chosen band.
It was ironic that they should be selected to head up the
NWOBHM for, even at their inception, they were not really heavy
metal, certainly not by any definition that the music's true adherents
would recognize. They owed far more to Thin Lizzy than they did to
Black Sabbath and their attitude and live performance was purposely
transatlantic, their tentative attempts at a glamourous presentation
29
Def Leppard
clearl y having been influenced by Van Halen and Kiss. Quite simply,
Leppard were in the right place at the right time, their FM sound
appea ling to Bart on and company who wanted to extinguish the
flames of punk rock.
No t that Leppard were averse to kicking punk in the teeth either.
Steve Clark reckoned that it had had its da y: 'Young kids used ro be
into new wave because it was new, but it isn't an y more. Now there' s
as many young kids into heavy metal - probably mor e - as there are
into punk.' Rick Savage agreed with the thrust of that argument ,
inadvertentl y putting a careerist spin on his words that would come
back to haunt them: 'We' re not into punk. We were all heavy rock
fans before we formed this band. I can listen to punk, I thought the
Pistols were br illiant, it's just that we all grew up on heavy rock and
we're anxious to keep it going. If we did play punk rock, we might
disappear without trace because ever ybody' s doing it now.' Th e fear
of disappearing without tr ace made it seem as if Leppard had merely
chosen heavy rock as a vehicle ro get success rather than out of an
abiding respect for the music. It was merely a case of someo ne not
used ro do ing int erviews being unable to say pr ecisely what he
wanted, but it sowed the first seeds of doubt as to Leppard' s motives.
For the moment, that was glossed over as readers were taken aback
by the astoni shing confidence displayed by these youngsters. Joe
Elliott was part icularly keen to put the band' s point of view across,
exaggerating the invinci bility they seemed to possess as a unit wit h a
piece of breathtaking impudence. 'Van Halen came across ridi ng on
top of thi s vast publicity thing. If we had the publicit y, we could do
as well if not bett er than them.' Since Van Halen were being routed
as rock' s great white hope, feted with fawning reviews and had just
enjoyed four million sales of Van Hafen II in the States, with a ten
month world tour to acco mpa ny it, thi s seemed to be taking self-
confidence int o the realms of fantasy but as Joe remarked lat er, ' I
knew Def Leppard wo uld be successful, even though we were rubbi sh
when we first star ted . 1 just knew we had somet hing' .
With the Sounds piece alerting the record indu stry ro Leppard' s
pr owess, by the end of June, with their first Radio 1 session broadcast
amid a buzz of eager antici pat ion, a chorus of record companies was
paying court to the band. Fort unately, wi th thi s medi a success behind
30
On the Crest of a New Wave
them, they were able to play more frequentl y, all owing an assortment
of A&R men to see them in the flesh, to see wh at the y were made of.
Certainl y, Leppard weren't backward in comi ng forward, Savage
memorabl y evoking their on-stage charms: ' We' re just doing what we
want to do. Basically it' s just down to the fact th at we're all fucking
posers. We all want to go out on stage, pose, wear dinky white boots,
tight trouser s and have all the girls looking at our bollocks. That ' s us.
That' s it. We're arroga nt bastards.'
Live sho ws in Sheffield ' s smaller venues we re undeniabl y impres-
sive and the group' s nai ve enthusiasm ca rried them through an y
technical short comings th ey might have had , notabl y the fairl y
rudimentary nature of Joe' s voice, though he argued strenuou sly in
his defence that 'if it' s perfect live, it' s boring' . As a frontman though
he was engaging - essential given that the rest of the band lack ed any
real visual impact, Willi s being especi all y introverted. Even so, there
was a certain panache about the group, Rick Allen remarking that
'we tr y to look good, we try to have some style' . Even if their stage
clothes were misguided to say the least - the chubby Elliott might try
to squeeze his ample frame into some imitat ion leather trousers for
instance - it did at least prove that unlike th e rest of the met al bands
who dre ssed in the regulation jeans and T-sh irt s like their fans did,
Def Leppard might not be averse to an industry image make-over.
That, allied to their youth, certainly suggested th at a powerful record
company might be able to manipul ate the band, pushing th em in
certain industry-friendly directions without too much difficulty. A
final showcase gig at the Porterhouse in Retford clinched things for
Leppard. The band' s desire to succeed wa s palpabl e and if a company
could per suade them that it knew best , it would be so much eas ier
than dealing with the stroppy 'idealist s' that punk had occasionally -
very occasionally - thrown up . Def Leppard, much as they loved their
music and their lifestyle, were hard headed pragmatists. They wanted
success, wanted a career and accepted the fact that they needed to sell
records worldwide. They were clearl y willing to do all that was
necessar y to achieve their goals. In the summer of 1979, th ey looked
like a record company's dream, a st raightforward band that wanted
the big time and were ready for the long haul.
31
4
INTO THE FIRE
By August 1979, Def Leppard co uld have signed with any of half a
dozen major record labels. Finall y, after discussion bet ween
themselves and th e MSB management du o, th ey opted to go with
Phon ogr am, signi ng t o th eir Verti go label , th e home of Thin Lizzy
amo ng ot hers. The final advance sounded ex tremely genero us -
£100,000 for a band with just a few dozen gigs to its name, pla ying
in a style that had supposedly been kill ed off by punk. In t ruth,
Phon ogram were pl aying things cagil y, for th e adva nce act ua lly
worked out at just £20, 000 per annum for five yea rs, in orde r to
cov er the costs of recording - wh at a maj or mi scalculati on th at
turned out to be! Clea rly then, the member s of Def Leppard did not
become rich men ove rn ight and thei r lifest yle barely cha nged.
Wh y wer e Leppard the first of th e new met al bands to get a major
deal ? It is impossible to pretend that th ey we re light yea rs ahead of
the compet it ion for the recorded evide nce suggests littl e t o choose
bet ween ' Cetc ha rocks off' on the one hand and Iron Maiden' s
' Soundhouse tapes' on the ot her, whil e the NWOBHM sa mpler that
followed all t he media ac tivity in ea rly 1980 - ' Met al for muthas' -
indi cates t ha t a number of bands wer e every bit as musi call y
pr oficient as Leppard wer e at the time. Ther e mu st have been more to
Phon ogr am' s decision th an ability alone.
The Sou nds art icle had obviously got th e A&R men interested and
th at was a di stinct advantage, for other NWOBHM art icles had
tended to be based on live sho ws wh er e three or four bands had
32
Into the Fire
played, each consequentl y winning just a fraction of the coverage
accorded Leppard. With Sounds standing foursquare behind them,
Phonogram knew that the band had friend s in the right places ,
making their marketing job that littl e bit easier. Yet Def Leppard
brought with them some baggage that was not to the company's
taste. For instance, though he was a personabl e and hugel y likeable
character, Joe Elliott' s voice was, at this stage, useless. Metal music
does not always require a vocalist with the range of a Paul Rodgers
or a Robert Plant, and some very average singers have survived in the
field, making a very good living in the process. Even so, having a
singer who couldn't hold a note in a very large bucket is not generally
considered to be a good thing. By punk sta nda rds, Elliott was a
positive Pavarotti, but by the standa rds of 1975, when hard rock had
still been ruling the musical roost, he was depressingly inadequate.
To be fair to Joe, it was a failing that he was big enough to
acknowledge later on in the band' s career, though at the time, he and
his band mates defended his vocal style to the hilt as indeed they had
to.
Neither were Def Leppard the most attractive band, especially once
they'd burdened themselves with their ludic rous Top Shop stage garb
and atrocious perms. The bubble headed Elliott mad e Kevin Keegan's
seventies experiments with his own coiffure look distingui shed, Allen
still looked like a kid behind the drums while t he group's youth was
emphasized by the elfin features of Will is. In truth, Leppard were a
band of all the averages compar ed with the great rock bands of a
previous era . They looked like a bunch of average young blokes, their
songwriting offered little that was sur prising and their pla ying was
strictly 'good enough' at thi s stage. The only thing exceptional about
them was their age and their ambition. That was enough.
So the key question once again. Why were Leppard signed up so
quickly? The only logical answer is that they had time on their side,
they had some potential, they were the right band to fill the gaping
hole that existed in the marketplace and, most importantl y, they
wanted it badly enough. Their youth was vitally important to
Phonogram for a number of reasons. Not having had the time to get
to know the band very well, Phonogram' s top bra ss jumped to the
obvious conclusion that any hard-nosed business execut ive would
33
Def Leppard
when confronted with what looked like a group on a school field trip;
we can control them. It was an impression that was strengthened by
their tangible determination to become a major league rock act. If
they're that keen, runs the argument, they'll do anything we tell them.
Their youthful innocence was equally important when one
remembered just why punk had come along in the first place. Bands
had been populated by men approaching middle age, at least in
rock'n'roll terms. Some members of Wishbone Ash wer e over thirty
for heaven' s sake! It all added to the impression of tired old music,
made by tired old men, recycling the same tired old ideas. Punk had
conspired to make heavy rock look geriatric, yesterday' s music. If
you were going to try to sell that to a new generation of kids, you had
to have a new generat ion of heroes. Given that monkey glands could
not give the gift of eternal youth to Led Zeppelin and their ilk, heavy
metal needed a transfusion of new blood. It needed a group of
youngsters who had lived through the punk era and had still chosen
hard rock as their medium to give it a shot in the arm, to reinvigorate
a dying art. As Elliott pointed out with uncanny accuracy, ' t here must
be a new generation of heavy metal fans, people who must be pissed
off with listening to bands that were formed over twelve years ago
like Zeppelin and Black Sabbath ... they want somebody young' . It
would not have been possible to find a more youthful, ent husiastic,
energetic and altogether unsullied bun ch than Def Leppard, so they
became the chose n ones.
Finally, their age, demeanour and pr edi spositi on towards
'glamorizing' their music opened up a whole new market - the female
audience. Hard rock had always been an almost exclusively male
preserve with only Led Ze ppelin and the chest-beating antics of
Robert Plant ent icing girls to their gigs. Joe Elliott remarked that 'I
went to all the roc k gigs at the City Hall from 1976 to 1980, there'd
be 2200 peopl e there, with about thirty or fort y girls' . No ' new man',
Joe offered his considered opinion as to why thi s was: ' Our music's
too masculin e for girls . Th ey tend to crumble und er the pressure.
Girl s don 't buy the records, they only buy Boney M and Bay City
Roll ers singles.' If he didn't want girls at their gigs, the idea of some
kind of crossover was doubtless rather more than a gleam in an
excited market ing man' s eye. If a rock band could sell 300, 000
34
Into t he Fire
albums for ex ample wh ile onl y appea ling to a male audie nce , how
many might they sell if you could get girls interested to o? An y band
able to do th at would instantl y double its potent ial a udie nce. Thi s
inconte st abl e pi ece of accountan cy was to reach its fulfilment with
the arri val of Jon Bon Jovi and his chee kbo nes, bu t Def Leppard wer e
midwives to the idea, th er e at its birth. With such ba by-faced band
member s as Allen and Willi s, Leppa rd's 'cute quo t ient ' was
undeniabl e.
Such pr eoccupati ons at Phon ogram HQ made it very obvious th at
Def Leppard had not been signed mer ely to slog aroun d the Odeon
circuit, relea sing biannual albums th at did very nice ly in t he UK but
meant nothing anywher e else. Phon ogram' s who le marketing
strategy revolved aro und putting Leppard on the world market,
notabl y in the States, the world' s mu sic super ma rket. If you can mak e
it there, you don't need t o make it anywhere (else) to paraphrase Mr
Sinatra.
The band themselves were not ex posed to such revolutio nary
thinking so early in the day. Even at Phonogram, th is may well have
been mere pie in the sky idealism, hopes that might be unrealizable.
But Amer ica wa s very much on th e agenda as far as the record
company was concerned. Elsewhere however , suc h grandiose ideas
had never been considered. For MSB, ther e was a quite different set
of priorities, for they were working to a wholly different rul e book.
Def Leppard as a unit had received a huge boost in the light of
Phonogram' s still-substantial inve stment and t hey we re given the
scope to pack in the day job and concentrate solely on the band and
on songwriting. But it wasn't merel y th ei r efforts that wer e being
rewarded. Martin and Stuart-Brown could afford themselves a pat on
the back for t aking their charges from nowhere to international
recording art ists in the space of eight short mont hs - no mean
achievement. Sadly for MSB though, per sonal relations between them
and the group were beginning to deteriorate. Though both Martin
and Stuart-Brown had some experience of th e peripher y of the music
industry, neither had been involved at th e core befo re, nor had eith er
of them managed a band in the past. MSB was essentially a 'fly by the
seat of your pants' operation, the two evolving their own ground
rules as they progressed, just as Def Leppard were. In truth, it ' s very,
35
Def Leppard
very difficult to criticize MSB, for they did get Leppard the contract
they wa nted and a reasonably favourable deal in the process - they
picked up an indust ry-standard royalty of 10 per cent, perfectly
accepta ble for an unknown group.
Despite Leppard's ' overnight success' and the part MSB had in it,
murmurings of discontent started to sur ro und them. Personality
clashes did not help matters, but others in the group' s ento urage
began to wonder aloud if perhaps Def Leppard didn't need a more
experienced management outfit, and if things could not be run a littl e
more professionall y. Much of the discontent seemed to ori ginat e with
Phonogram who, feeling that the boys in the band might be will ing to
do their bidding, were not keen on having to deal with managers who
had very clear ideas of their own. Impressionable youngsters st ill,
despite their own belief in themselves, Leppard started to take some
of these criticisms to heart .
Things began to go downhill for MSB almost as soon as Def
Leppard had inked the cont ract. Though the y were now signed up to
one of the biggest labe ls in the world, the band were still very much
musical novices, certainly as far as live shows went. Their approach
to their car eer so far had been a softly, softly one , doggedl y pursuing
and then achieving one goa l before moving on to another. For St uart -
Brown, the danger was that now they had a deal, the pace of events
might run away with the band , leaving them crue lly expose d. He
wanted to accompany the Phonogram re-release of ' Getcha rocks off'
with a low-key tour on the ' toi let' circuit, bringing the band face to
face wi th the fans who would make up their hard -core audience. He
was only too well aware that having released such a popul ar single,
having recorded a successful Radio 1 session, and been the sub ject of
ent husiastic coverage in Sounds, Lepp ard were now anoi nted as the
number one band in the NWOBHM fold, and were being greeted
with almos t messianic fervour by the heavy met al hoardes. St uart-
Brown strongly suspec ted, wit h good reason, that when the time
came for Leppard to deliver the goo ds, they would be found wa nti ng.
Th at was wh y a club tour was such a great idea in his view. It ' s far
easier to play a memorable gig in the int imate atmosphere of the
Marquee Club where 250 committed punters are bathed in their own
sweat than in t he cave rno us atmos phere of Hammersmith Odeo n
36
Into the Fire
where you know you'll have your work cut out just to get the crowd
on your side. With the benefit of hindsight, MSB were probably right.
Phonogram, on the other hand, weren't int erested in such nicetie s.
They filled the group' s heads with sto ries of their importance and
popul arity, boosting their coll ect ive ego at every tu rn . Never sho rt of
confidence, pretty soon Def Leppard had every reason to believe they
were unstoppable. They wanted to play to as man y people as they
could as quickl y as they co uld, spreading the gos pel abo ut
themselves. And so it wa s that they found t hemselves playing their
first nati onal tour in Odeon -sized venues as support to America's
Sammy Hagar.
It should be remembered t hat wit h the except ion of the Porter-
house showcase, Leppard had never made any concerted att empt to
venture an y further afield than their own backyard, gigs where they
would be co mforted by the sight of fami liar faces in the small
audiences. Having signed to Phonogram, the idea of a yea r spe nt
slogging away in the clubs and pubs was disheartening, becau se they
already felt they were better than that, the more so because an
enticing alternative was being dangled befor e their eyes by their
friendly record company. Reflecting on these ea rly days lat er, Joe
admitted that ' nobody could tell us an yth ing, we thought we knew it
all' . Such br ashness can be a mighty weapo n, but it can lead to its fair
share of problems.
It was inevitable that their ideas would begin to diverge from those
of MSB, for by the autumn of 1979, they were looking at wholly
different obj ecti ves, Leppard under st andabl y exc ited by Phono-
gram' s global agenda. MSB wer e a littl e too rooted in the past,
gradually unfolding a ma sterplan that had now been superseded,
fail ing to recognize that the British market had shru nk while it was
becoming far easier to br eak int o oversea s territori es. MSB' s
rationale was to make Def Leppard a respected and admired group in
the UK, reasoning that if they had a solid base from which to work,
they could tackle the rest of the world wi t h con fidence. Their wholly
excusable error was to think that such an inexperi enced band would
be hopelessly out of their depth in Ameri ca, that they would have to
'pay their dues' in the UK for a couple of years, get a coupl e of solid
albums under their belt, learn how to be a professional band and step
37
Def Leppard
up the pace gradually. Def Leppard laboured under no such
misapprehension, certain that they were ready for whatever
challenges the rest of the world might throw at them. Remarkably,
almost unbelievably, they were right, but in fairness to MSB, they'd
shown no indication that that would be the case.
MSB were using the pre-punks as a prototype, artists like Thin
Lizzy and Genesi s, who built steadily and surely via gigs in their home
country before taking off to attack markets elsewhere in the world.
In that regard, they had mounted a quite superb campaign, in tandem
with Leppard's own ideas. The 'Getcha rocks off' EP had won
massive exposure given its humble origins, while the way in which
the Peebles session and the Sounds feature coincided was a
masterstroke. Even if it had been a complete accident - and there are
differing opinions on that - it was the kind of good fortune that
establishes reputations. Their ability to keep their eyes fixed firmly on
the ball was amply illustrated again when the group were given
another BBC session, this time with Tommy Vance's Friday Rock
Show, the premier hard rock radio show in the UK. Recorded with
Vance's producer Tony Wilson in the Maida Vale studios on 3
October for broadcast on the 26th of that month, the band ran
through ' Satellite' , 'Rock brigade', 'Wasted' and 'Good morning
freedom', illustrating that they were keen to rehearse, in a studio
environment, those songs that would be cornerstones of their debut
album. Once more, the session was well received by a wide cross-
section of the metal fraternity and added a little more fuel to the fires
of publicity.
As far as the UK was concerned, Def Leppard really were the new
Messiahs, returning to lead metal into a new golden age. Reviews in
Sounds were uniformly jubilant, those BBC sessions were among the
most requested for repeat broadcast and on the back of all that,
' Getcha rocks off' continued to sell, eventually shifting around
30,000 copies aft er Vertigo re-released it in September. Def Leppard
were Britain' s favourite rock band. MSB had achieved all of their
major objectives in the first phase of their overall strategy. It was all
they were given the chance to do. Unhappy with the Hagar tour, they
were distraught when the band were booked on to AC/DC' s tour as
special guests, playing at such atmosphere-free zones as Stafford's
38
Into t he Fire
Bingley Hal l. MSB mad e it clea r th at t hey felt t his wa s a mistake
when to t he band, it was th e fulfilme nt of everyt hing t hey' d been
working for. The writing was already on t he wa ll, a fact th at was
merely underlined when th e band met up with Pete r Mensc h who
worked for AClDC's management and was looking for a ba nd of his
own - Leppa rd's presti gious guest slot on t he tou r had co me abo ut
largely at his insti gati on. The seeds of a new busi ness relat ions hip
were sown th er e and th en , th ough t hey did not co me to fr uition until
a little lat er in th e band' s career.
In the meantime, th ey' d re leased their first pukka Vertigo single,
the Kiss-st yle stomp o f 'Wasted', produced by Nick Ta uber,
highlighting th e co mme rcial po tentia l of t he line-up. Ta uber's
production skills seemed suited t o t he ban d t hanks to his st ro ng pop
sensibilit y - some t hing that he demonstrated late r wit h Marillion -
but he was not thought to possess th e right hard rock cre de nt ials to
handle th e album, for it was vita l th at Leppard did no t shy away from
the NWOBHM bandwagon at thi s ea rly juncture. At th e end of th e
decade, th eir best hope for success see med t o be beneath t he umbrell a
of har d rock.
As a co nse que nce, Tom Allo m was called in to produce, sessions
taking place in Ascot's Sta rtl ing St udios t hrough the first part of
December 1979, th eir basic work completed in a mere eighteen days.
Allom had alrea dy earned respect, wit h Joe particularl y happy wi t h
his work on Judas Pri est ' s 'Unleashed in the East' , citi ng thi s as th e
clinching reason for Allorri's select ion.
Look ing back at rock records fro m th e late sevent ies and ea rly
eighti es is a diffi cult bu siness, not least because of t he fact th at groups
like Def Leppard revoluti oni zed t he wa y cont empo ra ry records
sound. Many of th e co nsi dera ble sho rtcomi ngs of 'On Thro ugh th e
Night ' ca n be put down to its at rocious sonic qua lity, which gives the
music all th e impact of a damp sock attacki ng a rice pudding. Perhaps
Allom wa s at fault in so me respects - hi s attempts at making ' Cerelia
rocks off' whi ch seem to have been recorded live, and live in Ame rica
at that, wer e incredibl y ama teurish and tota lly inexcusa ble. The rea l
probl em, th ough, came in trying to make a record in t hose da ys,
where th e st udio environment wa s ca ught at a turning point, a
halfwa y house th at did no-one any favours. Recording had moved on
39
Def Leppard
from the naive charm and simplicity of the 1960s. Basic technical
innovat ions had robbed record makers of the need to use their
ingenuity in th e way that George Martin and th e Beatles had at
Abbey Road. By 1979 yo u could get the effects that they'd worked on
for days in a matter of minutes as recording desks had moved on from
four and eight-t rack to a more customary sixtee n or twenty-four
track facilit y. In t ha t sense, many musicians and producer s had lost
th eir ex ploratory verve, now th ey were no longe r relying on
technol ogy th at wa sn't up to the job. Of course, in th e mid-eighties,
Def Leppard demonst rated jus t how far things had moved on when
th ey gra bbed hold of 1980s technology and bent it to th eir will,
making records t hat were dramaticall y different to anyt hing th at rock
had heard before, at least in terms of th e texture of th e sound. Stuck
in Sta rtl ing Studios in 1979, they may have belie ved that the
equipme nt th er e wa s state of th e art, but sadly, th at art was in a st ate
and th e record lost out according ly.
You can' t blame all its deficiencies on th e producti on facilit ies
however, for Dcf Leppa rd wer e a long wa y from being the new
mu sical genii tha t t he pub lic had been told to ex pec t. Any a lbum that
opened wit h a so ng as moronic as ' Rock brigade' was in serious
tr ouble from t he outse t. Ir was nice and bright, filled wit h ent husi ast ic
vigour , but that was its only charm, for it was adolesce nt rub bish, a
fl ush of excitement that they were in a band th at was out on th e road.
Clearly t hey fanci ed it as t hei r signatu re, Def Leppard, t he ' Rock
brigad e' , coming to your town soon - th e th eme t une fro m ' The
Monkees' but wit ho ut a ny of the mu sica l accompl ishment or to ng ue-
in-ch eek humou r.
all through the night cont inued in similarly lacklustre vei n, with
the lyr ical disasters coming thi ck and fas t. [f ' Wasted' was musically
co mpetent, th e so und of t he yo ung Elliott bo asting of downing
bo ttles of whisk y wa s bizarre in t he ex t reme . The same was equally
tr ue of ' It co uld be you', Elliott's attempt to our-G illan [an Gillan,
rega ling his audi ence with tal es of groupies. Where Cillan did it with
pan ache, a wink and a smile, letting th e crowd in on t he joke, Elliott 's
de livery wa s ri ven with cl iche, as if he genuine ly bel ieved all thi s
rubbi sh, an d wh en that was added to a stu mbling, echoey chorus,
you had a th oro ugh mess. ' Satellite' was inconse quent ial, t he kind of
40
Int o the Fire
wild axe blow-out that any half-decent rock band with a Judas Priest
or AC/DC album in their collection could have knocked off in half an
hour.
' Answer to the master' offered the band the cha nce to introduce
some more interesting time changes that were similar to those
employed by Rush, while 'Sorrow is a woman' , Leppard' s attempt at
showcasing a ' sensit ive' side, ushered in by some aco ustic playing,
flopped woefully. Boast ing the abysma l squelchy drum sound that
ruined most records at the time, a sound that persisted until Phil
Collins and Peter Gabriel almos t reinvent ed drumming for Gabriel' s
third solo LP, its heavy-handed atmos pherics were unconvincing in
the extreme, as Elliott' s voice veered towards Ozzy Os bourne, totally
unsuited to a track of that kind.
'When the wall s came tumbling down' was the absolute nadir,
dabbling in the hackneyed visions of Ar mage ddon that Sabbath had
been dealing in for years, adding nothing new or interesti ng to the
genre, its ludicrous spoken introduct ion and Joe' s unnatural
American accent compounded the ori ginal sin of its compos ition.
That leaves the few saving graces of a record which wa llowed in
the outdated excesses of hard rock. ' It don 't matte r' was illuminated
by a bluesier , more reflecti ve guitar figure than had been used
elsewhere, and if the lyrics remained unexcept ional , inst rumenta lly it
was perhaps the most interest ing piece on the album. Ironi cally, it
vied for that distinction with a song called ' He llo America', a track
that was to cause them more heartache than anything else they would
record. Opening in an almos t Queen-like fashion, it was distinctly
unmetallic in tone, even using synt hesizers, anathema still to most
rock bands in 1979. Queen themselves had only just sta rted to
embrace them, despite having defiantl y noted that there were 'no
synthesizers' on their early recordings. If only because it was
something unexpected, ' He llo America' stood out, whil e Elliott gave
his best vocal performance with a decent take on Robert Plant's
phrasing.
Like pretty well ever ything else on On through the night, the song
suffered through the lack of attent ion that had been paid to the lyrics,
lyrics which gave a stereotypical view of the United States, all
freedom, Greyhound buses and wild times in San Francisco. Mindless
41
Def Leppard
fun, inconsequential and a bit of a laugh you might think. Joe Elliott
certainl y thought so, explaining that 'it was just a song about
wanting t o visit America and see all the places you see on film. I used
to work on a treadmill, making knives and forks; it doesn't cross ove
into a lyric. There' s nothing in Sheffield to write songs about. You
can't wri te " This is steel cit y" and mean it. It 'd come across like a
bloody heavy met al Hovis ad!'
That was fair comment to a degree but punk had shown that you
could be socially conscious and still be lyrically engaging or eni gmatic
acc ording t o ta st e. Willi s did not agree, arguing th at ' ever ybody' s gOI
problems. If you want to go to a concert and hear abo ut " life on the
dol e" then that' s up to you, but it were never my idea of a show' . It
is of course a matter of personal opinion as to whether or not groups
should become politicized, and there are strong arguments from
either side of the fence. In early 1980, with musically inspire d
movements such as Rock Against Racism in full swing, singing abou
those old t opics of wine, women and song seemed almost di stasteful
t o some and Def Leppard were immediately picked out by th e right-
on, politicall y correct press as vacuous airheads, the sort of band that
punk sho uld ha ve exterminated.
Leppard had little reason to worry about such matter s though, foe
they had clearly found their constituency. Sounds' Chr ist mas issue
included th e annual opportunity to vote in th e paper' s poll, if.
ca tegories such as best band, best singer, best new band and so on
When the res ults wer e finally published in March, Def Leppard'i
success co uld not ha ve been anticipated. They won the Best New
Band ca tegory wi t h some ease , a pleasing performance, if not entirelj
unexpect ed. Wha t was astonishing was that th ey ca rr ied off the prize
for Best Single too with the 'Getc ha rocks off' EP. The poll may no!
have been th e most scient ifically compiled sa mple in the world, but it
certainly poi nted to a band in the ascendant. With ' On Thr ough th:
Night' set to come out just a few weeks later, th e ome ns could nc
have been better. Except . ..
42
5
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM
OUR FRIENDS
The Sounds poll victory should have been the cause of much
celebration in the Def Leppard camp, final vindication for the two
years of hard labour the y'd put in since Steve Clark had joined.
Unfortunately, there was a two month time lag between voting taking
place and the results being announced, and if a week is a long time in
politics, two months in as fickle a business as roc k' n' roll is a verita ble
eternity. Votes had been cast when Leppard were at the pinnacle of
British acceptance. The results came when the wheels had fallen off
the intergalactic juggernaut that (dis)graced the sleeve of their debut
album.
What the media gives, the media can also take away. If Sounds had
been instrumental in getting the band a contract, in promoting them
across the country and in turning them int o the most hotly tipped
newband since the Clash, it was equally pivot al when the walls came
tumbling down around them. Stupidly enough, their demise was
started by the release of a singl e which achieved their first Top Fifty
chart placing. 'Hello America' heralded a rema rkable reverse in
fortunes.
The whole sorry affair was symptomatic of a greater mal aise at the
heart of the Leppard machine. As we' ve alr eady seen, MSB' s da ys
with the band were coming to a close. The rights and wrongs of the
situation are complex, there's no obvious object ive viewpoint. What
it boiled down to in the end wa s that Leppard's inexhaustible
demands and overriding ambition would, they felt , be better served
43
Def Leppard
by new management. There has to be considerable sympathy for
MSB, having taken their charges to the brink of stardom, but Def
Leppard are a strikingly unsentimental band. Feeling that MSB had
outlived the ir usefulness, the y had no compunction in getting rid of
them, particularl y once Mensch had entered the picture. Joe admitted
that ' it was when we were supporting ACIDC that Pet er Mensch
made it obvious to us that he want ed to manage the band. We
rea lized our old management were out of their depth' .
Ironically, though Me nsch and his partner Cliff Burnstein, an
A&R man at Mercury Records in New York, were keen to represent
Def Leppard, they fought shy at first , disturbed by the eth ical
que stion that sur rounds poaching another manager ' s art ists. An
illustrat ion of Leppard's desperat ion to get the two savvy Americans
on their case came when Rick Allen per suaded Mensch to listen in on
one of MSB's meeti ngs with the group. Holding a glass to the wall,
Mensch was allegedly shocked by the lack of organization or any
coherent plan shown by MSB. This apparently helped Mensch
overcome any feelings of guilt that he might have had, and very soon
after, Def Leppard were being managed by him and Cliff Burnstein.
It was an ideal ma tch in many ways, for band and ma nagement
sha red the same ob jectives. Joe Elliott remarked that 'we've always
wa nted to be somethi ng that we probably never will be and that ' s a
legend. There are certain bands t hat peopl e, wheth er they like them
or hat e them, have a certa in respect for. Bands like Led Zeppelin.
Ze ppelin are the bl ueprint'. Peter Mensch was in tota l agreeme nt,
saying 'the bottom line was always to be the next Led Zeppelin or
Queen, something with longevity'.
No-one could suggest that Burnstei n and Mensch were lacki ng in
originality, in ambition, or in ideas or the future. However, their
experience was almost entirely Statesi de and they had little
apprecia tion of the UK scene nor gra sp of the many nuances that can
make or break a band in this most credi bility conscious of markets.
People in Britain ar e generally slow to wa rm to naked ambition,
prefer art ists who remain close to their roots and behave with a
degree of humility. Na tural modesty was never one of Leppard's
strong suits, their utter confidence in themselves often striking a
jarring note in conversation. To profess that what they reall y wan ted
44
With a Lit tle Hel p From Our Friends
was to be successful , rich and famous was simply t oo vulgar, not t he
way we do t hings here at all, th e more so in t hose immedi ate post-
punk days. When Joe argued th at 'no ma tter how much a new wave
band says "We' re only like th e kid s" , t hey' d be mi lliona ires if they
could', it wa s akin to her esy, even t hough there wa s more than a grain
of truth in it. Such ambition raised hackles as we ll as susp icions.
Though they had finall y played smaller venues in ea rly 1980, the
ease wi t h wh ich they' d hopped on to tours by Hagar and AC/DC
upset ma ny and ther e were plenty of seasoned rock observers who
would have been onl y too happy to see Def Leppa rd fail, for they
were viewed as cocky upst arts, only in it for the mon ey and wi t h no
real ties to the metal movement. Such statements by Elliott were grist
to their mill as was the deci sion t o repl ace MSB wit h Mensch . If this
didn't mak e their gr eed appa ren t to all, wha t would? More
importantl y, it wa s a ver y clear signa l th at the ba nd saw their future
across the Atl ant ic rather th an at home and th at th ey would do
anything, no matter how demeaning, to be successful ther e. Given
that virt ua lly anything that succeeded in America was almost
instantl y di smissed as trash and bereft of an y meri t over her e, such a
move wa s not going to win them many frie nd s. At t he start of
Februar y 1980, such sent ime nts were barely kept under control by
the commi tment the band put into t hei r stage shows whic h, along
with their general good humour, tended to win over th e doubters.
On 21 Febr uary, the roof fell in. In a mo ve which bet rayed an
amazing lack of judgement, they release d 'Hello America' as a single
in a blaze of publicity. The song was pleasant eno ugh, if no t really
indicat ive of the ma terial on On through the night, but it was the
lyrical subject matter th at mad e waves. The song was di scussed in the
previous chapter, a travelogue through the most redo lent place names
in America. Nor mally it would mean littl e to anyone, but at a t ime
when the gossipmongers were suggest ing tha t Leppard were about to
jump ship an d run off to America, it was a sta rtli ngly insens itive
choice. Since 'Hello America' wa s also removed from typical hard
rock sounds, it was used as evi dence that Def Leppard were wi mping
out in order to win American FM radio acceptance. To t he mu sic
press, who t ry to set themsel ves up as the jirniny Cricket of the
recording ind ust ry, the consc ience th at gui des bands away fro m t he
45
Def Leppard
dangers represented by the major labels, accepting decisions foisted
upon you is a heinous crime, evidence of a complete lack of principles.
Clearly Mick Middles in Sounds thought that to be the case. In a
review that changed the course of Leppard's career in Britain, he
wrote 'if Def Leppard hadn't been thrown into the wack y whirlpool :
of showbiz heavy metal they would still be making nai ve but hard-
edged youthful rock songs. They once had the power to penetr ate but
unfortunately their complete trust in the business has rendered them
useless'. Erstwhile supporter Geoff Barton followed the same tack the
following week when the band had their first Sounds front cover to
celebrate scooping the reader's poll, suggesting that the Def Leppard
he had known and loved were no more. Since Sounds was the bible
of NWOBHM followers, such devastating critiques inflicted mortal
blows on the group's standing in the UK.
If the management had not seen the potential damage that might
accrue, Elliott had, but all too late. Responding to accusati ons that
Def Leppard were mere puppets in the hands of the record company,
he was forthcoming, if unconvincing.
'We wanted "Rock Brigade" to be the single and when it turned
out to be "Hello America", we were a little annoyed but we
thought "well, okay, maybe Phonogram know best, maybe it's
an equally commercial song". What really did get us uptight
were the adverts in the music press. They didn't state that the B-
side, "Good Morning Freedom", isn't going to be on the album
and, worst of all, they didn't make it clear that it's are-recorded
version of " Hello America", that it's not the same as the song
Nick Tauber produced for the flip of "Wasted" . But we don 't
reall y want to fall out with the record company. Right now, our
priority is to be as successful as everybody else on Verti go like
Dire Straits, Thin Lizzy and Status Quo and if we starr gett ing
awkward . . .'
That of course merely compounded the felony in most eyes. The band
hadn't agreed with the decision, but they let it go without a fuss
because they didn't want to upset anybody. The constant get-our
clause in Def Leppard interviews was this determinati on not to
46
With a Little Help From Our Friends
offend in case it pr evented them shifti ng units. Per ha ps pr ess, public
and bands alike are all a little more relaxed abo ut the sit uation now,
but sixteen years ago you were sup posed to fight wi t h your label, not
snuggle up to them. Thi s total lack of revo lutionary zeal and
rebellious intent further disenchanted sections of the audience who
saw rock' ri' roll as a lifest yle aside from compromise. Joe Elliott was
merely speaking the truth of cou rse, poi nt ing out to the fans that all
bands need a good relati on ship wi t h their record label, for ult imately
it is in the company' s hands as to whether or not a band can break
through . If they choose not to push an album, not to market or
advertise it appropri at ely, if they choose simply to sit on a record, it
will not sell. Offending those who hold your livelihood in their hands
is not sensible business practice and Leppard were already sound
businessmen.
The real problem lay in the fact that Def Leppard did not
understand the distinction between remaining 'normal blokes' and
the impact of giving in to the compan y, a poi nt Elliott inadvertently
made obvious in speaking to Sounds. ' We're no differ ent now we' ve
got a contract. We're not on great ego tr ips and six buckets of heroin
a day. We have people backstage to meet us - we wer e an hour and
a half lat e going home last night becau se of the kid s in the dressing
room. We're still fans ourselves.' Laudable att it ude though that was,
it did not tackle the central problem. When Def Leppard were a
bunch of lads rehearsing in Sheffield and pl aying the working men' s
clubs to subsidize their mu sical habit, they were free to do as they
chose, an appealing image for rock fans. Now they were at the very
heart of t he machine, sacrificing that freedom, givi ng in to record
company demands, all in the search for fame and fort une. Joe and the
band honestly didn't see what all the fuss was about, they were
merely systematically appro aching their goals, making the compro-
mises that they knew would have to be made. Their error, if error it
was, was to own up to those compromises and become sullied by
commerce in the process. Even if it ' s plainl y untrue, fans like bands
to operate within their own littl e world wher e such everyday
considerations cannot impinge on their dr eams. It' s ironic that
Leppard should have failed to grasp the need to build th is esca pist
image when their songs were based wholly on mindless escap ism.
47
Def Leppard
The ' Hello America' debacle effectively finished Def Leppard in
Britain until 'Hysteria' provided a welcome opportunity for
reassessment and, complain as they might, there wa s little the band
co uld do to change things. Joe tried to point out th at ' people in
England used to like " Hello America". We on ly had a negative
reaction after they read th e reviews, which is a shame. People should
make their own mind s up , not be told what to th ink'. Good advice,
but to no avail. When On Through the Night was unveiled a few
weeks lat er, th e tide had turned against th em, th ough of course
matters wer en't helped when people act uall y heard just how poor a
record it was compa red with th e advance press that had pr omi sed a
tour de force.
People were now confused by Def Leppard, uns ure what to think
of them, a confusion that ext ended to the press. Geoff Barton's
revi ew of the album dwelt largely on the negati ve side of things: ' A
tin y tr awler beneath a tidal wave, so swamped by the " business" .. ,
Producer "Colonel" Tom Allom ha s given th e ba nd such a smooth,
sanitised so und.' It all seemed to spell doom for the band , yet Barton
still gave t he album four out of five, and rounded off by say ing
' neve rt heless, a pretty good album. Their bigges t ta lent is their
songwriting - catchy tunes abound.' Small wo nder that the
NWOBHM fans didn't know what to make of Leppard eit her.
Probabl y t he fina l nail in the co ffin ca me just a co uple of weeks later
wh en Iro n Maiden's epo nymous debut album was released to huge
acclaim. Maiden produced the kind of record that meta l fans had
been starved of for yea rs - co ncise, aggressive, tight, no frills roc k at
ear-splitting volume. In contrast, On Through the Night looked
flabby, overblown and totall y lacking in impact. Th e cha rt placings
told the story. On Through the Night reach ed nu mber fi fteen, Iron
Maiden number four. Def Leppard were no longer at t he top of the
NWOBHM heap and t he inevi ta ble backlash was long, protracted
and pain ful.
They had booked an extensive UK tour to coi ncide with On
Through the Night, playing city halls (includi ng Shef field) and
Odeon -sized venues all ove r th e country, supported by the up- arid-
coming Magnum. Ian Ravensdale caught them for Sounds in
Newcastl e an d his review was particularl y perceptive: ' Even heavy
48
With a Little Help From Our Friends
metal fans must ha ve inhibition s about lett ing it all rip when th e kid
playing the guitar looks as though he co uld still get half fare on the
bus ... they lack real identity and it could have been too much too
soon.' Elliott wa s predictably upset by th is blatant ageism, ranting
'young? I'm twenty-two for Chrissakes and what do es it matter
anyway? All thi s st uff about age is ridiculous. I suppose it was
surprising wh en we starte d but time will take care of that' .
Nevertheless, it was becomi ng impossible to take Def Leppa rd
seriously, they we re sta rti ng to look like some sort of ma nufact ured
teenybopper band aimed di rectl y at a hea vy metal aud ience. Since
such fans consider th emselves to be outs ide t he mu sica l ma instream
and beyond th e manipul ati ve clutches of th e musi c business, any hint
of art ifice is rarely tolerated. Things simply began to get worse and
worse for them, with audiences po lite ra t her than warm in th eir
response to the band' s effor ts, the hard rock lyrics sounding
especi ally crass when coming fro m such an innocent- looking band.
Of course, Def Leppard had been co urte d so strenuo usly by Pet er
Mensch because he saw the internation al appeal of t heir music - for
'internati onal ' , read ' Amer ican'. As the Def Leppard controversy
raged on in th e letter s pages of Sounds, Mensch did wha t he reall y
wanted to do wit h th e band. Getting them ou t of the UK and off to
the States, he used his contacts to organize support slots wit h Ted
Nugent , the Scorpi on s and AC/DC. Eac h of these tours, often in
enormous arenas, was tremendously successful, enabling the band to
play to huge audie nces in a short space of time, creating impressive
word of mouth recommendati on s for t hem . They were equa lly
popular on radi o, wh ere ' Hello America ' was, uns ur prisingly, in
great demand. On th e back of all thi s activity, On Thro ugh the Night
reached a very respectable number 51 on th e Billboard cha rts,
confirming th at they had mad e sizea ble and lucrative inroads into the
market that mattered most.
Their assa ult on the Stat es was almost unp recede nted. No Brit ish
metal band had ever had such a single-minded approach to
establishing itse lf in America before it had done so at home. Per haps
in their collective mind, th ey we re merely dista nci ng themselves from
Britain while t he storm blew itself out, hoping it would be a nin e-day
wonder and th at t hey could return in t riumph later in the year.
49
Def Leppard
Perhaps that's so, but it's more reasonable to suggest that they had
always planned this American sojourn for the summer, a time when
gigs are few and far between in Britain anyway.
Some have suggested that Def Leppard took to America because
they had nowhere else to turn when things were going so badly wrong
at home, going on to argue that their virtual migration to the States
was simply the fortunate result of circumstances beyond their
control. Such comments are foolish. They had already hooked up
with Mensch in the winter of 1979 and there can be little doubt that
he and the band had long discussions as to how they would work the
debut album, getting a foothold in certain markets around the globe.
As an American, Mensch's views would not have been clouded by
sentimental visions of success in the UK, a spot on Top of the Pops
and a mention in the Daily Mirror. To Mensch, the UK was merely
another marketplace, and a pretty insignificant one at that. For a
band to earn the longevity that he was looking for, they had to be big
in America, for that was the only way they could earn enough cash to
keep on going. A recording, touring band is an expensive operation
to maintain and it's dollars that keep the wheels turning. It may be an
unpleasant fact, but fact it is. If Def Leppard wanted to see in the
1990s, they had to make it big in America. Though it would have
been nice to have gone down well in the UK, ultimately it didn't really
count for much, an attitude that the band took on board very quickly.
That's not to say that they always admitted to it. Joe Elliott was
often extremely angry when interviewers accused him of deserting his
home for America and a fat pay cheque. 'Selling out to America? That
pisses me off because it' s so ridiculous. We're not the first English
rock band that went to the States and we won't be the last ...
America 's a big market and it would be senseless to ignore it. We're
out to make Def Leppard a successful band and that mean s going to
the States. We did pretty well there too, I think we won quite a few
people over. But God, we were only there a couple of months. It's not
as if we went to live there.'
Just how badly Def Leppard's perceived defection had gone down
was brought home to them at the Reading Festival on August Bank
Holiday weekend, 1980. Leppard played on the final day, just before
headliners Whitesnake were due to go on. Their absence had not
50
Wit h a Little He lp From Our Friend s
made the crowd' s heart grow any fonder and they were met with a
fusill ade of cans and plast ic bot tles filled wi t h recycled waste
material. Joe' s memory of the show wa s, not sur prisingly, a vivid
one.'There was just too much hard rock that weekend, there wa s no
sort of con trast. We were on e of the last bands on the bi ll and I
reckon anyone, even the most devoted fan of that kind of music
would get a bit fed up of it after three da ys. Probabl y the worst thing
of all for us was having to follow Slade. They were great. They put
on an amazing show and went down a sto rm, played the hit s. It was
a classic case of "follow that". We did our best but it didn't seem to
go too well . . . I got a half tin of Tartan lager in my bollocks.'
Unfortunat ely, wha tever rationale the band tried to hide behind, t he
facts were stark. The paunchy Elliot and his comrades were now
public enemy number one among the metal fraternity, treated as
wimped out, sold out fakes. They were no longer welcome on Brit ish
territory.
So they did what anyo ne sensi ble would do in the circumsta nces .
They went off in search of an audience that did want them. It wasn' t
hard to find because t hey alrea dy knew where to look.
51
6
WAITING FOR THE MAN
The American debate is one that still rages when the conversation
tu rns to Def Leppard. Was it mere chance that took them to America
or was it their goal right from the off? Would they have inevita bly
appealed to an American audience in the fulln ess of time or was it
Peter Mensch's knowledge of the market that helped stee r their music
in the right direct ion? Essentially, are Def Leppa rd a bona fide band
of musicians or are they merel y a gro up of cha ncers out to make the
best and mos t success ful career mo ves that they co uld?
The definitive answe r lies in-between all th ose sta tements. More
than any other NWOBHM band, perhaps more th an virt ua lly any
ot her band in t he hist ory of Briti sh rock mu sic, Def Leppard had a
burning des ire to ma ke it big in the States. From their point of view,
that was mere pragmatism, for they knew they had to make a living
ou t of the music in order to surv ive. Yet Mensch's part in all of this
is especiall y important. Alt ho ugh the songs on On through the night
were removed from th ose of the likes of Saxon or Iron Maid en, there
was very little that was star-spa ngled about the album. Leppard were
still clearly dabbling in an age-old British hard rock tr adition, in a
fairl y uninspired ma nner at that. Beneath the surface, it wa s clear that
t here were popular songwriting inst incts at wo rk, but that was a long
way beneath.
By t he t ime the heavy met al lynch mob got their hands on them at
Read ing, Def Leppa rd were alrea dy mutating int o a very different
sort of rock group, hence their poor reception. Go ne were so man y of
52
Waiting for the Man
the rough edges that Tom Allom had left on their album, to be
replaced by a smooth confidence, a cleaner, brighter sound that
lacked the grit and the grime that characterized Briti sh metal. In
August 1980, Def Leppard were already sta rting to peddle a
prototype brand of what became deri sively known as 'metal lite' .
Once again, musical cultures successfully blur red geographic
boundaries and it was a band from Sheffield that was the instigator
of one of America's most successful music for ms, a style that
dominated the late 1980s.
Commercially savvy, Leppard remained naive and were completely
unaware of the storm the y would cause just by ap peari ng at Reading.
Perhaps the y were too close to the music to take an object ive look at
things, but it was clear to all and sundry that they were going through
a rapid evolution, heading towards an end product that British fans
were unwilling to accept. To argue that it was Mensch and Burnstein
who guided them in this direction is putting it too strongly. What is
not in question is the fact that it was they who wanted to expose
Leppard to America for months at a time, drummed into them the
value of that marketplace and required them to tour extensively
there. Exposed to American cult ure on such a scale, the band couldn't
help but soak it up. Joe wa s especially taken wi th FM radio, a force
that was utterly reviled in the UK as the home for sanitized tosh such
as Saga, Journey and Boston. Joe disagr eed. 'FM radio is rock radio!
It' s fucking brilliant!' To hear such gushing pr aise about the
perceived enemy could only drive further nails into Leppard's coffin
at home. Within a year, the y had gone from being the great white
hope to utt er pa riahs.
From here, it was Leppard' s extre me reserves of wi llpower and
determination, coupled with some northern bloody-mindedness, that
kept them going. Instead of tr ying to win back lost favour in the UK,
they simply decided to ignore the media and con tinue on their chosen
path. In truth, this was the turning point in their career for it meant
they no longer had to pander to any stereo types or prejudices at
home, but cou ld simply focu s totally on the job in hand, cracking
America.
At thi s stage, the Leppard organization began to shift its sta nce.
Press comments had always been along the lines of ' heavy metal is
53
Def Leppard
what we love the most, we want to follow in the footsteps of Deep
Purple and Led Zeppelin'. Now, although the term heavy metal was
not exactly prohibited, it was a phrase to be used only with the
greatest cauti on. Having ridden to fame on the coa t-tails of the
NWOBHM, for which Lepp ard had been very grateful at the time,
Joe was now loo king to put plenty of di stance between his band and
the rest. ' I always laugh when people accuse us of deserting the
cause. Of what? What flag? Bollocks! We're nothing to do with any
of you. We're nowr to do with the NWOBHM. We were always
mor e impressed wi th the Roll ing Stones than we were with Judas
Priest .'
Thi s is total fabrica tion, a reinvent ion to repositi on them in the
commerci al mai nstrea m, crucial as far as an American audience was
concerned, for Mensch was planning to invest very heavily in the
band' s second record. If the y were comparatively unimpressed with
Priest , why did they choose Tom Allom to produce On through the
night, his selection the result of an intimate knowledge of Judas
Priest ' s Unleashed in the east album? The truth of the matter is that
Def Lepp ard were defiantly heavy metal but were now changing their
tune as their own tunes changed.
Th e crux of t he matter is wh y did the tunes change? It' s impossible
to tell now whether, if Leppa rd had not been subjected to the reverses
they suffered in England, they might have conti nued in a more
traditional heavy metal vein or whether their musical approac h
wo uld have cha nged as it did . Given the ambitious nature of the
band, it ' s likely that Read ing merely accelera ted their drift in an
American dir ect ion rather t han origina ted it; MSB were not really
replaced because they cou ldn 't hack it in England. It was beca use they
lacked the contacts to open up wo rld markets. With their new
ma nagement, new horizons had ope ned up and that was what they
had always wanted.
Def Leppard have taken a great deal of flak for thi s over the years,
but they reall y deser ve a lot of credi t for cha ngi ng t he way British
groups look ed at the wo rld. Ordinarily, a band wo uld never wa nt to
venture across the Atlantic until they were hugely successful at home
for fear that they wo uld be swa llowed up by that vast conti nent and
have to retu rn home with their tail s between their legs. Leppard had
54
Waiting for the Man
no such inferiority complex and felt that if you believed in what you
could do and had confidence in your selves and in your music, you
could succeed anywhere. Mensch had a viable business plan using
FM radio to infiltrate the market while he was also keen on the
burgeoning field of the promo video. If video took off - thi s was
several years before MTV arrived on the scene - you could appear all
over the world without leaving home. They all felt that it would
become incredibly important in promoting any band, knew that it
would enable you to break int o markets much mor e eas ily, and
planned accordingly.
Without the right music though, roc k bands cannot sur vive for
long. Elliot t' s suggestion that the band were closer to the Stones than
Judas Priest was substantially true. In effect, Leppard had lived their
career in reverse, for if any part of their wo rk had been based on
compromise or could be construed as a sell out, it was the months
leading up to getting their deal with Phonogram. They liked Deep
Purple and Led Zeppelin it's true, but there was an equal, probably
stronger love for Marc Bolan, Queen, Da vid Bowi e, Mott the Hoople
and the late, lamented Mick Ronson - in Melody Maker' s 'Rebellious
Jukebox' , a kind of Desert Island Discs, Joe picked 'All the young
dudes' , 'Get it on,' Hunter' s 'Once bitten twi ce shy', ' Roc k' n' roll part
two' , Ronson' s ' Angel number nine' , 'John I'm only dancing', ' Won' t
get fooled again' and 'Sympathy for the devil' among his twel ve
choices, the onl y 'obvious' selection being Zeppelin' s ' Kas hmir', far
too compl ex and atmospheric a song to be so lightl y dismissed as
mere meta l. Def Leppard as a unit loved classic pop/rock songs, but
back in 1978, it was not wi se to procl aim that too loudl y, Joe
remarking that ' it seems to me that mel od y has become a foul word
in England' . Songwriting was their strength and that had been
compromi sed in the drive to earn heav y metal credentials. There was
nothing necessarily wrong in that for the Police pretended to be punks
to gain recognition and Elvis Costello had done the same with regard
to the new wave. When you're tr ying to get a break, there are no rul es,
no principles. Once Def Leppard got the publicity they needed, they
could get the deal they deserved and start to make the music they
wanted to make. Def Leppard's career reall y began in Sept ember
1980 once the doors of the UK had closed tightl y shut behind them;
55
Def Leppard
the harsh facts of British life were starkly illustrated in December
1980 when they tried to playa few club dates prior to recording to
rehearse new material. So badly did the tickets sell, that even some of
these gigs, where they'd hoped to play to a couple of hundred fans,
had to be cancelled. Goodbye Britain, hello America .. .
Def Leppard being Def Leppard, things did not go smoothly even
then. It was now clear that America would become their adopted
musi cal home for some time, but they had to accept that things
would wo rk differentl y there, that the music pr ess carried far less
weight than it did in the UK. Getting on to FM radio was the obvious
goa l for that was the best way to spread the word about the band
from the east coast to the west. Where live performanc e had
previously been of the greatest importance to them, they realized
that they would have to take greater care in the st udio. Thi s caused
a degree of est ra ngement between Pete Willi s and the rest for as he
pointed out in Sounds, ' I like the whole thing about roc k bands ,
generally having a goo d laugh'. Spending months in a dingy
recording environment is not the best wa y to getcha roc ks off and
it' s fair to say that Wi llis pro ba bly viewed the pr ospect wi th less
enthusias m than the rest.
Accordi ng to the rest of the group, his per sonality had been the
most affected by thei r limited success. Oddly, though Elliott was the
accepted frontman, the man who had to strike up a rapport with the
audience, do t he interviews and generally represent the group, it was
Pete who was under the most pr essure. A more reserved cha racter by
nature, early gigs had reputedly seen him playing guita r fro m the
back of the stage, or even from the wi ngs. The onset of fame and the
adulation of the fans meant that he had to come to terms wi th being
a public figure very quickl y. Of the five in the band, he was the least
concerned with achieving worl dwide fame and so the less agreeable
aspects of the job inevitably wo re him down mor e than they did the
others; the gregari ous Elliott, for exa mple, was in his element
meeting, and charming, new people all the time.
Pete had an additional problem wit h which to deal. Short in
stature, especially alongside Joe at the front of the stage, his elfin
feat ures did make him look much younger t han even Rick Allen,
hence the comment from Ian Ravensdale in his Sounds review quoted
56
Waiting for the Man
in the previ ous chapter. It was tough for hard bitten English crowds
to warm to Willis when he looked little more than a schoolboy. Given
that guitar players are often the central focus of a rock band, it was
hard enough for Pete to deal with the attention, never mind the
accompanying derisory comments. The fact that Steve Clark was
clearly enjoying his role in it all scarcely made things any easier for
him. Once on the road with a limitless supply of booze on hand, the
rest of the group noticed that Pete was leaning more and more on the
bottle, Elliott putting the change down to one specific incident. 'He
changed on a ten hour flight. The first time we went to the States, we
got on the plane at Heathrow and ten hours later Pete was carried off,
bollocksed drunk. He was never the same again.'
Willis was not the only one who regularly had a few too many, for
Joe later remembered seeing Clark 'puking blood back in 1978' as a
result of his drinking. With another record to make though, such over-
indulgence was dismissed as something that could be handled. There
was no desir e to throw anyone out of the band and disrupt the creative
tensions that existed at such a vital stage in their career. The biggest
question for now was where would they record and with whom.
Thankfully, they realized that they had made mistakes and that any
blame for their British problems lay with them as much as it did the
press. Elliott magnanimously accepted that 'we fell into all the traps.
At the time I thought we were doing all the right things. God couldn't
have tol d me I was wrong. Now I realize that the first album was a
load of shit. It was very representative of the band for about six
weeks but afterwards we weren't anything like that any more'. This
time, they needed a record that they'd be able to live with indefinitely,
one of which they could be proud.
Once again, Peter Mensch stepped into the breach. Even before
they'd gone in to record On through the night, they'd had one
particular producer in mind. Joe admits that 'we wanted Mutt Lange
for the first one, having heard his work with City Boy, the Motors
and Graham Parker. Tom Allom was the next on the list and he was
great, really funny, but we didn't want to get stuck in a rut, we
wanted something different, we wanted a definite improvement.'
Mutt, more formally known as Robert Lange, had also produced
AC/DC, rescuing their final record with Bon Scott, 1979's superb
57
Def Leppard
'Highway to hell' , and running the potentially difficult sessions for
the follow-up, 'Back in black' . Since Mensch had worked so closely
with AC/DC, he knew Lange and was instrumental in setting up the
collaboration. A few more unkind critics have suggested that Lange
had never pr eviously been in the frame for the job and that it was all
Mensch' s doing, but Elliott's comments on bands such as the Motors
ring true. Lange had compiled a di verse, idiosyncratic CY and the
mix of styles which he had mastered was hugely appeal ing to
Leppard. Free of t he need to produce a met allic record, they wanted
someone who could hel p them achieve the best possibl e synthesis
between their pop sensi bility and their avowed int ention to maintain
a typicall y British aggressive dimension to their music.
Lange was an exce llent choice. With a great track record behind
him, he was supremely confident in the studio and was already
interested in Def Leppard. Like so many other industry insiders, he
could hear the potential within the band and wanted the oppo rt unity
to help them unl eash it. Sufficiently successful not to have to worry
about the dictat es of the record company, his very pr esence was
enough to reassure exec utives that with Leppard, they were indeed on
to a winner. In turn, that helped relax the band whose confidence had
been dented by their British experiences. With Mutt on board, the y
could afford to be opt imistic once again.
It ' s rar e for Def Leppard to give birth to a record painlessly, for
they ap pear to end ure an elephanti ne gesta tion per iod. Prepar ati ons
for their second album, a real crossroads for them, were goi ng well.
Their songwriting had improved while past studio exper ience had
given them a better idea of what wo rke d well on record and what did
not. Th e bod y of work they had at their comma nd thi s time was a
considerable improvement on their first efforts and they were
champing at the bit, having finished touring in September.
Unfortunat ely, Lange was already committed elsewhere, recording
For eigner ' s 4, sessions which were interminable. It was not Lange's
quest for per fection that held th ings up, but the band' s own
uncertaint y about the mat er ial they were working on. Ha ving
planned to finish with Foreigner in October, Lange was not finally
free of his commitments until May 1981. This had left Def Leppard
kicking their heels for eight months.
58
Waiting for the Man
The perceived wisdom has it that a new rock band should make a
record, tour incessantly and still mak e its second album within a year
of the first , whereupon the cycle begins anew. If the gro up is
successful, it has to capitalize on thi s, strike whil e the iron is hot and
keep the name in the forefront of peopl e' s minds. To leave the best
part of two years between the first and second release is tantamount
to commercial suicide. With Leppard reviled at home and virtual
nobodies everywhere else, thi s eno rmous delay should really have
sounded the death knell. There were many sage adv isers who, by
Christmas 1980, were counselling that Def Leppard needed to get an
album together , and qui ck.
The band held their ner ve, either from their own convict ions or
because of Mensch's glowing description of what Mutt could do for
their career. Such certainty of purpose in the face of all the normal
rules was proof of great collecti ve strength of character and once
more, they would be proved right. They used the down t ime wisely,
working on their songs, adding new ones to the canon, ensur ing that
once they could begin work, there would be a wea lth of strong
material from which to choose. Revelling in the freedom they now
had to explore the more melodic side of their natures, tunes aplenty
cameflowing from them. It's fair to say that thi s second record would
bea far more honest representation of what Def Leppard were about
and what they wanted to become.
The day of reckoning finally came in May 198 1 when the band
went into London's Battery Studios - Iron Maiden' s custo ma ry home
- to start work. Unlik e the two weeks that had been lavished on On
through the night , two full months were given to High'n'dry , a
considerable investment of time and money and one which put the
release date back still further, the album not seeing the light of day
until July 1981 when it was rush-released to coi ncide with a
previously booked to uring schedule. Such indecent haste did not sit
well with Lange's legendar ily meticulous studio habits, but for
Leppard it was a tremendous introduction to the world of
professional recording. Hustled through the debut, two months
seemed an eternity to them and perhaps any longer would have been
too much of a culture shock. As it was, they were able to maintain
their enthusiasm throughout and their obvious enjoyment of the
59
Def Leppard
process shone through on an alb um that was a 100 per cent
imp rovement on its predecessor.
High'n'dry was no mas terpiece, it's a long way from being their
best work, nor will it go down in history as a turning point for
popular music but for Def Leppard, it stands out as pr obabl y the
mos t important record they've ever made. It had to show a dr amatic
improvement but, crucially, it needed to demonstrat e a st rong sense
of direction, offer evidence that they had a firm hand on the tiller and
that they were heading towards a definite dest inati on. With On
through the night widely viewed as a disappointing first blast from
them, they desperately needed to silence the doubters. Amid the cries
of 'sell-out', Leppard really just returned to their roots and produced
a selection of driving pop rockers. The album was flawed, lacked any
real dynamic range and the lyrics remained sha llow and uni nteresting
but the sheer urgency in the playing, the absolute conviction in the
delivery overshadowed these deficiencies.
It was, inevitabl y, Joe Elliott who put his finger on Lange's
enormous contribution to Leppard's renaissance. 'Mutt works you
hard. I'm a real wimp in the studio because you've got no nat ural
adrenaline, no audience. He makes me wo rk until it's right.' One of
the most striking things about High'n'dry was the improvement in
Joe's own voice. Even though he was st ill a long way from riva lling
the likes of David Coverdale, he cou ld now make the most of his still
limited ability while the songs seemed to fit his range far better than
previously. Joe was candid in his assessment of his own voice: 'They
put up with me not being able to sing for two and a half years. My
singing was absolutely useless.' No false modesty thi s, for any
dispassionate observer would have to agree that his performance on
On through the night was awful. True to his character though, Joe
wasn't about to let a little thing like a lack of natural ta lent come
between him and success, admitting later in Q that 'I' m like Kevin
Keegan who wasn't as good a footballer as Glenn Hoddle, To ny
Currie or Stan Bowles, but who knew that if he worked his bollocks
off, he could achieve something, whereas the others were lazy ... I' m
not the most gifted - when God handed out throats, I got locked out
of the room. But I was determined to do it, I would do anything . . .
Mutt' s reall y patient, he just tries to bring out in my voice what I'm
60
Wai ting for t he Man
capable of but what I wo uldn't do myself because I'd get fed up
trying. I'd pack in after six attempts but Mutt'll keep me goi ng for
twelve'. Singing on the road night after night helped him with
phrasing and with pacing himself and his voice, so by the time they
entered Battery Studios, Joe was something of a seasoned
campaigner. Familiarity with the material helped too, but the real
difference was the way in which Lange made him jump through
hoops in order to get the sound right. If he failed to get it right first
time, Mutt got him to recor d it again. And again. And again until it
was exactl y the way it should be. In fact , it rarely was exactly the way
it should be for Joe still had much to learn about his art but Lange
was exper ienced enough to realize when he had wrung the last ounce
out of Elliott and wise enough to know when to call it a day. By the
end of recording, Joe was a tired man, but a proud one too for he had
proved himself a capable singer at last.
If there was a rea l crit icism that could be levelled at him - indeed
at everyone involved in the entire project - it was that they seemed
determined to become the new ACIDC. Naturally Lange's
involvement in Back in Black and Higb'n'dry meant here would be
similarities in the sound, but at times, Leppard sailed a little close to
the wind, with Elliott looking too keen to step into Bon Scott's shoes .
With Back in Black such a huge hit commercially and critically, it
wasn't a bad reference point and at least it proved they were headi ng
in the right direc tion, for AC/ DC were not a dumb metal act, but an
intelligent rock ban d.
From the outset, it was obvious that Def Leppard demanded
reassessment for the music was tighter, more dynamically structured,
punchier, an altoge ther more arresti ng sound. 'Let it go' set the tone,
a long way removed from the adolescent fare of 'Rock brigade'. If it
was prett y sta ndard rock'n'roll, it was done well, only diminished by
the 'get ready for the back seat' sexism implicit in the lyric. Elliott
apologized eight years later, saying ' I look back and think " thank
God I was only twent y" . I mean, the lyrics, some of them are fuckin '
useless, awful "get down on your knees" stuff. Nowadays, I try to do
it a bit more tact fully.'
The record carried its fair share of uncomplicated rock songs,
and ' No no no' being cases in point, the latt er a classic
61
Def Leppard
example of heads do wn, see you at the end rifferama, featuring lots
of senseless screaming from both Joe and the twin, inevitably
duelling, guitars. 'Lady st ra nge' al so provided a flimsy excuse to cut
to t he guitar cha se at th e bridge, though the central guita r riff was
wort h hearing, remini scent of Rainbow' s 'Since you been gone'.
Fortunately, these songs were to prove th e exception rather th an the
rul e as the gr oup' s poppi er instincts tended to hold sway. ' Mirror,
mi rr or (look int o my eyes)' was a perfect example of thi s curate' s egg
of an album. Hard edge d pop di splaying an improvement in the
songwrit ing, the clu msy arrangement and dubious execution meant
the song sounded cl uttered with little room for th e instrumentation
to br eathe, yet it was salvaged by the layers of backing vocal s which
wer e an immensely pr omising departure. That careful st ruct ure was
equally well employed on ' You got me runnin", wh er e the backing
served to bol st er Joe's voice which was clearl y st retched by the
mat eri al.
' On th rough the nig ht ' , a hangover from th e first album perhaps,
let things down , for t ho ugh it was obviously ant he rnic, deliberately,
desper ately so, the lyri cal idea was wholl y ludicrous. The co nce pt of
rock 'n'roll , one of th e grea t cor pora te entertainment indust ries,
having 'no safety net' is plainly abs urd whil e the image of Leppard
as a hard living rock 'ri 'rol l ba nd sti ll didn't was h, especia lly as it
looked liked t hey st ill didn 't need to shave. It was a sha me t hat the
lyrics wer e so relentl essly crass, for musica lly t he song was much
clo ser to t he direct ion Leppard were as piring to, poppy wit h some
ver y nice guitar interpl ay that left it rooted in th e rock genre. Lyrics
remai ned a bugbea r for th em, though Joe suggested t ha t th ey had
tri ed to work harder on th em thi s time around. 'On thi s album, we
tri ed to wri te abou t all so rts of stories. Steve once hijacked a taxi in
Paris and t ried to wr ite a song about it, but it just so unded like a
piece of shit, so we scra pped it, rewrote th e lyri cs and it sounded a
lot better. '
The other th ree t rack s on High'n'dry we re espec ially imp ortant,
eac h in their own di stinctive fashion. Steve Clark's ' Switch 625' made
it clear th at here was a guita rist and writer of real di st inction.
Alt ho ugh it di dn ' t rea lly fit into th e ove ra ll conce pt of th e album, it
demanded inclusion. Th e lead guitar line wa s excellent and the tr ack
62
Waiting for the Man
could have been ta ken from the soundtrack to a European thriller. It
was clear th at Leppar d' s horizons really were broadening and
' Another hit and run' was perhaps the best example of their improved
attention to detai l withi n their songwriting. Where so much of their
material was designed to rock hard, this allowed for a nice change of
pace, illustrating an intuitive understanding of dynamics that would
go on to serve them well in the future.
Point ing the way ahead was 'Bringing on the heartbreak' with its
lovely guit ar work and Gary Moore-ish introduction. 'Heartbreak'
was straight out of the classic rock power ballad mould, but it took
the form to a new level. It was the first really huge vocal harmony that
they'd used to date, the wash of colour that would become their
trademark over the years and provide the blueprint for countless
imitat or s. Quite simply, those backing vocal s were so lush, so
painstakingly recorded, so awesomely bright and full of life that the
sheer scope of the production was simply overwhelming, proving to
be ultimately irresisti ble to a generation of record buyers.
With the album completed an d concert dates looming, the band
had littl e time to reflect on what they'd achieved. They could rest
assured that this time around, the critics would be migh tily
impressed. Geoff Barton helped himself to a very large plate of
humble pie in Sounds: 'I realize now that 1 wrote Def Leppard off
prematurely, crue lly and unnecessarily. High'n'dry is a titanium
toecapped kick in the teeth for Def Leppard's British critics.' The
album collected the maximum five stars, but it wa s too little too late
for the band in Britain. Minds had been made up about Def Leppard
long since an d though both 'Let it go' and 'Bringing on the
heart break' were released as singles, neither charted, with the album
only mak ing number twent y-six. Elliott was philosophical about it
all, accepting th at ' it's irrelevant how I see things. It's how t he
audience sees them that decides how many records we sell. We lost
our market because the music press slagged us to pieces'.
Nevertheless, the crit ical reappraisal was welcome, not least
because Willis and the rest were becoming increasingly estranged,
Willis allegedly less keen on t he new direction the music was taking.
Indeed there were plenty of uns ubstantia ted rumours in the music
press that he was considering leaving the band in order to form a
63
Def Leppard
more traditional metal outfit. Any personal differences were buried
for the course of the tour however, the band enjoying all the road had
to offer. Gigs in West Germany offered some of the stranger sights as
Joe recalled. ' We went to the Star Club in Hamburg in 1981 to see
where the Beatles had played but it's not there any more and
eventually we ended up in an underground car park which had all
the se women chained to the pillars and littl e rooms off the main area.
So you' d walk around thi s mea t market and at twenty-one it was a
real eye opener. I' d never seen anything like it in Sheffield! '
With a renewed spirit of optimism spreading through the camp,
even the British dates went tolerably well, although an accompanying
promotional gimmick - if you took your ticke t stub to t he HMV
chain of stores, you got SOp off t he price of High'n 'dry - tarnished
things a little. Gigs just prior to Christmas 1981 proved that their
rehabi litation was all but complete in the eyes of the pres s, though the
fans still stayed away in droves. Philip Bell wrote in Sounds that the
Leppard show was based upon ' Absolute professionali sm . . . a total
reassessment. It wo rks', though Melody Maker' s Steve Gett was a
little more circumspect in his praise, admitting that the new music
was ' ideal for the US market but I have my doubts regarding the
st rengt h of their Brit ish popularity' , reservations that were founded
in the fact s.
Alt hough Def Leppard had had a rough time at the hands of the
press in 1980, the members of the Fourth Estate could not be held
solely to acco unt for the band' s failure at home. Th ere were more
fund amental, deep-seat ed reasons for this malai se than a simple sheaf
of bad reviews. They were just the wrong band for the time. British
rock music in the early 1980s was going through a conspicuously
dour per iod wit h the 'i ndie' bands such as Jo y Division , Echo and the
Bunnymen and, later on the Smit hs holding the more committed rock
fans in thrall. If you were serio us about your music, now was not the
time for celebration wit h ever- lengt heni ng dole queues and
wor sening economic situatio n allied to the omnipresent threat of
global war as int ernat ional relations reached a low point between the
west and the pre-glasnost Soviet Union. What was there to celebrate?
On the ot her hand, on a more commercial level, it was the synt hetic
doodlings and fashion conscious performances of the New
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Waiting for the Man
Romant ics that were swamping the charts. Their ethic was that
things were so bad in the outside world, the only sensible response
was to create your own world filled with bright and shiny young
things. To gain entrance to this world of twent y-fou r-hour party
people, you had to dre ss pr operl y, drink the right cockta ils and know
the right people. Life could be a consta nt whirl if you approached it
properly.
Def Leppard fell outside those two camps, too fri vol ou s and
lyricall y inept for the ' indi e' scene, too down to eart h and
'ordinary' for the New Romanti cs. British music was all ab out
image and Leppard' s just did not fit in. Their on ly refuge wo uld
have been with the met al crowd th at had init ially brought them to
prominence but they were set on taking revenge for Leppard' s
apparent betrayal of the NWOBHM and their American
preoccupations. Th e band were even begin ni ng to sport ex pensive
hairdos, the Jon Bon Jovi poodle cut as it wo uld become known
later. Littl e wonder that Joe complained 'wha t we rea lly need is an
audience that'll accept a band that look s like Duran Duran but
sounds like Saxon. That' s the next step'. As it was, in 1981, Def
Leppard wer e complete outcast s.
In America, things looked a lot more posi tive for them. With the
wholesale compartmentalization of rad io in the States, Leppard
slotted in nicely to the FM format, all the more so now that the y wer e
working with Lange. Lange himself was t he hottest name in
American AOR at the time with Forei gner ' s 4 on its way to sales of
six million units, topping the Billboard charts in the States for ten
weeks. That gave Def Leppard added kudos, provided them with a
way in to those radio stations which the y exploited to the full. Peter
Mensch had put his reputation on the line with Higb 'n'dry and was
determined to turn it into a major seller. In fact, it was onl y a minor
improvement on On through the night in sales terms, charting at
number thirty-eight, but crucially it made the breakthrough in terms
of acceptance, paving the wa y for future triumphs.
Support ing Blackfoot, the y spent much of 1981 on the road in
America, playing a mix of good and bad shows, Elliott accepting that
'other bands have time to evolve and grow up in the small clubs.
We'r e making all our mistakes in front of thousands of people' .
65
Def Leppard
Mi st akes or not, they were beginning to make waves in America and
were able to live the life of bona fide rock stars as Elliott remembers.
' We had little girl s chasi ng us all over the place, everywhere we went
it was summer, we' d be round the pool all da y and-doing a couple of
interviews. Pete was living the lifest yle and putting less and less into
the per formance. The rest of us were pretty rampant in those days
and we' d all indulge in a drink or birds if they were around, but it was
always "eno ugh's eno ugh, we've got a gig tomorrow". Pete got his
comeuppa nce though - we used to gaffa tape his boot s to the roof of
the van and when he wa s asleep we'd put shaving foam on the back
of his hand and tickle his nose with a feather .'
Such games helped relieve the tension in the rest of the camp but
did littl e for Will is' s peace of mind. It was beginning to become
obvious that he might yet go the way of MSB. Ironicall y, they were
still giving the band pa use for thought more than a year after their
demise. Elliott was especia lly angry with the wa y things had worked
out. ' It cos t us a fortune to get rid of them. They're gett ing points off
High ' n 'dry for as long as it sells. If say, 10,000 cop ies sell in ten years'
time, they'll get money off it. They had nothing to do with this album.
Th ey were with us when we did the first so ma ybe they'r e entitled to
a littl e bit of that , beca use they did get us a deal with Phonogram but
they'r e entitled to nothing off thi s second one as far as I'm
concerned.'
Such businesslike preoccupa tion with the pen nies might have
served the band well in their commerc ial dealings, but it did littl e for
the public' s perception of them, notabl y in England. Elliott' s atti tude
seemed chu rlish to say the least given that Lepp ard were sta rt ing to
look like a real act for the fut ure. Like it or not , MSB had ar ranged
their deal with Phonogram and if they hadn't done so, who' s to say
that Leppa rd might not have sti ll been langui shing in obscur ity? It
was the very fact that they had a deal that enabled them to go on to
make a second record and it does n' t seem especially unfair that MSB
should be entitled to some of the financial rewards for the hard work
they put in. It' s one thing ma nagi ng a band that ' s already got a deal
and a reputation, it' s quite another to take one from the clubs and
win them a record contract .
These out bursts could only add to the impress ion that Leppard
66
Waiting for the Man
were a bunch of money grabbing thugs and it detracted from the
great st rides they'd made on record. Rightl y or wrongly, money
seemed to be central to every move that the group made and with a
skilled negotiator like Mensch behind them, they generally got the
best deals. Def Leppard could not complain if people thought they
were tail or ing their sound to earn t he maximum amount of money,
for money seemed to be their greatest preoccupation.
Their bl uff, blunt Yorkshire manner got t hem into t rou ble on
many occa sion s for bands are not rea lly supposed to speak the truth
when it comes to hard cas h. When you then attack the pr ess' s
favourite band at the same time, you ' re just asking for tr oubl e, so
that ' s wh at Joe did . ' The Cla sh, they' re middle class. They're making
money but they're embarrassed by it.' Leppard were never
embarrassed by their ability to make money. It was that that had
allowed them to escape lives in the fact ori es of Sheffield and had freed
them to see the world. As one of the great wor king class escape routes
- footb all' s the other one in Britain - one of the biggest reasons for
joining a rock band wa s to get rich. Why be emba rrassed abo ut it?
The answer wa s that in Britain, flaunting it was not the done th ing,
screaming 'Ioadsamoney' in 1981 wa s not as acce pta ble as it became
in the lat e eighties. It wa s chic to be poor, or at least to pret end to be
poor.
America suffers from no such inhibitions. The America n Dr eam
itself is based on success, the nation prides itself on its ega lita rian wa y
of life. If you have the talent and the drive to get ahea d, then you can,
or so the story goe s. If you do mak e it big, you sho uld be proud of
your hard work, pleased that you finall y made it and revel in your
self-creat ed wealth. If money's not there to be enjoyed, what is it for?
Nor were t he nation' s doors closed to those fro m ab road who might
add someth ing to the culture as Def Leppard clearl y did , even though
some might sneeringly suggest that that says mor e abo ut the paucity
of American culture than the quality of Leppard' s mu sic. Never
mind, Ame rica wa s happy to lavish its dollars on Def Leppard and
the band were happy to reciprocate by giving them what they wanted
- a damn fine evening out and a record that they could enjoy over and
over again. For those who liked their rock music clean and simple,
Leppard were the perfect soundtrack to the perpetual party that
67
Def Leppard
accompanied the Reagan years as a nation fell in love with itself all
over again. If the band stood out like a sore thumb in Britain,
America provided ample recompense, taking Leppard to its heart. It
was a love affair that had only just begun.
68
7
FIREPROOF
One thing abo ut success: it keeps you bus y. Touri ng consta ntly
through to December , the band wa nted to take a brief sabbatical at
the start of 198 2 in order to prepare material for thei r new record.
They took heart from the warm reception they'd received in the Sta tes
and the gradually increasing media pr ofile they'd earned for
themselves there, while their European following had been enhanced
by a tour support ing Judas Priest. Having made an artistic
breakthrou gh with High 'n'dry, they were determined to use the
platform they'd built for themsel ves, taking their music on to the next
level. With two albums under their belt , they had a pretty goo d idea
how the st udio worked and were start ing to realize that perhaps the
availabl e technology wa s not being full y util ized by a range of artists
whose minds were still rooted in 1970s methodo logy. With new
invent ions and innovat ions consta ntly coming on stream, it was time
that somebody turned recording on its head, dispensed wit h the
conventi ons and approached making a record in a spirit of
iconoclastic fervour. One member of the band remarked that 'we
wanted to mak e "Star Wars" for the ears' ,
The author of that remark was Phil Collen. He' d been brought int o
the group during the recording of their thi rd album, Pyromania, to
replace Pete Willi s. By the time they convened at Battle's Park Gate
studios to work on the basic tracks for the album, it was becoming
increasingly obvious that Willis was out of step with the other four.
Musically things were still reasonably okay, with Pete co-writing four
69
Def Leppard
songs from the alb um. The problems were on a personal level, for
whi le Steve Clark was still dr inking heavily, it had made little
difference to his personality, nor his ability to work. For Pete Willis,
drink had, according to the others, changed a lot of things. Joe
Elliott's version of events was sta rk. ' He was fired because he wa s an
arsehole when he was drunk. He suffered from the classic Littl e Man
syndrome; five feet two, has a pint and all of a sudden he's eight foot
nine . He was a nasty guy to be around when he was drunk.' Not only
did Willis give Leppard trouble, he began to argue with Lange about
the actual recording methods used on Pyromania. Since Lange was at
the pinnacle of his profession, this was not the most intelligent of
moves. As the sessions wore on, Pete's presence became increasingly
disruptive, to the point where the band ordered Peter Mensch to get
rid of him.
To his credit, Mensch told them where to get off. While cowardly
bands habitually hide behind managers, forcing them to do their dirty
work because they' re ultimatel y just paid employees, Mensch wasn't
going to let them dodge their obligations so easily. He did not believe
it was his place to sack Pete, especially since the decision was based
on musical grounds, given Pete's poor st udio attitude. More
importantl y, he felt it was right that Willis should hear it from the
men who wanted shot of him, felt that afte r all his efforts, he deserved
more than just receiving his cards in the post. Summoning up the
courage to do the deed, Will is was officially made an ex-Leppard at
the start of Jul y 1982.
Paradoxicall y, Pyromania contained some of Willi s' s best
moments, for he did contribute distinct ive guitar work to all the
backing tr acks befor e his departure. As a writer t oo, he could feel
justifiabl y happy wit h songs like 'Comin' under fire', ' Billy's got a
gun ' and, in particular , the excellent ' Photograph' . Whi le he wa s able
to produce work of that calibre, it' s amazing that Def Leppard could
not find some way to acco mmoda te him within t he line-up. After all,
they'd tolerated Joe Elliott' s inadequat e voice for a couple of years,
so why not keep Pete at arm's length , but st ill involved as a writer and
studio perfor mer ?
Much of the answe r lies in that nebul ous quality ' chemistry' . Whe n
Def Leppard were five likely lads back in Sheffield, fuelled by the
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Fireproof
musketorial principle of ' all for one and one for all', the band had
that indefinable something, a common goa l that drove them on.
Somewhere along the way, Pete had mislaid that origina l int ensity
and was cha nnelling his energies in different directions. As the band
had no pat ience with slackers, he was already on deci dedly dodgy
ground. Breaking point came whe n he and the band fell out with one
another and ceased to be on friendly terms. Rock bands ar e a very
peculiar soci al grouping, unlike any ot her work gro up that you could
encounter. In the office, factory or sports field, managers compile a
team made up of the mos t ta lented people they can att ract given their
locati on , their wage structure and so on. A rock group is much more
like a social club where the level of your abi lity is often far less
important than whether or not you're on good terms wit h your band
mates.
There are good operationa l reasons for this, since to uring gro ups
tend to live in and out of one another's pockets for mont hs at a
stretch and, if there' s any animosity between the individuals, a
gruelling itinerary can quickl y degenerat e into an absolute nightmare.
Mor e than that though, a rock group is often ruled by the gang
ment ality that carries kids through their school years . It becomes a
self-sufficient pack that scorns the outside wo rld, has its own jokes,
its own way of wo rking, its own way of life. Everyone knows what
makes the others tick, there are precious few secrets from one another
and intruders are definit ely not welcome. More than anything else,
life in a band has to be fun because otherwise it's just another job , the
very routine that peopl e run away to the rock'n'roll circ us to avo id in
the first place.
It's only nat ura l t hat musicians cultivate different friendships away
from their own band, people they can spend time with when they're
not wo rking or other musos who they've encountered on the roa d
and who und erstand the peculiar demands placed on them. One such
musician, a guita rist, who'd entered Def Leppard's circle was Phil
Collen, from Walthamstow. Born in December 1957, he'd received
his first guitar as a birthday present in 1973. By the end of the decade,
he was a leading light with glam-rockers Girl, a group that had
always threatened to become big, yet had never quite managed to
make the breakthrough. Viewed as too gimmic ky by some because of
71
Def Leppard
their androgynous behaviour, their similarity to the New York Dolls
and their garish make-up, they were trying to keep alive a form that
had already slipped into the twilight world of nostalgia - if people
wanted to hear an y glam rock, Gary Glitter, Slade and the Sweet were
still knocking around the cabaret circuit, so a new band in the same
vein was virtually redunda nt.
In the earl y months of 1982, Girl had finally been forced to accept
the inevitable and had disbanded, leaving Collen without a job. News
of his unemployment soon reached Leppard's ears and while Pete
Willi s was being ushered out of the front door, Collen nipped in
through the back to take his place. No-one could question his ability
as a guitarist, for technically he was quite superb with an added depth
to his playing that Willi s, and for that matter, Clark sometimes
lacked. How strange then that such a gifted player should come on to
the market at the exact moment when Def Leppard needed a new
guitarist. Synchronicit y is indeed a wonderful thing.
Where some see lucky coincidence, others sense darker forces at
work. As a band committe d to their career, Def Leppard were not
men who were keen on taking needless risks. Willi s had become
something of a liab ility and, if Leppard were to make the final push
towards superstardo m, they had to be able to rely on every piece of
the machine doing its job at all times. If Higb'n'dry hadn't br ought
quite the return that Me nsch's investment warranted, he was not
di sma yed, remaining confident that their time would come. Searching
his own conscience in order to decide whether he had done all he
could, he decided that the overa ll outlay on Pyromania sho uld be
doubled to make absolutely sure that there was not a single
pr ospecti ve record buyer that did not know all there was t o know
about thi s record. If you' re pushing t he boat out that far, you have to
make reall y sure there are no holes in the bottom. Willi s looked like
a potential leak, so his dismissal must have been on Mensch' s mind,
the more so since stories ema na ting from the Leppard camp
suggested that his drinking was slowing things down so badl y it was
costi ng them up to £10,000 a week in lost time at a point where the
group was already ha lf a million in debt.
As a conscientious and thoroughly profession al manager though,
he accepted that it was not his place to change the group' s personnel
72
Fireproof
and so he kept his own counsel. However, he wa s also known to be
a keen admirer of Phil Collen's and one is left to wonder whether his
name might have occasionall y cropped up in con versati on, the more
so as Girl were disintegrating.
The pr incipal players would st renuously deny it, but one can' t help
but feel that had Girl been going from strength to st rength and had
Phil not suddenly become ava ilable, Pete Will is would have
completed work on Pyromania and joined the band for their global
trek. For a band that likes to elimi nate risks and play the percentages,
sacking a founder member midway through ma king the album they
hoped would make their fortunes would have been unthi nkable; the y
might have been unable to find a suitable repl acement, the chemistry
with some unknown new boy might not have wo rked, the whole
balance of the band might have been fatall y disrupted. That' s just not
their style.
The official version of events says that Willi s' s conduct was beyond
redemption, yet accounts from the group say that the problems with
him were at their worst on the road. If that was the case, the time to
sack him would have been at the end of the 1981 to ur or, if the y
wanted to give him time to sort himself out, right at the beginning of
the Pyromania sessions if he hadn't shaped up. If he reall y had been
as incapable of working as the y suggest, how was he able to co-write
four songs? Certainl y, if Willis had become so probl ematical, wh y
would they have even allowed him to start wo rking on the album, for
the traumas clearly pre-dated the recording of Pyromania? He did
survive four months' worth of work on it after all, not a course of
events that implies total dissati sfaction with his cont ribution, or
complete ineptitude on his part. The fact s suggest that the band
wanted Pete out, that he was drinking too hea vily, but that the y
didn't want to take the risk of sacking him wit hout having a
replacement in min d. Girl's dissolution solved all their problems.
Lange wa s especiall y pleased with this development, for he was
impressed by Collen' s ability and with his willingness to work hard
in the studio. For Phil, the opportunity in Leppard was too good to
let slip for as he admitted ' Girl had finally split, I was almost
penniless. I got a call out of the blue from Joe asking me to take over
from Pete Willis and I was so content just to be back in a band aga in' .
73
Def Leppard
Collen's invo lvement with Pyromania began in July as the gro up
moved from Park Gate to the more familiar environment of Battery
Studios in London to begin overdubbing. Wi th all the basic tracks
down, it was here that Lange's expertise was especially important, for
it was here that the new Def Leppard sound was rea lly constructed.
For a further five months, every note, every line was considered,
reconsidered, reworked and refined. The vast swathes of sound that
had so distingui shed songs like 'Bringing on the heartbreak' on
High 'n'dry were deployed once again, but this time wi th yet greater
style and con vict ion. The culmination of thi s huge physical and
mental effort was a record the like of which, from a sonic sta ndpoint
at least, had not been hea rd before.
Never ones to hide their light under a bushel, Leppard were
forgivably bulli sh about their new product. Joe' s objective opinion
being that 'I seriously think Pyromania is one of the best recorded
LPs I've ever heard. Like Queen had done ten years earlier, we
rewrote the rul e book on how to make rock music in 1983 with
Pyromania. We knew there had to be a better way'. Joe in particular
had reason to applaud the results, for his voice continued to improve
at an alarming rate. Lange's quest for perfection had clearly brought
things out that he didn't believe he had in him, but it wa s not
without a pri ce. For several weeks, Elliott's voice simply packed up
under the stra in and it wasn't until after he'd flown to see a specalist
in New York that he was able to complete work on the album. The
effort had to be wo rth it though, for now the last impediment to
Leppard' s success had been removed. If Joe's rasping vocal s had put
off likel y buyers in the past, those punters could find no such reasons
to leave Pyromania on the racks. Buttressed by those trademark
backing vocal s, Joe Elliott now possessed a fine rock'n'roll lar ynx
with an impressive range to boot.
With the musical obstacles removed, it was left to Mensch to take
care of business and make sure that all the promotional tools were in
place. Wh ile the band had been recording for nine months, he and
Burnstein had not been idle, putting in an equally awe some number
of hours on the commercial side of things. Record pluggers were
briefed, Phonogram alerted to the qua lity and ground-breaking
nature of the album, video directors approached with a view to
74
Fireproof
getting clips on the imminent MTV cable cha nnel, local radi o stations
across the States pli ed with promoti on al items leading up to the
release of the album. Everyt hing was in hand, planned wit h the same
attent ion to det ail that Lange app lied to his production duties. They
had not recouped the sizea ble sum t hey had pumped into High'n'dry
and were determined to make sure that the same did not happen
agam.
With such powerful persona lities as Mensch and Lange on the
team, there were sugges tio ns t hat Leppard were little more than
puppet s, dancing to t heir t une, fronting an enormous organization. It
was an accusation that rankled, with Steve Clark especially
vociferous in his attempts to put t he record straight.
' Pyromania is a great record. We had a fair idea that the material
we had prepared was st ro ng enough to bea t High'n 'dry but to be
honest it ca me as a rea l shock to find us top three in America all
throu gh the summer. We spent nine months on and off doi ng t he
albu m and getti ng everyt hing exactly right, incl uding t he
business side of things, so we did ha ve everything geared up for
its release. It was in the top ten in America before we'd even
promoted it! We did go for this one correctly right from the
word go but no matter how long we spent getting the production
right, you ca n't deny the fact that they are, in one way or
another, all grea t tunes. It wasn' t a clear-cut attempt at t urni ng
us into the biggest thing since sliced bread .'
The songs were undeniably st ro ng, certainly the best body of work
they'd yet prod uced, but the plain truth was that it was t he level of
product ion that propelled Pyromania into the histo ry books. Wha t is
overlooked is t he fact that Def Leppard were very much part of t ha t
producti on; t hey had wr itten the basic songs, they contr ibuted ideas
in the studio, idea s which Lange' s kno w-how t urned into rea lity. The
whole process wa s a team effort as mos t of the great albums are.
Oddl y th ough, probabl y the most asto unding t hing about
Pyromania was that in many ways, it didn't sound like a record that
had taken the best part of a year to crea te. When an art ist is in the
studio for such a prolonged peri od, the results are often horribl y
75
Def Leppard
laboured, lacking in excitement or a spark of life, removed totally
from the real world. Pyromania did not smack of self-indulgence, for
the highl y original, if rather bombastic, sound aside, it wa s a model
of economy in many ways. As far as the basics went, everything had
been pared right back to the minimum, removing the over-playing
that had so cluttered the previous albums. Th e extensive preparation
time the y'd all owed themsel ves was not wasted either, for the early
months of 1982 had seen them honing every song, cutting away the
excesses, leaving just the kernel of the original idea. In turn, that
opened up the spaces for embellishment with those dripping, over the
top harmonies to take centre stage, not unlike the cod-operatic
structures used on Meat Loaf' s Bat out of hell. A greater compliment
yet and one which the band would settle for, was that Pyromania had
the stamp of classic Queen about it, the epic dynamics of 'A night at
the opera' , the joyo us exu berance of ' A da y at the races'. Love it or
loathe it, driving rock music, played well and played confidently can
carryall befor e it, sweeping up die-hard opponents in its wake. This
was the goal that Leppard wanted to attain.
Part of the allure was that, again like Queen in their heyda y,
Leppard weren' t afraid to inject a little humour int o their songs, even
if it was in the for m of dumb studio in-jokes such as ' Rock of ages'.
It succeeded in lighteni ng the tone as Joe explai ned: ' We wanted to
bring a littl e bit of fun back int o it, put our tongues in our cheeks
slightly. I just got the feeling that things were becoming too po-faced,
too serio us - you can' t enter tai n peopl e unless you' re enjoyi ng what
you' re doing yourself. I do n' t wa nt to prowl ar ound the stage all stern
and gri m-faced. ' Small wonder that he was moved to add 'I' d say Iron
Maiden, Saxon and our selves are the Sweet of tod ay! There are
definite comparisons'. ' Rock of ages' was cra mmed full of rock' n' roll
cliches, it read like a Gary Glitter tr ibute, a mindless stomp that was
goo d fun, but very much apart from the rest of the music which was
determined to make its mark.
From the very first chords on the album, it was apparent that
something had changed, drasticall y and for the better. The
atmosphere and the scale that leapt out of the grooves gave early
warning that Def Leppard had taken a quantum leap into the
unknown and had benefited from the experience. Almost a decade
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Fireproof
and a half later the chiming guitars, the shining vocals, the cra shing
drums all sound a little old hat for they've been so regularly and so
slavishly copied, but in February 1983 such clarity of sound was
highly unu sual. Pyromania was light years ahe ad of On thr ough the
night and it was hard to credit that the same band had made both
recordings. Even Joe was surpri sed by the distance they'd travelled in
so short a space of time. 'If you listen to our first album and then our
third and you can't tell the difference, then you sho uldn' t be listening
to hard rock music anyway. We're performing the songs better.
We're writing better songs. Th e producti on ' s better. We' ve got more
experience . . . we have never tailored our music for the radi o, things
just change, they move on.'
Even so, radio was attracted to the new Def Leppard simply
because the new Def Leppard was more attract ive. With all
extraneous material chopped away, the melodies were clearer, the
tunes easier to follow, the choruses more memorabl e. 'Comin' under
fire' was a case in point for it centred around the very simplest of
guitar riffs which ushered the song into a massive chorus , Joe adding
probabl y his best vocal performance to date to crown a track that no
other member of the NWOBHM could ever have performed. The
school of 1979 was now but a fading memory, though a few traces
remained, notably amid the atrocious qual ity of the lyrics. ' Rock!
rock! (till you drop)' was a case in point where the crystal clear
product ion had to do battle with the sort of sexist rubbish that was
continuing to give rock a bad name. The idea that wo men were there
to entertain the likes of Mr Elliott was Neanderthal in the extreme,
though the lyrical thrust was, fortunately, largely lost beneath the
huge wall of sound. Bon Scott could get away with these lyrics, but
they should have died with him in 1980. Joe suggested that ' I don't
honestly believe an ybody takes them seriously or takes any real
notice of them. They're either completely abysmal or absolutely
brilliant' . No pri zes for guessing which.
' Stagefright' would not win an y pri zes for int ellect ual
enlightenment either, Joe informing the world that ' it's about women
who come backstage after shows. They show you their wares and
then when you take them as far as they want to go, the y don't wanna
know any more. It happens all the time'. If thi s was a plea for
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sympathy with the star's plight, it fell on deaf ears, overshadowed
again by the musical accompaniment which defied criticism. Those
backing vocals stole the show once more, laying down the plans that
Bon Jovi would later expand upon, notably on 'Slippery when wet'.
The rhythm section was tight and powerful, providing the basis for a
superb guitar solo, much the best that Leppard had so far recorded.
Where Leppard really had learned their craft was in the pacing of
the set. To make a record stand out from the crowd of releases, it
needs to be something of an event, it needs something that is original
or idiosyncratic. With songs like 'Die hard the hunter', they provided
it, the whirling sound effects offering something different from the
competition, the bluesy introduction adding another element to the
sound mix, the middle section all the more aggressive and potent in
contrast. ' Billy' s got a gun' was obviously in the same mould,
building slowly into an epic from a brooding, 'Kashmir' opening.
Clearly, songs like this were Leppard's stab at achieving the
legendary status they coveted, tackling bigger lyrical subject matter,
handling more complex atmospheres. Sensibly, they chose not to
insist on using the wide screen on every song and were happy to
loosen things up on 'Foolin", its delicacy of touch and intimate
introduction offering brief respite from the emotional clout of 'Die
hard the hunter' . In the same fashion, the run off groove at the end of
side two was filled with industrial noise, akin to something that U2
might have put on Zooropa a decade later.
Though Def Leppard may have dreamed of replacing Led Zeppelin
via such songs as 'Billy's got a gun', it was clearly elsewhere that their
real talents lay. As a band they were at their best when delivering
classic hard edged pop as Mott the Hoople or Slade had done before
them. 'Action, not words' was a lovely example of the genre, very
light, very poppy, very enjoyable, memorably coloured by the most
attractive guitar figure. If that was good, 'Photograph' was peerless,
commercial mainstream pop at its sublime best, lyrically intriguing,
based on an obsessive fascination with Marilyn Monroe. Huge
drums, chugging rhythm, a sumptuous, warm guitar line crowning a
gorgeous chorus, it was an obvious hit with 'Top Ten' written all over
it. It said much for the way that Leppard were treated in the UK that
it only reached number 66 when, the following year, Van Halen
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Fireproof
cloned ' Photograph' and the resu lting 'Jump' single spent weeks on
the survey, peaking at number seven.
That was the grea t probl em that Leppard still had to overcome, for
while they were producing the very best of straightforward classic
American rock, their home audience only wanted to hear that kind of
song from real Americans. No amount of persuasion could, at this
stage, persuade them otherwise. To be fair, the press realized just how
good Leppard now were. In his rave four star review in Sounds (oddly
the same rati ng as On through the night, one less than High 'n'dryi,
Geoff Barton made it clear that this was their finest moment: '[I'm]
astonished by the Def ones new found maturity, reeling from the
soaring grandeur of the song arrangements, awe- struck by the sheer
brooding atmos pherics of Mutt Lange's masterful production ... I' m
with Def Leppard every stratospheric centimetre of their riotous
rock'n'r oll re-entry.'
Melody Maker's Nick Kemp, not a renowned supporter of
Leppard in the past, ventured to the Marquee to catch their first date,
fitted in to the itinerary to give Phil Collen a chance to debut live out
of the full glare of the spotlight. Kemp's analysis was apposite, noting
that it ' proved Collen's worth to the band. He ' s given them the
maturit y they' ve always lacked . .. "Photograph" is a pop-rocker
that ough t to take the charts by storm.' His view of Collen was
unerringly accurate. An unashamed fan of glarn, his bright yet
economic guitar style did add a new dimension to the sound, but it
was his perspective on the group as an outsider that was so very
valuable. For four years, the Def Leppard line-up had remained
intact, all five musicians having been together from a time way before
their first ever gig. It's an old truism, but they were simply too close
to the band to be properly objective about what the y were doing.
While outside influences like Lange and Mensch were helpful, even
they coul d never be part of the inner sanctum, the Leppard think-
tank. Only those five knew what it was like to be on stage toge ther,
to write and perform together as a uni t . Bringing in Collen was a
breath of fresh air, a catalyst that made them question every aspect of
the band, re-eval uate all that they were doing, all the habits they'd
fallen into. Collen injected new impetus into things, able also to offer
wise counsel about the way promising groups could fail to fulfil their
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Def Leppard
potential. Helping steer them away from the traps was as much a part
of Collen' s input as his unquestionable skill as writer and player.
UK gigs followed hard on the heels of the release of Pyromania.
Th is could be seen as loyalty to the old home, giving them the first
chance to see the show, but it was more likely another piece of
shrewd business planning. Sensing that Pyromania would fare little
better than High 'n'dr y, it was good commercial sense to use the UK
as a warm-up for the real tests that were to come on the arena stages
in America. At the same time, delaying their arrival in America would
give the promoti onal machine the time to build the album into the
monster success everybody wanted and expected. Leppard could then
jet into the States like conquering heroes. It was a strategy that
worked to per fecti on , Pyromania reaching the Top Ten on the
Billboard survey before the band had played a gig in support of it.
Not that the UK gigs were treated lightl y, for as Joe made clear,
' deep down, we'd love to be big in Britain. I'd for sake being able to
walk down Oxford Street for succcess in England an y day'. It
remained a sizeab le priorit y for them but it still pr oved an impossible
nut to crac k, Pyromania edging up to number eighteen in the album
chart. As a conseq uence, they were only able to play eleven UKdates
through February and March with Rock Goddess in support . They
were still st uck on the Odeon circuit, with venues ranging between
1500 and 3000 seats in size. Despite their global success, things still
hadn't changed when they returned for a few Christmas shows.
Simon Scott reviewed the Birmingham Odeon gig, damning them
with faint praise: ' On stage, Def Leppard bring another dimension
that their recorded work mer ely hints at.'
Joe candidly admitted that financiall y at least, they were on to a
loser. ' People haven't got the dough to see bands like us out of
interest like they used to in the old days. They save their money for
the big tours like AC/DC or Queen. The reality is that America's
paying for us not to be big in Britain at the moment . .. we're losing
a hecku va lot of money here. We' re going to lose £5 0, 000 just by
playing eleven gigs. It' s ridicul ous. If we were onl y in it for the money
like some peopl e think, then faced with that kind of financial disaster,
we'd say "No way! " We wouldn' t play one gig her e and we' d be
£5 0,000 better off, that's £10,000 eac h . . . atthis moment, we' re still
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indebt, though obviously that situation's changing rapidl y.' Th ough
Elliott was merel y tr ying to inform their UK fans, tr ying to help them
understand their situation, explaining that they wer e not rolling in it,
suchcomments had the opposite effect, making him appear more and
morelike an accountant, a singer who went on stage with a calculator
and a till roll so that during the instrumental breaks he could tot up
theevening' s receipts.
Such an attitude was a total irrelevance in the States where only the
quality of the music was an issue, for it was a given that you wo uld
want to make money out of your talents. With the added impet us
given to Pyromania by their extensive touring schedu le, it spent most
of the summer in the top three, including two weeks at number two
behind Michael Jackson' s Thriller. Success doesn't come much
bigger. In a recession hit market - AOR heavyweights Asia had been
forced to cancel shows because of the economic downturn and the
consequentl y depressed market - Leppard proved to be fireproof,
'recession-proof' as Elliott termed it.
They were the hottest ticket wherever the y went, playing to packed
auditoriums of 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 or more. Ultimat ely,
Pyromania clocked up ninety-two straight weeks on the Billboard
chart and six million album sales in the US alone, 9.4 million
worldwide, firmly establishing it as one of the landmark rock
recordings. Collen put his finger on the key to Leppard's success -
they offered people something they couldn't get elsewhere: 'There
was a huge great gap between REO Speedwagon and Van Halen and
we just happened to fit that area perfectly.' Nothing machi avellian in
that, it was simply that many saw the hard rock bands as too loud or
too simpli stic or their audience as too threat ening to get invol ved
with whil e at the other end of the spectrum, American soft roc k was
simply too soporific for rock'n'roll fans to bear.
Girls made up much of the first group, their boyfriend s the second
category. What Def Leppard provided was a band that they could
enjoy unconditionally, giving couples a shared interest whil e singles,
male or female , had a band they could enjoy with their friends. In
marketing, it 's down to a knowledge of demographics and for
Leppard, those demographics stacked up just perfectl y. It' s a
remarkable thing, but hard rock had long since prided itself in being
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Def Leppard
an all-male preserve, excluding girls except in the role of groupies.
Leppard's lyrics were little better than that while some of Joe's
comments on the fairer sex were hardly couched in the most seductive
of language: 'Rule One - don't lose your hardcore fans. You can end
up with a ninety-five per cent female audience who you know aren't
going to be there next year unless you put out another hit single.'
Nevertheless, to the industry's movers and shakers such as
Mensch, getting girls to the gigs and to buy the records was a sensible
move. Why restrict yourself to fifty per cent of the possible audience
when you can appeal to everyone? A few rock groups such as Queen
and Thin Lizzy, trading on Phil Lynott's roguish charm, had
managed to bring a greater proportion of girls to the concert hall, but
with most rock bands, concert-going was still a prospect that could
fill the strongest stomach with foreboding. Leppard turned gigs into
celebratory occasions, welcoming everyone in for a huge party.
Suddenly girls started to buy their records in real quantities too which
had an enormous impact on their sales.
For the boys, there are times when you want something a little
easier on the ears than Led Zeppelin, something that is simple verse
chorus, verse chorus, something you can sing along to enjoy without
having your ears bleed from the effort. Def Leppard's metal lite was
the perfect wa y to wind down and relax, or prepare yourself for an
evening with Ted Nugent. There was no stigma attached to listening
to Pyromania as there was if you admitted to a penchant for Saga or
Toto. Leppard were still a band with an edge.
These were developments that plainly perplexed Elliott as he
frankly confessed in the late eighties. 'We've managed to get away
with murder on the cross-over factor. We're got just ugly enough
faces not to worry the lads and in America, we still get kids in
Metallica T-shirts at our gigs. Bon Jovi don't get that. We get
Vietnam vets who stand unembarrassed next to a sixteen year-old girl
that's wetting her knickers.' Inelegantly and unchivalrously put, but
true nonetheless. Def Leppard blazed a trail that had seemingly never
occurred to anyone else and changed the face of rock marketing in the
process. This may not have been as important to the fans or critics as
a musical breakthrough such as Revolver or The Velvet Underground
& Nico, but for the industry as a whole, it opened up new vistas that
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helped tr ansform rock'n'roll int o the avowedl y corpo rate institution
it is today.
Not that the band were shy of the corporate implicati ons of their
work. They were willing to co-operate with their record company to
an unprecedented extent. That earned plenty of cynical criticism,
with Leppard portrayed as a band that would roll ove r at the sight of
a dollar sign, but in reality, it was simple common sense of the sort
they'd employed right from the off. If you wa nt the company to work
for you, you have to work for the compan y as Joe explained. ' It is a
machine and I see it first hand. We're one of the few th at act ua lly put
up with anyt hing they want us to do beca use we feel we need to. In
the States, you get up and you do some phone interviews, tr avel by
bus or plane to the venue and t hen ma ybe two or t hree of us will go
to the radio stations. About eight, we have the " meet and greet "
where you put on your smiley face, do photos and autographs for a
while. Then it' s off to the venue and I can have maybe thirty or forty-
five minutes to myself before we go on stage. Sometimes we might
have to do the "meet and greet" after the show or do a lat e night
radio int er view too.'
The most bizarre manifestation of Def Leppard' s incr edibl e love
affair with the American people came in their stage wear. Rejected by
Britain, they took solace, or revenge, in spo rt ing Unio n Jack T-shirts
and shorts . Within weeks, thi s spawned cop ycat dressing amongst
their ardent fans and then a new line in merchandise. When the
touring finall y came to a halt late in the year, the massed ranks of
American yout h were awash with the Union flag t ha t their forebears
had fought so hard to have removed from their soil 200 years
previously! By the end of 1983 with a solid year of touring behind
them, the American Music Awards, voted for by the public,
underli ned Leppard' s pre -eminence and the valu e of such a st rong
work ethic. When the votes were counted, they won awards as Top
Grou p, Top Live Act, Top LP, Top LP Sleeve, Best Male Singer, Top
Ma le Sex Object (Elliott), second best tour. Where do you go from
there? According to Steve Clark 'there' s still room for lot s of
improvement. We're not going to repeat the formula. Phil ' s
contr ibut ing much more in the writing department and we' ve got
some great ideas. Some wi ll be quite adventurous and some will be in
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Def Leppard
the typical Leppard tradition. We're more concerned with developing
our potential than cloning our past.' Though they were on top of the
world as 1983 came to a close, it would be close to four years before
that next recording would be released. By then, the pressures of
following up a hit would seem irrelevant. Real life would come
crashing down on the kings of good time rock'n'roll.
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8
ANIMAL MAGIC
Standard music business lore has it that once you've made an
exceptionally successful album, you should flog it to death on the
road, check straight into a studio and repeat the whole process within
twelve months. Otherwise, the audience with its legend ar y minute
attention span will have moved on to something else. Fort unately,
many artists have a rather higher opinion of their fans than the
executives do, Def Leppard being one such band. Sensi bly, they felt
that if nine million people had bought Pyromania and loved it, they'd
be happy to buy the next one, whenever it was out, providing it
measured up to the same standards. There again, leaving it four years
was pushing the public' s patience to extremes ...
It should have all been so straightforward reall y. The progression
from High'n'dry to Pyromania showed that they were on the top of
their form and the partnership with Mutt Lange seemed to have
plenty left in it. During a well deserved break after taking Pyromania
to the world, the band settled down to pre-production in Dublin.
They had taken a house there once the tour had ended in February
1984, another controversial move that merely enhanced their
reputation for looking after the pennies as Joe explained: 'The
government got more money - a lot more money - than we did for
Pyromania and we just didn't agree with that.' Hence the y opted for
tax exile in a country that is famed for its relaxed attit ude towards
artists of every kind. By now, none of the band were resident in
England, though how they reconciled that positi on with Rick
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Def Leppard
Savage's views on home was not recorded: ' We have a responsibility
to English people - to ever ybody who likes you - but especially to the
English first and for emost because we are English.' Not a
responsibility that extended to swelling the coffers of the Exchequer
that paid out the dole money to some of their fans though.
Naivete aside, Dublin provided an excellent base from which to
work, the recording and rehear sal faciliti es expanding rapidly there
as a new musical infras tructure grew up around the success of U2.
Having written mat erial both separately and together, the plan was
to get together in August with Mutt, listen to all the tapes and select
the best material for further work at the studio they'd booked in
Hil versum, Holland. Very quickly, those crucia l early days
degenerat ed into disaster as it became apparent to one and all that
Mutt Lange was in no fit state to continue working with them.
Having followed Forei gner' s 4 with High 'n'dr y and then Pyromania,
he had become embroiled in another mammoth proj ect , producing
Heart break city for the Cars.
His almost insa ne dr ive for perfection meant that all the time he
was worki ng, Lange was under the most int ense pr essur e, always
looking for the tini est detail that might be letting down a song. Such
an obsessive quest had to take a toll on his nerves and by the time he
reached Dublin, he was alr ead y in a state of virtual collapse. As Joe
recalled, 'Mutt dropped the bombshell that he couldn't do the album.
The Cars' album really took a lot out of him and he said he wasn' t
ready to spend another year in the studio'. Bombshell was the right
word for having to embark on such an important album pr oject
without their mentor at t he recording console was a daunting
prospect. Clearly Def Leppard were not Lange' s pet studio project,
for if they had not been goo d songwriters and strong per for mers, he
would have had no raw mat eri al with which to work. Nevertheless,
the band had to conce de t hat Mutt had been an essential ingredient
in their meteoric rise over the previous three years. Rick Savage was
qui ck to accept that , saying 'Mutt is one of the main reasons that Def
Leppard are successful, he' s a great producer and I do n' t think
anybody in their right mind should turn him down. He is a
perfectionist and that ' s why his records sound so good.'
How had Lange come to be such an important member of the
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Animal Magic
team? In the recording process, one should never under-estimate the
value of another - highl y skilled - pair of ears from outsi de the gro up,
particularl y if a band is still in its relative infancy and is consequently
unfamiliar with the recording process. If you've wri tten a song, the
natural inclination is to t reat it like your own chi ld, to believe that it
isthe greatest four minutes' worth of mus ic ever heard and that it will
spend months at op the cha rts and years in people's hearts. Obviously
the truth is often very different - the track may be too long, the bridge
may be too deri vat ive, the melody might lack a little punch, the guitar
solo could be too indulgent. One of Lange's greatest gifts was to
break each and every song int o its smallest constituent pa rts, exa mine
them and then piece it back together. Such a task requi res a
phenomenal memory as well as an absolute understanding of each
song, so it' s littl e wo nder that Lange's work was so exhausting. Joe
compar ed it with the product ion of a feature film, each piece put
together in isola t ion to the rest so that it's not until the whole thing's
finished that you can see how it will work. If, like Lange, you always
know where you' re ult imatel y goi ng, this is a fascinating meth od of
working, almost like stripping down a car engine and replaci ng any
dubious components with the best you can get unti l you've t urned a
Ford Co rt ina into a Ferrari - it' s sti ll a car, but an eno rmo us
improvement. Of course, Lange has his cr itics, those who believe that
by disrupting the ori ginal spark, he is doi ng precisely the oppos ite.
There are many who prefer their rock' n'roll to have a rough edge, to
include mistake s, to breathe spontanei ty. Certainly Def Leppard do
stand accused of having too much pol ish when a little spit might have
served them better , or at least been more interesti ng. On the ot her
hand , nine mill ion sales of Pyromania suggest that plenty of people
would back the band and the producer in their ques t for perfection.
With Lange now so clearl y out of the equation, Def Leppard were
left in a corner, the more so since st udio time was alrea dy booked.
Casting aro und for possible alternatives to Lange, ma ny names were
suggest ed, including Phil Collins. Wit h a solo album - No Jacket
Required - nearing completio n, he was avai lab le but , as he had a
world tour of his own to start in February 1985, Leppard felt they
would be compromised by having to complete an album in such a
relatively short space of time. That was a shame in many ways, for
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Def Leppard
Collins' instinctive grasp of radio friendly pop would have worked,
well alongside Leppard's songs, while his belief in not losing the:
initial spirit of a song would have been a striking contrast to
Pyromania and all the more interesting for that. The complete
opposite of Lange, Collins has such an attachment to the original
writing sessions that he often uses his home demos as the basic
backing track for a song, adding further instrumentation, proper
drums and vocals, later in a full-scale recording facility. Working that
way might have been a refreshing change for Leppard.
However, they remained committed to the large-scale production,
arguing that the intimacy of Collins' method would be out of place in
the arenas that they were playing and in the songs that they were
writing. The search was still on for a suitable producer. It's been
noted already that while in many respects, Pyromania updated
Queen's work, taking it on into the 1980s, the most obvious
reference point was Meat Loaf. Similarly over the top, featuring layer
upon layer of studio trickery, vocals and effects, Meat Loaf's Bat out
of Hell had been every bit as all-encompassing and sonically
overwhelming as Pyromania. Much of the credit for that sound had
to go to writer and producer Jim Steinman who, in the aftermath of
that success, produced his own solo record, Bad for Good.
With its melodramatic flavour and epic operatic construction, that
album had indicated that Steinman was very definitely the power
behind the ample throne, his work with the likes of Bonnie Tyler on
'Total eclipse of the heart' merely underscoring the fact. As Joe
pointed out, 'Jim Steinman was genuinely interested and seemed to
have the credentials at the time, someone who was musical and
technical.' He seemed the obvious candidate and so the band moved
into Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum to begin work with him.
The sessions were shambolic, Steinman imposing his method of
working on the band, while simultaneously attempting to impose his
vision on them too. If Mutt Lange had had very clear and defined
ideas as to what Leppard should sound like, they were empathic with
the band's own goals. Steinman's tastes and those of the group did
not dovetail so happily and the result was regular conflict between
the two parties. There was no meeting of minds. Steinman later
accused the band of lacking intelligence and of being incapable of
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Animal Magic
playing songs together in the studio, feeling that they should record
'live', allowing him to overdub later. For their part, Leppard found
Steinman dictatorial and completely at sea when working on material
that he had not had a hand in writing and were alarmed by his refusal
to allow them to follow the step-by-step recording pr actices they'd
evolved with Lange. In a nutshell , ' after a couple of months, we
realized we were just making a substanda rd version of Pyromania'
according to Elliott. ' It wa s a Meat Loaf album, tot ally reliant on the
sound through masses and masses of overdubs in the orc hestral sense
rather than in the tight sense whi ch we were used to doing. We
listened to what we'd done , didn't like any of it and scrapped the lot. '
By November, Steinman wa s sacked and all the work done so far
consigned to the bin at huge cost. That reflects well on Def Leppard's
drive to make an album the y could sta nd behind, for if they were
solely motivat ed by money, they could have rushed the Steinman
product out for February 1985 and st ill sold in the region of five or
six million off the back of Pyromania. However, it does call into
question their attitude to the studio, for though Steinma n obviously
was not the right man for the job, their intransigence betrayed both
inflexibility and a lack of confidence. Mutt Lange himself had tried to
instil the belief into the band that they did not need him around any
longer, that indeed, with a good engineer on board, they should have
learned enough to produce themselves. They had spent a full year in
the studio with Lange after all, plenty of time to pick up the tricks of
the trade. It was clear that the band did not share those views, hence
the engagement of Steinman. Yet once the y had him, they apparently
expected him to work in precisely the same way that Lange had, an
impossibility, for no two producers - certainl y no two such successful
and highl y indi vidualistic producers - have the same methodology. If
you call in a new producer, it should be because you want to stretch
out, experiment and look for a differ ent approach as had been the
case when they changed from Allom to Lange for High'n'Dry,
Leppard' s whole approach to the Steinman sessions betrayed a lack
of adventurousness that belied their avowed desire to break new
ground again.
Stuck in Holland, the band went back to Mutt' s advice and,
bringing in Nigel Green, Lange's engineer, chose to produce the
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DefLeppard
album themselves. In the few weeks that remained before t h e . ~
Christmas break, they set to work with a vengeance, Savage taking]
on the mantle of responsibility, overseeing the production and !
cracking the whip accordingly. Freed of what they felt had been
Steinman's disruptive presence, the atmosphere improved almost at
once and Joe felt that 'once we brought in Nigel and got down to it,
we heard a massive improvement right away'. Although they'd not
really got going as yet, merely laying the ground rules and rehearsing
some material, they split up for Christmas with renewed optimism,
looking forward to resuming work in earnest on 3 January 1985.
It's an old tradition to look forward to a new year, as though a
mere change in the calendar will somehow magically usher in a brand
new world where all your problems can be put behind you. Def
Leppard's new year saw their problems only just beginning, for they
were hit by tragedy. Driving to his parents' home in Sheffield along
with Dutch girlfriend Miriam Barendsen in his distinctive and very
powerful Corvette Stingray, Rick Allen and the driver of an Alfa
Romeo became involved in a fairly juvenile argument, the other
driver surging past and then holding Allen up. In a moment of
madness, Allen tried to overtake, not seeing a left hand bend in the
road since the Stingray was a left-hand drive vehicle. The Corvette
clipped a wall on the bend, flew out of control and rolled over. The
impact was shattering, with Rick hurled through the windscreen with
such force that his left arm was sheared off by the restraining seatbelt,
Miriam was, fortunately, less seriously injured, receiving some heavy
bruising.
Miraculously, the first person on the scene was a local nurse, the
second, another nurse who was driving by. They were able to calm
the still-conscious Allen and, packing the severed arm in ice, they
arranged for him to be rushed to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in
Sheffield where microsurgeons operated almost immediately. In a
protracted operation, the arm was reattached. By now, news of
Rick's accident was starting to reach the rest of the group and each
spent a traumatic and dismal New Year's Eve lost in their own
thoughts, hoping that Rick would pull through, for though his arm
was clearly the main source of concern, he was on the critical list . All
worries about making records went out of the window as they feared
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Animal Magic
for their friend' s life. Joe made it clear where their pr ior ities lay,
pointing out that 'when somet hing like that happens, music becomes
as important as Kleenex toilet roll s. It ' s nothing, a job, an industr y,
like maki ng nuts and bolts. When you put it in perspecti ve, it' s fuck
all. Here was a guy wh o might die. It wa s awful, he was on that
critical list for 48 hours'.
Though the arm had been successfully sewn bac k and was
thank full y free fro m any furt her injury, over t he co urse of the next
couple of days, it became clear that t he operatio n had not succeeded.
The damage inflicted on the tissue had been far too extensive for the
arm to functi on agai n. An infecti on set in and the medical staff were
left wit h no alternat ive but to amputate. Allen was kept und er
sedation and later revealed ' I wa s never awa re that they tri ed to put
the arm back on and I'm glad I didn't find out until later on.' When
his medi cati on wa s redu ced and he regained normal consciousness, he
was devast at ed by his ' disabled' sta te, underst andabl y gaining little
consolat ion from the news that his life was no longer in danger and
that he wo uld make a full recover y. What kind of a recovery wo uld it
be, what kind of life would it be if he had to quit the band, the band
that had been his life for seven years ? ' I had my usual pile of tapes wit h
me and I'd hear the drums and think " I used to do that " .'
It' s sca rcely cr edible, for even Holl ywood would have to think
twice befor e daring to produce a script so co rny, but it was Def
Leppard that pull ed Allen through. As he told Sounds 'i f I hadn't been
in Def Leppard then I would have been out on a limb , 'scuse the pun!
The rest of the boys were my lifeline. If I'd been doing any ot her kind
of job . .. th is is the only th ing I' ve ever been able to do. I'm not too
bright, I ca n' t reall y co unt ... playing the drums since I was ten years
old has pr etty much been my life'. Even so, in the days immedi atel y
followin g the cras h, playing drums agai n was an aspirat ion rather
than merely a matter of time. The chances of act ua lly being able to
play in a profession al rock band such as Def Leppard, a band that
prided itself on the pr ecision of its sound, seemed littl e mor e than a
pipe dr eam. Bands wit h one-armed drummers were few and far
between - the ab solute minimum requirement for a dr ummer is
usuall y a full complement of arms and legs, so the fut ure was indeed
bleak.
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Over the years, Allen has been lauded as a beacon of heroism in a-1
dark and cowardly world. His courage and determination are not iri' l
doubt and will be dealt with later, but at the same time, let's get
things into perspective. Although it looked very much as though his
livelihood had gone, materially, he remained in an enviable position.
He was one-fifth of a group with more than ten million album sales
to its name, after all. If it came to the point where he could not work
again, although that would be a grievous blow to his self-esteem and
would rob him of his greatest passion, it would not leave him
destitute. Month after month, we read in the papers of someone who
has suffered similarly horrendous injuries and is then consigned to a
life at the margins of society, eking out an existence on meagre
invalidity benefits, while confined to their homes. On the same point,
Rick and the Leppard organization had the financial wherewithal to
enable him to rehabilitate properly after the crash. He would be able
to have the use of the best medical and psychological care that money
could buy, the opportunity to retrain and learn other skills and the
certainty of a place within Leppard's operations should he want it. In
that sense, the fearful blow was somewhat cushioned.
All his advantages were of little consolation to Rick at a time when
he could onl y think that his career had come to a close. His friends in
the band were equally distraught, Elliott remembering that he wept
until his eyes were drained, Savage recalling an evening spent in
stunned silence, Clark and Collen wrapping themselves around a
bottle or two in their Parisian apartments. Savage and Elliott visited
Allen and were amazed to find him in relativel y good heart,
surrounded by letters and gifts from well-wishers. Rick ultimately
received around half a million letters from all over the globe and these
helped his spirits when he was left in the hospital while the band
returned to Holland, though of course they all continued to pay flying
visits to him.
Sessions in Hilversum were, inevitably, sombre. Fortunately, Allen
had completed most of the backing tracks before Christmas, so there
was plenty to get on with but, though they tried to throw themselves
into their work as a means of taking their mind off his plight, things
moved slowly. As January wore on, better news began to filter
through. Accompanied by his pile of cassettes, Rick had begun
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banging his feet against the bottom of his bed, tapping out the
rhythms of these favourite songs. He started to wonder whether or
not this might offer him a way of coping with his loss - could his feet
do what his left arm had been accustomed to doing? It all seemed a
little far fetched until he received a visit from Mutt Lange and began
to talk to him about the possibilities. Lange was immediately
enthusiastic and started to list all the available technology that might
help Allen to play again. Once Lange had finished, Rick had a real
goal to aim for - if the master of the studio environment saw no
problems, why should he worry?
The rest of the band were delighted to hear that Rick was no longer
in the doldrums and was beginning to battle his way back to fitness.
Later on, they were all clear that the decision to continue or not had
always been left to Allen, that they would wait until he was ready, but
they would not have been human if they hadn't begun to think about
replacements. Joe later posed the question 'would you kick your
brother out if he lost his arm?', though that did beg the question
'would you kick your brother out if he had a drink problem' as Pete
.Willis had had. Nevertheless, their commitment to Rick was highly
laudable and once he made the decision to work his way back into
the band, they were completely behind him. Joe explained 'there was
no mass depression, no "I can't do it man". We gave him
encouragement, we took the piss out of him. Phil and Steve went to
see him in hospital and they were calling him an inconsiderate
bastard. And it worked! He knew we were rooting for him'.
Behind the playful jibes was real concern of course, for these
extensive delays were further harming the band's future. It does
speak volumes that the other members of the band, the management
and the company stayed behind Allen - though had they chosen to do
otherwise they would have been crucified in the media - but it cannot
have been an easy decision as the months were slipping away and new
Pyromania inspired imitators were taking to the airwaves.
It's ludicrous to call Allen 'lucky' when such terrible injuries had
been inflicted upon him but, if it was going to happen, it happened at
the least inopportune time. He was fortunate perhaps that the
Steinman sessions had been aborted and that the album was being
started again from scratch. Had it been on the brink of completion
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with a world tour ready to go, would they have been able to wait fat,
him? Booking venues is an expensive business and failing to play!:
costs a lot of money. If the new album had been ready to hit the racks,':
Allen's position might have looked a little more tenuous - at the very
least, they would almost certainly have had to tour with a
replacement, leaving Rick with a couple of years in which to kick his
heels. And if the session drummer fitted in well, who knows what the
future might have held.
In the same way, developments in recorded sound meant that
returning to the band would be far easier than a handful of years
before. With the increasing prevalence of electronic drums - ideal for
the sounds Leppard wanted - and the introduction of sophisticated
sampling keyboards such as the Fairlight, it would now be perfectly
possible for Rick to program a vast range of drum sounds and play
them through a computer. Once more, Leppard's financial security
ensured that whatever instrument was needed, Rick could have it, a
luxury not extended to bands lower down the scale. Had only
acoustic drums been available, it would have been much harder for
him to become sufficiently proficient in the space of time he had. Rick
accepted that, saying 'I never thought about still using an acoustic
drum kit for a second. We worked out a combination of electronic
pads which I play with my right hand and foot pedals which play
pretty much what I did with the left.'
Acoustic drums were all that was available as the band were
forming and making their earliest recordings. If Allen had lost his arm
back in 1980, the technology would not have been there for him. Not
only that, but since Leppard were far from being an established act,
the luxury of time would not have been there either. Even now, they
needed to get on with making the record as quickly as possible but,
with the success of Pyromania behind them, such delays were
inconvenient rather than career threatening. Once more, it's hard to
see how Allen could have retained his seat at the drums if the accident
had happened during the recording of On through the night. Perhaps
the band would have been strong enough to wait for him but the
record company would not. For all their protestations that Allen is
like a brother, Leppard are hard-headed enough when it comes to
business not to take any prisoners. Maybe Willis' problems were
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more self-inflicted, perhaps it was harder to feel sympathy for an
obnoxious drinker than a mate lying in a hospital bed with horrific
injuries, but if Allen's injuries had threatened to sabotage their career,
surely he would have been eased out, at least temporarily.
But let none of that obscure the fact that the band were
compassionate in the extreme in allowing Rick the chance to return
to the fold when he was, nor the importance of their encouragement
in helping him overcome the enormous obstacles that were in his
way. Above all, do not dismiss the enormous reserves of courage,
dedication and determination that Allen possesses, upon which he
drew so extensively and which allowed him to regain his place in the
vanguard of rock drummers. Not only did he overcome a physical
disability which would have beaten many, he had the mental strength
alongside the natural talent to learn a whole new way of playing his
instrument, a monumental task given that he'd been playing drums
for a decade or more. Now he had to forget all he knew, all that was
instinctive and start all over again. Rick was a shining example to the
.rest of the band who were getting themselves bogged down with the
newrecord, giving it neither the concentration nor the enthusiasm it
required. Allen's efforts spurred them on, forcing them to keep up the
pace so that they wouldn't be letting him down. It was a task that
proved largely beyond them, for Joe was forced to confess that 'we
tried to put a brave face on it but we just fell apart. Nothing got done,
literally, until Rick came back'.
The band were unstinting in their praise for Rick and for the part
he played in keeping their spirits up in the darkest hours. Joe
admitted that 'he's the most strong minded person I know. In hospital
he was banging his feet and once he'd decided he could transfer what
he did with his left arm to his left leg, he had a guy design a kit for
him and disappeared. He got himself locked away in a room 'cos he
didn't want anybody to hear him re-learning and then one day, four
months later he came back and he was playing again. He said "come
and hear this" and he played "When the levee breaks" and it sounded
brilliant, tear-jerking time.'
Rick's return was unquestionably the high point of the whole long,
drawn out recording process. Now that he was back, the band could
have been forgiven for thinking that after losing two producers and
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almost losing a friend, no more traumas could possibly beset them.
Wrong. Rick coming back to play with the band was a fillip, but he
found a record that was in a state of disarray. Though things had
gone better with Nigel Green, they were still far from the perfection
for which they strived. Mutt Lange had kept a watching brief through
it all, listening to recordings, offering advice, tinkering here and
there. By April when the five piece were reunited, it was obvious that
another kind of major surgery would be necessary - on the album.
They worked on it further, and in July Lange was given all they'd
done to date.
He was frank in his assessment, informing them that they were
making the same record they'd made the last time, that the song
structures needed a lot of work, that some of the material had to be
rewritten and some of the songs were beyond redemption. With this
damning verdict ringing in their ears, a verdict with which they
broadly concurred, the band decided that once again, they'd wait for
Mutt to help them put things right. Having spent very nearly a year
on the album, everything they had was consigned to the dustbin - two
and a half years on from Pyromania, a new record was not on the
horizon.
Their reliance on Lange enabled dissident voices to claim that
Leppard were little more than a manufactured band, a band that were
all at sea without Lange's guiding influence, a band of no native
ability. These barbed comments were harsh, but forgivable given the
shocking state they were in. Eighteen months since their previous
tour had finished and they still hadn't recorded a note of new music.
It didn't bode well for the future, nor did it improve their reputation.
But that was to ignore the traumatic times they'd gone through.
Steinman had been a mistake, plain and simple and surely everybody
is allowed a mistake. They'd recognized their error and acted quickly
to correct it. That was bold and showed great strength of purpose,
but it must have dented their confidence when a successful producer
like Steinman used his time in the studio to berate them.
Even then, things could have been salvaged. Working with Green
and producing themselves was another enterprising strategy which
might well have worked. Just as things were starting to move, the
band were turned upside down by Allen's accident. Steve Clark's own
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drink problem was also cause for concern, and ultimately his
contribution to the album was a comparatively small one. Hit for six,
it was hardly a surprise to find that they wer e not fully focused while
in the st udio. Since their work was built around a compulsive
att ention to detail , a lack of concent ration was a fatal flaw, hence the
problems with the materi al that Lange identified.
Though these are reasons rather than excuses, they cannot fully
cover Leppard's sudden decline from kings of the st udio to shambling
novices. A lot of the blame must be put on the pressur e they were
under. Following up a multi-million seller is a demanding business,
for suddenly you' re put in a very new and different position. Putting
together Pyromania, Def Leppard were just another band on the
Phonogram roster hoping to piece together a good record and
looking to make the breakthrough. With nothing to lose, they were
able to play with greater freedom. Now, as one of the top handful of
acts in the world, everything had changed. The eyes of the world were
on them, wondering if they could do it again. They themselves had
the pressure of producing ' a record that was bett er than the
predecessor; no easy task. Financial pressures were immense too, not
necessaril y on a personal level but because so many people now
depended upon them as a source of income - the people in the
management office, at Phonogram, promoters, road crew and man y
others were reliant upon Def Leppard coming up with the goods
again, for Leppard's success paid their wages. As a consequence,
Leppard were putting together a carbon copy of Pyromania, for they
didn't have the nerve to do anything else. That was the nub, a failure
of nerve rather than of ability.
Man management in the studio is as much a part of the producer's
job as any technical expertise - it was one of the reasons for
Steinman's failure just as it was a fundamental part of Lange's
success. Lange understood the band and knew how to guide them to
get the very best out of them. Once he was back on board, although
things were never going to progress quickly - that simpl y wasn't his
style - they did progress effectivel y. According to Joe ' Mutt came
back in Jul y 1985 but we had to leave Holland, because our time
there had run out. The two of us went to Pari s to do vocal s for the
backing tracks but after a month we had to get out because there was
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no air condi tioning and he had to go out every twenty minutes
because he was collapsing.' Una ble to acclimatize to the Studio Des
Dames, Leppard booked in to the Wi ndmill Lane facilit y in Dublin,
home to U2.
Slowly but surely, the project began to take on its own life as they
fell back into the routines that had served them so well on
Pyromania. Even so, after a period of almost a year where at least one
member of the band was always working in the studio, they began to
get itchy feet. They'd already don e some rehear sals in the summer of
1985 for a tour that had to be aborted owing to t heir recording
difficulti es. With the followi ng summer fast approachi ng, an
invitat ion was extended to them to play the 'Monsters of Rock'
festivals across Europe. The cha nce to blow away the cobwebs was
an absolute Godsend for them, giving a cha nce to escape fro m the
rigo urs of Lange's working patterns for a few weeks. It would also
provide them with an opport unity to assess Rick' s state of hea lth and
his ability to playa live show, a very different discipline to that of
playing in the st udio. If he could cope with t hese gigs, the chances
were that he would be able to handle the extensive tour ing that wo uld
accompany the new record's release. If it became too much for him,
contingenc y plan s would be necessa ry.
To offer a safety net , Status Quo' s drummer Jeff Rich was recruited
for t hese few shows so that Rick wo uld not be so exposed. The first
show was played in Cork's Connolly Hall in August 198 6, Hot Press'
Tony O'Donoghu e writing that ' Rick Allen gave a st unning
performance of cour age, passion and skill. A most except ional
exa mple of resilience and fortitude'. O'Donoghue was ironically,
confirming one of the group's greatest fears as Joe explained: ' I hope
we don't get the sympathy vote. The last thing I' d want is for the
album to get five stars out of kindness, out of fair play to us for
keeping Rick on . I' d get really annoyed.' Such approbation could not
be avoided though, for it even helped the Brit ish warm to them at
long last.
The onl y British show would be at Doni ngton, where Leppard
wo uld be third on Ozzy Osbourne' s bill. Prior to that though, furt her
warm-ups were planned in Ireland. Rich had other commit ments
with Status Qu o in mainl and Europe but had agreed to fly back in
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time for Leppard's show in Ballybunion . He missed his flight in
Stockholm and then the taxi bringing him on the hour and a half
journey from Dublin to the gig broke down in the middle of nowhere.
Meanwhile, in the midst of rural Ireland, Rick Allen was getting
increasingl y nervous as show time approached. Th e die was cast -
Rick had to play alone for the first time. The fai rytale return was
compl ete, with Jeff Rich turning up in time to see that he was now
redundant and could return to Sta tus Quo.
Donington was next on the agenda and Leppard were lucky to
survive it for Phonogram had got things horr ibly wrong agai n. Th e
week of the festival, the music papers carried a full page advert for
Leppard saying 'They'r e back. Simply the grea test rock band in the
world '. Perhaps it was meant to be ironic after the prolonged hiatu s
but given Brita in's jaundiced atti t ude towards t he band, it was not
very clever. Ultimat ely, though the band were decided ly rusty and
lacklust re, the show wa s salvaged by a crowd that were act ually
willing them to succeed, happy to forgive past misdemeanours out of
respect and admirat ion for the way they'd fought bac k in the face of
adversity. Rick received an astoni shi ng response that simply
overwhelmed him and by the end of the show, it was obvious that if
their fourth album was anything like, they had a rea dy- made
audi ence that wer e gagging for it.
On e major show was left, at the ' Monsters' festiva l in Mannheim.
The Eur opean arm of Phonogram turned out in numbers to see if they
still had a band worth promoting. In pouring rain, soa ked to the skin
and with possibl y the worst live sound they'd ever had, Leppard
trudged through their set , indignity heaped upon indi gnity. To the
company peopl e, it was enough just to see the band back on stage,
but for the band it wa s yet another disaster in a thoroughl y
exasperating year. Showing a nice line in self-deprecating humour,
the band included a photo from the gig in the booklet that went with
the new album on its eventual release. The caption read ' Life at the
top 84- 87'.
For it would be 1987 before the album saw the light of day.
Heading back to Holland to complete work after the shows were
over, Joe immediately contracted a serious bout of mumps which left
him in quarantine for a couple of weeks and put the band even
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further behind schedule. As Joe returned, Mutt was involved in a car
crash on his way into the studio. He was fortunate to escape with leg
injuries that allowed him to be back at work within three weeks, but
these constant traumas were just wearing the band down. If they'd
been Led Zeppelin, talk would have been of Faustian pacts. Leppard,
though, wer e too normal for that kind of nonsense for as Peter
Mensch ruefull y pointed out 'Def Leppard will never be famous like
Led Zeppelin in that way because the y're just not cont roversial. It's
all down to the material and the show'. All they could do was brace
themselves for further months in the studio, reconcile themselves to
another missed release dat e - Januar y 198 7 thi s time - and hope that
by the following Christmas, they might have finall y completed work
on an album that was turning into a nightmare.
Th e album finally had a name too, Hysteria, as Joe explained. 'It
was Rick' s idea, after all the stuff that went on with his accident. It
got pretty close to hysteria two da ys after the accident - reception
area of the hospital was teeming with newspaper reporters and kids
and because we weren' t all that popular in England at the time, it
made it appea r mor e massive. Rick was on the front of t he Daily Star
and it was like he was the Queen or Ian Botham or somet hing. We
had to be snuck in through the fuckin' laundry chute to go see him.'
Th e titl e was a lat e decision for as Joe recalled ' it was going to be
called " Animal Instinct s" but then we thought that sounded really
st upid. We had the sleeve ready, so that was anot her four grand down
the dr ain. But it just was n' t right.'
Th eir absence from the scene had thrown another pot ential
problem int o t he melting pot. With Pyromania having br oken the
mould, it was inevitable that others wo uld follow their lead. In their
enforced absence, Leppa rd had seen countless other groups aping
their sound, some intelligently, ot hers blatantl y copying what they
saw as the formula. In the light of all that, the band stiffened their
resol ve to produce something that would again leave the competition
standi ng, hence the additiona l st udio time required. Most notable of
all was the release in the autu mn of 1986 of Bon jovi' s third record
Slippery when we t. Crammed with hit singles, the album had elevated
Bon Jovi to t he top of the heap after the y had released two poorly
received records. Jon had repl aced Joe as the number one sex symbol
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in the rock music field and had usurped much of the audience too. It
was a wo rryi ng development in some ways, for where Pyromania had
given people somet hing they couldn ' t get elsewhere, now there was
no shortage of similar albums. Elliott shrugged off the probl em. ' We
couldn't really take what we had with Pyromania any furt her. So
many peopl e have improved on our sound over the past few years
when we didn' t have the cha nce to t hat there was no point in doing
the same thing. It ' s fair to say that we did create somethi ng new
within a very old-fas hioned form of music with Pyromania. And a lot
of peopl e copied it. I take it as a compliment! Now the re's Bon Jovi,
Poison, Whitesnake, Cindere lla - if this album can sell four million in
that sort of company, then it' ll have do ne well. But I'd rather have an
album do well in that market than if there were no other rock albums
about.'
Having to ret hink their whole style was easier said than done. As
Lange had observed, some of their earlier songs were 'Pyromania by
numbers' and it took a fundamental reth ink to come up with
something new once more . Pioneering is never easy and at times Joe' s
temper snapped when having to justi fy his existence. 'Look, if we had
never existed, Bon Jovi would pr obabl y have never existed. What
they're doi ng is what we were doing three years ago. Good luck to
them - I think they'd say we were their favourite band. I think they'r e
really good . . . They' ve just kept our seat warm for the past two years
and it's t ime for them to move over. Bye bye lads!' Not one of his
better predicti ons, for there was more than enough room for both
groups to coexist per fectl y happily. By August 1987 when t he new
album finally emerged, much of Bon Jovi' s initia l impetus had sta rted
to run out and the wo rld was read y for Leppard to take over from
them for a while.
Eventuall y, at an estimated cost of £1 million and afte r three years
of solid work, Hysteria was in the shops. Now, no record can justify
that kind of outlay or that amo unt of time and it's stupid to try, so
the band and Phonogram simply decided to let the music do the
talking for them, Joe tr ying to deflat e thi ngs by merely noting that
'after spendi ng so much time on th is, if there' s anything wrong with
it then we need a joll y good kick up the bottom. If we've got it wrong
. . . well , we could have got it wrong in three weeks'.
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Hyst eria didn't so much talk as bawl at the top of its voice for it
was nothing if not a ver y good, state of the art, technological rock
record. Whil e U2 were simplifying down to folk song st ruct ures,
Leppard were involved in a ' kitchen sink' producti on , invoking huge
wa lls of so und in the way th at Phil Spector had twenty years
pr eviou sly. Tho ugh th ere were attempts to sugges t th at thi s album
was radi call y di fferent to its pr edecessor, such claims wer e rubbish.
With the cha rts teeming wit h th e likes of Bon Jovi, Ratr, Motl ey Crue
and Whitesnak e, it was readil y apparent that metal lite st ill held sway
in th e publi c mind. With an investment of £] milli on to recoup,
taking cha nces was neither sensible no r pr acti cal. In Hyst eria,
Leppard pr ovided the fans with a record very much rooted in
Pyromania but showing a degr ee of progression. Its st rengt hs were
conso lidated while its weaknesses - the rambling nature of some
songs, the tendency to ove rplay - had been remedi ed. In essence, it
was Leppard remi ndi ng all and sundry that there might be plenty of
imitat ors, but t he origina ls were still th e best , th ou gh in fairness , Bon
Jovi did have legitimate claims to their crown.
Improving on Pyromania wa s a tough task, but th ey we re up to it
despite the di st ract ion s. Rick Savage wa s qui ck to point out that ' we
always wa nted to keep songs concise and not self-indulgent . People
think we've changed our style to get a wider audi ence but we haven't.
We' ve just improved in th e way we always wa nted to.' Cert ainly,
Leppa rd were mo re radio friendly th an they'd ever been before, but
whet her th at was na tu ra l progr ession or merely a product of the need
to sell records has to be a matter of opinion. One contributory factor
was t he change in Allen's drumming style. Always a skilled player , his
style had been rather busy, showi ng the audience how good he was,
somet imes to t he det riment of the song. Now, presumabl y because of
circumstances, he was less obtr usive and his drumming was almost
skeleta l at times. In turn, songs tended to be simpler and if ther e' s one
recipe for rock rad io success, it' s keep it big and dumb, the bigger and
dumber t he better. Wha t better example of th at co uld ther e be than
' Pour so me sugar on me' , a single whi ch reached number two in the
Sta tes. Almost a terrace ant hem a la ' We are th e cha mpions', its
choruses, carefully cra fted, were bu ilt round a hook that led
inexora bly to a huge black hol e th at simply sucked in t he unwar y
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listener. Kiss without the make-up, Slade without the top hat, Mott
by any other name, it was classic glam boasting a guitar riff you could
play in your sleep.
Joe was largel y responsible for the song which he described as ' just
Gar y Glitter meet s the Sweet but st ill sounding like us. We've always
been a rock band, not a heavy metal band'. Its pot ential as a single
was absolutel y crucial to the pr ospect s of Hysteria as a whole. Joe
under st ood the machinations of the market place pretty well by now
and accepted the need for hit s. Th ey had wo rked har d to produce
them and he was happy with the results:
'I seriously believe that we' ve got up to five hit singles on thi s
record, even " Rocket" , though it's such an unusual song and
such a change from something like "Pour some sugar on me",
which is an obvious shot at the commerci al market. Th e chorus
is three chords - 1 wrote it like that 'cos it's all 1 can play, 1
always have to think commercially. 1can't write "Gods of war ".
When 1pick up a guitar, 1 tend to play "Wild thing" a lot better
than "All along the watchtower" . Peter Mensch is totally right.
You cannot survive without hit singles these days because AOR
radio in America isn't responsible for breaking bands any more.
Slippery when wet sold eight million copies through the singles.
There was a period where people were reall y snobby about hits,
that it wasn't credible. That's the most ridi culous thing. 1 like
being on Top of the Pops, 1 find it funny. Ninety-eight per cent
of our stuff is tongue-in-cheek anyway. When you've got a
rhinoceros in one of your videos, you can 't take yourse lves that
seriously.'
Elliott was right that AOR radi o was no longer so import ant. MTV
had taken over that responsibility now, something Leppard had
benefited from already when the clip for 'Ph otograph' had launched
Pyromania. Bearing that in mind, prior to releasing Hyst eria, the y
seemed to have stopped off for a visit to the stylists - the carefully
distressed jeans and jackets of 1987 were a marked contrast to the
rough and ready Union Jack raggedness of four years earli er - so the y
would be made even more welcome on MTV. To make the most of
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this TV exposure, songs had to be further simplified, purely because
the sound quality on television did not really compare with radio,
since stereo broadcasting was still in its infancy. All the extraneous
sound had to be cut away for a song to cut through. For that reason,
Hysteria was perhaps not so aggressive as Pyromania, but more
polished. They'd added a danceable quality to the tunes too which
did them no harm at all given that on MTV their songs rubbed up
alongside the likes of Madonna and the Jackson clan.
One of the more inventive tracks on the record, one of its best, was
' Rocket', which in parts was reminiscent of Malcolm McLaren's
' Buffalo gals' , not a comparison that would have sprung readi ly to
mind in the past! The use of sound effects was beginning to sound a
little jaded now but the rhythmic opening was genuinel y enthralling.
Sounding like something from the drummers of Burundi, a sound
that artists as diverse as Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel,
Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow had emp loyed to good effect, it had
never been used in a rock setting before. It was a very adventurous
move that opened them up to cri ticism from the tr aditionalists but
one whi ch showed that creative atrophy had yet to set in. 'Rocket'
was clean and pri stine, light, poppy and a genuine rush of singalong
fun, a virt ual rap name-checking the band' s heroes such as Bowie,
Beatl es, Elton John, Queen and Thin Lizzy befor e ending in a wild
rhythmic sect ion.
Equally inte resting was Steve Clark's ' Gods of wa r'. Musicall y in
similar territory to ' Switch 625' at times, the brooding introduction
and spellbinding guita r figure made it clear that here was a more
mature work, dar k and int ense. Th e anti-war , ' why are we fighting?'
statement was scarcely new, but it' s a sent iment that bea rs repetition.
The song marked Clark's emergence as a maj or writer and offered
such promise for the future, promi se that would never be fulfilled.
On the other side of the coi n, 'Animal' was an equally ass ured piece
of work, brilliant pop music which was to be accompani ed by a daft
video, an unbeatabl e combinat ion as promos such as Gabriel's
'Sledgehammer' or New Order ' s 'True faith ' have pr oved. The crystal
clear clarion guitar - that year's sound, Guns N'Roses' ' Sweet child
o' mine' worki ng on the same principle - heralded a lovely, simple
melody, affecting, throaty voca ls and an engaging drum pattern.
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Obvious crowd-pleasing, hands in the air fare, the final call of
'Animal' was blat ant audience participation/manipulation stuff,
perfect for singalongs in the company of 15,000 people. There were
few better rock singles that year.
It was however in what was now termed Bon jovi territory, which
tended to irritate more t han somewhat. joe had resigned himself to
his fate. 'I can see it now. "Def Leppard - the new Bon jovi". And it's
just because we're a rock band. There's been Bon jovi, there's been
Europe and hopefully there'll be Def Leppard. But we can't be just
Def Leppard because we' re a rock band and people are prejudiced
against rock bands.' It was richly ironic that Def Leppard, a band
from Sheffield, had paved the way for Bon jovi's success back in
America. Repaying the favo ur, it was Bon jovi's single success that
finally awakened the British pop audience to Leppard's charms. With
New jersey's finest having tott ed up three top twenty singles in t he
UK - 'You give love a bad name' , 'Livin' on a prayer' and 'Wanted
dead or alive' - fans were ready for more in that style. 'Animal'
provided it, racing to number six in the charts, comfortably their best
performance to date at home. Lyrically of course, it remained
undemanding, but joe tried to defend his words, arguing that it made
a point about basic instincts: 'Men can't help it, it's in our genes. All
this sexist crap that's thrown at us annoys me because no matter how
educated we get, we're still animals and sometimes the primal takes
over.'
The single buyers rushed out to pick up Hysteria, finding much to
enjoy and giving the band their first British number one album into
the bargain. 'Love bites', which gave them a number one in the States
showcased a band that was continuing to mature with a deeper lyric
ruminating on love and betrayal , bui lding gradually to a powerful
crescendo. Classic epic pop in the 10CC style, it made it obvious that
Leppard were not willing to be pigeonholed as hairy old rockers, but
had other talents on which to build. As songwriters, they certainly
had improved. Hysteria itself was a case in point, a reflective ballad
that was a nice change in pace. Halting and hesitant, it indicated a
group that was still struggling to come to terms with the form, but
one that was striving in the right direction, not content to allocate
time to plodding filler rock but willing to stretch themselves further.
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' Run Riot ' was a left over of sorts, Leppard doing what they'd done
best in the past. AC/DC-influ enced following a beautifully distorted
guita r int roduct ion, the sheer tempo of the song allowed them to
concoct a genuinely thrilling rush of excitement . Its constituent parts
all seemed hopel essly slight yet the final combinati on wa s compelling,
evidence of Lange' s inva lua ble handi work, und erli ning his priceless
value to the group. ' Do n' t shoot shotgu n' shared similar
character istics, wi th Allen's imaginati on working overti me as he
searched for inventive new rhythm patterns, his new restraint leaving
holes for the vocals to fill, while the seductive backing voca ls were
once again employed effectively. ' A leaf out of Queen' s book I'm
afraid' Elliott was force d to admit. ' I don't do them, it ' s Mutt, Phil
and Sav so we get a different blend .' The backing vocals on the title
track reputedly feat ured 200 voices!
Altho ugh the album project had been a har rowing, frustrati ng and
exha usting process, there was still room for some daftness,
highlighting the way in which the professional band could separate
themselves from the private traumas when they wer e at work.
'Women ' , the ob ligatory raucou s opener was tight, taut and crass;
'Armageddon it ' was packed with thor oughl y dumb doubl e ente ndre,
though agai n, love it or loathe it, it provided a compulsive singa long
chorus; 'Excita ble' was the ' Rock of ages' style joker in the pack, the
hyped up heavy brea thing and clanging guitar pr oving that it should
be taken with a pinch of salt. Like much of Hysteria, it all relied a
littl e too heavily on sto mping choruses that were all too familiar in
the days of the Gary Glitter shouts, but they were hugely likeable and
played wi th a knowi ng irony that deflected any lat ent pomposi ty.
The final song, ' Love and affection', was proba bly the most
atyp ical track on the album, a huge power ballad, a love song t hat set
the pr ot agoni sts aga inst the wo rld. Very corny 'you and me babe'
stuff, as the tr ack played out you could visua lize a huge mirrorball
reflecting across the da ncefloor, and yet it still managed to be
emot iona lly affecting. Tho ugh it was n' t sta ndard Leppard fare
musicall y, the atmosphere of the song was very revealing and said a
great deal about just why it was that Def Lepp ard were so successful.
Def Leppard' s music is all about happy endi ngs, no loose ends,
about ever ything working out , about taking refuge in the ar ms of
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your partner. Leppard are melodramat ic, they'r e corny at times but
they' re also heartwarming in the way that Hollywood' s most popular
movies are. You can participat e in a Leppard song and come out the
other end feeling bett er about yourse lf. It may be hopelessly
super ficial, but it is a tempt ing escape route from a wo rld of
increasing uncertainty. Def Leppard's Hysteria didn' t make any
demands on you and merely trie d to make you feel good to be alive,
pro mising to deliver a fun time if that was what you wanted. No-one
gets hurt and we all live happily ever after, or at least for the sixty-
minute durat ion of the album. If that sounds harsh, it ' s not meant to
be for all music doesn't have to be angst-ridden or politically
mot ivat ed. There's room for PJ Harvey just as there's roo m for Take
That . You simply choose what suits you best and igno re the rest.
It must be said however that a qui ck run through Leppard's lyrics
would leave you tot ally una ware of the tumultuous events that had
wreaked such havoc in the pr eceding three years. In a live review,
Melody Mak er' s Carol Clerk wrote that ' unas hamed ly escapist, Def
Leppard are the first to admit that "there isn't any major intelligence
in our lyrics and we don't put them on the sleeve because they don't
read very well!'" But how could any serious artis t have failed to
channel such personal tr agedies into their wo rk? It is impossi ble. The
only conclusion was that Def Lepp ard might be deadly serious about
their work but they were not serious artis ts in the Neil Young sense
of the phrase. Elliott held up his hands to the charge but was
unconcerned by it. 'Some people seem to forget that everyt hing you
do doesn't have to have some kind of social statement. I have
opinions, but I don 't sing songs abo ut it ... a kid on the dole doesn't
want to hear a record about being on the do le. I'd rather wr ite "Pour
some sugar on me", which tot ally makes no sense at all and the kid
can make up his own mind about it. I' d sooner stick with the British
approach which is totally ambiguo us, doesn' t say anythi ng, doesn' t
mean anything, they just sound alright. You explain what T-Rex's
lyrics are about. If you can figure his out, then you can figure mine
out. " Hub-cap diamond star halo" means more to me than "I went
down to the river " I'm afraid. To me, T- Rex make your imagination
work harder. If I wrote from experience, I don 't t hink it wo uld sound
very good, the last five-a-side game I had . I used to wri te that way,
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but it didn't wo rk for us.' Each to his own, but it did seem a terrible
waste of experience - just imagine what Elvis Costello would have
made of all this emotional and physical carnage.
What ever reservati ons there might have been, much of the press
comment was favourabl e. In Sounds, Paul Elliott' s five star review
called it 'a progression of sorts, every bit as fresh and vita l as back in
'83 .. . Leppard' s finest hour, [showing a] greater breadth and
maturity .. . it will crac k Britain wide open and make the band a
household name in their backyard'. Prescient comment indeed,
reinforced by Ho t Press's Jon De Leon. The paper' s marking system
termed it ' intoxicating' , the review pointing out that ' it sets the
standa rd for other met al-inclined rockers in 1987. It' s hard to see it
being surpassed'. It was left to Q to offer a dissenting voice, Emily
Fraser arguing persuasively that ' a minority of us feel that the band
have become sanitized by the experience and are now more polish
than passion. There's little that makes a statement'.
One sta tement the band were keen to make was on the road where
they saw themselves as an altogether superior proposit ion, Joe
remarking with typical humility that 'even at our wo rst, we're 100
times better than anybody else'. They'd spent $100,000 on a
conventional stage set when Peter Mensch was struck by the idea of
pla ying in the round, the stage being set in the centre of the arena, the
seating built around it. It was an audacious move, almos t unique in
rock music although Yes had dabbled with the concept back in 1978,
the Pol ice also tr ying it out in 1983. Mensch was thrilled with the
idea, one which wou ld mark Leppard out as being distinct from the
Bon Jovis of the world. He explained the reasoning behind such an
ambitious proj ect: ' We ll, A, it had never been do ne before by a hard
rock band and B, it wo uld give us more seats and every seat would be
goo d. I figured t hat if you can play with a one-armed drummer, you
can play in the round. It' s like Edmund Hillary and Everest, you play
it because it' s there.' This wo uld form the basis for the Hysteria tour,
though inevitably certain venues weren' t able to provide the
necessary facilities and the band was forced to play conventional
shows there, which is how they started promot ing Hysteria in the UK.
Reviews were predicta bly mixed, Me lody Maker' s Chri s Robert s
telling his readers more about himself than the band: 'Characterless
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and powerless. The singer is a repellent nouveau-riche navvy. They're
not worth my time - I' ve been her e a whole nine minutes when I see
there' s an exit fifteen yards away'. Paul Elliott was rather more
enthusiastic in his review of the Nottingham gig: 'This wasn't perfect.
Will great do?' Britain had finally been conquered as venues the
length and breadth of the country sold out in double qui ck time. With
the UK in the bag, it was time to resume their relatio nship with the
States, in the round.
Never ones to shirk a challenge, the group threw themselves into
the unknown with real vigour, creating problems for themselves in
the process. Joe admitted that 'I'd be a liar if I said it was n' t
exhausting. Th e first night we did it in the round, we' d done eight
days' rehearsal but we still ended up tr ying to fill the stage too much
and by the end of the first couple of songs everybody was looking for
a bucket to throw up into . After three gigs though, we were really
cookin' . We reached a certain fitness peak so that we can deal with it
and the set's well paced enough to take care of itself. I enjoyed getting
kind a hot and sweaty anyway.' Giving everyone in the auditorium a
great sound and a great view, the set-up was idea l - MTV lat er
adopted the idea , albeit on a small er scale, for their ' Unplugged' series
and for live specials by the likes of Bon Jovi. The spectacle was
impressive and it did prevent fans concentrat ing solely on Rick Allen,
somet hing that had worried them. ' In the rou nd' was a bigger
innovati on than a one-armed drummer as Joe agreed. ' There's
nothing we can do short of playing upside down next time to top thi s.
The novelty probably is taking a bit of weight off Rick but at the
same time, when it features him, it features him more. He' s not
hidden behind the rest of us. I'd like to th ink that we' d play in the
round on the next tour too, because playing at one end wo uld be a
bit of a downer now.'
Th e scale of the physical challenge req uired a whole new,
professional attitude from the group. Phil Collen had already given
up drinking aft er he'd bought a £6000 watch when so plastered he
didn't know what he was doing. At the same t ime, Joe Elliott
accepted he needed to have a radical rethink of his approach to his
craft. The wilder days of yore, particularly in the company of the
female fans , had to become a thing of the past as wo rd of AIDS began
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to circul at e. Alcohol had to come off the menu too for it did little for
the voice. He explained that his overriding concern was the quality of
t he show.
' On the first tour, I went at it like a rat up a dr ainpipe but that' s
cha nged now. It gets to be rea lly boring when you know it might
be you tonight, someone fro m Ratt last night and somebody
from Motley Cr ue tomorrow. I've got a stea dy girl friend now.
We used to do all that, but it would've been a bit weird if we
hadn't. Five lads fro m Sheffield let loose in America? Co me on!
On the road, I don't drink or smoke, there' s fewer parties . Now
I can go on stage and perfor m bett er. Th e most importa nt thing
to me is those two hours a night and if the other twenty-two have
to be rea lly boring, then so be it. I'd rather go to a club until five
in the morning 'cos I'm wide awa ke with all the adrena line but I
know I can't sing the night after if I do and for the sake of
enter tai ning myself, I'm not gonna piss off 15,000 kids the
following night by singing like Lemmy or somebody. Th at
wouldn't suit the songs we do.'
It was an attitude tha t was beginning to permeate the whole business
for , despite all of the wild stories that still did the rounds, the truth
was that most musicians spent the evening ' in bed with their acco unts
and some sandwiches' as Bruce Dickinson once put it. The sta kes
were simp ly too high, too much money was hanging on the art ists for
them to have the luxury of gett ing wrecked and playing like idiots.
Word soo n get s round if a band plays a few bad gigs and acts with a
tota l disregard for the fans, popularity can quickly take a nosedive.
Wi th recording and touring cos ts going through the roof, no-one
could take that risk. If you're committe d to a couple of years on the
road, nothing must go wrong. Among the more seaso ned pros, there
was also a growi ng disenchantment with the st upidity of life on the
road and the things that entertained them at nineteen bored them at
twenty-seven. Joe for example had been mellowed by his time in
Ireland. ' The people are very roma ntic, a lot more emotiona l than in
England, it's nice there. If I'd spent eighteen months in Los Angeles,
I'd be in a lunatic asylum. I can' t handle the falseness, all t hat " hey
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man! Wanna party? I' ve got a bag of coke!" Fuck it! I'm not
interested. I'd rather have a pint and talk about football.'
It ' s sma ll wonder that bands on the roa d do go off the rails for it's
a ter ribl y tedi ous way of life, despite the seemingly glamorous
trappings. During the first American leg of the Hysteria tour, Elliott
accep ted that ' the best part of being in a band is playing live. That' s
why we got together in the first place. We've alwa ys been a band who
wanted to get it right on record, it ' s t he only opportunity you have to
tr y to create perfect ion. Live, you've got to entertain people. I don't
really sta nd still and you can on ly really sing properly when you' re
stood st ill, but if I did , it'd look really silly. Half my job isn' t singing,
it' s getti ng an audience going. We set such a sta ndard on the records
and what we do there, five peopl e can' t physica lly do, but we don't
want to take out an orchestra, we want it to be us. That's where the
fun comes in. But you have to do it in moderation to enjoy it. We
were on the bus for six hours yesterday and you wo uldn' t believe how
tiring that is day after da y. Being on the road can wea ken you, we've
all gone down with something at some stage, you keep catching
someone else' s cold, it keeps doing the rounds. The food can be a
problem. Phil and Rick ar e vegetarians, and when they ask for a
vegeta rian meal on the plane, they get fish. Th ey live on peanuts most
of the time! Hot els are really important to us. A good one has a
menthol at ed steam room which is great for the voice, a gym and a
good roo m service menu that ' s twenty-four hour s a day. From there,
backst age is our home. We' ve even set up st udios wherever we can so
that we can tr y to write on the roa d' .
Everything was focused on the gigs and rightly so. Th e concerts -
a littl e gimmicky for some tastes, but undeni abl y strong both visually
and musicall y - helped keep Hysteria in the publ ic eye for mor e than
a year. Finall y, in Jul y 1988, Hysteria became America's number one
album aft er fort y-nine weeks on the chart, spending the next few
months fighting with Guns N'Roses' Appetite for destruction for the
top spot. It was final compelling proof that everyt hing they'd
endured, all the work they'd put in to Hysteria had been worthwhile.
Phil made it clear that 'we want to be successful, everyone does if they
were honest enough to say it, but our popularity has come from a lot
of hard work. We 've all paid our dues in one way or another.' Joe felt
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it was vindication for their belief in the music before all else. 'If
money meant that much to us, we wouldn't have spent so much
making this album because we had to sell two million to get the costs
back. Th at ' s the arrogant side of us. We thought we could sell five or
six again, or even ten million.' When the returns were in, Hysteria
had sold 14.2 million copies, a million of which came in the UK,
Melody Maker' s Carol Clerk opining that ' Def Leppard are
something vivid and friendly and intimate. They ar e something to get
affectionate about , happy with, excited by'. Pleased to have made the
grade back home, Joe still wasn't sure where his heart lay: ' At the
moment I have a very love/hat e relat ionship with England. I do miss
my par ents, but I don' t miss the fact that you can 't walk around at
night without getti ng mugged. All the papers we have from England
are full of sto ries about hooligans.' Three cheers for the tabl oid press
and their peerless ability to dist ort the fact s.
With things going so well for them, Joe couldn' t resist the
opport unity to stir t hings up again, showing that all the youthful
br avado had not petered out in his lat e-twenties. ' We' re a pop band
in the same way that Thin Lizzy were, they never lost their credi bility
wit h rock fans . I like t he idea of a rock band cross ing over and not
having to tota lly wimp out. Okay, compared to Napalm Death, we' re
soft. All we've ever wa nted to be is quite simply the biggest rock band
in the wo rld and you don' t become that by sounding like Na palm
Death. I' m not interested in gett ing great reviews and selling five
records. I /ik e playing the NEC and Wembley. I lik e sta nding on stage
and seeing people out there. I think everybody' s ambi tio n is to sell as
many records as you can and to play in front of as many people as
you can. Even those fuckin ' poxy littl e ba nds who say that' s not their
thing - they'r e lying.' Cont radict ing himself, he went on to add ' I
don't believe it sho uld all be based on sales. It sho uld be judged on
the sound of the bloody thing ... we weren 't afraid of losing what
we'd gained with Pyromania because we didn't wa nt to rush
something out just to cash in on the success.'
Retai ning the chip on his shoulder, sma rti ng at the snobbery
prevalent in the industr y, even a BRIT Awa rd nominati on couldn' t
mollify him. ' It ' s nice to be nominated but we' re never going to win
anything. We're stuck in the mud heavy met al band - long hair and
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jeans. We can' t vote for them can we? I like the fact that we're
unfashionable - the black sheep in the charts, the black sheep on Top
of the Pops, the black sheep in Smash Hits just because we're a rock
band with two guitarists where everyone else has got capped teeth
and happy haircuts. We have nothing in common with the Pet Shop
Boys like we have nothing in common with Des O'Connor.'
Despite these irritations, they returned to Britain in spring 1988,
able to play Wembl ey and the NEC, in the round, giving British fans
the chance to see the full American product ion, a courtesy that not all
groups extended to their supporters. Sounds reviewe d the show,
noting that 'they'r e boisterous and agile and openly thrilled to be
home, hyper-ventilating with confidence. Britain has every reason to
be pr oud of them'. Basking in such unusual hyperbole, Leppard were
a tir ed, but delighted band, but one which took nothing for granted.
Joe cast his mind back to shows much earlier in their career: 'We once
did a gig at New Brighton Pavilion near Liverp ool and eleven kids
turned up and one of them was doing his homework. Gigs like that
make you appreciate playing Wembley! '
Ironically, having repeated the miracle of Pyromania, by the end of
1988 as the y settled down to a well -earned rest, Def Leppard found
themselves back in the same predicament that the whole Hysteria
phenomenon had begun with. How do you follow that? It wa s a
question that exercised the collective brain, Joe understanding the
difficulti es only too clearly.
'Where do you go from stadiums? Th at ' s why we have
managers. We have opinions but we don't have our finger on the
pul se like the y do. We're too busy, you can't be a master of all
trades. When does a spectacle become untoppabl e? Satellite
gigs? Hologram gigs? It's the same with the albums. The first
album - I know it's a pile of shit - but it only took us three weeks
to record and High 'n'Dry onl y took three mont hs. With
Pyromania and Hysteria, we wanted to do something nobody
had ever done before. On the next album, we don't wanna do
that again. There comes a time when carrying the weight of
experimentation on your shoulders gets a bit heavy. Ma ybe we
just wanna do an album which says bollocks to all that . It might
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not kick any door s down, but who cares? We want to put an LP
out in 1989 ... we've spent three years with Mutt and learned a
lot , but sooner or lat er, Grasshopper has to leave the temple and
ma ke his own way in the world. I'm not sur e we'll even get to
make that record yet, but if we do, we'll not be using Mutt. We
also really wa nt to release something that ' s not the official
follow-up to Hysteria. It'll just be an odds and sods, penthouse
tapes sort of thi ng, a few B-sides, a ton of new stuff and some
stuff that's been recorded but not used yet.'
Hi sto ry proved t hat a 1989 release was hopelessly, wi ldlessly
opt imist ic, but they did get set to begin work in March of that year.
Ha ving become the first band to sell seven million albums plus, back
to back, there was no reaso n to quit, every reason to keep going. Joe
pointed out on the release of Hysteria that 'most peopl e in bands have
got families and maybe that ' s the reaso n we have the success we have;
nobody' s married or got kids. Th ere' s eno ugh kids wit hout me
bringing another one into the wo rld. I don 't wa nt a kid - the band' s
too much of a bloody baby'. Touring the world had only
strengt hened the bond between the indi vidu als and their loyalt y to
the Def Leppard cause. Joe summed it up by asking 'you know when
you have a baby and it might be as ugly as shit, but you love it all the
same? This band' s our bab y. And we still get on after seven years, five
of them spent living out of each other's suitcases. We'r e each ot her's
closest friend s.' Those friends hips would soon be put to the ulti mate
test.
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9
THE LAST TIME
Without having dominated the front pages of the popular press ,
without carefully preening an image as devil-wor shippers, without
courting controversy, Def Leppard completed the Hysteria world
tour as perhaps the biggest band in the world, eclipsing the
popularity of the likes of U2 and Guns N'Roses. Instead of wasting
energy on a public persona, all their time had been channelled into
making the best possible records. It was a policy that had clearly paid
handsome divi dends. Nevertheless, there was more to Def Leppard's
inexorable rise to promi nence than mere songwriting proficiency.
Timing is of vita l importa nce in the career of a band, especially if
it wishes to rise above its contemporaries. The 1980s were a
strikingl y different time from any of the previous rock'n'roll decades,
for the music no longer set the cultural agenda in the wa y that it had
and was now seemingly relegated to reflecting society' s mood.
Though some shows such as Amnesty International's Conspiracy of
Hope indicated that there were young fans willing to become
pol itically engaged, the pr evailing atmosphere was one of good times,
parties, money and fun. Life was all about fast cars and great CD
sound.
Perhaps the eighties love affair wi th technology came about
because it was relatively benign - computerization was not yet
requiring the massive job cuts that have been a feature of the nineties.
The advance of technology seemed to be something to welcome,
progress that would onl y change things for the better. Take
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Leppard's field, the music ind ustry. Improved studio facilities ena bled
producers and engineers to take a quantum leap forward, producing
records the sound quality of which far outstri pped anything that we' d
ever thought possible. For a t ime, producers such as Mutt Lange,
Bruce Fairbairn and Trevor Horn became as famous as their clients,
such was the impact they had on the way we listened to music. Hand
in hand with the development of the studio came the invention of
digital recording and the compact disc, probably the most significant
innovati on in the last twenty-five years of musical histor y. With
groups spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on their albums,
working on them to get the clearest , crispest sound, the y wanted them
to be heard to best advantage. Cheap vinyl with its inherent problems
of durability and qual ity was not good enough while cassette s were
simply useless. The introduction of the CD was perfectl y timed for
art ists who used the studio as another instrument.
By the same token, once you' d invested in a CD player, you wanted
to get hold of some di scs that showed your system off to its best
ad vantage, something that sounded like ' Star War s for the ears' , a
disc that wo uld ma ke full use of its capacity to amaze. Def Leppard's
Pyromani a was one of the first albums that could do that , Hysteria
the album that took the concept still fur ther. The CD age was made
for Def Lepp ar d just as they were made for the CD age. In the
eighties, fewer peo ple wanted music that made them feel, the y just
wa nted tun es they could enjoy, that the y could sing along with or
dance to. Def Leppard with their minimal interest in the lyrics
provided a goodti me soundtrack for an orgy of mindless mat eriali sm.
Subconscio usly too, the und emanding nature of Leppard' s music
suggested that techn ology wo uld be similarly undemanding, for the
two were indivisible - Leppard were technology, technology was
represented by Leppard. Lepp ard were easy to listen to, they were
br ight and shiny, t hey were friendl y, the y were cuddly, so technology
must therefore be the same.
Of course, Leppard were simply using the technol ogy to mak e the
music t hey enjo yed, fairly traditi onal rock in a modern sett ing. Other
art ists used it in a startlingly different wa y, illustrating the chaos or
the coldness that change might pr ovoke - New Order for insta nce or ,
lat er on, Mini st ry and Ni ne Inch Nail s, whil e U2 also sta rted to use
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the cutt ing edge of computerization to show a world torn apart by
confusion. That kind of brutality, also exemplified by the burgeoning
success of thrash metal, was not acceptable on a mainstream level in
the 1980s when things seemed a lot mor e opt imistic, especially if you
had money. Joe mad e the point that ' thras h metal is a load of shit.
There' s no melody, no musicianship. The best guitar solos in the
world are the one s you can sing - like the intro to "All the young
dudes". I can' t deal with stuff where you can 't hear what the guy's
singing. I can' t hear many goo d songs coming out of thrash metal. It's
not a music, it' s an att itude, a way of life, a fashion. It' s a pair of
platform boot s. I'd rather be a pair of st raight-legged 501s.'
Ironicall y in the era of con spicuous consumption, it was a decade
of anti -stars. The figureheads of the age were Bruce Springsteen and
Bono, not obvious sex symbols nor men who luxuriat ed in their
success or their wealth but who were apparentl y embar rassed by it.
For those on the sidelines who were happil y amassi ng a sizeable wad,
this att itude was bizarre to say the least. They were only too glad to
flaunt their GTls or their Porsches, flash their Rolexes at passers-by
and order another round of drinks. The cry of ' loadsamoney'
summed up the age when people weren 't reall y bothered by a social
consci ence, whatever Live Aid might have suggested, when the rate of
tax was all that counted. Def Leppard wer e manna from heaven, a
band who knew how to have a good time , who enjoyed being rich
and made the most of their success. While members of Greenpeace
took Michael Stipe as a hero, members of the yuppie cult ure took
Leppard as theirs. They came to represent a way of life, though not
necessaril y one they would have fully endo rsed.
That was not Leppard's onl y gift of course, for many who despised
yuppi edom saw much to enjoy in the hard rocking tunefulness of
' Animal' or 'Photograph' . In essence, they provided a mindless,
sugary ant idote to the political polemic of Sting or Peter Gabriel, they
were a guilty indulgence, all the more thrilling for it. At the same
time, the y did share common ground with Gabriel , Jim Kerr, Bruce
or Bono, for thi s was also the time of ' good bloke' rock when bands
were not populated with stars but with ordinary down to eart h guys.
Def Leppard was not filled with egocentric idiot s, but a bunch of lads
who you'd be happy to have a pint with at your local. Elliott
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remarked th at ' A lot of people use the fact that they're famous as an
excuse to act like a dickhead, but we don't bother with that
nonsense.' At a time wh en Live Aid had made us all feel guilty about
our comfor ts, someone like j oe Elliott co uld mak e you feel th at you
could do well for yours elf and still be a decent guy. The gulf bet ween
th em and their audience wa s never huge and th at ena bled th em to win
fans among the mo re serious rock supporters who had no time for a
smartarse.
For a period of six years, Def Leppa rd had man aged to pull off the
conside ra ble t rick of being all th ings to all peopl e, as goo d a wa y of
guarantee ing multi-platinum sales as any. If they were sta rt ing to feel
th at sales figur es were not th e be-all and end-all of life, there was still
no real mot ivat ion for changing th eir way of opera t ing. People liked
to buy th eir records, so th ey must have been giving them what they
wa nted. This was no ti me to disappoint them an d so when , in the
summer of 1989, t hey aga in got down to wo rk in ea rnest, there
seemed no need to tr y, for not only had Leppard don e well but their
cont empo ra ries, Bon j ovi, ha d released New Jersey to eno rmous
success.
The basic idea behi nd th e new album was to find a happy med ium
bet ween t he pol ish of Hysteria and the aggr ession of Pyromania,
t here being a collective feeling that perhaps th ey'd tak en to o much
notice of MTV' s value to t hem and had sacrificed some of their
musical mu scle in th e search for hit singles. They also wanted to work
mo re qui ckly, for so und fina ncial as well as mu sical reasons, even if
j oe' s sugges tion th at th ey might be able to release a record in 1989
was never likely to come to fruitio n. Things starte d out pr ett y well,
writing sessions progressing at break neck pace as j oe recall ed: ' We
wrote seven songs for t he reco rd in a week, it wa s a lau gh, we were
on a roll and it ca me out happy.' The caveat to th at sta tement was
th at it was t he last fun they'd have on th e pr oject .
Steve Clark wa s becoming more a nd more of a problem wit h every
passing week, his descent into alcoho lism more or less co mplete while
his abilit y, even his desi re, to recover seemed to diminish. As t he band
worked on th rough 198 9 and int o t he new yea r, his very presence
wa s ha ving a hopelessly di sru pti ve effect on progr ess. Thi ngs we re
awkward eno ugh anyway since Mutt Lan ge wa s produci ng Wak ing
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up the neighbours for Bryan Adams, and Leppard were once again
trying to produce themselves along with engineer Mike Shipley. In
such unfamiliar conditions, the last thing they needed were problems
with Clark which were every bit as significant as those which had lead
them to fire Pete Willis during the recording of Pyromania in 1982.
Joe summed up the situation: 'We couldn't get any work done. We
were a five-piece operating as a four-piece and we had a moral
dilemma about the whole thing. It wa s "we should be a band but
instead it's Us and Him and Him isn't contributing because he's a
complete and severe alcoholic who's killing himself".' An indication
of their plight was the realization that six months of recording had
yielded a mere two pieces of useable music - Phil's guitar solos on
'Tear it down' and 'Tonight'. If Leppard were the ultimate careerists
that they are often painted as, Clark would have been quietly dumped
in 1989 and a replacement sought. Where Willis had been obnoxious
though, Clark was helpless and the band naturally wanted to help
save their friend from himself. It was a long, painful process as Joe
recalled. 'Since the "Hysteria" tour finished in October '88, Steve'd
been in and out of rehab six times at least.'
Things seemed to have come to a head in December 1989 when
they were taking a break from the album. Clark was found in
Minnesota, comatose in a gutter and was, as is customary there in
such cases, committed to a psychiatric hospital for observation. Once
again, the incredible facts of the matter are burned on Elliott's
memory. 'They told us the alcohol level in his blood was 0.59 when
they found him. That didn't mean anything to us until they explained
that a level of 0.41 had killed John Bonham.'
The psychiatric hospital only highlighted how desperate things had
become. Joe visited his friend there: 'There were people scratching the
walls and standing on one leg reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards.
He didn't belong there, but he needed help from somewhere.' The
doctors felt that Clark was simply ignoring the problem. The best
medicine would be to confront him with the effects of his drinking,
the impact he was having on the lives of his closest friends. He asked
Elliott, Savage, Lange and Burnstein to write letters to Clark and then
read them to him in a closed session. 'It was the most nerve-wracking
thing I've ever had to do,' admitted Joe. 'It was awful. We'd lost him
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by then. Mutt saw him and said he'd got a dead man's skin and he
was right . It was like orange peel, there was nothing in hi s eyes, he
looked like he was dead already. '
Rick Savage felt similarly powerless to help and could onl y watch
in horror as Clark 's mental st ate deteriorated. ' Steve started to hate
all the things th at he'd loved in the past because he th ou ght they
trapped him. It was him that got us on stage in the first pl ace right at
the start . He loved the road but when we started to get ready for the
big Amer ican tour for Hysteria, he actually tr ied t o smas h hi s hand
so th at he woul dn' t be able t o co me. It drove us to desper ati on - he
was such a nice perso n th at you naturall y tr y to protect him, look
after him. It ' s onl y now th at I reali ze how much time and effort we
spent tr ying to care for hi m. We were like co-dependen ts . You have
no other life apart from that .'
The only solution seemed to be work. Accepting th at th ere would
be another mighty gap between rel eases, Leppard settled on a more
relaxed schedule, ass isted by the fact that they'd set tled down to work
in Joe' s home st udio, a decision th at also had much to do wi t h the
esca lat ing cos t of the record. That was one aspect of Hyst eria that
they did not wi sh to emulate. Joe joked with Hot Press that ' Aye lad,
th a ca n tek th e bo y out of Sheffield, but tha can't tek Sheffield out of
the boy! I put the st udio in because I didn't want to spend two million
qu id making a record! Seriously, I am aware of th ings, I st ill look for
the best price . I ca n' t help it, I was bo rn to very proud but ave rage
ea rn ing parent s. I' ve always been consc ious of not wast ing mo ney .. .
we' d hear t hat Queen had a party with women swi ngi ng from
chande liers, ser ving champagne ou t of th eir bras and go " Wow!
Grea t !" and th en find it cost £ 120,000 and think, " ha ng on, that' s
eighteen gra nd each. I'd rather take it ho me and have a few pints" .
We'd only do th at if someone else paid - t ight -fisted bas tards from
Hell that we are!'
Joe felt tha t his tight cont ro l of the purse stri ngs ex plained his
refu sal to get sucked into the drug cult ure . 'I'm materiali st ic whic h is
why I never got hooked - I co uld neve r see th e point of spending
eno ugh to stick coke up my nose th at'd be gone in fiftee n seconds
wh en I co uld spend the same amount on ten CDs . The money I'd
waste on drugs, I' d rather use to fly ho me to see Sheffield United, buy
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a load of CDs or some hi-fi. I don't wanna waste £300 on something
that' s gone in an hour; it' s a waste of money and it' s st upid. I'm not
gonna die at thirty-five because of a dumb smack habit and I'm not
gonna be skim at fifty eit her. Everything ends but I'm determined I'll
be alright when it does.' Elliott was also blessed with a personality
that was fairl y equabl e, able to take a balanced view of things and to
enjoy his success without wanting any stereotypica l excess. Steve
Clar k was not so lucky.
It was important that, wit h Clark in such a state, sessions were not
subject to the added st ress of an over-s tretched budget. Clark was not
the only one abl e t o take adva ntage of the new regime - Phil took
three months off at the start of 1990 when his son Rory was born
and, on his return, Joe jett ed off for a break in Lanzarote. Phil felt
that the time apart ' helped us be objective about each other's work'.
Joe concurred, adding ' we just can' t record quic kly. Working at
home, the environment helped. We had better secur ity over the tapes,
there was no pressure over time because studio t ime is so expensive.
Thi s time, if I couldn't sing on a given day, it just meant we finished
a day lat er. No problem. To keep things moving, we recorded in split
shifts - Phil did guitars eleven ' til six, I'd sing seven ' til midn ight and
if I knew I was having a bad time, Phil'd carryon playing.'
Th ose split shifts came in in 1991 , for by then, Phil had twice as
much work to do. Though Steve had returned to London from
Minnesota, things wer e not improving. Becaus e Steve wanted to keep
his problem from his family, Joe went with him to his AA meetings ,
attempting to humiliate him into seeing his addiction in front of
similar addicts, but to no avail. Joe recalled:
' He used to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but he never
believed he had a problem, that was the thing. He'd have a
month or so in rehab, then he'd check out and go straight to the
pub. To me, that's a guy that wants to die. I t hink he was just
destined to destroy himself. It wasn 't something that happened
in the last few years, he'd been drinking heavily since I'd known
him, puking blood back in '78. He was the best kept secret in
rock'n'roll. Alcoholism is an illness and with all the will in the
world, Steve couldn't stop. The lifestyle didn't help either. He'd
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come round to th e house and we'd hide the booze - he might
have been off it for a couple of weeks - and he'd start asking why
we'd hidden it and go all funny.'
The wh ole album was spinning further out of cont ro l and in
September 1990, Steve was sent on a sa bbat ical by the rest of the
group. Joe explained th at ' We didn't fire him, we told him to sort
himself out over six mo nt hs - we co uldn' t deal wit h hi m being
around in th at state and we thought th e best th ing wa s to give him
space. You're supposed to be an expert at ha ndling it but you're not .
Maybe in hind sight we sho uld have spent more time wit h him, but
you ca n't be your brot her's keeper .' Not wishing to put an end to his
career in t he way they had wi t h Willi s, feelin g that perhaps Def
Leppard wa s Clark' s only lifeline, all th at kept him go ing, their
reactio n wa s a nobl e one. The sad truth was th at Clark wa s an addict
an d far more medically an d psychol ogicall y qua lified and
experienced professionals th an four guys from a roc k' n'roll ba nd are
constantl y faced with failure as they tr y to brea k someone's habi t.
The ban d ma y st ill har bou r feeli ngs of guilt ove r the way t hey t rea ted
Clark, may feel there were th ings they could and sho uld have done,
but in truth they have no reason to reproach th emselves. They did the
very best they could under the ci rcumstances and it just was not
eno ugh. Maybe not hing ever wo uld have been.
On t he morn ing of 8 Jan ua ry 1991, Steve Clark was found dea d in
his Chelsea flat. The coroner's report a month lat er stated that death
had occurred beca use of a respirato ry failure, resulting fro m
excessive quant ities of alcohol mixed wi th pai nki ller s and anti-
depressant drugs. Phr ases like ' a shattering blow' tend to be tr otted
out at times like these, but no words ca n do justice to such t ra uma tic
news, even if it wasn't entirely unexpect ed as Rick Savage po inted
out : 'Jo e said to me somet ime afterwa rds that it was almost like
having an elderl y relative th at you know is goi ng to die some time,
but you don't think it' s going to be to day.' Joe mad e a sta tement on
beha lf of th e band th at summed up t heir feelings. ' Steve wa s a reall y
quiet, shy, humbl e, nice, gent le sort of blok e. On stage, he was t he
business, very visual and ver y energet ic, a grea t person to be
alongside. Steve was a ver y creative person, th e mast er of riffs, and
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wrote some of the best we' ve ever done. We'll definit ely miss his
creative input. It was a pleasur e to know him for thirteen years and
I'll miss him like a brother.'
Had Cla rk lived, then Leppard would almos t certainly have had to
get rid of him anywa y, for he wasn't getti ng any bett er. Joe admitted
as much, saying 'so oner or lat er we wo uld have got to the stage where
we would have had to decide "can we risk taking him on tour with
us?" and I'd like to say he wo uld have been fine, but I can't. How he
stayed al ive as long as he did was a blessing. He thought he was
invincibl e, that he could drink forever but it doesn' t work like that '.
Th e compari sons with Pete Will is were inevitable, but no less painful
for that. The question that constantl y recurred was sho uld Clark
have been sacked years ago; would that have been the shock to the
system that he needed or would it have merely escalated his decline?
It was an insoluble question. Joe was und erstandabl y uncertain,
saying 'I'm glad that Willis is alive and we get on okay. Ten years
after the event, whenever I see him and he' s on the wagon, he' s fine.
I'd much rather it be that wa y, there be a certai n ani mos ity between
us but him alive than us love a guy who' s dead. It was such a was te.
So many peopl e think that when you turn thirt y, life's over - you die
at thirty and life ain 't even started'.
Phil Collen wa s deeply hurt by the loss of his close friend and
playing partner, but like Joe , he was philosophical enough to realize
that, given Steve' s personality, it was sadly inevit abl e that things
would end thi s way: ' He was alright on tour because your whole life
is set out for you but as soon as he had time to sit down and think,
he worried and worried and worried. The only esca pe was to hit the
bottle. He was an alcoholic and it was horrible to see because it was
my mat e who was shaking and going " Fuck, I wa nt to stop but I
can't". I picked him up, carried him out of places and did all that st uff
but you can only do so much. He kept tr ying but it went against him.'
The onl y consolation to be dr awn from Clark's tr ials and event ual
death was that he gave out a wa rning that was heeded by another
member of the band who was in similar troubl e. Rick Allen had long
been thought of as fully recovered from his car acci dent, but beneath
the surface, he was still tr ying to adapt to what had happened to him
and its implications.
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' I never went through any psychological rehabilitation after the
accident. I just thought I could do it all on my own. I didn't
realize until lat er on that I could have done with outside help. I
never reall y gave myself time to get to know myself again. I was
drinking, I'd got a gut and it was starting to show on my face.
When we finall y got a break in 1989, I spent some time tr ying to
put all that right which was really important for me. I broke up
with Miriam, my girlfriend of seven years, met up wi th an old
girlfriend from 1980 and got married. I realized that the last
thing I wanted to do was what Steve had done. I reali zed that
everything in my life doesn't revol ve around Def Leppard! I
don't have anyt hing to prove. But before that, when I tried to
talk to Steve, when I tried to get him to see what was happening
to him, he'd just come back at me with "what about your
problems?" I couldn' t get through that barrier , couldn' t conquer
my own troubles at that time.'
Just as they' d sought solace in their work when Rick lay in his
hospital bed six years earlier, now they tried to do the same in the
wa ke of Steve's dea th. Returning to Joe's Dublin home, they worked
solidly for two months, but to no avail, Joe admitting that 'there was
no soul in it'. As with Hysteria, the entire sessions were scrapped and
work began afresh. This t ime, they reall y did wa nt to put the record
toget her quickly, not least because it was now almos t four years since
the release of Hysteria. However, Phil described other considerations
that pushed them on: 'We recorded it again rea lly quickly so we
wo uldn' t have it hanging over us. We didn't want to dwell on it or
get depressed by it. Maki ng t hat record was really stra nge, we knew
that we had this sou nd and that we were expected to do certain
things. The sound got played out by other peopl e and we were left
wondering what the fuck to do next. We knew we had to wr ite some
stronger songs and cha nge dir ecti on. '
Unfortunat ely, the band were so dr ained by their experiences with
Clark that they were bereft of any fresh inspirati on. Rick Allen
admi tted that ' I th ink we were going through the moti ons a bit, more
concerne d with Steve than anyt hing else. We were on auto- pilot,
making a record for the sake of it.' Joe agreed, adding 'we spent two
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years being miserable, but while we were recording it, we never
thought we should change the sound of those original songs.' So, out
of the most miserable period of their collective life came a record that
was relentlessly upbeat, a record that seemed to shun any contact
with the real world or with the real, raw emotions that they'd lived
with.
They would have been much better advised to give free rein to their
anguish. Having a five year gap between albums is not only costly, it's
a high-risk strategy too. Fashion aside, there is no more ephemeral
industry than popular music, nothing that moves with such
bewildering pace. It was testimony to their creation that the sound
they pioneered with Pyromania was st ill sufficiently popular in 1987
to turn Hysteria into an even bigger seller. Sadl y, by 1992, the wheel
had turned and misery was in vogue courtesy of Nirvana and the
whole Seattle scene, while U2 had now become satirical industrial
noiseniks courtesy of Achtung Baby. Alternative music had hit the
mainstream with a vengeance and although Adrenalize sold in
Leppard's customary humungous quantities, t he album seemed
woefully out of date and Leppard a band teeteri ng on the brink of
obsolescence. They knew it, though they tried to put a brave face on
things, Joe saying 'it's more in your face, things ar e hitting you where
they should. I honestly think that in five year s' time , I'm going to
think that Adrenalize is the best of the first five albums we did
regardless of what comes over the next five years. We had more
control over it and we got it exactly as we wanted it'.
Without Mutt Lange, the method of recording was appreciably
different, though the results were strikingly similar to Hysteria, even
if the sound was generally a little tougher. There were clear signs that
the band were deliberately moving towards the heavier end of the
spectrum, not in noise terms, but in the atmospheric and emotional
tenor of some of the tracks. There was a Zeppelinesque emotional
bottom to songs such as 'White lightning' that were an obvious
departure for them and this mature work was clearly a pointer for the
future. Ironically, Mutt Lange had attempted to veto its inclusion as
Joe explained. 'We wanted the performances to be raunchier, the
bollocks of Pyromania coupled with the songwriting capability of the
last one. Initially we were trying to second guess Mutt but any time
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we got desperately st uck, we phoned him up in his capacity as
Executive Producer and he'd make suggestions. I reckon we spoke
thirt y or forty times but most of the time we just got on with it. He
wa nted the optimistic stuff to go on the album, he was freaked out by
"White lightning" which was mild as fuck .'
' White light ning' was the obvious centrepiece of Adrenalize,
perhaps its saving grace. Joe described it as being 'a bout anyone
that ' s gone down that avenue of self-destruc tion, be it Jim Morrison,
Jani s Joplin, Bon Scott, Steve Clark or someo ne on a bench outside
Mc Donald's in Mi lton Keynes' . The eastern- influenced open ing,
similar in some wa ys to 'The cutter ' by Echo and the Bunnymen, was
a pot ent introduction to a song about addicts and addict ion, the
inability to brea k free of the shackles of a habit. Phil Collen was
particul arl y outsta ndi ng on thi s song, whil e the anguished 'coming to
claim you' section was incre dibly strong. In all, it wa s a piece with
real clout, something of which they cou ld be proud and which Clark
himself would have loved to have played on. Ironi call y it was Steve
himself who had first pushed the band in this direct ion wit h 'Gods of
war' on Hysteria. Sadly, it took his death to encourage them to go
further down that road.
It was the only real evidence that Def Leppard might leave their
own past behind them. Adrenalize was a rolli cking rock'n 'roll record
wi th no pretensions to be anyt hing else. By 1992, that wasn' t really
eno ugh and the band that had prided itself on lead ing the field had
finally missed a trick as their great rivals Bon Jovi had already seen
which wa y the wi nd was blowing and were recording Keep the faith ,
a significant change of pace for them. Phil Collen spoke of the
competi tion, pointing out t hat ' we' re very competitive - Adrenalize
isn' t going to get played just agai nst Bon Jovi or Guns N' Roses, but
agai nst Janet Jackson '. That wa s perfectl y tru e, and in that company
it performed exceptiona lly, topping the UK chart on release and
spending five weeks at number one in the States. Arti stica lly though,
Leppard' s standards had slipped for they were pedd ling music that
had really had its final fling. Joe admi tted as much, saying that ' it
should have been out in 1990 - when it came out it should have
sounded more like Ret ro Active or Slang but we spent half our time
with Steve and our heart wasn' t in it. It was a fucking horribl e time',
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As has been pointed out, in spite of the ordeal , the music sounded
as hap py as any they'd produced. ' Let 's get rocked' was as daft a song
as you could find, in the same vein as ' Roc ket', its use of effects both
clever and amusing. Ironicall y tho ugh, after years of being too young
to be a lecher , j oe' s impl oring 'S' pose a rock's out of the question? '
was a do uble ente ndre that neede d a younger man, though it
remained endea ringly silly. ' Heaven is' followed it up strongly, a nice
tune, lashi ngs of backing vocals and some of Brian May's stylized
guitar explosions from Collen. It ' s sunny sound was infectious and it
was difficult not to smile your way through it.
Th e Queen motif conti nued into 'Tonight', though it inevita bly
lacked Freddie Mercury' s charismatic delivery and Qu een' s
cha racter. Nevertheless, it was not so overwrought as their earlier
ball ads and a real emotional quality was starting to emerge. The same
was true of ' Have you ever needed someone so bad?', which was j oe' s
own tour de force, proof of just how far his voice had improved since
1979. An expert at playing the unrequited, lovelorn soul, thi s was
class ic ' lighters in the air ' material, perfect for the concert hall.
Stra ngely, it was Leppard' s preoccupati on with love songs of all
shades that had been their greatest virtue on a commercial level.
Savage accepting that ' we do look for the commercial aspect while
keeping the power - it' s a fine line' . Lyrica lly unimporta nt, it wasn' t
so much what they said, but the way that they said it, rockers and
ballads alike building stea dily to a crescendo before the final moment
of release in a glor ious cho rus.
'Make love like a man' was a case in point , a rougher tr ack but
wi th a stur dy chorus and a memorable melody. 'Sta nd up (kick love
int o act ion)' was the band at their seductive best , a lush opening,
decorous guitar and throaty vocal s combining supre mely well. The
other three tracks, ' Personal property' , ' I wanna to uch you' and ' Tear
it down' were sta nda rd rock'n'roll, songs that could have been on
Hysteria but played with greater intent.
Adrenalize was a solid eno ugh record, but ultimat ely rather
characterl ess, the production thi s time not having the sheer scale to
paper over the cracks. Lyrically, it was clear that the band had to
move on , but it was a challenge that seemingly bewildered them. joe
argued that ' we like varying the sounds within songs, it ' s less tiring
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on the listeners' ears, subconsciously it makes it more appealing to
peopl e. We're reall y into metering and phrasing which is more
importa nt in roc k'n 'roll than actual lyrical content.' Speaking to Q,
Joe took the pri ze for the most st upid attempt ever to justify their
inane lyrics: 'The Brazili an rainforests and ozone layer are fine for
some peopl e but we' d rather help save them by giving them money so
we can just make roc k music. It might appear that a Def Leppard
album isn't going to save the rainforest but it might, at the end of the
day, if we cheer one person up enough to go and do something
environmenta lly aware and do it while the y're listenin g to us on their
Walkman.'
In the face of such ban ality, it' s no surpri se that many di smi ssed
Def Leppard as a wild anachronism, now thoroughl y past their sell-
by date. Yet Joe st ill complained that 'nobody take s what we do
seriously. Peop le who get credit for being innovati ve like the
Thompson Twi ns, Jesus Jones, Blur and EMF don 't sell jackshit
compared to us. We're touching more people so it has to be better as
far as I'm con cerned . . . the onl y people who not ice are record
buyers. They're the most importa nt people, but it does make you
wonder.' Despite Joe' s reservati ons, the album received some of the
best reviews of t heir career. Rolling Stone call ed Lepp ard 'one of the
catchiest bands in roc k' n'roll, int ensely tuneful , unrepentantl y
frivolous'. Pau l Elliot t gave them nine out of ten in Vox , and not ed
that Adrenalize was ' sure to be a definit ive multi-million seller ... for
Collen in particular, it' s a tr iumph. Less of Lange' s st udio trickery,
more of a straig htfo rward hard rock record. "Sta nd up " is the perfect
pop metal single. There ' s littl e wo nder that Jimmy Page and David
Cove rdale' s Legends album has been shelved until Octo ber . . .
Adrenalize will be the rock album of the summer ' . Fiona Looney in
Hot Press marked them equa lly well, ten out of twelve, and endorsed
the group's attitude in gushing terms: ' A terrace-friendl y record of
excitement, energy, optimism, elation and adrenaline . . . the Leps
rely almost excl usively on goo d old-fashioned foot -stomping, air-
punching, roaring rock'n' roll . . . easy mind-numbing far e that
appea ls to the heart and the feet witho ut taxing the head , but surely
that ' s what roc k' n' roll sho uld be and what it was befor e it was
hijacked by whingers like Bob Dylan .' Onl y Phil Sutcli ffe in Q
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The Last Time
wondered how they had come through their personal tragedies so
unscathed: ' For better or worse, they seem to have come through the
long process of emoti onal turmoil and relentl essly professional self-
criticism with exactl y the album everyone was expecting . . .
Adrenali ze adds up to efficiency ... if it sounds safe, it also sounds
like another commercial monster.'
The problem was that at this stage of their career, was safe but sure
really good enough? Shouldn' t Leppard be extending themselves
further, moving in circles where they weren't so convinced of their
ability? In short, was n' t it time to take a chance or two? After all, they
scarcely needed the money any longer. There was evidence that this
was exercisi ng their minds rather more, but it was a pr obl em that had
to be shelved. The latest tour was looming, bringing with it a huge
probl em. How did they replace Steve Clark?
Phil Collen didn't even want to try: 'Steve was my best friend and
the thought of replacing him was cra p - you don't go out and get a
new brother. It took me a year to come to terms with the fact that we
needed another guitarist.' Eventuall y though, Phil accepted that it
would be impossible for Leppard to take to the stage as a four-piece
band and recreate their album performances in anything approaching
meaningful fashion. The die was cast and, after intensive auditions,
Vivian Campbell got the job. Born in Nort hern Ireland and a
seaso ned hard rock guitarist, having had spells with Sweet Savage,
Dio and Whitesnake among others, Campbell's style fitted in well
alongside Collen and the two were swift to develop a good working
relati onship . Unfortunatel y, it didn't develop quickly enough to
prevent one of his earliest gigs with the band turning into a disaster.
In Apr il 1992, they played Wembley Stadium as part of the Freddie
Mercury tribute concert, a gig that was being broadcast to the world.
The band wer e dreadful , Rick 's drum kit having got lost befor ehand
delaying their appearance and then their sound apparently coming
from the bottom of a swa mp.
The accompanying tour, in the round agai n, was enormo usly
successful, propelling Adrenalize towards sales that even rivalled
those of Hysteria, though Melody Mak er' s John Selzer was
unimpressed by their Earl 's Court performance calling them 'a lifeline
for the comatose - Mills & Boon novels, Austral ian soa p dr ama and
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Def Leppard
Def Leppard songs . . . it wa s zombiefied, for disenfranchized
co nsumers of the dr eam'. The whirl of touring activity continued well
into 1993, the band finall y enjoying the shows once more now that
the at mos phere in the band had improved with Campbell's addit ion.
Elliott co mmented memor abl y that ' it's not a ball an d cha in an y
mor e, you don' t wake up on to ur any more wonderi ng if t he guy in
the next room is goi ng to be dead.'
There wa s even time to piece together the ragbag of B-sides and
rariti es that Joe ha d spoken about five years pr eviously. In Octo ber
1993, Retro active ca me out, indi cating that Leppa rd were a band
that wer e starting to reassess their place in the scheme of things, Q' s
Val erie Potter writing that the album wa s a 'pleasantl y patterned
pat chwork that is, in many wa ys, preferable to their more co nt rived,
overtl y co mmerc ial releases'. Thi s new looseness, the product of the
relaxed sta te of mind that acco mpanies an y such compil ation, wa s an
inspiration for the fut ure, the record itself having much to commend
it. There were epic Ze ppelin influences on ' Desert song', the Queen-
style cove r of the Sweet's' Action', the newl y minted delicacy of touch
on the mega-ballad ' Miss you in a heartbeat' , the Irish folk- rock of
the brooding ' Fro m the inside', the peerless lovers' roc k of 'Two steps
behind' and the boi sterous bo uncy pop of ' I wa nna be your hero' . It
was obvious that th is was a gro up finall y head ing into its full
mat ur ity, read y perhaps to do its best work and wit h a stea dy grasp
of a diverse range of mu sic.
Anot her stopgap album in 1995, the obligatory greatest hit s set,
Vault, not on ly offered a breat hing space to ena ble them to complete
their next record wi t ho ut such an unseeml y ga p bet ween releases, but
it provi ded a punctuat ion mark, adding further fuel to the rumours
that Def Leppard were ready to put the first phase of t heir ca reer to
bed and emerge again wit h somet hing rather different.
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10
TIME FOR A CHANGE?
Th ey were luck y to get away with it . Adrenalize succeeded thanks to
a loyal fan base and a huge promoti onal budget , much of which was
consumed by the video for 'Let's get roc ked' which kick-started the
album across America. Even then, there was no disguising that thi s
was yester day's music, a fact that Leppard were willing to own up to,
Savage suggesting that ' it was obvious to us that we rea lly wa nted a
break from the way we'd always recor ded, we wa nted a different
sound'.
Whether you' re a fan or not , it's impossible not to concede that
Nirvana and U2 radically reshaped mainst ream music at the
beginning of thi s decade. U2' s particul ar brand of angst had always
been popul ar , but it was couched in such musical terms as to remain
upli fting, ult imat ely opt imistic. With Achtung Baby that was behind
them for though their lyrical and spiritual preoccupations were
broadl y similar, their vocabulary was overha uled, culminati ng in a
darker, cla ustrophobic nois e. 'The fly' was not from the same
whi stle-friendl y sta ble as 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for ' ,
but the public still lapped it up. No-one wo uld call 'Smells like teen
spirit' a candidate for a Michael Bolt on record, but its sales surpasse d
even his. The shiny, happy audience of the 1980s, fans who were
perfect for Leppard' s sunny, sugary pop-rock were mutat ing int o the
Generati on X crowd. Grunge reflected their take on a world t hat was
changing too fast , a world that offered littl e, where the promised
future for those who worked hard was evaporating before their eyes.
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Def Leppard
The benign technology that had given us the CD was now consuming
the anticipated job for life and leaving the rock audience - who as
youngsters were off into the workplace - dazed and confused. Phil
Collen noted that 'i n the eighties, it wa s the social climate that
demanded our style of music. Everyt hing was different, everyone had
money, that was the impression. But we were looked on as the
McDonalds of rock music. It was partl y because the lyrics were so
shallow, partl y because we sounded so poli shed. In the nineti es,
misery became coo l and when we were touring Adrenalize, we just
didn't fit. We had to put things right, make our lyrics stronger
especially.'
A regular cr iticism of Leppard - though paradoxicall y it's also a
source of their strength - was their rigidity, their percei ved lack of
ada ptability. The Adrenalize project confirmed that, for altho ugh
Steve Clark died duri ng its making, that did not deflect them from
their chose n path of upbeat , raucous rock'n'roll. Similarly, their
intricate way of working in the st udio, their concentration on getting
every final aspect of a song, its arr angement and its product ion, to
their liking before allowing its release was a guarantee of a certain
quality, but also milita ted against the songs sounding like anything
but another Lepp ar d product. Such attention to detail , such a que st
for per fect ion meant that sacrifices had to be made along the wa y
with some songs overworked to the point of exhaustion.
The buzzwords in the camp now were ' loos er', ' relaxe d', ' heavier' .
How their meticulous preparation would stack up alongside these
particular ambitions wo uld decide how successful the reinvention of
Def Leppard wo uld be. Looki ng back at their canon, Collen felt that
'our pr eviou s albums were inte lligent on a musical level but th is time
around we wanted to be freer. It was a reacti on to recording
separately under the microscope. It was fun, the guitars were
generally one take, we didn't spend time gett ing sounds, all our effort
went into the songs, not the pr oduct ion. We spent eighteen months
on it, with a definite target in mind .'
One thing that helped thi s time aro und was the fact that a blueprint
existed. Mak ing Pyromania and Hysteria, Leppard had been
attempting t o freshly mint a sound that no-one had made in the past
and as Joe pointed out 'we're prepar ed to go that extra yar d. And
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Time For a Change?
sometimes you don't know where that extra yard is which is why it
takes such a long time to get there'. Now, they were following in the
foot steps of many other bands, taking inspirati on from a wider range
of music and knowing precisely what they were looking for. That
immediat ely removed the pressure and turned recording into fun.
To maint ain that lighter mood, they chose to rent a house in
Marbella, where they would record from May 1994 onwards -
apparentl y, the villa was used as the home of villain Ally Fraser in the
second series of the TV comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. The
atmosphere was idyllic, Joe infor ming jealous reporters that 'if you
weren't ready to work, you could just go and look out at the ocean,
whi ch was much better, much mor e inspiring, than the dungeons we
usuall y record in' . Phil compared the whole experience with ' going
on a school holiday, there was a new enthusiasm in Spain. It was
almost like being in a new band, and the record reflected that. It's
about us, not about production.'
The change in emphasis has proved to be a resounding success, if
not the radical rebirth that advance publicity might have suggested.
There ar e still elements of quintessential Leppard on show, but the
changes that have taken place are not superficial. Det ermined to
remain valid in a new decade, the reassessment that has taken place
is similar to the way Genesis restructured their sound in 1981 with
Abacab. Then, the traditional size of the sound was trimmed back,
allowing songwrit ing rather than musical talent to shine through.
Genesis brought in a new producer to help free themselves from
habits and preconceptions. Leppard did the same, drafting in Pete
Wo odroffe as co-producer while Lange had littl e or no involvement ,
not even getting involved with the songwriting process. The accent is
on strong songs and on strong characters; this is the heart of Slang
and consequently the material ranks among the best they've yet
produced.
Though the y worked long and hard on the record - in Marbella
from May until September 1994, two months more in Dublin, back
to Spain until May 1995, then, following the promoti onal chores for
Vault, two more months to finish off - there is no sense in which this
is a laboured record. It has a livelier feel than any previous album,
even though musically it's quite dark, the product of the obligat ory
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Def Leppard
harrowing times that accompa nied it; Rick Savage lost his father
whi le Phil continues to go through a di vorce all the more traumatic
beca use of the qu esti on of custody of his young son. Where before the
ba nd simply ignored life, now its vicissitudes ar e grist to the
songwrit ing mill. Phil' s ' Brea t he a sigh' is a fine example of that, a
yea rn ing ball ad t hat reflect s on his loss. Musicall y, it' s the most
atypical song Leppard have ever recorded, lazy swingbea t pop that
ca lls to mind Take That, th ou gh the idea of Leppard performing a
synco pated dance ro uti ne on the wo rld's concert stages remains an
unlikely one. Collen acce pted that ' if it' s the best of a style, it has to
be an influence, whet her it' s Nirvana or Boyz II Men.'
If you' re goi ng to stea l, steal from the best has been a motto that
has kept every decent rock' n' roll band in business since time
immemori al. If Boyz II Men provided the platform for ' Breat he a
sigh', Nirvan a had more than a hand in ' Deliver me' , one of the
album's sta ndo ut songs . Joe' s voice was gruff, as th ough he'd taken
on a nast ier alte r-ego. The lyri c wa s harsh in th e ext reme, the song's
pr otagoni st shutt ing someone out for good, touching also on spirit ual
matter s and a lack of fait h, a subject that was to recur on th e album.
In tone, the album was impressionistic , morose, devoid of the
blatant love songs that had cropped up elsewher e. To rein force the
mood of cha nge, even th e sleeve art work wa s mod ernized, replacing
t he dr ead ful artwork t hey' d per sist ed with through th e rest of their
ca reer. This time, the cover betrayed a st ro ng Indi an influence as did
so me of the music. 'Turn to dust' was a case in poi nt, a song that
exploited Joe' s expand ing emotional range and th e consta ntly
imp roving partnership between Ca mpbell and Co llen, Allen noting
th at 'i t was a gro up t hing this ti me. When Viv ca me in, t he who le
th ing became more of a team' .
In mod ern rock music, use of that eas tern so und inevitabl y leads
you to t hink eit her of the Beatl es, particularl y George Harri son, or
Led Zeppelin, no tably ' Kas hmi r' . There were tr aces of both on ' Turn
to du st ' , while Rick added a mod ern dimension wit h his use of the
shuffle beat so preva lent in t he ' baggy' movement, per soni fied by th e
Sto ne Roses and Hap py Mondays.
Alt ho ugh it was Phil Co llen who was the maj or writer on Slang, it
was Allen who was pivotal in directing the so und: 'After th e first t wo
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Time For a Change?
albums, the electronic kit was more convenient , partl y beca use it was
easier after I lost my ar m, but also beca use of t he kind of records we
were making. As we changed tack, it seemed right to go back to the
acoustic kit to get a mor e earthy sound. I also missed the physical side
of hitting the drums. The sound just set the tone.' Collen agreed,
saying 'we wanted Rick to use the acoustic kit that he still used at
home and it sounds so much better on what we' re trying to do now.'
Listening to 'Turn to dust' and its predecessor , the album ope ner
' Trut h?' , the startling rea lization was that rather than listeni ng for
the product ion tricks, it was the band' s own personality that was
striking home. 'Truth?' for example featured heavily industrialized
vocals that were somehow more humanly authentic than j oe' s
normal transatla ntic dr awl and it wa s lovely to hear real drums
again. There was more int eract ion between the five members of Def
Leppard on t hose two songs than on the previous two fully-fledged
albums; they finally sounded as if they were playing together as a
band in the st udio .
'Slang' itself was the choice as lead-off single, and an interesting
one at that. j oe felt that ' it's the only thing with a foot in the old
camp, th ree minutes of pop about phone sex' , but that was un-
characteris tically modest for tho ugh it was pop mus ic, it was a long
way from 'Let's get rocked'. From the same school as the rap-meta l
style of Terrorvision, Slang had an exuberance that one wo uld have
expected from a band making t heir first album, not one in its
eighteenth year. A littl e disappointing that it was chose n as the first
single when riskier choices existed, they can be forgiven for wanti ng
to break in the old fans gently.
Those more traditional supporters could still find a lot to enjoy on
Slang for they were clearl y not to be alienated by it. Viv Campbell's
' Work it out' was tr emend ously catchy, an obvious hit single though
in a di fferent way to somet hing like 'Animal'. The sou nd was tru ly
thunderous, with j oe' s rest rained vocal only adding to the impact.
'All I wa nt' used their trademark voca ls, an inescapable,
overwhelming sound, top ped off by a fine clos ing guitar refrain from
Collen.
Even so, they were clearl y in the grip of change. Rick Savage felt
that 'i t wasn't so much a change as somet hing we'd been wanting to
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Def Leppard
do for a few years. It was easier to make Slang than a record that
sounded like what we'd been doing for the last eight or ten years.'
Phi l was a littl e unsure of their ground before recording, worrying
about the change in gear, but had to admit 'there' s nothing wrong
wi th it which is a sur prise because we were afr aid of it . If you stay
with the same sound, you become like Wishbone Ash or something
whi ch is a shame.' Joe was adamant that they had to make thi s leap:
' It was a logical progression. We could have carri ed on, pretending to
be the champi ons of teenage rock but as you get older, it becomes
stupid. We'd made our trilogy of big production albums and during
the Adrenalize tour, it was just so obvious that we wanted to do
something different - it' s not a dance floor production for sure!' The
final four songs indi cated that they were growing up as a band and
touching on subjects that would have been taboo just a few years
befor e.
' Gift of flesh' employed volume with int ent rather than with
bluster, another of Phil ' s songs that dwelt on the darker side of his
psyche, juxtaposing a loss of faith with an almost Ca tho lic dose of
guilt, a recurrent theme on the swing laden ' Where does love go when
it dies?' On ' Blood run s cold', the music wa s as chilling as the theme,
a lyric that looked at the futilit y of suicide, perhaps inspired by Kurt
Co bai n and by the loss of Steve Clark whose addictio n was
ta ntamount to a death wish. With Savage having lost his fat her, the
value of life could only have been brought home still further to the
band, a message t hat was implicit in ' Blood runs cold'. 'Pearl of
euphoria' was a fitting con clusion to what was becoming a very
cat hartic al bum. Joe felt that it 'was quire an inward looking song',
the personal nat ure of it lead ing him to cloud its mean ing in oblique
references and imp ressio nistic phrases . If it described his own srate of
mind , then Planet Elliott was not quite the happy go lucky place it
often appeared, for the image ry wa s bleak, the addictive phrases
remini scent of 'White lightning' and the music dooml aden. A pot ent
end to Def Lepp ard' s finest hou r.
Reviews were mixed, Q suggesting that the changes were radical
while Vox felt that nothing had altere d. Probabl y the besr summary
ca me from Metal Hammer, which termed it ' thei r most diverse work
so far. The band are rapping into different areas but rarely do you get
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Time For a Change?
the impression that a rock' s out of the quest ion! ' At the time of
writing, Slang has just hit the shops, so the public's verdict is not yet
in. It will be interesting to see how many of their ardent supporters
take the necessary leap of faith with the band.
Live date s will inevitably follow, the gigs showing an evolution
equal to that on the album. Rick Allen suggests that ' the emphasis
will be on us, not the set. It was getti ng to be too much' , while born
agai n rocker Joe Elliott sees it as 'us, a few lights and lots of
Mar shall s'. Early indicat ions are that if the new album is as well
received as they hope, Def Leppard could be touri ng the wo rld for the
next two years, bringing their own br and of rock' n' roll to a venue
near you, wherever you ar e. When the dust settles, the pr ocess will
star t aga in for with Slang, Leppard have made it clear that they
int end to remain valid for years to come. Just do n' t expect another
new album this millennium.
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11
ALL WE WANT IS EVERYTHING
Trying to sum up Def Leppard' s career is a peculiarly difficult task.
Th er e are few, if any, bands that have been so deliber ately and
defiantly ambiti ou s, so manic in their need to ove r achieve, so
calculating in thei r ga me plan. As a bunch of teenager s in Sheffield,
the mu sic they loved united them as did a fierce compulsion to use it
as a passport to a better life. Reviled by the critics for their fascination
wit h commerce, th ey have gone on to write the rul e book for making
it big in the mu sic industry.
Never impressed by bands who made great play of a terrible
relati on ship wi th their employees, Leppard did th eir utmost to
ingratiate themselves wit h Phonogram, working th emselves into the
gro und in the pr ocess. No TV show, no interview, no meet and greet
that might help advance th eir ca use has ever been needl essly refu sed
whil e their regard for and generos ity towards th e fans is legendary;
Phil Co llen is renowned for spending hours talking to th em at gigs
and hotels.
Yet Leppard have never been tr eated with much respect by the
press, Collen admitting that ' we' re as hip as piles!' Though they have
th eir share of tal ented musicians, none of them would necessarily be
at th e forefront when it co mes to selecting a band to play in the
Rock 'n 'Roll Fantasy League. The consensus of opinion is that
Leppard are mad e up of forthright, hardworking journeymen, an
allega tion which they do ver y little to dispel. Talking of the
competition, Joe feels th at 'Jagger's the best. The ult imat e frontmen
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All We Want Is Everything
are those you can caricature in cart oons - Jagger, Steven Tyler, Rod
Stewart, Bowie, Townshend , Meat Loaf, Alice Cooper. You couldn't
really dr aw me but it doesn't seem to have hindered our success.'
Such humility is one of the lessons learned early on following a
meeting with one of the legend s of the hard rock game as Joe recalls.
' When we first met Brian May, he ca me up and said " Hello, I'm Brian
May fro m Queen." As if we did n't know, it's like the Queen
introducing herself. We said "what a guy, down to eart h, spot on".
You make a mental not e, you learn from other people.'
At the same time, Lepp ard have been protected from the vagaries
of life by a breathtaking ar roga nce, an utter convict ion that ' we' re the
best. In what we do, nobody can touch us' . Unfairly over the years,
they've been portrayed as Mutt Lange ' s creatio n, casting Lange as
Frankenstein to Leppard's monster. It' s a long way from the truth.
Befor e sett ing foot in the st udio for Pyromania, Leppard wer e well
awar e that they wanted to break the mould of hard rock recordings.
Th ey had a ver y clear vision of what they wa nted to do having
spotted an area that no-one else was catering for and followed that
vision to the hilt. Lange was crucial , but largely as an inte rpreter
rather than an instigator. With the col ossal dedicati on to the cause
that has been at the heart of their armoury, they would not be
diverted from their goal. Th e bile of British audiences was treated
with something approaching contempt; Phonogram' s an xiet y over
the gap between High 'n'dry and Pyromania was dismi ssed; Allen's
horrifying accident was overcome; Steve Clar k' s awful death was
pushed aside. Nothing could deflect Def Leppard. Joe is perfectly
correct in stat ing that 'one of the greatest qu aliti es in thi s band is
willpower, much more than talent. Some peopl e won't sing a top C
because it' s hard, but I'll keep going until I get it right. If you practice
long enough, you get there in the end. The word "can' t" isn't in our
vocabulary. We've got this reference point that says if you can have
a one-armed drummer, you can do owt! '
Perhaps it's a reflection of our times that a band who think of
themselves as honest craftsmen rather than multi-tal ented art ists can
become the biggest in the world, amassing album sales well in excess
of forty million. In another age, maybe such a utilitarian combinat ion
as Def Leppard would not have earned a second glance. That might
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Def Leppard
be the case but all that the band could do, can do, is their very best.
In that , they have given an object lesson to any young group coming
up behind them. Make the absolute most of your talents, use your
intelligence to look for new angl es, and success may yet be your s.
You can 't think about Def Leppard without reflecting on the
casualties. MSB were the first, Pete Willi s the next , Rick Allen lived to
tell the tal e, Steve Clark tragically did not. In one wa y or another, all
of those, bar Allen, lacked the almost psychotic devoti on to the band
that the rest demanded, though Clark was event ually in no fit state to
commit himself to anything. Possibly the rest of the band didn't deal
with the issues as sensit ively as they could have , perhaps in Cla rk's
case the y were almost too support ive, but they 've always lived by the
maxim that the show must go on. That' s not to say that they'r e brutal,
for the friendshi p extended to Rick Allen was striking, but overall
nothing is allowed to come between the group and their goal.
Operating within such a taut working environment is not likely to
lead to an easy life, and sacrifices have had to be made along the wa y
as Elliott recounts. 'You forsake being able to go to the pub with your
mat es, going to a football match if you have to rehearse. You forsake
your girlfriend , you do n't see your parents very often. But what you
lose on the one hand you gain on the other, like the immense
cama rader ie on to ur.' The shock of Clark's death has given them
ca use to rethink their priorities though as Allen point s out 'we do
take it all a lot more light-heartedl y now. But we still wa nt to be
legend ary. We want to get on the cove r of a rock history book. How's
that for cliche! '
In the end, that's what Def Leppa rd ar e about - sett ing the most
unlikely tar get and then worki ng towards it in the most blinkered of
fashions. But they always seem to get there. Savage admits to the
importance of the work ethic, sayi ng ' we spend all our time just
tr ying to stay ahead of the game. We don ' t stop and we don' t look
down.'
The final word goes to the garrulous Elliott, bringi ng the sto ry full
circle.
' In the winter of 1978, me and Pete Willi s were walking home
fro m the rehearsal room and we had eno ugh money to buy one
140
All We Want Is Everything
pint between us or take the bus home. We had a pint with two
straws, huddled round a fire in a pub near Bramall Lane. We
walked home past Sheffield City Hall where I found some chalk
and wrote "Def Leppard wi ll play here in 1980" on the wall. We
sold it out in 1980 and thought we' d made it. Now, years later,
there' s always room for improvement ; we don' t want to go
backwards like Uri ah Heep or Wishbone Ash and keep on
playing when nobody cares. We don't want to be a one-off. At
home I' ve got a disc for Pyromania and Hysteria for the first
septuple million back-to- back albums in history. We were the
first to do that. That' s one side. The ot her is that we' ve done two
nights at Wembley Arena and two at the NEC but not fi ve nights
at Wemble y Stadium where Gun s N' Roses sold 450,000 tickets
in one day. There's always more.'
141
UK DISCOGRAPHY
SINGLES
Getcha rocks off
January 1979
See notes
Wasted
November 1979
Chart: 61
Hello America
February 1980
Chart: 45
Let it go
August 1981
See notes
Bringin' on the heartbreak
November 1981
See notes
Photograph
January 1983
Chart: 66
142
Rock of ages
August 1983
Chart: 41
Too late for love
November 1983
See notes
Animal
July 1987
Chart: 6
Pour some sugar on me
September 1987
Chart: 18
Hysteria
November 1987
Chart: 26
Armageddon it
April 1988
Chart: 20
Love bites
July 1988
Chart: 11
Rocket
January 1989
See notes
Let's get rocked
March 1992
Chart: 2
Discography
143
Def Leppard
Make love like a man
June 1992
Chart: 12
Have you ever needed someone so bad
September 1992
Chart: 16
Heaven is
January 1993
Chart: 13
Tonight
April 1993
Chart: 34
Two steps behind
September 1993
Chart: 32
Action
January 1994
Chart: 14
When love and hate collide
1995
Chart: 6
Slang
April 1996
Chart: 17
ALBUMS
ON THROUGH THE NIGHT
Rock brigade/Hello America/Sorrow is a woman/It could be you/
SatellitelWhen the walls came tumbling downlWasted/Rocks off/It
don't matter/Answer to the master/Overture
144
Discography
March 1980
Chart: 15
HIGH'N'DRY
Let it go/Another hit and run/High'n'dry (Saturday night)/Bringin'
on the heartbreak/Switch 625/You got me runnin'/Lady strange/On
through the night/Mirror, mirror (Look into my eyes)/No no no
Jul y 1981
Chart: 26
PYROMANIA
Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)/Photograph/Stagefright/Too late for
love/Die hard the hunter/Foolin'/Rock of ages/Comin' under fire/
Action! not words/Billy's got a gun
February 1983
Chart: 18
HYSTERIA
Women/Rocket/Animal/Love bites/Pour some sugar on mel
Armageddon it/Gods of war/Don't shoot shotgun/Run riot/
Hysteria/Excitable/Love and affection
August 1987
Chart: 1
ADRENALIZE
Let's get rockedlHeaven is/Make love like a manITonightlWhite
lightning/Stand up (Kick love into motion)/Personal property/Have
you ever needed someone so badII wanna touch you/Tear it down
March 1992
Chart: 1
RETRO ACTIVE
Desert song/Fractured love/Action/Two steps behind (acoustic
version)/She's too tough/Miss you in a heartbeat/Only after dark/
Ride into the sun/From the inside/Ring of fire/I wanna be your hero/
Miss you in a heartbeat (electric version)/Two steps behind (electric
version)
145
Def Leppard
October 1993
Chart: 6
VAULT
Pour some sugar on me/Photograph/Love bites/Let's get rocked/
Two steps behind/Animal/Heaven is/RocketlWhen love and hate
collide/Action/Make love like a man/Armageddon it/Have you ever
needed someone so bad/Rock of ages/Hysteria/Bringin' on the
heartbreak
October 1995
Chart: 4
SLANG
Truth?/Turn to dust/All I want is everythingIWork it out/Breathe a
sigh/Deliver me/Gift of flesh/Blood runs coldlWhere does love go
when it dies/Pearl of euphoria
May 1996
Chart: 5
146
SOURCES
HOT PRESS
Live review, Cork Connolly Hall by Tony O'Donoghue, 26 August
1986.
Hysteria LP review by Jon de Leon, 10 September 1987.
'If I'd Spent Eighteen Months In Los Angeles' . . ., 24 September
1987.
Adrenalize LP review by Fiona Looney, 23 Apri l 1992.
'I' m A Rocker' by George Byrne, 23 Apri l 1992
MAKING MUSIC
' In Def There Is Life' by Andrea Th orn, May 1992.
MELODY MAKER
' Growing Up In Publi c' by Brian Harrigan, 10 Jan uar y 1981.
Live review, Hammersmith Odeon by Steve Gett , 8 August 1981.
Live review, Marquee Club by Ni ck Kemp, 19 Februa ry 1983.
' Pyroman iacs!' by Frank Worrall, 2 Apri l 1983.
' Til Deaf Do Us Part' by Derek Oli ver, 10 December 1983.
Live review, Birmingham Odeon by Simon Scott, 17 December
1983.
Live review, Hammersmith Odeon by Chris Roberts, 19 September
1987.
'Travelling Band' by Carol Clerk, 9 April 1988.
Live review, Toulouse Gr and Palais Des Sports by Carol Clerk,
147
Def Leppard
8 April 1988.
Live review, Earls Court by John Selzer, 11 July 1992.
'Rebellious Jukebox' by Joe Elliott, 16 October 1993.
METAL HAMMER
Slang LP review by Dave Ling, June 1996.
'You Don't Wake Up On Tour .. .' by Jerry Ewing, June 1996.
NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
'Are You Crap? Yeah, We Are' by Deanne Pearson, 29 September
1979.
'More Brutes & Loonies', 1 March 1980.
'We Wanted To Be The Biggest .. .' by Steven Wells, 21 January
1989.
Q
Hysteria LP review by Emily Fraser, October 1987.
'Loadsamoney' by Mat Snow, May 1988.
Adrenalize LP review by Phil Sutcliffe, May 1992.
'Life Is Sweet' by John Aizlewood, May 1992.
Retro Active LP review by Valerie Potter, December 1993.
RECORD MIRROR
'Armageddon Time ' by Ian Dickson, 23 April 1988.
'Star Trekkin" by Lisa Tilston, 30 July 1988.
'Blast Off' by Roger Morton.
SMASH HITS
'What A Bunch Of Weeds' by Silvia Patterson, 12 August 1987.
'Most Successful Rock Singer In The World' by Richard Lowe, 22
February 1989.
SOUNDS
'The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' by Geoff Barton, 16 June
1979.
'Hello America' single review by Mick Middles, 23 February 1980.
'Def Or Glory?' by Geoff Barton, 1 March 1980.
148
Sources
On through the night LP review by Geoff Barton, 22 March 1980.
Live review, Newcastle by Ian Ravensdale, 26 April 1980.
'Def For Glor y' by Pete Makowski , 4 Jul y 1981.
Higb 'n'dry LP review by Geoff Barton, 18 Jul y 1981.
'The Luxury Of Real Fur ' live review, Hammersmith Odeon by
Philip Bell, 8 August 1981.
Pyromania LP review by Geoff Barton, 12 February 1983.
'It' s Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away' by Geoff Barton, 5
March 1983 .
' Spot Cash For Metal ' by Garry Bushell, 6 August 1983.
'Will The Rollercoaster Red Carpet Ride Ever Stop' by Robbi
Mill ar , 25 Jul y 1987.
'Cat Scratch Fever', Hysteria LP review by Paul Elliott, 22 August
1987.
' Sugar On The Rocks ' , live review, Nottingham Royal Centre by
Paul Elliott, 12 September 1987.
'Magic Roundabout' by Paul Elliott, 5 December 1987.
Live review, Wembley Arena by Mary Anne Hobbs, 23 April 1988.
' Once Bitten Twice Shy' by Mary Anne Hobbs, 2 July 1988.
'Bringing Up Baby' by Mat Snow, 18 February 1989.
VOX
Adrenalize LP review by Paul Elliott, May 1992
149
Above: All the young dudes - Rick ,
Phil , Sav, Steve, and Joe, 1983.
Left: Leppard conquer America,
1983.
Whi te lightening - Ste ve Clar k.
A ba nd t hat looks like Saxon and sounds like Duran Duran .
Rick Savage, "Adrena lize "
Joe Elliot tea rs it down .
Sav, Viv, Joe, Rick, and Phi l pr epare to get rocked, 1992.
Above: Phil wi t h Brian May at th e
lercury tribute, Apr il 1992 .
Right:Joe Elliot and hi s hyst eri ca l
rousers,
Back in black, 1992.
Above: Jon Bon Jovi keeps an eye
on the competition; Viv, Sav,
Rick and Joe on the "Vault"
promo tour 1995.
Left: Rick Allen and real drums,
1995.
Joe Elliott, Spai n, 1995.
( RfWR I ]1 BOK NHlU I ffiAKf R( m ~ Ie
,",0 Ie lio , 1992
At the Rea ing Festival ilil 1980, Def leppard left he stage to a ai storm of bottles.
Today, their album areeagerly awaited byalegion of fans across theglobe and their
record sales have 00 tr.ipped those of LJ2, Guns 'Rose , REM, Gene i and Queen.
larger than life entertainers in th elasslc rock tradition, Def leppard have not
merely changed musical attitudes but have fought their ayto super tardom with a
steely determination and camarader:ie that has helped them get over potentially
devastating illness andinjury.
Fo million records sold is just part of their story. Their achievements offer an
inspirational example of the ay strength of character can triu ph over a versi .
Def Leppard: Two Steps Ahead reveals the full story of the and t at has remained
ahead of the game and bas changed theface of hard rockforever.
£9.99
PRICE: $17.99
OEF LEPPARO: TWOSTEPSAHEAO
ISBN1-BB B94-42-6
f II .....
• ',."s ""'s I

DEF LEPPARD
TWO STEPS AHEAD

Dave Bowler a nd Bryan D ray

B~XTREE

Pu blished in G reat Brita in in 1996 hy Boxrree Limited, Hro.ul wallHou-a-, 2 1 Broa dw allc lond rm SF.I '11'1..

€> 1')'11'. Da ve B owler and Bryan Dra y
Th e moral r i~ht of th e a utho rs has been asse rte d. All ri~h t s reserved. T his public ation ma y not he reprod uced, recorded, tran smit ted or held in a retrieval system in part o r III whole in any for m o r using electr onic, mechanica l, pho toc o pying o r reco rdin g process with out the puhlishcr he ing first give n permission in w r i tin~. w Except in the United Sta tes of Americ a t his book is sold subjec t to t he coudinon rhar if sha ll no t, by wa y of t rade or otherw ise, he lent , resold , hired o ur or o therwise circula ted wit ho ur the Publisher's prio r co nsent in a ny form o f bind ing or co ver othe r t han that in which it is published an d wit hout a simila r co nd ition bein g impos ed on a subs eque nt pun:hawr. OVl'r desig n: Shoot T hat Tiger! Fro nt C From cover pho tos: Rcma Tn>CSl'l hy SX Composing DT I" Ra yleigh, Essex Primed by T he Harh l' rccs, Hath ISI\ N o 7.\2 2 11 4 1 4 I0 '1 S 7 f, '4 .'l 2 1

:\ e ll' ruraloguc is avarl.ibtc from tilt' Brirish ljhrury .

CONTENTS lntr oducnon Cha pter O ne: No where to Run ? Chapter T wo: All the Young Dudes Chapter Three: O n the Crest of a New W3\'t: 5 12 21 Chapter Four: Into the Fire Chapter Five: With a Little H elp From O Uf frien ds Chap ter Six: Wait ing for the Man Chapter Seven: Firep roo f Chapter Eight: Animal Ma gic Cha pter Nine: T he La st T ime Cha pter Ten : T ime for a Change? Cha pter Eleven: All We Wa nt Is Ever yth ing Discography So urces 32 43 52 69 85 t 15 131 138 142 147 .

Alwa ys Da vid To T rish. Jo yce and Wa l For all their help.Raymond Ca rver And for Denise Th e half moon in th e sky to night.DEDICATION To Mom and Dad ' Bicycles. And Mu m. Emma and Rebecca Fo r a ll th eir lo ve a nd suppo rt. Dad.. Brya n . cigarett es' . Gran . . mu scles. bright eno ugh to come up with an answer .

Th an ks too are due ro th e very legendar y Hot Press. Finally. Staffordshire ST17 9SE. Param ount amo ng these are Clare H ulto n at Bo xtree and Tarija H owarth an d M ark Hayward w ho co ntinue to tak e care of business. Q. Abo ve all.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It wouldn't be possible [0 put toget her any book witho ut the help of a number of people. We are very grateful to all the staff there who were unfai lingly helpfu l and able to suggest num erou s avenues of enquiry. T he same applies to Maria M cKee's 'Li fe Is Sweet' and the Co wboy J unkies' '200 More M iles'. an excellent facility. we are mo st grateful to Den ise Dean who. . you sho uld send a large SAE to Kate at Mid lan ds Met al Internatio nal. as well as o ffering tho ughts on the te xt. 47 T hackeray Walk. Raw. Melody Maker. gave far too much time to the resea rch o f (his pro ject . T hanks to o to those at the Colin dale Newspaper Librar y. No co llection is co mplete wit ho ut them. Wit hom th e help of 'Ant ho logy 2' fro m the Bearles. Sta fford. sanity wo uld have passed away much sooner than it did . if there's anyone o n the lookout fo r other Def Leppard fans to share in for mation with. Mu ch of the initial basic research was co nducted at the Na tional Sound Archive. Select. Kerrangl. New Musical Express. We are grateful to the m all. as usual. Vox. Metal Hammer an d Record Mirror whose articles on the band were an excellent so urce of infor matio n.

As l. by the belief . bur it does not cha nge the facts. by t he DIY et hic. it becom es appare nt that t hat bald statement of fact and of amb it ion ha s been centra l to th eir survival. That is your choice. and be co ncerne d that sales figures have obstr ucted the search for musica l pur ity. they have un fli nchingly aimed for the to p and ha ve made all th e per sonal sacr ifices necessa ry to get there. You ma y feel it is a perfectl y sensibl e goa l. victims of the vitri ol of British fans at a time when the m usical roost was ru led by the independ ent . Backed by an American management ream that mo ve wit h the prec ision of any major indu stri al corpo ra tion. it's im portant tha t yo u tak e not ice of that single phrase. You may commend their ho nesty in ope nly co nfessing to the hid den agen da that motivat es most gro ups. Suffice it to say tha t these d reams lead them unerringly towards expulsion fro m their ho mela nd early on in their caree r. Def Leppar d wanted to be big. tha t has long been the co re philosop hy of th e ban d. Altern ati vely you may he repelled by such nak ed determin ation to pursue relentlessly the rewards of co mmercia lism.INTRODUCTION 'We wanted to be the biggest rock han d in t he wo rld. if such a thing exists. t heir man ifesto.eppard 's story unfold s. T he reason s for dwelling on thi s particular po int will beco me clear later o n in this ta le.' Before embarking on the story o f Def Leppard . As espoused by lead singer Joe Elliott. the ir raison d'etre. Since their form ation in Sheffield so me twent y year s ago at th e height of the punk wa rs. virtually every move has been made with that goa l uppermost in thei r minds.

Altho ugh criticism wo und ed them. some see Dcf Leppard as a co llectio n of manipulative. is the rea l secret o f their success and their longevity. Jo e Elliott was to boa st later . Credi bility. lauded as innova tors at th e o utset of their ca reers. th ey helped change British attitudes to the function of rock music and especially to commercial success. notab ly in America. such a view docs simplify th ings a litt le too much. Of course. tha t Lep pard had rewritten the rul e bo ok when it came to writing and record ing rock music. once they bega n to accum ulate a few go ld record s. Ridicu led in t he early eight ies by the English press. including the UK. the wa rmt h accorded them by the crit ics fell in d irect proport ion . backed up by a scheming. As a conseq uence.Def Leppard that small was beautiful and th at majo r label co rpo ratism was the kiss of death for honest musical exp ression . by the time ' Hys teria'. to ma ke themselves ' recessio n proof' as Elliott term ed t hem. a qu ality they possess in spades . all ideas t hat were largely al ien to a British perspective. enjoyed. it ca n be survived and it can be wo rt h having. Def Lepp ard are living proof that success ca n be had . Def Leppard had to mak e it abroa d. dictates that it is almost alwa ys the 2 . If Def Lep pard have been prophets witho ut honou r in their own land. Q ueen and Genesis are excellent examples of the prevailing mindsct. then at least the profits pou ring in from ot her lands ha ve provided ample co nso latio n. creating mo uldbreaking. before t he British too k them to their hearts. the ba nd was finally in sync with the prevailing zeitgeist all over the 'c ivilised' world. wit h good reason . its big roc k so und an d goo d time attit ude mad e the airw aves in 1987.such people do not ex ist at the top of the mu sical tr ee . Dreams of global do minati on had seen them thro ugh th at initial rejectio n and had helped them weat her person al traged y in the most d igni fied and co urage ous manner.ep pard knew that a simila r fat e wo uld inevitably await them and so simply set thei r faces agai nst it a nd got on with th e job in hand.single-minded determinat ion. cyn ical maneu verers. enabled them to rise above the sto rm. Na me any British band that became an interna tio nal success in the seventies an d you'll find a gro up that was insta nt ly reviled. M achiavellian management team . Equally. Yet wh ile rio-o ne wo uld pretend that they a re nai ve idea lists . Keen students of rock history. their deter minati on to make it big. classic roc k mu sic. rhar ne bulo us ideal. l.

a multina t ional moneyma king co nglomerate. they quickly real ized .. Sad ly. ut ilizing the equ ipment that was at their disposal. the remix ers. T heir wo rk with Robert ' M utt' La nge was tr uly gro undhreaking and even such a sage as Bono remar ked th at ' Hysteria' was the first technologica l reco rd an d o ne that had an intellectua l impac t on the di rection U2 too k for ' Achtung Baby' and the n 'Zoo ropa'. Genesis were perfect examples of t hat an d by th e end o f the 1970s th ey were one of the top acts in the world .that the y co uld o nly reach the top and then stay there by giving their ab solute arrenrio n to the finest of deta il. the critical panning they received in the UK in the early eight ies or the t rials and tribu lations that sur ro und ed the making o f ' Hyster ia' . the modern world do es not live on ro mance hut on hard cash and again. minstrels mak ing their merr y way from (Own to town . th ere shou ld be a hint of the medieva l rroubadour abo ut ar tists. It wa s as much a tri bute to Mensch 's wise counsel as the innate good sense of the band th at they not o nly surv ived bur prospered . Just as Queen had blazed a trail in their era.Introductio n da nce acts. T hey'd seen man y mu sicians run crying ro the pap ers to tell sto ries o f how they'd been ripped off and they vowed it would not happen to them. a perfect ly valid respon se to the bewilderi ng gro wt h in musical tech nolog y thro ugh th e 1980s.and were speedily ed ucated in the realities by manage r Peter Mensch . More than that thou gh. Goo d business sense 3 . it was as well that they had such a staunch and shrewd ally as Mensch to fall back on . Th eir blueprint was followed and built upo n by Mensch and his staff to ensure tha t everyth ing w ithin the Leppard orga nization worked smoothly. So str ingently are their affairs managed that the mu sic seems to be just another division of Dcf Leppard Inc.few other bands wou ld have survived the hostile reception that l eppard got at Read ing in 1980. Given thei r ability to att ract prob lems. Dcf Leppa rd were the fi rst han d o f their vintage to stretc h t he reco rd ing stud io to its limits and ro use it as anot her instru ment. the DJs and the avant garde ind ustri alists who get the cred it for pushing back the musical fro ntiers yet Lep pa rd d id as much as an yone to bring music into the d igital age. M usic should have a romantic air about it. Lep pard were amo ng the first ro realize that harsh fact o f life. Peo ple's suspicions a bou t Leppa rd a re generally rou sed by th eir man agement struct ure.

But that is Def Leppa rd in a nutshell . such global penetrat io n of the Leppard so und mean s that everyone has a chance to hear their reco rds and.the most selfsufficient. that can o nly be a goo d thing. they are content with the music they mak e.the membe rs of the band are down to eart h blokes w ho can live a nor ma l life away from the stage. sales graphs are less important. 4 . bur it is a very enco uraging fi rst ste p and one that few in t heir position would have tried. If they make a reco rd and love it at th e end o f the reco rdin g process.. T hat has a lways been the supreme test. With more mon ey in the bank th an they could ever need. Leppard embarked on a d ifferent road with 'Slang' . but some roc k mu sician s are so pampered that they do n't know how to buy postage stamps! Def Lepp ard arc o rdinar y men who have an extrao rdinary job. but tha t's a gro ss d isto rt ion of the facts. t hat is now the real success. if yo u're a fan of classic roc k. But above and beyon d that. T hey are in tou ch with their fans. Jt's hard to believe. Now they want to be the best. 'Slang' lacks the tota l co nfidence and co nvict ion that such a bo ld mo ve req uires. Def Leppard are anything but a bunch of ma nipulated meatheads. H aving been the biggest ban d in the wo rld . self-confide nt band in t he wo rld. an indication of how time has changed their att itud es.not ab ly o n the west coast o f America . know that they a re appreciated and are norm al eno ugh to enjoy t he privileges. .Def Lep pard can be seen as so ulless. Self-sufficiency is their creed and their greatest gift. the men in suits ruling t he grou p. crucial in the changes they are currently go ing thro ugh. Even if it were true. How do they justify such arroga nce . Unlike a number o f their contempo raries .

the result of hindsigh t and an un qu enchab le desire to ro manticize fur th er the story of a ma jor league rock ban d. An ephem eral cha lk mark wa shed away by a rain storm . trying to gain extr a att ent io n for his o r her gro up. few would have seen it at th e time. In Def Leppar d' s case o f co urse. going 5 .1 NOWHERE TO RUN? ' Def Leppard will play here in 1980: A simple scrawl on th e granite wa ll of Sheffield 's City Hall in the bleak midwinter of 1978. th ere ate plenty of similar messages writte n on halls in most major towns and cities. he had few aca dem ic pretensions and left school at th e first o pportunity. sugges ting th at the hand o f destiny has alwa ys been guid ing Def Lep pard's fort unes. th e despera te words o f an ambitio us yo ungster looking hop elessly fo r a break. for it read s in such a matter of fact manner th at it seemed incontrovert ible. Viewed th at wa y. it do es look like a sta teme nt of fact. After all. Born in Sheffield o n 1 Augu st 1959. Such a co nclusio n might reason abl y be dism issed as plain daft. Like man y kids of his age. defied qu estion . a lmost a warni ng to th e punter s to book ea rly to avoid disappointment. yet Joe Elliott 's co ncise sta tement is archety pal Def Leppar d. The odd thing a bo ut it th ou gh is th at Joe honestly believed that tho se wo rds were a ma tt er of fact. th e experience of the last twenty years adds immense significance to the words. th at th ey were a warn ing to get in line for tickets becau se he never had any doubts th at his band would soon be treading th e boards th at had already been grace d by his heroes. Joe Elliott found th e mid sevent ies dan k and depressing times. gro ups like M ort the Hoop le and Thin Lizzy.

it's clear that there were some excellent songwriters and musicians around at the time. Joe followed the traditional escapist routes. Marc Bolan was the first pop idol 1 ever had'. The twelve year-old was bitten by the rock'n'roll bug. Joe was understandably filled with the desire to escape. Early on he found himself working for Smith Widdowson and Eadem Limited.Def Leppard straight out to work for a living .these were the days when Sheffield was still a thriving town and the epicentre of the world's steel industry. providing a very necessary outlet for his fertile imagination. Mick Ronson. Gary Glitter. with glam rock holding sway in the charts. Joe Elliott was among those moved and inspired by what was happening in the Top Twenty. the power pop sensibilities of Jimmy Lea and Noddy Holder in Slade. That period is often ridiculed now. Those formative years back in the early seventies were played out to a very strong pop soundtrack. With few prospects and the tedious grind of the nine to five stretching out before him for the next forty or fifty years. immersing himself in pubs and football. Music was his greatest passion. one of the city's staple products. Roxy Music. the innovative intelligence of David Bowie. Later. Jobs were plentiful and lads like Joe with no real qualifications nor ambitions for a career were thought of as ideal factory fodder. David Bowie and Mott the Hoople. making the contemporary journey into the heart of the rat race. 'I got off first on people like Led Zeppelin and then on the commercial side of rock . the Sweet. he recalled that 'the first concert 1 ever saw was T Rex at the Sheffield City Hall in 1971. but if you can ignore the lack of anything approaching sartorial elegance and instead listen to the music. on the treadmill in a factory that produced cutlery. whatever happened would have had to be anti-climactic but in retrospect.glam rock if you 6 . but he always felt that there had to be more to life than just this. those waking hours not reserved for Sheffield United being spent on dreams of pop stardom. Again. largely because of the atrocious fashion sense displayed by the stars of the era . Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno and the sheer stupidity of Gary Glitter conspired to create some memorable moments. Following in the aftermath of the Beatles. nothing there to distinguish him from thousands of others across the country. courtesy of Slade.

He even went so far as to design gig posters for thi s ment al combo which he had named Deaf Leopard. 'I wanted to get into a band to get out of the factories. Hi s determinati on and his desire were only reinforced every time he heard 'All Th e Young Dudes'.' With typical pugnacity.' It's a con venient phrase that we've all used countless times: 'I'd do anything to be able to pack in this job and be rich and/or famous. da ydreaming about playing the City H all wh ile lessons went on around him. he felt even less inclined to build a future for himself within a local firm. Mott the Hoopl e were my favourite band and the good thing was that you' d get to see them and the Sweet or Slade on the TV on Top ofthe Pops but you only ever heard about Zeppelin at parties or from friend s. Given that Yorkshiremen are often fairl y opinionated and sur e th at their way is the right way. the vision or the talent to do anything but dream. 'Suffragette City' or 'Blockbuster'. I used to listen to my Alice Cooper tapes during dinner hour and think " I don't want to work here for the next fifty years. harder edged pop. the determination. Changing jobs. They don't really mean it. He remembered later the reason for his belief in 'Deaf Leopard' . The whole idea of being in a band was to escape boredom. so I just created my own form of escapism. Anything to get out of this shit" . What set Joe Elliott apart from the rest was his intense determination to succeed and his incredible blind faith in his own ability to deliver that dream.' Few people actually do anything ab out it though. When I was working. stuck in a basement where I had to buy in everyth ing from paper towels to Swarfega to oil rags to nuts and bolts to grinding wheels. Joe decided there and then that he was going to be a pop star. I was a storekeeper at O sborne Mushet Tools. I just wanted to have a great time at night before I went to sleep and woke up to the same old crap. going so far as to inform his careers teacher of the fact . don't have the courage. perhaps Joe's own self-assurance was just a matter of heredity .it is the county that spawned the likes of Fred 7 . Bands like Mott had such a hold on his imagination that he created his own ima gina ry band. Exposure to the tedium of work onl y hardened Elliott's attitudes to the future.Nowhe re to Run ? like. the conviction. That's what I did for five year s. th ough predictably his teachers had little faith in his ability to emulate his heroes and were not surprised when he quickly found his way on to the factory floor.

luck always has a part to play. Rick felt that it was just a matter of time before he was in a major league band. home of Sheffield Wednesday.the chances are that none of them will ever amount to anything more than just a good night out in your locale. With a band up and running. A useful guitarist. born in Sheffield on 2 December 1960. Rick was adamant that he was going to be an all-conquering rock musician. With the same swaggering arrogance that characterized the teenage Elliott. that music was much more lucrative in those pre-Premiership days and that the rock'n'roll 8 . The chance of a place with a top flight football club is an offer that most young lads could only dream of. for at the tender age of sixteen and with no realistic expectations of success. Such confidence. was making at the same time at West Ham United. Richard Savage was a year younger than Joe. he was an even more promising foot bailer and was on the books of Sheffield United which was ironic since he spent his Saturdays on the terraces at Hillsborough. an even more tempting prospect than playing professional football. Harvey Smith. bassist Steve Harris. Savage reasoned that rock music was his first love. He had ambitions that extended beyond the game of football. Joe's particular stroke of good fortune came when he teamed up with another young man who was equally convinced of his own particular destiny. yet for Savage the decision to sign or not was more complex. Once he had embarked on a life in a band. Look at any local gig guide and you can find dozens of bands of all kinds playing in the pubs and clubs of your town or city . Geoffrey Boycott and Foggy Dewhurst after all and none of them could be described as shrinking violets or lacking in self-confidence. However good or determined you are though. the very idea of failing simply didn't occur to him. Joe turned that idea on its head so that the chances of them not becoming the biggest band in the world weren't worth considering. bordering on arrogance is remarkable when you bear in mind the enormous failure rate within the music industry. United were in the First Division for much of his time as a schoolboy there and they were keen to offer Savage a contract to stay at the club.Def Leppard Trueman. Oddly enough. The likelihood of any of them becoming the most successful band in the world is so infinitesimally tiny as to be not worth considering. it was a decision that Iron Maiden's founder.

Pete W illis. along with drummer Ton y Kenning. Willis was clearl y the more promising of the two on guita r. a wholly and hopel essly derivati ve nam e. Most co mpelling of all thou gh. who knows? May be Def Lep pard wo uld never have seen the light of da y. Savage took up an apprent iceship with British Rail. but if anything it was Savage w ho remained the driving force behind their dreams. Rick 's gro up. didn' t have to worry about what you ate . At th at stage. in which he played guitar. but for some it is the critical moment that propels them for ward . went und er th e un appetizing moniker Atomic Mass. Alongside him in the band was another local guitarist. 9 . Whil e Joe wa s looking for a break and goi ng to eac h and every rock gig at Sheffield' s City H all. even at th at earl y stage. Joe met up with Pete Willis at the school's yo uth club and when. it was th e hated Unit ed ra ther th an his beloved Wednesday that were making him th e offer. wh ile Sheffield Unit ed didn't get a lot of action on th e gro upie fro nt either. Rick was taking the first tentative steps towards putting a band togeth er. At the tim e. Apart from that. such that they were never rooted purely in heavy metal but instead had a poppier element to their sound. Joe thought of himself as a guitarist and freely admitted that 'the onl y singing I'd ever done previously was in the junior sch ool choir. centred on heavy metal 's preoccupation with horror and holocau st. a more fluent and technically capable player. Atomi c Mass would rehearse a mixture of glam classics and hard roc k sta ples. were looking for a singer. Elliott came to mind. Mo st school groups cru mble when the time to leave comes around. Pete and Rick . H aving to get a job merely brought home how ordina ry th eir futures might be and how important the band could be as a launchin g pad towards better thing s. th ou gh he never look ed on that job as more than a mere time filler until th e day sta rdom beckoned. drank or smoked. Turning his back on the beau tiful ga me. They had met at Tapton Comprehensive School and had been kicking ideas around together since they were fourteen or fifteen .N owhere to Ru n ? lifestyle was more fun . Yo u co uld stay out lat e. the indi viduals all going their sepa ra te ways. in 1977. If Wedn esday had come in for his services. Savage wo uld not be deterred by setback s while the diminutive Willis was mor e reserved in his ambitions. Sharing similar tastes to Jo e Elliott.

Despite making a hash of 'Suffragette City' and 'Stairway to Heaven' at the band's first rehearsal together. Even as teenagers though. Such was Savage's desire to succeed. In the face of that sacrifice. ACIDC and Judas Priest. Nothing would stand in the way of Atomic Mass becoming rock gods. he had given up guitar and moved to bass when no suitable bassist could be found. Given that guitarists are very often the focus of a heav y metal band. it is even more remarkable that he was willing to concede such territory.' But Elliott had made an impression on Willis who recognized in him the same wholehearted commitment that made Savage such a valuable band member. cut an imposing figure at the front of the stage and wanted out every bit as badly as the others did. If they were on the move though. Since being in a band is supposedly the best way for a young lad to attract girls and given that Willis was not the most prepossessing physical specimen in the world. guitar. Willis in particular felt the band would be restricted if he was the only guitarist and pointed to favourite bands like Thin Lizzy. he was choosing to give up much of the spotlight and share it with someone else. he too was beginning to feel that Atomic Mass might be on the move and was gripped by the same professionalism that marked those two out. So now they had a four piece. Joe was in. bass and drums. so Rick himself plugged the glaring gap. the nucleus of Willis. the classic Zeppelin and Sabbath line-up of voice. he was tall. Joe's protestations were easily overcome. there were still a few things to be sorted out. Clearly with Elliott in place. Joe gathered the rest of the lads together in his 10 . his was a very farsighted view for such an inexperienced player and it was also a particularly unselfish one . most notably the name. Atomic Mass was. After all. It was hard to imagine posters outside Earl 's Court or Madison Square Gardens proclaiming the much awaited return of Atomic Mass. over and above the singer. Elliott and Savage could see the limitations of such a rudimentary set-up. who is often seen as something of a fall guy in the band's history. In fairness to Willis.Def Leppard I once played Elvis Presley in a school play when I was eleven. They onl y asked me because I was the only person who could play the proper guitar chords to "The Wonder Of You". a la Paul McCartney in the post-Sutcliffe Beatles. quite simply. all of whom used twin guitars. useless.

The onl y concession he had to mak e wa s in the spelling. but by the end of th e evening. Joe had got his way. 11 .Nowhere to Run ? bedroom for a band meeting. Def Lepp ard wa s born. Support was initially muted. he resurrected his dream group. Making the most of the territorial advantage. Deaf Leopard and suggested that this wa s a more promising handle for the group.

they 'd all read enough to understand just how important per sonal relati onships were within a group. simply fell apart under the weight of powerful egos. Willi s an d Savage had met at their comprehensive. they'd run into Jo e at th eir local yo ut h clu b. th e omens were always good for Def Leppard. The arrival of Fau stin o Asprilla at Newcastle United ha s proved that. However. Th e same is true of U2. for you ca n over-egg the pudding and upset the balance. Gene sis began as songwriters at school and whil e none of them was necessarily a virtuoso mu sician to begin with. simply putting together a collect ion of brilliant individuals does not guarantee success. Ian Hunter's Diary of a 12 . If we look back into the lat e sixties. who formed a band as somet hing to do after schoo l. In tha t light.2 ALL THE YOUNG DUDES Creating a successful rock band that can live and work together over a long period is a delicate operation. like Blind Faith for instance. co mbustible characters and individuals w ho simply didn't get on to geth er. few survived. Most. Balan ce is th e vita l and oft en elusive component of an y band with pretension s to lon gevity and it's why groups that start as an extension of a social life have so much more chance of survival. Pure blinding talent is no t always the vital ingredient. Even before th ey got a band together. akin to building a successful football team. By 19 77. the chemistry within the line-up was right. a camarad erie ex isted. to the days when super groups were springing up with monotonous regularity. though naturally it' s an important element.

whil e interviews in the music press pointed out time and time again that when a band wa s on tour. learning pieces from Bach and Vivaldi . Clark had already worked his way through a few groups. By the time he wa s into his teens though. Pete Willis was required to attend Stannington College as pa rt of his job as an apprentice lathe operator. greater than that of anyone else in Def Leppard. perhaps he was having second thoughts about sharing the spotlight with such a supposedly accomplished performer. It was while he was reading an effects book that Steve Clark introduced himself. The present was given on the understanding that Steve would study the classical guitar and indeed he took a series of lessons. he had received his first guitar as a Christmas pre sent from his parents in 1971.All the Young Dudes Rock 'n 'roll Star had been published. Another Sheffield lad. influences and so on. he wa s a little more wary. Again . providing him with a vocabulary that few contemporary players could equal. Equ ally. After all. now th at push had come to shove. Once more. This time though. fate smiled upon th em. worried that Clark might not fit in with the group. Nevertheless the classical lessons had been a vital part of his musical education. Using the opportunity to his own adva ntage. he used the college library to expand his own kn owledge of the guitar. one who might usurp him in the band . It was obvious that her e was a precocious talent. someone like Clark who knew what he was doing might easily eclipse the rest of them and take charge of the 13 . Savage and Elliott were very keen to find another guitarist. leaving them when it became clear th at th ey lacked th e ambition to turn their hobby into a way of life. the two falling into conversation about th eir favourite bands. rock music had taken its hold on his imagination and pretty soon Bach was replaced by Blackmore as a musical hero. Willis identified the similarity between Clark's ambition and that of Savage. the y we re eq ually co ncerne d th at whoever joined their ranks should not up set th e chemistry of th e gro up. as he had done with Joe. born in the Hillsborough district on 23 April 1960. the members had to live in on e another's pockets for months at a time. Though Willi s. Clark wa s not a conventional guitari st by an y mean s. working his way through the technical manuals the y had th ere. so it's understandable that Willi s sho uld balk at the idea of bringing him into the band.

he becam e an integral part of the band. Following Jo e's rather warmer enco ura gement and impressed by his hopes and dreams for Def Leppard. j oe admitted that ' I pani cked beca use 1 knew th at if Steve left. A co uple of da ys after his meeting with Willis . Steve's decision to quit back ed th em into a co rne r and. joe Elliott had no such reservati on s. Less na tura lly gifted performers than Clark. but as 1978 wore on. Clark's ga me of Ru ssian roulette had paid off and on 18 july. Steve was rehearsing with them . it could be th e end of the band '. This ca me as so met hing of a bombshell to th e rest of th e band who had been co nten t simply to wo rk hard in practice. a belief that far outstripped their ability as mu sician s. despite their individual anxieties. always ready to fall back on the clas sics for a little relief.Def Leppard wh ole affair. having been togeth er for just a few months. th e band pock etin g th e princely sum of five pounds 14 . We're forc ed to return again and again to thi s incr edible self-belief that surro unded Def Leppard. sha ring their vision of a glori ou s future tog ether. th ey were und erstandabl y nervou s a bo ut making the next leap forward on to th e concert stage and th ere was a general feeling that th ey weren't ready yet. Th e venue for th is earth-shatte ring event wa s th e gymnasium of Westfield Schoo l. By th e end of June. within a matter of days. he told th e band that if th ey didn 't sta rt looking for gigs. he had had eno ugh and taking refuge in the Dutch co urage offered by severa l pints of bitte r. th ey rea lized that th ey couldn't take th e risk of him leaving th e group for he was beginning to show promise as a songwriter too. trying to play some numbers of th eir own. Clark bumped int o th e two of them in the bar of the Cit y Hall prior to a judas Priest gig. th en he wa s leaving. Almo st at on ce. If Willis wa s unsure of Clark's value to the band. Th ey worked tirelessly. on 29 januar y. rehearsals began to become stale and mu sical progress was painfully slow. Def Lepp ard pla yed th eir first ever co ncert . Th e tw o parted after Willis had issued a vague invitation for Clark to come up and see them some time at their rehearsal room above a spoon factory in Bramall Lane. Steve had been in a number of groups that had talked a good game but then failed to do anyt hing ab out it and it was sta rting to dawn on him that perhap s Leppard we re just another in a long line of time wasters.

where playing concerts would be central to their strategy. a spark that separates the men from the boys. We thought we were very sexy and. we weren't. Def Leppard were little more than boys at this stage. Clubs and pubs that had regularly played host to hard rock and heavy metal acts for years on end now refused to look at any band that was not covered in safety pins. but equally. Steve had just turned eighteen while Rick and Pete were just seventeen years old. had a terrible time finding places to play in London when they were first starting out. 1978 was the height of the punk and new wave boom that had supposedly swept away all the old ideas about rock music and replaced them with a brand new order. The naive enthusiasm was enough to keep them going in this early phase of their career. for example. you'd had it. of course. punk was just another musical fashion that had come along from out of the blue. If you had long hair. The gig itself may have been as low key as they come. that there was a certain quality about them as a band. At a distance of a couple of hundred 15 . turning up regularly in the more unflattering press features on the band.' Some of the photographs have survived to tell the tale. Iron Maiden. Steve Harris fighting an ongoing battle with all manner of promoters just to keep his music alive. they received another stroke of good fortune by virtue of their geographic isolation from London. Physically of course. they wanted plenty more of it.All the Young Dudes in return for their efforts. rock venues were changing their allegiance overnight in order to capitalize on this new movement. Leppard soldiered on . As Joe remembered later 'you should have seen the ridiculous clobber we had on to start with! Stripy trousers and leopardskin T-shirts and silk and all that crap. Their performance may well have been ramshackle but it did prove to them that they had something when they played together. but it was absolutely critical in setting Def Leppard on the path they would follow for the next three years. Again. Sartorially challenged though they might have been. In London and the south east where the word of the NME was law. It's amazing what you think when you're nineteen. Joe was only just approaching his nineteenth birthday. Having got the taste for live performance at long last. it did cost them their self respect as they followed the dictates of youthful fashion. In Sheffield.

If a ny t hing. p unk never threat en ed th e evo lution of Def Lep pa rd . So all the publicity th at sur ro unded punk di dn' t mea n anyt hing.Def Leppard miles. Indeed. The good bands survived th e punk ons laug ht. that wa s very much th e sto ry of punk away from th e metropolis. For that reason . we didn't get all of those new fan zines. but basicall y it was a roc k reco rd . And when the ir a lbum ca me o ut. All we got was th e record of ' Anarchy in the UK' in th e local reco rd sho p at nin e o 'clock on th e Monda y morning it ca me o ut. T hat wa s the tale thro ug h mu ch o f provincial Britai n. sociologicall y it was mo re significant. I th ou gh t 'This is fuckin' brilliant. th e pu nk revo lutio n pus hed Def Leppa rd into the spotl ight before they wer e ready for it. If punk ha d littl e obvio us mu sical im pact on th e band. Jo e Elliott kn ew his stuff by th e tim e ' N ever M ind th e Bollocks' was release d a nd his assess ment of it was spot on: You have to realize th at in Sheffield we didn't see th e Sex Pistol s pla ying th e 100 Cl ub. nev er had th e o ppo rt un ity to st unt th eir growth by de nyi ng th em outlets for th eir so ngs. We just had another grea t roc k reco rd to listen to' . wi t h th e new wave sha ring th e loc al scene with mo re tra ditiona l roc k bands. th e punters were less im pressed by outlandish clothes and antics and more interested in the product. Musicall y it was a breath o f fresh air. fo r the new wave was as ro oted in th e past as any other offs hoot of rock 'n 'roll. hea vy rock th e wa y I like it! Ballsy but three chordish' . It wa s anything but. th ose wi th noth ing left to offer died beneath its withering fire. It had thi s gu y th at co uld n' t sing and a gu y th at couldn't play so los. but th at' s a sto ry for a little later on . we didn 't see Johnny Rotten vomiting down the Kin gs Road. We go t th is a lready ma rketed product . breaking free of th e sha ckles of pomp roc k and insipid pop mu sic. But it's wrong to run away with the notion that punk was ro ck's ' Yea r One'. Mo hica n ha ircuts rem a ined a pre tty ra re sight o uts ide th e ca pita l a nd things mu sical carried on as norma l. a w ho lly necessary chance to take stoc k of the future d irect ion of roc k' n' ro ll. T hree -min ute so ngs were back in vog ue after years in wh ich no song was wort h its sa lt if it didn't 16 .

it had to be written in such a way that it might compete in the singles chart. Punk's other gre at legacy was the notion th at yo u could do it yourself. a knack th ey have yet to lose. for that incredible will to win was probably th eir stro ngest suit. recoup the cost by selling it at their gigs and still have enough co pies left to send to radio stations all over Britain. on e which they would accomplish only by succeed ing locally and by having some kind of calling card to show to promoters further afield . That was an important shift in emphasis for Leppard . As soon as they had become a live band. For a rock band . A punk band might write a so ng on Monday.their own single would do that job ver y nicely. a revolutionary thought given the scorn that bands like Zeppelin and Floyd had heaped upon th e Top Twenty. The idea of so me patriarchal multinational record company deciding what should and sho uldn' t be relea sed was becoming an outmoded concept as small ind ependent st ud ios began to pop up around the country. record it on Thursday and have it out in th e shops on their own label the following week. a band with a local following could easily record a single. Th ey had scarcely left the stage at Westfield School before th ey had begun to calculate when they would be ready to make that first recording. groups with guts but with an ability to turn out classic rock singles. Running it a very close second was their ability to look two steps ahead of where the y were. The unswerving self-belief that Leppa rd had in th emselves and their destiny has already been menti on ed on numerous occasions. With pressing costs coming down too. propelled by th eir collective enjoyment of glam rock. for that was precis ely the direction they were heading in. Getting beyond the confines of Sheffield was the most importa nt step. The excesses of progressive rock were brutally hacked back so that rock music had to be concise once again.All the Young Dudes include a three-minute solo. Indeed. Now if punk never became the all-conquering force in th e north that it was in London. offering a decent sound at very reasonable prices. the ideal wa s now Thin Lizzy or Queen. cities like Sheffield needed th eir own kind of 17 . There's no doubt that that was the next goal they were working towards. they began to con sider wh ere the y wanted to be six months hence and how the y would get th ere.

we played loa ds of din gy dungeon-type plac es and got paid about fifteen qu id a time. Sheffield's music of choice was heavy metal and the City Hall hosted shows by all the major members of the metal fraternity. Sheffield's importance on the metal map made things tougher for them. 18 . It was a rare week indeed wh en one rock band or another wasn't packing in 2200 fan s. If in anyone week you might be able to catch Motorhead .Def Leppard music. a reser voir from which to draw support. AC/DC and Gillan for instance. We did th e ro ck pubs for that mu ch and all we co uld drink but a van would cost us £35 for each gig. And woe betide the band whose show happened to clash with Whitesnake's visit to the city. Joe recalled that rock venues offered very littl e by way of pa yment: ' After th at first show. Like many of the great industrial towns north of Watford such as Birmingham and Newcastle. not normally regarded as a heavy metal hotbed. playing before crowds that weren't easily impressed .' It' s a tribute to their versatility that th ey wer e a ble to get such a lot of wor k in th e working men 's clubs. Their ow n songs were in a slightly lighter vein and. Paradoxicall y though. because it'd be liable to end up playing to the proverbial one man and his dog. When we did th e wo rking men 's clubs. Clearly then. th ey had evo lved a plan in which those clubs were ab solutely central. Those gigs paid for wha t we lost whil e we were tr ying to break into the rock circuit. a potential graveyard . Th e people knew their ro ck music and there wer e a number of bands trying to break on to th e local circuit. If that wasn't enough. Now out and about on th e local circuit.Yorkshire's clubs are to rock bands what Glasgow's are to comedians. we got better paid and we'd sign for our mon ey as Mic key M ou se so that we couldn't be traced . mu sic that could unite teenagers across the city. the very fact that the rock elite were such frequent visitors to the City Hall tended to militate against the small er clubs. you might be less inclined to head off to the Limit or the Leadmill to see a band yo u' d never heard of on on e of yo ur nights off. Th e network of working men 's clubs that dotted so uth Yorkshire doesn't imme diately appear to offer a particularly promising outlet for an aspiring rock band. T ypically of Leppard's attent ion to detail th ou gh . by playing covers such as Thin Lizzy's 'E merald' and ' Ros alie' . Def Leppard had a base from which to work.

We used to buy all our 19 . Def Leppard became something of a religion to them. were nothing if not garish according to Elliott. No-one could accuse the band's members of not working hard enough for. Transportation difficulties were finally solved in a novel fashion. We used to wear women's clothes on stage. their sound seems very lightweight compared with what we regard as heavy metal now.Joe Elliott was later to argue that Def Leppard had never been a heavy metal band but rather a commercial rock band. did not share the group's enthusiasm for rehearsing nor their unswerving faith in their glittering future.and I got a job as a van driver which came in very handy!' Surprisingly enough. Costumes.they supported fellow Sheffield band the Human League at one point . Not that they weren't busy. for along the way they lost drummer Tony Kenning to the clutches of a girlfriend who. at the time. The real test though would come on the rock circuit. I got the sack from that store-keeping job . true to their faith.All the Young Dudes the Bob Seger song they'd appropriated. as an article of faith. for example. 'In those days we still thought it was cool to have a perm because Robert Plant and Marc Bolan had curly hair. still very much in its infancy. as they knew full well. So I got a perm done and it looked disgusting. Leppard were adamant that they were heavy metal. Nevertheless. In retrospect.they still found it terribly hard to get gigs. they'd rehearse for four hours a night. played by groups such as Metallica or Anthrax. What was that overall sound? Opinions vary . they were able to keep those audiences happy. bands such as Kiss and Van Halen were indisputably from the HM end of the market and Leppard owed much to both. But even with Leppard's willingness to play anywhere for anything . they drew on their glam roots. if they didn't have a gig to play. In terms of stage presentation. Kenning was replaced by Frank Noon. Joe Elliott again : 'Eventually. five nights a week as well as on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In spite of their day jobs. so the intensive practice schedule was now geared to helping him fit into their overall sound. playing a mere handful by the turn of the year. the delivery van tended to moonlight as Def Leppard's official transport. spiced up by references to the effusive showmanship of Dave Lee Roth. understandably enough.I got caught playing cricket in the basement . At the time .

so I was regul arl y in Top Sho p. If yo u want to look a bit different from the a ud ience.' How th ey survived th e wo rking men 's club is anyo ne's guess. 20 . pro speri ng too.Def Lepp ard clothes from Top Shop and Chelsea Girl. you' re not going to get it in Burtons. so much so th at by November th ey we re read y to mak e th at all-impo rta nt deb ut recording.I only got a bo ut £28 a wee k. but survive th ey did. We co uldn' t reall y afford an ything else .

Def Lep pard pro ba bly went into the stu d io too ea rly in m an y res pects. for a ltho ug h they were view ing the recording sess ion as a ch an ce mer ely to dem o so me so ngs.50 from his dad to enable th em to mak e th e sho rt tr ip to Hull to record three so ngs a t Fairview Studios. wo rki ng o n so ngs. Joe had to borrow £. Live wor k co uld be see n as fun . en joya ble a nd a n important part of the gro up ex pe rie nce . befo re they had had th e cha nce to become a road hardened band in th e way tha t contempo ra ries suc h as Iron Ma ide n had. th ey seemed read y to make th e ste p. Yet it w as p ropheti c th at they sho uld c hoose to do so. t he nucl eu s of Savage. Son g se lect io n was crucial. at th e ve ry least th ese so ngs wo uld be th eir 21 . Ellio tt. hen ce the hou rs a nd ho ur s o f pract ice. from which th ey co uld se lect th e bes t. for it foreshadowed th e em p hasis th ey would place o n the two sides of ba nd life for th e rest of th eir ca reer. It' s clea r how important it w as to th em to mak e a reco rdi ng a nd finall y. Putting a track down on tap e was th e only mean s o f gua ra ntee ing immortality. Willi s a nd C lark felt th at t hey had pu t a nice bod y o f songs togethe r. hon ing them to perfect io n th at was th e reall y important th ing. Financial co ns ide ra tio ns were upperm o st in th eir minds and ultimately. but it was re hears ing. With a lmost a year of hard reh earsing behin d th em. Even if it did not turn into th e debut single they hoped for . th e y had greater ambition s for th e tapes.: 148. each new so ng had to be just right. a nd before it wa s recorded .3 ON THE CREST OF A NEW WAVE Having o nly pla yed seve n co ncerts.

cruising freeways and drive-in movies. 'Getcha rocks off' was simple. for it bore the hallmarks of their 'Speed king'. drawing the sharpest of critical comment. Given that their songs were written beneath the factory chimneys of South Yorkshire in the midst of a particularly drab year for the British weather. 'Overture' was inevitably a pale imitation. notably the 2112 album that had proved extremely popular among rock fans. technicolour visions of escape to a land of opportunity where the sun always shines. No masterpiece by any means.'I can't understand why people like it. 'Overture' featured an extended instrumental blow-out. enjoying playing and loving the chance to escape from the real world for however short a time. these lyrical leanings would spark controversy. The first song selected itself. thanks to overseas influences. its execution. The second track 'Ride into the sun'. it was indicative of a band that could handle their instruments and were promising songwriters. they could hardly be criticized for having these widescreen. producing what was a unique hybrid at the time. was in a similar vein. its style.Def Leppard calling card when they approached booking agents across the country. but very soon. and that's understandable because they were perhaps the seminal hard rock band in the midseventies. indeed its very title influenced by Canada's Rush. It's most obvious reference point was Deep Purple. They were a good-time band. Def Leppard were obviously impressed by Rush's success. Lyrically. for the very idea of 'getting your rocks off' was the central plank of Def Leppard's manifesto. honest to goodness hard rock of a kind that had been especially popular in the early seventies. The final choice for the studio was interesting for it showed just how heavy metal had changed over the years. Clearly the band had been watching plenty of Hollywood's teen movies and were dreaming of the wide open spaces of America. 1 think it's horrible' . What bunch of British teenagers wouldn't want to go and see the land of the free? At the time. it was all top-down cars. such a lyrical preoccupation barely merited any comment. but it did 22 .'Getcha rocks off' had to be the main track. Despite the reservations of Joe's mum . Rush had been able to fuse the fairly basic attacking instincts of metal on to the instrumental intricacy of progressive rock. It was fitting that that should be the case.

They kn ew jus t ho w cru cia l th e EP was to their hopes o f getting th e band o ut o f th e blocks a nd runn ing towa rds stardom on a national sca le. Its Achilles heel. reserva tio ns w hich the head stron g group wo uld ne ver have accepte d at th e time. th ey wo uld be in th e va ng ua rd . as with a number o f Lep pa rd 's so ngs. T he ' Ce tcha rocks o ff' EP wa s set for local relea se in January 1979. Show ing th e pa tience for wh ich th ey 23 . Having failed to pen et rat e t he roc k circ uit.priests. per ha ps they we re still proudl y di spla yin g thei r lineage. Lep pard hoped th at th e EP would pro vid e th em w ith t he kind o f profil e th ey needed to help them up o n to th e next rung of th e ladd er. Fran kly. it was th at thi s so rt of su b-sci-fi non sense wa s now o ut o f place. foll ow ing the pr ecepts of th e DIY punk ethic. w hen the abi lity to play w as revered o nce more. a fact tha t even Ru sh accepted o n their 1980 release ' Perma nent W a ves'. Perhaps Def Leppa rd were still too young a nd inexperi enced to appreciate t hat . Even w ith th ese reservati ons. th er e ca n be no doubt that 'Overture' . Wh atever th e rea sons. If Sid Viciou s sca rce ly kn ew w hich wa y up to hold his bass guita r. as turn it m ust . Def Leppa rd had illustrat ed th at w he n the musical tid e turned . th ey we re a bys ma l. when mu sical accomplishment was supposed to be so met hing to be ashamed o f. sho w ing th e greatest promi se. At a time when m usic was at its most nihilistic. 'Overt ure' is th e more intere stin g o f th e three o fferings. wa llowing in th e a lleged mystique o f dungeon s and drago ns. Steve Cla rk in particul ar w as beginning to cr eate a very inte res t ing a nd distinct ive guitar so und a ll of his ow n and in th at sense. w as in th e lyrical department.O n th e C rest of a New Wa ve showcase th e mu sical a bility w it hin th e ba nd . a lo ng with man y o ther ea rly Def Lep pa rd creat ions was woefull y sho rt of lyri cal o rigina lity. w iza rds a nd high. If punk was right a bo ut just o ne thing. no. th e band had d isplayed a promi sing grasp of th e hard rock form with Clar k particularl y pr ominent . they had plenty o f reason to be happy with the tape th ey ha d pr od uced at th e end o f their st int at Fairview.on e co uld ever acc use Def Leppard of stup id ity . slav ishly co pying their predec essors rather th an a bsorbing the lesso ns and producing their own individual style. unleashing a n impressive new tal ent. Things had go ne so well th at th ere was never a ny q uest io n th at th e songs w ould be released as a single. Whatever yo ur feelings a bo ut th e band .

but fata lly flawed punk product that he was used to receiving. Martin knew th at th e new wave had a lread y seen its best da ys.they pressed just 150 co pies with a cover and signed lyric sheet. Stocks of th ese were qui ckl y ex ha uste d and with in wee ks. sti ll made up a sizea ble proportion o f his sales. a no th er 1000 co pies were read y fo r sa le. we pick ed up o n the ph rase a nd used it for th e record label' . as Joe reme m bered: 'We suppo rted th e Human Leagu e a nd a rev iewe r ca lled us " bludgeon riffola" . yo ung band in t hat sty le certain ly ha d a lot to offer in th e yea rs a hea d. a style which thou gh un iversall y derided. a we llkno wn loca l promoter. Knowing how importan t local radio and local rec ord sho ps might be.Brown wa s no w a significa nt figur e o n th e mu sic scene in the N orth a nd.Def Leppard were lat er renowned . W ith his livelihood resti ng on record sa les. just the sort of perso n th at Leppa rd need ed to br ing o n boa rd if th ey were goi ng to start ta kin g t hings o n to anot her level. Over th e co urse of a phone ca ll. Starting modestly . he a lso knew th e va lue of th e much. T hus ' Getcha rocks off' made its debut o n Blud geon Riffola in Janu ary 1979. on hea rin g Lepp a rd 's songs. so met hing th ey had so far singula rly fail ed to do. Martin bein g wide ly ren own ed as someone who wa s onl y too happy to provid e a platform for any local bands th a t had ma naged to put o ut a record . th e two ren ewed thei r friendship and form ed a man agemen t company. O nce he hea rd Def Leppa rd's EP. a co mpl et e slag off. he kn ew t hat he was o n to so me t hing a little differ ent to th e generall y enthusias tic. Stuart. realiz ed imm ed iat ely th at th e po ssibilities we re limitl ess. th ey bombarded th ese with copies of th e sing le. Never a great pun k fan himself. showing resourceful st rength in th e face of ad ver sit y. it wa s just a matter of time before the nex t mu sical tr end eme rged . A new. th ey did realize that they had first to conquer th e local market . Martin sent a copy of th e EP on to Frank Stuart-Brown. 'To show th at we did n't care.a rest rictio n imposed o n th em by th eir shoes tring budget . He and Martin had wo rked together in th e past as sa les reps for WEA before going th eir sepa rate wa ys. MSB.ma ligned 'classic rock' format. energe tic. Even loca l reviewers were unde rw helmed by th eir cha rms. As we ente red 1979. with a view to 24 .' Neve rt he less. O ne recipi ent was Pet er M a rt in who ran Revo lut io n Records.

asking him to give them a listen. Stuart-Brown had already endeared himself to them by playing a tape of the EP to an old colleague. he was the next in a long line of influential figures to hear the sound of a major rock band in the making. Though the NME and. Barton seemed an ideal contact. In the late seventies. it was inevitable that the bandwagon-jumpers would follow eagerly in their wake. it had always kept one foot in the rock camp.On the Crest of a New Wave guiding the career of Def Leppard. In early 1979. a journalist at Sounds. Yet more astonishing. Griffin wanted to book the band for a prestigious Radio 1 session. if Peel was playing your record. Barton's love of heavy metal. Little more than a bunch of enthusiastic kids trying to find their way through the professional jungle. Leppard were only too happy to listen to the plans put forward by this ambitious duo and a brief band meeting saw them agree to sign up with MSB. who had an evening rock show on Radio 1 from 8 until lOpm. Penning a very straightforward letter. and Kiss in particular was the stuff of newspaper legend. Before MSB had arrived on the scene. Given that Leppard ploughed a similar glam rock furrow to that of Kiss. The policy at Sounds had always been a little different. cluttering up the pages with their increasingly desperate attempts to gain publicity. ever-paler imitations of the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Even at this early stage. Peebles and his producer Jeff Griffin were every bit as taken with the recording as Stuart-Brown had been. Playing the single through. to a lesser extent. Although they were just feeling their way into the music industry. Melody Maker tried to prolong its life. John Peel. One such was Geoff Barton. the group had come up with a shortlist of people who they felt should get a copy of the EP. the two of them persuaded the great guru of the new wave. Andy Peebles. those high up in the record industry would be taking very careful note of you. Although it too had covered the rise of punk in the minutest detail. punk was in its death throes had we but known it. continuing to give space to bands that 25 . it had entered the terminal phase that any trend faces. The great bands having already made their impact. their lack of pretension and self-promotional bullshit intrigued Barton from the off. to air Leppard's EP on his extremely influential Radio 1 programme. the band weren't short of good ideas.

seizing on the glories of a former era . T heir style. T here wa s a huge groundswell of support just waiting to be tap ped by any up and co ming band that could breathe new life into heavy metal. But if yo u looked at an y maj or town or city in th e country. rock mu sic had gone underground . you wo uld find that Uriah Heep had just pla yed there. all its followers having seen the light and crossed over to punk. that kind of simplific ati on was a lon g way from the truth. All of the se were vital ingredients. Writers such as Barton were tired of having had the new wave rammed down their throats for the preced ing couple of yea rs and were looking to find a way of moving th e agenda back on to th eir favoured hard rock territory.but it had never perished. A lot of peopl e had tired of th e dinosaur acts of th e early seventies.th eir ima ge had possibilities. the instincts of Barton and th ose w ho supported him at Sounds were quite cor rect.Def Lepp ard were anathema to th e NME. Barton and others felt th at th e era of th e metal bands wa s ripe for rediscovery and expl oitation . Leppard wer e such a band. In terms of coverage. Th ere's no doubt that on a purely commercial ba sis. Def Lepp ard were ideally qu alified to make th e most of thi s possible resurgence of interest in th eir kind of mu sic. Although th ere was a co ncerted campaign to make it seem that heavy rock wa s now th or oughl y redundant and had no adherents. a new act aro und who m he co uld build his coverage. was insta ntly recognizabl e and appea ling to roc k fans and there was also a pleasingly poppy edge to th e materi al that might allow th em to gain som e success on th e singles cha rts. that wa s wh y punk had been such a success . Instru mentally th ey were ext remely acco mplished and professional while if Joe' s voice wa s so mething of a weak link. he made lip for it with his confident deliver y and imp osing person ality. that Wh itesnake were co ming next week and next month you'd be abl e to see H awkwind. if a littl e cliched. Relatively ph otogen ic certainly co mpared with the rest of the new metal bands of th e time . though London's Iron Maiden might have mad e very similar claim s.th ou gh paradoxically that added to its allure . In its typ ically cyclical fashion. 26 . it was time for the industry as a whole to reinvent itself. he desperately needed sta ndard bearers. If Barton's putat ive relau nch of the genre was to succeed.

T ha t claim was substantiated yet furth er when Fra nk Noon. never more th an a te m po rary member of the gro up. a long with an adve rt fo r a replace men t. It was his fath er Jeff who first pick ed up o n the art icle a nd.a nd acce pting . H e finall y arranged for Rick to meet up with Steve and J oe and. ove r the co urse of a long conversation. H e left schoo l to join the band because 'my mum and dad to ld me I was neve r goi ng to get another o ppo rt un ity like th is' . W he n th e new wave had come along. it was supposedly untaint ed by th e pa st .a nd th ey pla yed infreq ue ntly eve n th er e it was an insuperable o bsta cle fo r some litt le time . none had to hid e em ba r rass ing membersh ip of so me awful hippy gro up in 1973. This pr eco ciou s ta lent had drummed wi th loca l gro up Smo key Blue w he n he was just a ten year-old but had grown tired of playing drum s in his ado lescence. ca lled Def Lepp ard himself. Rick Allen. being offered . th e oldest member of the troupe. as a wri ter based in Lond on and wo rking on Sounds' editorial sta ff. ' Leppard Loses Skins'. bu t th ey work ed long and hard to get things mo ving for the group and that merits atte nt io n.On the Crest of a Ne w Wave What rea lly d ist ingu ished Leppard from th e crowd was their ex t reme youth . A local newspa per ran a sto ry. T hey were heavily cri ticized later in the group's career. born o n 1 Nove mber 1963. That mad e a ll th e differen ce. Def Leppard a lrea dy had th e roc k wo rld intereste d in th em.000 copies of 'Getcha roc ks 27 . it was difficult for him to find t ime to see Lep pard in action. th ey ens ure d th at ano t her 15. bu t Leppard went on e better. fa iling to coax his son into co nt acting the ba nd. A lot of th e cre d it has to go to the MSB management. Angus Young m ight dr ess like a schoo lboy with AC /DC.Joe. Sheffield's musica l co mm unity had another w underkind at th e ti me. for t hey had no baggage to carry with them. it beca me clear th at Allen was th e bo y for the job. By th e ti me he did get to see th em in th e ea rly Summ er of 1979. Def Leppard could claim simila rly virgi nal status for th eir brand of heavy ro ck .the positi on without th e need fo r an a udition. decided to leave the band. In M ay. none of them had been in ban ds before punk ca me a long. The problem wa s that. G iven t hat t hey ha d yet to play o uts ide th eir locale . T hey had a real schoo lbo y in th eir band ! No ne of t hese develo pment s made any dent in Barton's desi re to featu re Def Leppa rd . was still just nin eteen.

rather th an London stud ios. T hey chose to play 'Wasted'. th e call came from Bro ad ca sting H ou se to reco rd t heir firs t sess io n for Peebles. yo u might eve n th ink th ey'd wri tten it in honour of Geoff Barto n's visit. 'So rro w is a wo ma n' and 'Beyond the temp le'. yet had produced 'Wasted' w hic h was a lot clo ser to th e po p rock so und that th ey wo uld go on to pa te nt . th ree o f w hich wo uld mak e it to the ir debut a lbum. These reco rd ings were to be mad e in the BBC's Manchester. Whatever the case. getting the OJ to br oad cast th e EP on Rad io 1 q uite reg ula rly . Hallam Radio 's Co lin Slade o ffered th em th eir first session. Picking up o n th e bu zz of anticipation that sur ro unded thi s gro up that had sudde nly eme rged from nowhere. consta nt ly 28 . prod uci ng so ngs wi th ea se. Fina lly. Def Lep pa rd were on a roll now. t he very week when Geoff Barton 's deb ut feat ure o n the gro up wo uld run in Sounds. Like Iron Maiden's ' So und ho use tapes'. T he sessi o n we nt especia lly we ll. Sla de having been th e first per son a nyw here to pla y th e EP on th e radi o at th e start of the yea r. ' W he n th e wa lls ca me tumbling down ' . it o ffered th em inva lua ble ex perience in a recording st udio. The five so ngs . were ' Answe r to the ma ster' . This th ey accepted with al acrity for no t only was it ex cellent exposure for th eir mus ic. being played in rock discos the length an d breadth of th e land. Leppard were set to reco rd on 7 Jun e 19 79. fo ur so ngs bei ng recorded witho ut und ue difficulty. recorded in M ay 1979. T ha t in itself was sign ificant for in the mo nth that separat ed th e tw o sess io ns. 'G lad I'm a live'. a nd we re to be produced by Jeff Griffin. guaranteeing that the record would be avai la ble all over the country.Def Leppard o ff' were pressed and so ld. for tran smission over four days begi nning o n 18 Jun e. With th e success of th at EP came recognition in Sheffield. With its Kiss-like so und. spread ing th eir name further and furth er afield. Lep pa rd's debut offering featured regularly in th e Sounds Heavy Metal charts. th e band clearly bene fi ti ng from their practice. 'G lad I'm al ive' a nd 'So rrow is a wom an '. they had clearl y dec ided that a so ng like ' Beyond th e temple' wa s simply too ou tdated for conside ration. with M SB having a promin ent part to play .run at Hallam. In o ne of those nice co incidences that cro p up from time to tim e. T hings were rea lly on th e up and up now. 'A nsw er to the master' . Stua rt -Bro w n continued to lean o n his friends hip w ith Andy Peebles.

They owed far more to Thin Lizzy than they did to Black Sabbath and their attitude and live performance was purposely transatlantic. By becoming the first paper to distance itself from punk. Sounds was taking something of a gamble. they were not really heavy metal. It was the neat synchronicity of the Peebles session and the Sounds feature that changed the lives of Elliott. certainly not by any definition that the music's true adherents would recognize. even at their inception. If the NWOBHM was going to give Sounds that edge. hoping that in offering a clear alternative to the two. Leppard were the group that had everything to offer.the NME. making it clear that the band had his unequivocal support. Geoff Barton's feature was rhapsodic. Britain's three weekly music papers . Willis. so unerringly favourable that they might have written it themselves. notably a potentially commercial sound where groups like Angelwitch were still turning out music that was solely rooted in the past.were locked into a fairly restricted market place and the competition for circulation between the three was fierce. they were the hottest unsigned property in Britain. For those on the staff who shared Barton's musical tastes. their tentative attempts at a glamourous presentation 29 . the Tygers of Pan Tang and several others had claims to a wider audience than Leppard. Def Leppard were the chosen band. Iron Maiden. There were countless new metal bands doing the rounds at that stage and Def Leppard were not the best known by any means. It was ironic that they should be selected to head up the NWOBHM for. Yet. Sounds were about to pin their colours to the mast of a new musical movement. it might attract a new readership who had become bored with the tribal loyalties of punk. the rivalry intense. Melody Maker and Sounds . it needed a focal point. By the end of June. More important though was the editorial stance on the situation. Clark and Allen for good . this was no hardship for it gave them the opportunity to report on the music closest to their hearts. as already noted. Samson. the NWOBHM.On the Crest of a New Wave updating and improving their repertoire so that they would be ready when the call came from the majors. Savage. Def Leppard produce 'high powered heavy rock played to a degree of tightness usually only achieved after a half dozen gruelling American tours' he wrote. the fabled 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal'. For come it surely would .

'Van Halen ca me across riding on top of thi s vast publicity thing.probably mor e . but it sowed th e first seeds of doubt as to Leppard 's motives.' Since Va n Halen were being ro uted as rock 's grea t wh ite ho pe.Def Leppard clearl y having been influenc ed by Van Halen and Kiss. With th e Sounds piece alerting th e record indu stry ro Leppard's pr owe ss. I thought the Pistols were br illiant.' Th e fear of disappearing without tr ace made it seem as if Leppard had merely ch osen heavy rock as a vehicle ro get success rather th an out of an abiding respect for the mu sic. with a ten month world tour to acco mpa ny it. even though we were rubbish when we first star ted . N ow th ere's as man y young kids into heavy metal . exaggerating th e invincibility th ey seemed to possess as a un it wit h a piece of breathtaking impudence. feted with fawning reviews and had just enjoyed four million sales o f Van H afen II in th e Sta tes. If we did play punk rock. by th e end of June. 1 just kn ew we had somet hing' . We were all heavy rock fan s before we form ed th is band. we might disappear without trace because ever ybod y' s doing it now. If we had th e publicity. Fort una tely. thi s seemed to be taking selfconfidence int o th e rea lms of fantasy but as Joe remarked later. Steve Clark reck on ed th at it had had its da y: 'Y o ung kid s used ro be into new wa ve becau se it was new. with thi s media success behind 30 . No t that Leppard we re averse to kicking punk in th e teeth either. th at was glossed over as readers were taken ab ack by th e astonishin g confidence displa yed by these yo ungsters. a chorus of record co mpa nies wa s paying court to th e ba nd. 'I knew Def Leppard wo uld be successful.as there are into punk. I can listen to punk. Quite simply. It wa s merely a case of someo ne not used ro do ing int erviews being unable to say pr ecisely wh at he wanted. it's just that we all grew up on heavy rock and we're anxious to keep it go ing. we co uld do as well if not bett er than them . with their first Radio 1 session broadcast amid a bu zz of eager antici pa tion. their FM sound appea ling to Bart on and co mpa ny wh o wanted to extingu ish the flam es of punk rock. inadvertently putting a ca reerist spin on his words that would co me back to haunt th em : 'We' re not into punk. Leppard were in th e right plac e at the right time.' Rick Savage ag reed with the thrust of th at argument. Joe Elliott was part icu larly keen to put th e band's point of view across. For th e mom ent. but it isn 't an y more.

Willi s being especi all y introverted. Even so . wanted a career and accepted the fact that they needed to sell records worldwide. That.th e chubby Elliott might try to squ eeze his ample frame into so me im itat ion leather trousers for instance . th ey looked like a record company's dream. pu shing th em in certain industry-friendly directions without too much difficulty. That 's us. allied to their youth.essential given that the rest of th e band lack ed any real visual impact. They were clearl y w illing to do all that was necessar y to achieve their goals. We're arroga nt bastards. Def Leppard. to see wh at the y were made of. That's it. Certainly. tight trouser s and ha ve a ll th e girls looking a t o ur bollocks. Basically it' s just down to the fact th at we're all fucking posers.On the Crest of a N ew W a ve them. As a frontman though he wa s engaging . po se. Rick Allen remarking that 'we tr y to look good. mu ch as they loved their music and their lifestyle. In the summer of 19 79. th ough he argued strenuou sly in his defence that 'if it' s perfect live. there was a certain panache about the group. were hard headed pragmatists. notabl y th e fairly rudimentary nature of Joe's vo ice. Savage memorabl y evo king their on-stage charms: 'We' re just doing what we want to do. we try to have so me sty le' .thrown up . They wanted success. Def Leppard might not be averse to an industry image make-over. all owing an assortment of A&R men to see th em in the flesh . Leppard weren 't backward in co mi ng forward.it did at least prove that unlike th e rest o f the met al bands who dre ssed in the regulation jeans and T -sh irt s like their fan s did. we a r dinky white boots. th ey were able to pla y more frequentl y. Even if their stage clothes were misguided to say the lea st . A final showcase gig at the Porterhouse in Retford clinched things for Leppard. it w ould be so much eas ier than dealing with the stroppy 'idealists' that punk had occasionally very occasionally . 31 . certainly suggested th at a powerful record company might be able to manipulate the band . it' s boring' . a stra ightforward band that wanted the big time and were ready for the long haul. The band's de sire to succeed wa s palpabl e and if a company could per suade them that it knew best . We all want to go o ut on stage.' Live sho ws in Sheffield 's sma ller venues we re unden iabl y impressive and th e group's nai ve enthusiasm ca rried th em through an y technical sho rt co m ings th ey might have had .

In truth .wh at a maj or mi scalculati on th at turn ed o ut to be! C lea rly th en . in o rde r to cov er th e co sts of record ing . th ey o pte d to go w ith Phon ogr a m. T he final adv a nce so unde d ex tre mely gene ro us £ 10 0 . Def Leppa rd co uld ha ve sig ned with a ny o f half a dozen majo r record labels. after d iscu ssion bet ween th em selves a nd th e M SB managem ent du o .' Meta l for muth as' indi cates tha t a number of band s wer e eve ry bit as musi call y pr oficient as Leppa rd wer e at th e time. Ther e mu st have been more to Ph on ogr a m's decision th an a bility alone.0 00 for a band w ith just a few dozen gigs to its name. th e member s o f Def Leppard did not becom e ric h men ove rn ight a nd th ei r lifest yle barely cha ng ed . Wh y wer e Lep pard th e first of th e new met al band s to get a major deal ? It is im possible to pretend th at th ey we re light yea rs ahead of th e co m pe titio n for th e reco rd ed evide nce sugg ests littl e to choose bet ween ' Cetc ha ro ck s off' o n th e o ne hand a nd Iron Maiden 's ' So und ho use ta pes' on the o t he r. Finall y. signi ng to th eir Vertigo label. whil e th e NWOBHM sa m pler th at fo llowed a ll t he med ia ac tivity in ea rly 1980 . 00 0 per annum for five yea rs.4 INTO THE FIRE By Aug ust 19 79. th e hom e of Th in Lizzy a mo ng o thers. pla ying in a sty le th at had supposed ly been kill ed o ff by punk . for th e adva nce act ua lly worked out at just £2 0. Ph on ogra m were pla yin g things cagil y. T he Sou nds a rt icle had o bvio us ly got th e A&R men interested a nd th at was a di stinct ad va ntage. for other NWOBHM a rt icles had tend ed to be based o n live sho ws wh er e three or fo ur bands had 32 .

Joe Elliott's voice was. Metal music does not always require a voca list with the range of a Paul Rodgers or a Robert Plant. especially once they'd burdened themselves with th eir ludic rou s Top Shop sta ge garb and atrocious perms. at this stage. Phonogram knew that th e band had friend s in the right places . making a very good living in th e process. but by the standa rds of 1975. Phonogram's top bra ss jumped to the obvious conclusion that an y hard-nosed business executive wo uld 33 . They looked like a bunch of average young blokes. when hard rock had still been ruling the mu sical roost. they wanted it badly enough. By punk sta nda rds. Th at wa s eno ugh.Into the Fire played. making their marketing job that littl e bit easier. The bubble head ed Elliott mad e Kevin Keegan's seventies experiments with his own coiffure loo k distingui shed . Even so. Lepp ard were a band of all the averages compar ed with th e grea t roc k bands of a previous era . they were th e right band to fill the gaping hole that existed in the marketplace and. Wh y were Leppard signed up so quickly? The only logical answer is that th ey had tim e on their side. it wa s a failing that he was big enough to acknowledge later on in the band 's career. th ough at the time. Neither were Def Leppard the most attractive band. So the key question once again. they had some potential. Allen still looked like a kid behind the drums w hile the gro up's yo uth was emphasized by the elfin features of Will is. With Sounds standing foursquare behind them. For instance. The only thing exceptional about them was their age and their ambition. useless. Not having had th e time to get to know the band very well. he was depressingly inadequate. Elliott was a positive Pavarotti. Their youth was vitally imp ortant to Phonogram for a number of reason s. most importantly. their songwriting offered little that wa s sur prising and their pla ying was strictly 'good enough' at thi s stage. each consequently winning just a fraction of th e coverage accorded Leppard. Yet Def Leppard brought with them some baggage th at was not to the company's taste. and so me very average singe rs have survived in the field. though he was a personabl e and hugel y likeable character. To be fair to Joe. having a singer who couldn't hold a note in a very large bucket is not generally considered to be a good thing. he and his band mates defended his vocal style to the hilt as indeed th ey had to. In truth.

people who mu st be pissed off with listening to bands that were formed over tw elve years ago like Zepp elin and Black Sabbath . their age. If a rock band co uld sell 300. Joe offered his co nside red o pinion as to wh y thi s wa s: ' O ur mu sic's to o masculin e for girls . with about thirty or fort y girls' . they want so mebody yo ung' . 't here must be a new generation of heavy metal fans. It was an impression that was strengthened by th eir tangible determination to become a major league rock act. N o 'new man'. Given that monkey glands could not give the gift of eterna l youth to Led Zeppelin and th eir ilk.. they'll do anything we tell them.' If he didn't want girls at th eir gigs. made by tired o ld men. Punk had conspired to make heavy rock look geriatric. yesterday' s music. Jo e Elliott remarked that 'I went to all th e roc k gigs at th e City Hall from 19 76 to 1980. Bands had been populated by men approaching middle age. 000 34 . Girl s don 't bu y th e records. to reinvigorate a dying art. you had to hav e a new generation of heroes. recycling the same tired old idea s. runs the argument. so the y becam e th e chose n ones. Th ey tend to crumble und er th e pre ssure. demean our and pr edi sposition towards 'g lamo rizing ' their mu sic o pened up a whole new market . H ard roc k had always been an alm ost exclusively male preserve with o nly Led Ze ppelin and the chest-b eating antics of Rob ert Plant ent icing girls to th eir gigs. at least in rock'n'roll term s. Their youthful innocence wa s equally important when one remembered just wh y punk had come along in the first place. we can control them. energetic and altogether unsullied bun ch th an Def Leppard .Def Leppard when confronted with what looked like a group on a school field trip. It would not have been po ssible to find a more yo uthful. th e idea of some kind of crossover was doubtless rather more th an a gleam in an exc ited market ing man 's eye. If th ey're that keen. If you were going to try to sell that to a new generation of kid s. there'd be 2200 peopl e there.the female a ud ience. heavy metal needed a transfusion of new blood. Finally. Some members of Wishbone Ash wer e over thirty for heaven's sa ke! It all added to the impression of tired old music. It needed a group of youngsters who had lived through the punk era and had still chosen hard rock as th eir medium to give it a shot in the arm.. ent husiastic. As Elliott pointed out with uncann y accuracy. th ey only buy Boney M and Bay City Rollers sing les.

Into the Fire album s for ex a m ple wh ile onl y a p pea ling to a male a udie nce . Ph on ogra m 's w ho le marketing strateg y revolv ed a ro und putting Lep pard on the wo rld market. notabl y in th e States. suc h gra nd iose ideas had never been considered. In truth. the two evolving their own gro und rules as they progressed. Sadly for MSB though. Even at Phonogram . But Amer ica wa s very much on th e agend a as fa r as the record company was concerned. Such pr eoccupations at Ph on ogram HQ made it very obvio us th at Def Leppard had not been signe d mer ely to slog aro un d th e O deo n circuit. Elsewhere however . Leppa rd's 'cute q uo tient ' was undeniable. If yo u ca n mak e it there. neither had been involved at th e core befo re. MSB was essentially a 'fly by the seat of your pants' operation. But it wasn't merel y th ei r effo rts that w er e being rewarded. Thi s inconte st abl e piece o f accountan cy was to reach its fulfilment with the arri val o f Jon Bon Jovi and his c hee k bo nes. just as Def Leppard were. how many might they sell if you could get girls interested to o ? An y band able to do th at would instantl y double its potent ial a udie nce. for they were working to a w ho lly d iffere nt rul e book . Tho ugh both Martin and Stuart-Brown had some experience o f th e peripher y o f the music industry. relea sing biannual a lb ums th at d id very nice ly in the UK but meant nothing anywher e else. th er e wa s a quite different set of priorities. Martin and Stuart-Brown could afford th em selves a pat on the back for taking their charges from nowhe re to international recording a rt ists in the space o f eight sho rt months . the world 's mu sic super ma rket. it 's very. W ith such ba by -fac ed band member s as Allen a nd Willi s. bu t Def Leppard wer e midwives to th e idea .no mean achievement. per sonal re latio ns be tween them and the group were beginning to deteriorate. hopes that m ight be unrealizable. th is ma y well have been mere pie in the sky idealism. 35 . For MSB. nor had eith er of them managed a band in the past. Def Leppard as a unit had received a hu ge boo st in the light of Phonogram's still-substantial inve stment a nd they we re given th e scope to pack in the day job and concentrate so lely o n th e band and on son gwriting. th er e a t its birth . The ba nd th emselves were not ex posed to such revo lutio na ry thinking so early in the day. yo u don 't need to make it a nywh ere (else) to pa raphrase Mr Sinatra .

for they did get Leppard the contract th ey wa nted and a reasonably favourable deal in the process . murmurings of discontent started to sur ro und them. th ey would be found wa nti ng. and were being greeted with almos t messianic fervo ur by th e heavy met al hoardes. For St uartBrown . having recorded a successful Rad io 1 session. He was only too well aware that having released such a popular single. softly one . Things began to go downhill for MSB almost as soon as Def Leppard had ink ed the co nt ract. but othe rs in the group' s ento urage began to wonder aloud if perhap s Def Leppard didn 't need a more experienced management o utfit. Desp ite Leppard's ' overn ight success' and th e part MSB had in it. th e band were still very much mu sical novices. despite th eir ow n belief in th emselves. M uch of the discontent seem ed to ori ginat e with Phon ogram wh o. th e dan ger was that no w th ey had a deal. th e pace of events might run away with the band . Impressionable youngste rs still. do ggedly pursuin g and th en achieving one goa l before moving on to another. were not keen on having to deal with managers wh o had very clear ideas of th eir own. and if things co uld not be run a little more profession ally. Th at wa s wh y a club tour was such a great idea in his view . Thou gh the y we re now signed up to on e of th e biggest labe ls in th e world. Leppard starte d to take so me of th ese criticisms to hea rt . Lepp ard were now anoi nted as the number one band in the NWO BH M fold. that wh en th e time cam e for Leppard to de liver th e goo ds. Their a ppro ach to th eir car eer so far had been a softly. bringing th e band face to face with the fans who would mak e up th eir hard -co re audience. wit h good reason. feeling th at th e bo ys in the band might be will ing to do th eir bidding. leaving th em crue lly ex pose d. Person ality clashes did not help matters.they picked up an indust ry-standard royalty of 10 per cent.Def Leppard very difficult to criticize MSB. It's far easier to play a memora ble gig in th e int imate atmosph ere of the M arquee Club w here 250 co mmitted punters are bathed in th eir own sweat th an in t he cave rno us atmos phere of Hammersmith O deo n 36 . certainly as far as live shows went. St ua rtBrown strong ly suspec ted. He wanted to accompany th e Pho nogra m re-release of ' Getcha rock s off' with a low-key to ur on th e 'toi let' circuit. perfectly acce pta ble for an unknown gro up. and been th e sub ject of ent h usias tic coverage in Sounds.

They filled th e group's head s with sto ries of th eir imp ortance and popularity. MSB wer e a littl e too rooted in th e past. They wanted to play to as man y people as they could as quickly as th ey co uld. becau se th ey already felt th ey were better than that. And so it wa s th at th ey found t hemse lves playing th eir first nati on al tour in Odeon -sized ven ues as support to Ame rica's Sammy H agar. on the other hand. gigs wh ere they would be co mforted by th e sight of familiar faces in th e sma ll audiences. M SB's rationale was to make Def Leppard a respected a nd ad mired group in the UK. Nev er sho rt of confidence. fail ing to recogniz e th at th e British market had shru nk while it was becoming far ea sier to br eak int o ove rsea s territori es. Their w ho lly excusable error was to think that such an inexp eri enced band wo uld be hopelessly out of their depth in Ameri ca. With the benefit of hindsight. It was inevitable that their idea s would begin to diverge from th ose of MSB. weren 't int erested in such nicetie s. th e more so because an enticing alternative was being dangled befor e th eir eyes by their friendly record company. Phonogram. gradually unfold ing a ma sterplan th at had now been superseded . for by the autumn of 19 79. spread ing th e gos pel a bo ut themselves. Ha ving signed to Phonogram .Into th e Fire where you know you'll have yo ur work cut out just to get the crowd on your side. Joe admitted th at ' nobody could tell us an yth ing. th e idea of a yea r spe nt slogging aw ay in the clubs and pubs was dishearten ing. learn how to be a professional band and ste p 37 . rea soning that if th ey had a so lid base from w hich to work . get a coupl e of so lid albums under their belt. Leppard under standabl y exc ited by Phonogram's global agenda. MSB were probably right. we thought we kn ew it all'. Reflecting on these ea rly days lat er. pretty soon Def Leppard had every reason to belie ve they were unstoppable. they could tackle th e rest of th e world wi th con fide nce . th at they would have to 'pay their dues' in the UK for a couple of years. they were looking at wholly different obj ecti ves. Leppard had never mad e a ny co ncerte d att empt to venture an y further afield than their ow n back ya rd . but it can lead to its fair share of problem s. It should be remembered t ha t w ith the except ion of th e Porterhouse showcase. boosting their coll ect ive ego at every tu rn . Such br ashness can be a mighty wea po n.

this time with Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show. while the way in which the Peebles session and the Sounds feature coincided was a masterstroke. certain that they were ready for whatever challenges the rest of the world might throw at them. As far as the UK wa s concerned. those BBC sessions were among the most requested for repeat broadcast and on the back of all that. who built steadily and surely via gigs in their home country before taking off to attack markets elsewhere in the world. Def Leppard really were the new Messiahs. MSB had achieved all of their major objectives in the first phase of their overall strategy. those songs that would be cornerstones of their debut album. the band ran through 'Satellite' . almost unbelievably. returning to lead metal into a new golden age. Recorded with Vance's producer Tony Wilson in the Maida Vale studios on 3 October for broadcast on the 26th of that month. illustrating that they were keen to rehearse.and there are differing opinions on that . It was all they were given the chance to do. but in fairness to MSB. 'Wasted' and 'Good morning freedom'. ' Getcha rocks off' continued to sell. In that regard. The 'Getcha rocks off' EP had won massive exposure given its humble origins. 'Rock brigade'. they were right.Def Leppard up the pace gradually. Reviews in Sounds were uniformly jubilant. they'd shown no indication that that would be the case. Def Leppard laboured under no such misapprehension. eventually shifting around 30.000 copies aft er Vertigo re-released it in September. they were distraught wh en the band were booked on to AC/DC' s tour as special gue sts. in tandem with Leppard 's own ideas. artists like Thin Lizzy and Genesi s. the session was well received by a wide crosssection of the metal fraternity and added a little more fuel to the fires of publicity. the premier hard rock radio show in the UK. they had mounted a quite superb campaign. Unhappy with the Hagar tour. Their ability to keep their eyes fixed firmly on the ball was amply illustrated again when the group were given another BBC session. Once more. Def Leppard were Britain's favourite rock band. MSB were using the pre-punks as a prototype. in a studio environment. Remarkably.it was the kind of good fortune that establishes reputations. Even if it had been a complete accident . playing at such atmosphere-free zones as Stafford's 38 .

th eir best hope for success see med to be beneath the umb rell a of har d rock. T he seeds of a new b usine ss re la t ions h ip were sown th er e a nd th en . citi ng thi s as th e clinching reason for Allo rri's se lectio n . ca me in trying to m a ke a reco rd in tho se da ys. th eir basic wo rk comp leted in a me re eighteen da ys. a nd live in Ame rica at that. th o ugh t he y did not co me to fr u itio n until a little lat er in th e band ' s ca reer. T he rea l probl em. As a co nse q ue nce. Look ing back a t rock reco rds fro m th e la te seven ties a nd ea rly eighties is a diffi cult bu sin ess. w it h Joe particu larl y ha ppy wi th his wo rk o n Judas Priest 's 'U n leas hed in the East' . Allom had a lrea dy ea rned resp ect. MSB m ad e it clea r th a t t hey felt this wa s a m istake when to the band .Lep pa rd's presti giou s guest slot on t he tou r had co me a bo ut largely at his insti gati on. not least because of the fac t th at gro ups like Def Leppard revoluti oni zed t he wa y co nt e m po ra ry reco rds sound. Ta u be r's production sk ills seemed su ite d to t he ban d t hanks to h is st ro ng pop sensibilit y . Perhaps Allom wa s at fault in so me resp ects . At th e end o f th e decade. th ough. a fac t th at w as merely und erlined w he n th e band met up w ith Pete r Mensc h w ho work ed for AClDC's man agemen t and was lo o k ing for a ba nd of his own . produced by N ick Ta u ber. Recording had mo ved o n 39 . highlighting th e co m me rc ial po te ntia l of t he line-up. wer e incredibl y a ma te uris h a nd tota lly inexc usa ble. a halfwa y hou se th at did no -one a ny favo urs.so me th ing that he dem onstrated la te r w it h M arillion but he was not thought to possess th e right ha rd rock cre de n tia ls to handle th e album. sessio ns taking p lace in Ascot's Sta rtl ing St ud ios t h rough the first part of December 19 79. M an y of th e co nsi dera b le sho rtco mi ng s of 'O n T h ro ug h th e Night ' ca n be put down to its a t roc io us so n ic qua lity. the Kiss-style sto m p o f 'Wasted '. it was th e fu lfilme nt of everyt hing they' d been working for. The writing was a lready on t he wa ll.Into t he Fire Bingley H al l. th ey'd re leased their first pukk a Vertigo single. where th e st ud io environment wa s ca ug ht a t a turn ing point. for it w as vita l th a t Leppard did no t shy away from the NWOBHM bandwagon a t thi s ea rly juncture. T om Allo m was called in to produce. In th e meantim e. w hich gives the music all th e impact of a d amp soc k a ttac ki ng a rice pudd ing.hi s a ttempts a t making ' C erelia rocks o ff' whi ch see m to ha ve been reco rde d live.

as if he ge n u ine ly bel ieved a ll this rubbi sh . ec hoey c ho rus. filled w ith enth usi astic vigo ur . By 19 7 9 yo u could get the effects that they'd worked on fo r da ys in a matter o f m inutes as recording desk s had m oved o n from four and eight-t rack to a more cu stomary sixtee n o r tw enty-four track facility. rega ling his audi ence with tal es of gro up ies. Ir was nic e a nd bright. [f ' Waste d' was m us ica lly co mpe tent. Def Leppard dem onstrated jus t how far things had mo ved o n when th ey gra bbed ho ld of 19 80 s technology a nd bent it to th eir will. Elliott's a tte m pt to o ur-G illa n [an Gillan. w ith th e lyr ical d isasters co m ing thi ck and fas t. a t least in terms o f th e te xture of th e so und . Def Lep pard . In t ha t se nse. all through the night co ntin ued in sim ila rly lacklustre vei n. Of course. Any a lbu m th at o pe ne d w it h a so ng as moronic as ' Rock brigade' was in se rio us tr ouble from t he o utse t.Def Leppard from the naive charm and sim p licity of the 1960s. th e so und of t he yo ung Ellio tt bo asting of downing bo ttles o f w hisk y wa s bizarre in t he ex tre me . Yo u can ' t blame a ll its deficien cie s o n th e p roducti on facilit ies however. Where C illa n d id it with pan ach e. yo u had a th o ro ugh mess.th e th em e t une fro m 'T he Mo n kee s' but w it ho ut a ny o f the mu sica l accom pl ish ment o r to ng uein-ch eek hum ou r. a wink a nd a sm ile. t he k ind of 40 . makin g record s t hat were dramaticall y different to a ny thing th at rock had hea rd befo re. Elliott 's de live ry wa s riven w ith cl iche. but sad ly. b ut that was its o n ly charm. ' Sa tellite' was inconse q ue nt ia l. the ' Ro ck brigad e'. an d wh en that was ad ded to a stu m b ling. fo r Dcf Leppa rd w er e a long wa y from being the new mu sical ge n ii tha t t he p ub lic had been told to ex pec t. coming to yo ur tow n soo n . Stuck in Sta rtl ing Stud ios in 197 9. man y musicians a nd producer s had lost th eir ex p lo rato ry verve. letting th e crow d in o n the jo ke. in th e m id-eighties. C lea rly t hey fa nci ed it as thei r signa tu re. Basic technical innovat io ns had robbed record makers of the need to use their ingenuity in th e wa y that George Martin and th e Beatles had at Ab bey Road. a flush of excitement that the y were in a band th a t was o ut on th e road. now th ey were no lo nge r relying on technol ogy th at wa sn 't up to the job. T he sa me was eq ua lly tr ue of ' It co uld be yo u'. they may have belie ved that the eq uip me nt th er e wa s sta te of th e a rt. th at a rt w as in a state a nd th e record lost ou t accord ing ly. fo r it was ado lesce nt rub bish.

and if the lyrics remain ed unexcept ion al. inst ru menta lly it was perhaps the mo st interesting piece on th e albu m. a track that was to cause them more heartache th an anything else th ey would record. Mindless 41 . Queen th emselves had only just sta rted to embrace them. 'When the wall s came tumbling down' was th e a bso lute nadir. as Elliott's vo ice veered towards Ozzy Os bo urne. flopped woefully. Lepp ard's atte mpt at showcasing a 'sensitive' side. lyrics which gave a stereotypical view of th e United Sta tes. it vied for that distinction with a so ng ca lled 'He llo Ame rica'. Ironi cally. Op ening in an almos t Queen-like fashion . Like pretty well ever ything else on On through the night.Int o th e Fire wild axe blow-out th at any half-decent ro ck band with a Judas Priest or AC/DC album in th eir co llection co uld have kn ocked off in half an hour. it was distin ctly unmetallic in ton e. th e so ng suffered through the lack of atte nt ion th at had been paid to th e lyrics. Boasting th e a bysma l squelchy drum so und that ruined mo st records at th e time. despite having defiantly noted th at th ere were 'no synthesizers' on their early recordings. If only becau se it wa s something unexpected. dabbling in the hackneyed visions of Ar mage ddon th at Sabbath had been dealing in for years. more reflective guitar figure than had been used elsewhere. ushered in by so me aco ustic playing. That leaves the few sav ing graces of a record which wa llowed in the outdated excesses of hard rock. 'Answer to the master' offered th e ban d the cha nce to intro duce some more interesting tim e cha nges th at we re similar to those employed by Ru sh. a so und that persisted until Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel almos t reinvent ed drumming for Ga briel's third solo LP. adding nothing new or interesting to the genre. ana thema still to most rock bands in 19 79. w hile 'Sorrow is a woman'. all freedom. totally unsuited to a track of that kind. its heavy-h anded atmos pherics we re unc on vincing in the extreme. 'It don 't ma tte r' was illuminated by a bluesier . 'He llo America' stoo d o ut. whil e Elliott gave his best vocal performance with a decent tak e on Robert Plant's phrasing. Greyhound buses and wild times in San Fran cisco. even using synt hesizers. its ludicrous spoken introduct ion and Joe's unnatural American accent compounded th e ori ginal sin of its co mpos ition.

If yo u want to go to a concert and hear a bo ut " life o n the dol e" th en that's up to yo u.Def Leppard fun.. but it were ne ver m y idea of a show'. making knives and forks. The poll may no! have been th e mo st scient ifica lly compiled sa m ple in the world. if. Def Leppard'i success co uld not ha ve been anticipated. I used to work o n a treadmill. best new band and so on When the res ults wer e finally published in M arch . th e o me ns could nc ha ve been better. . Leppard had little reason to worry about suc h matter s though. They won the Best N ew Band ca tegory wi th so me ease . with musically inspire d movem ents such as Rock Against Racism in full sw ing. explaining that 'it was just a song about w anting to visit Am erica and see all the places you see on film. You can 't w rite " T his is steel cit y" and mean it. if not entirelj un expect ed . ca tegories suc h as best band. Except . foe th ey ha d clearly found their constituency. it doesn't cross ove into a lyric. inc onsequential and a bit of a laugh you might think. W illis did not agree. th e so rt of band that punk sho uld ha ve exterminated. a ple a sing performance. It is o f course a matter o f personal opinion as to whether or not groups sho uld beco me politicized. and there are strong a rguments fro m either side of the fence. singing abou those o ld topics of wine. In early 1980. It 'd co me across like a blood y heavy met al Hovis ad!' That was fa ir comment to a degree but punk had show n that you co uld be socia lly co nscio us and still be lyrically eng ag ing or eni gmatic acc ording to ta st e. With ' On Thr ough th: N ight' set to come o ut just a few weeks later. Joe Elliott certainl y thought so. best singer. politicall y co rrect press as vacuous airheads. W ha t was as tonishing was that th ey ca rr ied o ff the prize for Best Sing le to o with the 'Getc ha rocks off' EP. There's nothing in Sheffield to write so ngs about. Sounds' C hr ist mas issue included th e a n n ua l opportunity to vote in th e paper's poll. arguing th at 'ever ybody' s gO I p roblem s. but it certain ly poi nted to a band in th e ascendant. 42 . women and song seemed almost di stasteful to so me a nd Def Leppard were immediately picked out by th e righton.

MSB's da ys with the band were coming to a close. th ey felt. The rights and wrongs of th e situation are complex. there was a two month time lag between voting taking place and the results being announced . th eir dem ise was started by the release of a singl e which achieved th eir first Top Fifty chart placing. As we 've alr ead y seen. The results came w hen th e wh eels had fallen off the intergalactic juggernaut that (dis)graced th e sleeve of their debut album. What th e media gives. Unfortunately. in promoting them across th e country and in turning th em int o th e mo st hotly tipped new band since the Clash. two months in as fickle a business as roc k' n' ro ll is a verita ble eternity. there's no obvious ob ject ive viewpo int. final vindica tion for th e two years of hard labour the y'd put in since Steve Clark had join ed. Wh at it boiled down to in the end wa s that Leppard's inexh au stible demands and overriding ambition would. Stupidly enou gh . it was eq ually pivot al wh en th e walls came tumbling down around them. The whole sorry affair wa s symptomatic of a grea ter mal aise at the heart of the Leppard machine. the media can also tak e away. 'Hello America' herald ed a rema rka ble reverse in fortunes. and if a wee k is a lon g time in politics. If Sounds had been instrumental in getting the band a co ntract. be better served 43 .5 WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS The Sounds poll victory sho uld have been th e cause of much celebration in the Def Leppard camp. Votes had been cast when Leppard were at th e pinnacle of British acceptance.

though Me nsch and his partner Cliff Burn stein . prefer art ists w ho remain close to th eir roots and behave with a degree of humility. People in Britain ar e genera lly slow to wa rm to nak ed ambition. Def Leppard were being man aged by him and Cliff Burn stein. Holding a gla ss to th e wall. It was an ideal ma tch in many ways. M ensch was allege d ly shocked by the lack of organization or any co herent plan shown by MSB. There are certain ba nds t hat peopl e. This apparently helped M ensch overcom e any feelings of guilt that he might ha ve had . Ze ppe lin are th e blueprint'. their experience wa s almost en tire ly Sta teside and th ey ha d little apprecia tion of th e UK scene no r gra sp of th e man y nu ances th at can mak e or break a band in th is most credi bility co nsc ious of markets. and very soo n after. Joe Elliott remarked that 'we've always wa nted to be somethi ng that we probably never will be and th at's a legend . but Def Leppard are a strikingly unsentimental band. N o-o ne could suggest that Burn stei n and M ensch were lacki ng in originality. having taken their charges to the brink of stardom. We rea lized o ur old management were out of th eir depth' . wh eth er th ey like them or hate them. or in ideas or the future. There has to be considerable sympathy for MSB. Peter M ensch was in to ta l agreeme nt. say ing 'the bottom line was always to be the next Led Zeppelin or Q ueen. Ironically. they fought shy at first. Na tura l modesty was never one of Leppard's stro ng suits. the y had no compunction in getting rid of th em. An illustrat ion of Leppard's despe rat ion to get th e tw o savvy Americans on th eir case came when Rick Allen per suaded M ensch to listen in on one of MSB's meeti ngs with th e group . To profess that w hat th ey really wan ted 44 .Def Leppard by new management. H owever. disturbed by th e eth ical que stion th at sur rounds poaching another man ager 's artists . Joe admitted that ' it was when we were supporting ACID C that Peter M ensch mad e it obvious to us that he want ed to manage th e band . for band and ma nagement sha red th e same ob jectives. something with longevity'. have a certa in respect for. an A& R ma n at Mercury Records in N ew York. particularl y once M ensch had entered the picture. Bands like Led Ze ppelin . in ambition. Feeling that MSB had outlived the ir usefulness. th eir utter co nfide nce in th emselves ofte n strikin g a jarring no te in conversation. were keen to represent Def Leppard.

it wa s a ver y clear signa l th at the ba nd saw th eir future across th e Atl antic rather th an at home a nd th at th ey wo uld do anythin g. a travelo gu e through th e most redo lent pla ce names in America. rich a nd fam ous was simply too vulgar. suc h a move wa s not going to w in th em many frie nd s. w ha t wo uld? More importantl y. W hen Joe argu ed th at 'no ma tter how mu ch a new wave band says "We' re o nly like th e kid s" . th ey release d 'Hello America' as a single in a blaze of publicity. th e roof fell in . To the mu sic press. Such a m bition raised hack les as we ll as susp icions. no matter how dem eaning. the ease with wh ich th ey'd ho pp ed on to tours by H agar and AC /D C upset ma n y and th er e were p lenty of sea so ned rock o bserve rs who would have been onl y too happ y to see Def Lep pa rd fa il. The song was discu ssed in the previou s chapter. Th ou gh th ey had finall y played sma ller venues in ea rly 1980. to be success ful th er e. Suc h statements by Elliott we re grist to their mill as was the decision to replace MSB w it h M en sch . On 2 1 Febr ua ry. In a mo ve w hich bet rayed an amazing lack of judgement. wh o try to set themselves up as th e jirniny C ricket of th e recordin g ind ustry. but it was the lyrical subject matter th at mad e waves. Since 'Hello America' wa s also remove d from typ ical hard rock sounds. but at a time when the gossipmongers were suggesting tha t Leppard were abo ut to jump ship an d run off to America. the co nsc ience th at guides bands away fro m the 45 . The so ng was pleasa nt eno ugh. along with their gen eral good hum our. if no t really indicat ive o f th e ma terial o n O n th rough the night. N or ma lly it would mean littl e to anyone. such sent ime nts were ba rely kept und er co ntro l by the co mmitm ent the band put into t hei r stage shows w hic h. it was a sta rtli ngly insens itive choice. it was used as evidence th at Def Leppard were wi m ping out in order to win American FM radio acceptance.With a Little H elp From Our Friends was to be successful . not the way we do things here at a ll. If this didn't mak e the ir gr eed appa ren t to all. they'd be mi lliona ires if they could'. ten ded to w in over th e doubters. th e mo re so in t hose immedi ate po stpunk days. Given that virt ua lly anything that succeede d in America was a lmos t instantl y dismissed as trash and bereft of an y meri t over her e. At the sta rt of Febru ar y 1980. even tho ugh there wa s mo re th an a gra in of truth in it. o nly in it fo r the mon ey a nd wit h no real ties to th e metal movem ent. it wa s a kin to heresy. for they were viewed as cocky up starts.

Erstwhile supporter Geoff Barton followed the same tack the following week when the band had their first Sounds front cover to celebrate scooping the reader's poll. Right now. They once had the power to penetr ate but unfortunately their complete trust in the business has rend ered them useless'. they didn't make it clear that it's are-recorded version of " Hello America". worst of all. . Thin Lizzy and Status Quo and if we starr gett ing awkward . maybe it's an equally commercial song". but all too late. T he band hadn't agreed with the decision. . if unconvincing. But we don 't reall y want to fall out with the record company. we were a little annoyed but we thought "well. isn't going to be on the album and.' That of course merely compounded the felony in most eyes. okay. 'We wanted "Rock Brigade" to be the single and when it turned out to be "Hello America". such devastating critiques inflicted mortal blows on the group's standing in the UK. In a review that changed the course of Leppard's career in Britain. The con stant get-our clause in Def Leppard interviews was this determinati on not to 46 . "Good Morning Freedom". Responding to accusati on s that Def Leppard were mere puppets in the hands of the record co mpany. he was forthcoming. If the management had not seen the potential damage th at might accrue. evidence of a complete lack of principles. maybe Phonogram know best. suggesting that the Def Leppard he had known and loved were no more. Clearly Mick Middles in Sounds thought that to be the case. our priority is to be as successful as everybody else on Vertigo like Dire Straits. What really did get us uptight were the adverts in the music press. but they let it go without a fuss because they didn't want to upset anybody. Since Sounds was the bible of NWOBHM followers. he wrote 'if Def Leppard hadn't been thrown into the wack y whirlpool : of showbiz hea vy metal they would still be making nai ve but hardedged youthful rock songs. Elliott had. accepting decisions foisted upon you is a heinous crime. that it's not the same as the song Nick Tauber produced for the flip of " Wasted" .Def Leppard dangers represented by the major labels. They didn't state that the Bside.

public and bands alike are all a little more relaxed abo ut th e situation now. a poi nt Elliott inadvertently made obvious in speaking to Sounds. Even if it's plainly untrue. th ey we re free to do as they chose. Jo e Elliott was merely speaking th e truth o f cou rse. sacrificing th at freedom. When Def Leppard were a bunch of lads rehearsing in Sheffield and playing th e working men's clubs to subsidize their mu sical habit. The real problem lay in th e fact th at Def Leppard d id not understan d the distinction between rem a ining 'norma l blokes' and the impact of giving in to the compan y. Now th ey we re at th e very heart of the machine. but sixteen years ago yo u were sup posed to fight wit h your label. it did not tackle the central problem . poi nt ing o ut to the fan s that all bands need a good relation sh ip wit h their reco rd label. not snuggle up to them. making th e compromises th at they knew would have to be made. Per ha ps pr ess.we wer e an hour and a half lat e going home last night becau se of th e kid s in th e dressing room. 47 . We're still fans ourselves. fans like bands to opera te within their own littl e world wher e such everyday considerations cannot impinge on th eir dr eams. an appealing image for ro ck fans .' Laudable att it ude though that was. Offending th ose w ho hold yo ur livelihood in th eir hands is not sensible business practice an d Leppard we re a lrea dy sound businessmen. it will not sell. no t to market or advertise it appropri at ely. was to own up to those compromises and become sullied by commerce in the process. It' s ironic that Leppard should have failed to grasp the need to build th is esca pist image when their songs were ba sed wholly on mindless escap ism. If th ey ch oose no t to push an a lbum. 'We're no differ ent now we've got a contract. We have people backstage to meet us . if th ey choose simply to sit on a record. givi ng in to record compa ny demands.W ith a Little Help From Our Friends offend in ca se it pr evented them shifti ng units. Joe and the band honestly didn't see what all th e fuss was about. for ult imately it is in the company's hand s as to whether or no t a band ca n break through . th ey were merely systematically appro aching th eir goals. if erro r it was. This total lack of revo lutionary zeal and rebelliou s intent furth er disenchanted sections of th e audienc e who saw rock' ri' roll as a lifestyle aside from com promise. Their erro r. We're not on great ego tr ips and six buckets o f heroin a day. all in the sea rch for fame an d fortune.

Ian Raven sdale caught the m for Sounds in N ewcastle an d his review was particularly percep tive: ' Even heavy 48 . tight. so swamped by th e " business" . no frills roc k at ear-splitting volume. w hich is a sha me. not be told what to th ink'. Their bigges t ta lent is th eir so ngwriting . Iron Maiden num ber fo ur. When On Through the Night was un veiled a few week s lat er. uns ure w hat to think of them. Maiden prod uced th e kind o f record tha t me ta l fans had bee n starved of for yea rs . a co nfus io n that ext ended to th e press. Th e cha rt plac ings told th e story. a pretty good album. Geoff Barton's revi ew of th e a lbum dwelt largely on the negati ve side o f things: 'A tin y tr awler beneath a tidal wave. sa nitised so un d. O n Through the Nig ht looked flabby. but to no avail. People sho uld make their own mind s up . Def Leppa rd were no longe r at the top of the NWOBHM heap and the inevi ta ble backlash was lon g. th e tid e had turned against th em . Good advice. On Through the N ight reach ed nu m be r fi fteen . and rounde d off by say ing ' neve rt heless. yet Barton still gave t he a lbum fo ur out of five. People were now confused by Def Leppard. T hey had booked an ex te ns ive UK tour to coi nc ide with On Th rough the N ight. Probabl y the fina l nail in th e co ffin ca me just a co uple of weeks later wh en Iro n Maiden's epo nymo us debut album w as released to huge acclaim .' It a ll see med to spell doom for the ba nd . Producer "Colone l" Tom Allom ha s given th e ba nd such a smooth.co ncise. In co ntrast.aridco ming Magnum . pla ying city halls (includi ng Shef field) and Odeon -sized venues a ll ove r th e co untry . . complain as they mig ht. aggressive. Joe tried to point o ut th at ' peo ple in Engla nd used to like " H ello America". protracted and pain ful.ca tc hy tunes abound .. overblown a nd totall y lacking in impact.' Small wo nder that the NWOBH M fa ns didn 't kn ow what to make of Leppa rd either. th ou gh o f course matters wer en 't helped when people actuall y heard just how poor a record it was co m pa red with th e advance press tha t had pr omised a tour de force. there wa s little the band co uld do to change things. suppo rted by th e up. We on ly had a negative reaction after they read th e reviews.Def Leppard The ' H ello America' debacle effec tively finished Def Leppard in Britain until 'Hysteria' provided a welcome opportunity for reassessment and.

Mensch did w ha t he reall y wanted to do with th e band. As th e Def Leppard controversy raged on in th e letter s page s o f Sounds. any hint of art ifice is rarely tolerated. in great demand. I su ppose it was surprising wh en we sta rte d but time will take care of th at' . with a ud iences po lite ra ther than warm in th eir response to th e band's effor ts. th e Scorpion s and AC/DC. They were eq ua lly popular o n radi o.loo king band. it was beco mi ng impossible to take Def Leppa rd seriously. On th e ba ck of a ll thi s ac tivity. Nevertheless. th e ha rd ro ck lyrics so und ing especially crass w hen coming fro m such an innocent. ena bling th e band to play to huge a udie nces in a short space of time. Their assa ult o n th e Stat es was a lmost unp recede nted . hoping it would be a nin e-day wonder and th at t hey could retu rn in triumph later in th e yea r. Eac h of these tours. he used his contacts to o rga nize support slots wit h Ted Nugent. creating impressive word of mouth recommendati on s for them .' Elliott wa s predictably up set by th is blatant age ism. Getting th em ou t of th e UK and off to the States. No British metal ba nd had ever had suc h a single-minded approach to establishing itse lf in America before it had do ne so at home. Since such fan s co ns ide r th em selves to be o uts ide the mu sica l ma instrea m and beyond th e manipulati ve clutch es of th e musi c business. read ' Amer ica n'. th ey we re sta rti ng to look like so me sort of ma nufact ured teenybopper band aimed directl y at a hea vy metal aud ience. ranting 'young? I'm twenty-two for Chrissakes and what do es it matter anyway? All thi s stuff a bo ut age is ridicu lo us. w as tremendously successfu l.. ofte n in enormous arenas.With a Little H elp Fro m Our Friends metal fans mu st ha ve inhibition s a bo ut lett ing it all rip w he n th e kid playing the guita r looks as though he co uld still get half fare o n the bus . Things simply began to get worse and worse for th em . Of course. On Thro ugh the Nig ht reached a very resp ectable number 51 on th e Billboard cha rts. th ey we re merely dista nci ng th em selves from Britain w hile the storm blew itself o ut. Per haps in their co llective mind. uns ur prising ly.. 49 . confirming th at they had mad e sizea ble and lucrative inroads into th e market th at mattered most. Def Leppard had been co urte d so stren uo usly by Pet er Mensch because he saw the internation a l appea l of the ir mu sic . wh ere 'Hello Ame rica ' was.for 'internati on al' . th ey lack real identity and it co uld ha ve bee n too mu ch too soon.

touring band is an expensive operation to maintain and it's dollars that keep the wheels turning. That's not to say that the y always admitted to it. Their absence had not 50 . It may be an unpleasant fact.. and a pretty insignificant one at that. an attitude that the band took on board very quickly.Def Leppard Perhaps that's so. I think we won quite a few people over. For a band to earn the longevity that he was looking for. a spot on Top of the Pops and a mention in the Daily Mirror. they had to make it big in America. getting a foothold in certain markets around the globe. but it's more reasonable to suggest that they had always planned this American sojourn for the summer. Though it would have been nice to have gone down well in the UK. A recording. But God. We did pretty well there too. Mensch's views would not have been clouded by sentimental vision s of success in the UK. we were only there a couple of months. 1980. a time when gigs are few and far between in Britain anyway. ultimately it didn't really count for much. Some have suggested that Def Leppard took to America because they had nowhere else to turn when things were going so badly wrong at home. but fact it is. To Mensch. We're out to make Def Leppard a successful band and that mean s going to the States. We're not the first English rock band that went to the States and we won't be the last . Leppard played on the final day. If Def Leppard wanted to see in the 1990s. They had already hooked up with Mensch in the winter of 1979 and there can be little doubt that he and the band had long discussions as to how they would work the debut album.' Just how badly Def Leppard's perceived defection had gone down was brought hom e to them at the Reading Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend. It's not as if we went to live there. Joe Elliott was often extremely angry when interviewers accused him of deserting his home for America and a fat pay cheque. America 's a big market and it would be senseless to ignore it. 'Selling out to America? That pisses me off because it' s so ridiculous. they had to be big in America. just before headliners Whitesnake were due to go on. for that was the only way they could earn enough cash to keep on going. As an American. Such comments are foolish.. going on to argue that their virtual migration to the States was simply the fortunate result of circumstances beyond their control. the UK was merely another marketplace.

51 . I got a half tin of Tartan lager in my bo llocks. . there wa s no sort of con trast. a vivid one. w ha tever rationa le the band tried to hide behind. treated as wimped out. So they did w ha t a nyo ne sensi ble would do in the circumsta nces . It wasn' t hard to find becau se t hey alrea dy knew where to look. They we re great. played th e hit s. not sur prisingly. Probabl y the worst thing of all for us was having to follow Slade. . so ld out fakes. W e did our best but it didn't seem to go too well . even the mo st devoted fan of that kind of music would get a bit fed up of it after three da ys. They went off in search of an audience th at did want them. Joe's memory of th e show wa s. It was a classic case of "follow that".W it h a Little He lp From Our Friend s made th e crowd 's heart grow any fonder and th ey were met with a fusill ade of cans an d plast ic bo ttles filled wi th recycled waste material. T hey put on an amazing show and went down a sto rm.' Unfortunat ely. The paunchy Elliot and his co mrades were now public enemy number one among th e metal fraternity. T hey we re no longer welcome on Brit ish territory. the facts were stark.'There was just too much hard rock that weekend. We were on e of the last bands on the bill and I reckon anyone.

th ere was very little that was star-spa ng led a bout th e a lbum. Beneath th e surface. Was it mere chance th at to ok th em to America or was it th eir goal right from th e off? W ould th ey have inev ita bly appealed to an Ame rica n aud ience in th e fulln ess of tim e or was it Peter Mensch's knowledge of th e market th at help ed stee r th eir mu sic in th e right direct ion? Essentially. Altho ug h th e so ngs on On th rough the night were removed from th ose of th e likes of Saxon or Iron M aid en . Fro m th eir point o f view. Go ne were so man y of 52 . perhaps more th an virt ua lly any other band in t he history of Briti sh rock mu sic. in a fairl y uninspired ma nner at th at. Leppard were still clearly dabb ling in an age -o ld British hard rock tr adition. Def Lep pa rd were a lrea dy mutating int o a very differe nt sort of rock gro up. Yet Mensch's part in a ll of this is especially important. More th a n any other N WO BH M band . hence th eir poor reception. fo r th ey knew th ey had to mak e a living ou t of th e music in order to surv ive. th at was mere pragmatism.6 WAITING FOR THE MAN The American debate is one that still rages wh en th e co nversation tu rn s to Def Leppard . but th at was a long way beneath. By t he t ime the heavy met al lynch mob go t th eir hands on th em at Read ing. Def Leppard had a burning des ire to ma ke it big in th e States . a re Def Leppa rd a bo na fide band o f mu sicians or are th ey merel y a gro up of cha ncers out to make the best a nd mos t success ful career mo ves that th ey co uld? T he definitive a nswe r lies in-between a ll th ose sta te me nts . it wa s clear that there were pop ular so ngwriting inst incts at wo rk.

but cou ld simply focu s totally on the job in hand. co upled with some no rthern blood y-minded ness.Waiting for th e Man the rough edge s that Tom Allom had left on their album. Within a year. mu sical cultures successfully blur red geographic boundaries and it was a band from Sheffield th at was th e instigator of one of America's most successful mu sic for ms. What is not in que stion is the fact that it was th ey who wanted to expose Leppard to America for months at a time. Joe disagr eed . th e band couldn't help but soak it up. heading towards an end produ ct that British fans were unwilling to accept. it was Leppard's extre me reserves of wi llpowe r and determination . 'FM ra dio is rock radio! It's fucking brilliant!' To hear such gushing pr aise about the perceived enemy could only driv e further nails into Leppard's coffin at home. Commercially savvy. Journey and Boston. but it was clear to all and sundry that th ey were go ing through a rapid evolution. this was the turning point in th eir career for it meant they no lon ger had to pander to an y stereo types or prejudices at home. Exposed to American culture on such a scale. Press comments had always been along the lines of ' heavy metal is 53 . At this stage. Perhaps the y were too clo se to th e mu sic to take an objective look at things. brighter sound that lacked the grit and the grime that characterized Briti sh metal. that kept them go ing. th e Leppard organization began to shift its sta nce . they simply decided to ignore th e media and con tin ue on th eir chosen path. Instead of tr ying to win back lost favour in th e UK. Lepp ard rem ained naive an d were co mpletely unaware of the storm the y would cau se just by ap peari ng at Reading. the y had gone from being th e grea t white hope to utt er pa riahs. cracking America. Def Leppa rd were alrea dy sta rting to peddle a prototype brand of what became deri sively kno wn as 'metal lite' . Joe wa s especially tak en with FM radio. drummed into them the value of that marketplace and required th em to tour extensively there. Once again. a sty le that dominated the late 1980s. From here. In truth . a force that was utterly reviled in the UK as the hom e for sanitized tosh such as Saga. In August 1980. a cleaner. To argue th at it was M ensch and Burn stein who guided them in this direction is putting it to o stro ngly. to be replaced by a smooth confidence.

but they reall y deser ve a lot of credit for cha nging t he way British gro ups look ed at the wo rld. if Leppa rd had not been subjected to th e reverses they suffered in England. th ey might have co ntinued in a more trad ition al heavy metal vein or whether th eir mu sical approac h wo uld ha ve cha nged as it did . it's likely th at Read ing merely accelera ted th eir d rift in an America n dir ect ion rather t han origina ted it. it wa s a phrase to be used only with the greatest caution. for w hich Lepp ard had been very grateful at the time. Leppard had 54 . Now. we want to follow in the footsteps of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin'. W ith th eir new ma nag ement. MSB we re no t really replaced becau se th ey cou ldn 't hack it in Englan d. We were always mor e imp ressed with the Roll ing Ston es than we were with Judas Priest . a ban d wo uld never wa nt to venture across the Atlantic until th ey were hu gely successful at home for fear th at they wo uld be swa llowed up by th at vast co nti nent and have to retu rn home with th eir tails between th eir legs. H aving ridden to fame on th e coa t-tails of the NWOBHM . for M ensch wa s planning to invest very heavily in the band 's seco nd reco rd. Given th e ambitiou s nature of the band . Th e crux of t he matter is wh y did the tunes chan ge? It's impossible to tell now wh ether. O rdina rily. a reinvention to rep osition th em in the commerci al mai nstrea m. new horizons had ope ned up and th at was what th ey had alway s wanted. w hy did th ey choose Tom Allom to produce O n through the night. If the y were comparatively unimpressed with Priest. although the term heavy metal was not ex actly prohibited. Of wh at? What flag? Bollocks! We're nothing to do with any of yo u. Def Leppard ha ve taken a great deal of flak for thi s ove r the years. his selection the result of an intimate knowledge of Judas Priest's Unleashed in the east album ? The truth of th e matter is that Def Lepp ard we re defiantly heav y metal but were now cha nging their tune as th eir ow n tunes changed. 'I always laugh when people accuse us of deserting the cause. crucial as far as an American audience was concerned.Def Leppard what we love th e most. Jo e was now loo king to put plenty of distance between his band and th e rest. It was beca use th ey lacked the co ntac ts to o pen up wo rld markets.' Thi s is tota l fabrica tio n. We're nowr to do with the NWOBHM .

Waiting for the Man no such inferiority complex and felt that if you believed in what you could do and had confidence in your selves and in yo ur mu sic, you could succeed anywhere. M ensch had a viable bu siness plan using FM radio to infiltrate the market while he was also keen on the burgeoning field of the promo video. If video took off - thi s was several years before MTV arrived on th e scene - yo u co uld appear all over the world without leaving hom e. T hey all felt that it would become incredibly important in promoting an y band, kn ew that it would enable you to break int o mark ets mu ch mor e eas ily, and planned accordingly. Without the right mu sic th ou gh , roc k ba nds ca nnot sur vive for long. Elliott's suggestion that the band were closer to th e Stones than Judas Priest was substantially true. In effect, Leppa rd had lived their career in reverse, for if any part o f th eir wo rk had been based on compromise or could be construed as a sell out, it was th e months leading up to getting their deal with Phonogram . They liked Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin it's true, but there was an eq ua l, probably stronger love for Marc Bolan, Queen, Da vid Bowie, M ott th e Hoople and the late, lamented Mick Ronson - in Melody Maker's 'Rebellious Jukebox', a kind of Desert Island Discs, Joe pick ed 'A ll th e yo ung dudes', 'G et it on,' Hunter's 'Once bitten twi ce shy', ' Roc k' n' ro ll part two', Ron son's 'Angel number nin e' , 'John I'm on ly dan cing ', 'W on't get fooled again' and 'Sympathy for th e devil' a mo ng his twel ve choices, the onl y 'obvious' selection being Z eppelin's 'Kas hmir', far too compl ex and atmospheric a song to be so lightl y dismiss ed as mere meta l. Def Leppard as a unit loved cla ssic pop/rock songs, but back in 1978, it was not wise to proclaim th at too loudly, Joe remarking that 'it seems to me that melod y ha s beco me a foul w ord in England' . Songwriting was their strength a nd th at had been compromi sed in the drive to earn heav y metal credentials. There was nothing necessarily wrong in that for the Police pretended to be punks to gain recognition and Elvis Costello had done th e same with regard to the new wave. When you're tr ying to get a break , th ere are no rul es, no principles. Once Def Leppard got the publicity th ey needed, th ey could get the deal they deserved and start to make th e mu sic th ey wanted to make. Def Leppard's career reall y began in Sept emb er 1980 once the doors of the UK had closed tightly shut behind th em;

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Def Leppard the harsh facts of British life were starkly illustrated in December 1980 when they tried to pla ya few club dates prior to recording to rehearse new material. So badly did the tickets sell, th at even some of these gigs, where they'd hoped to play to a couple of hundred fans, had to be cancelled. Goodbye Britain, hello America .. . Def Leppard being Def Leppard, things did not go smoothly even then. It was no w clear that America would become their adopted musi cal home for so me tim e, but they had to accept th at things would wo rk differentl y there, th at the mu sic pr ess carried far less weight th an it did in th e UK. Getting on to FM radio was th e o bvious goa l for th at was th e best way to spread the word about th e band from th e east coast to th e west. Where live performanc e had previously been of th e greatest importance to th em, they realize d that th ey wo uld have to tak e greater care in th e st ud io. This caused a degree of est ra nge ment between Pete Willi s and the rest for as he pointed o ut in Sounds, ' I like th e whole thing about roc k bands , genera lly having a goo d laugh '. Spending months in a dingy recording env ironment is not th e best wa y to getcha roc ks off and it' s fair to say th at Wi llis pro ba bly viewe d th e pr ospect with less enth usias m th an the rest. Acco rding to the rest of the group, his per sonality had been the most affected by thei r limited success. Oddly, though Elliott was the accepted fro ntman, th e man wh o had to strike up a rapport with the a udience, do t he interviews and generally represent the group, it was Pete w ho was under the most pr essure. A more reserved cha rac ter by nature, early gigs had rep uted ly seen him playing guita r fro m the back of th e stage, o r even from the wings. T he onset of fam e and the ad ulation of the fan s meant that he had to co me to term s with being a pu blic figure very quickly. Of the five in th e band, he wa s th e least co nce rned with achieving worldw ide fame and so th e less ag reea ble aspects of the jo b inevita bly wo re him dow n mor e th an th ey did the others; the gregariou s Elliott, for exa mple, was in his element meetin g, an d charming, new people all the time. Pete had an additional problem wit h w hich to deal. Sho rt in sta ture, especially alongside Jo e at the fro nt of th e stage, his elfin feat ure s did make him loo k much yo unger t ha n even Rick Allen, hence th e comment from Ian Ravensdale in his Sounds review quoted

56

Waiting for the Man in the previo us chapter. It was tough for hard bitten English crowds to warm to Willis when he looked little more than a schoolboy. Given that guitar players are often the central focus of a rock band, it was hard enough for Pete to deal with the attention, never mind the accompanying derisory comments. The fact that Steve Clark was clearly enjo ying his role in it all scarcely made things any easier for him. Once on the road with a limitless supply of booze on hand, the rest of the group noticed that Pete was leaning more and more on the bottle, Elliott putting the change down to one specific incident. 'He changed on a ten hour flight. The first time we went to the States, we got on the plane at Heathrow and ten hours later Pete was carried off, bollocksed dru nk. He was never the same again.' Willis wa s not the only one who regularly had a few too many, for Joe later remembered seeing Clark 'puking blood back in 1978' as a result of his drinking. With another record to make though, such overindulgence was dism issed as something that could be handled. There was no desir e to throw anyone out of the band and disrupt the creative tensions that existed at such a vital stage in their career. The biggest question for now was where would they record and with whom. Thankfully, they realized that they had made mistakes and that any blame for their British problems lay with them as much as it did the press. Elliott magnanimously accepted that 'we fell into all the traps. At the time I thought we were doing all the right things. God couldn't have tol d me I was wrong. Now I realize that the first album was a load of shit. It was very representative of the band for about six weeks but afterwards we weren't anything like that any more'. This time, they needed a record that they'd be able to live with indefinitely, one of which they could be proud. Once again, Peter Mensch stepped into the breach. Even before they'd gone in to record On through the night, they'd had one particular producer in mind. Joe admits that 'we wanted Mutt Lange for the first one, having heard his work with City Boy, the Motors and Graham Parker. Tom Allom was the next on the list and he was great, really funny, but we didn't want to get stuck in a rut, we wanted something different, we wanted a definite improvement.' Mutt, more formally known as Robert Lange, had also produced AC/DC, rescuing their final record with Bon Scott, 1979's superb

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Lange was already co mmitted elsewhere. This had left Def Leppard kicking th eir heels for eight mo nths. Free of t he need to produce a met allic record. Like so many other industry insiders. Prep ar ati ons for th eir seco nd album. he could hear th e potential within th e band and wanted th e oppo rt unity to help th em unleash it. his very pr esenc e was enough to reassure exec utives that with Leppard. Lang e wa s an exce llent choice. th ey were indeed on to a winner. for th ey ap pear to end ure an elepha ntine gesta tion per iod. a real crossroads for th em . Unfortunat ely. th ey wanted so meo ne who co uld help them achieve th e best po ssible synthesis between th eir pop sensi bility and th eir avowed intention to maintain a typically British agg ressive dim ension to their mu sic.Def Leppard 'Highway to hell' . the y co uld affo rd to be optimistic once again. Sufficiently successful not to have to worry a bout th e dictat es of th e record co mpany. 58 . Since Mensch had worked so closely with AC/DC. session s w hich were intermina ble. It's rar e for Def Leppa rd to give birth to a record painlessly. Ha ving planned to finish with Foreigner in Octob er. T heir so ngwriting had improved w hile past studio ex per ience had given th em a better idea of what wo rke d well on record and wha t did not. idio syncratic CY and the mix of styles which he had mastered was hugely appeal ing to Lepp ard. It wa s not Lange's qu est for per fection that held th ings up. he was sup remely confident in the studio and was already interested in Def Leppard. In turn. Lan ge wa s not finally free of his co mmitments until M ay 1981. that helped rela x the band whose confidence had been dented by their British experiences. 'Back in black' . Lan ge had co mpiled a diverse . and running th e potentially difficult sessions for the follow-up. but Elliott's comments on bands such as the Motors ring true. Th e bod y of work they had at th eir co mma nd thi s time was a con sidera ble improveme nt on th eir first effo rts and th ey were champing at th e bit. he knew Lange and wa s instrumental in setting up the co lla boration. With Mutt on board. With a great track record behind him. but th e band's own uncertaint y a bout the mat er ial th ey were working on . A few more unkind critics have suggested that Lange had never pr eviou sly been in the frame for the job and that it was all M ensch 's doin g. recording For eigner 's 4. we re goi ng well. having finished touring in September.

They used th e down time wisely. As it was. thi s eno rmo us delay shou ld really have sounded th e death knell. either fro m th eir own co nvictions or because of Mensch's glowing description of wh at M utt could do for their care er. th ey would be proved right. it has to capitalize on thi s. The da y of reckoning finally cam e in M ay 198 1 w hen th e band went into London's Battery Studios . To leave th e best part of two years between the first and second release is tantamount to commercial suicide. were co unselling th at Def Leppard needed to get an album togeth er . adding new ones to th e cano n. two full months were given to High'n'dry . a considerable investment of time and money and one which put the release date back still further. It's fair to say that thi s second record would be a far more honest representation of what Def Leppard were abo ut and what they wanted to become. Unlik e the two weeks that had been lavished on On through the night . tour incessantly and still mak e its second album within a year of the first. the album not seeing the light of day until July 1981 when it was rush-released to coi ncide with a previously booked to uring schedule. H ustled through the debut. and qui ck. tunes aplenty cameflowing from them.Iron Maiden's custo ma ry home . Such indecent ha ste did not sit well with Lange's legendar ily meticulous studio habits. strike whil e th e iron is hot and keep the nam e in th e forefront of peopl e's minds.to start work. by Christmas 1980. Such certainty of purpose in th e face of all th e normal rules was proof of great collective strength of character and once more. W ith Leppard reviled at hom e and virtual nobodies everywhere else.Waiting for th e M an The perceived wisdom has it th at a new rock band sho uld mak e a record. tw o months seemed an eternity to them and perhaps any longer would hav e been too much of a cu lture shock. whereupon the cycle begin s anew. There we re man y sage adv isers wh o. working on their songs. The band held their ner ve. ensur ing that once the y co uld begin work. there would be a wea lth of stro ng material from which to choose. If the gro up is successful. they were a ble to maintain their enthusiasm th rou ghout and their obvious enjoyment of the 59 . Revelling in th e freedom th ey now had to explore the more melodic side of their natures. but for Leppard it was a tremendous introduction to the world of professional recording.

offer evidence th at they had a firm hand on th e tiller and that they were heading towards a definite destinati on.when God handed out throats. My singing wa s ab solutely useless. nor will it go down in history as a turning point for popular music but for Def Leppard. lacke d any real dynamic range and the lyrics remained sha llow and uninteresting but the sheer urgency in the playing. I would do anything . 'Mutt works you hard . it's a long wa y from being their best work. but who knew that if he wo rked his bo llocks off. I'm a real wimp in the studio because you've got no na t ural adrenaline. admitting later in Q that 'I' m like Kevin Keegan who wa sn 't as good a footba ller as Glenn Hoddle. He makes me wo rk until it's right.' O ne of the most striking things a bo ut High'n'dry was the improvement in Joe's own voice. True to his character though. it needed to demon strat e a st ro ng sense of direction. I'm not the most gifted . they desperately needed to silence th e doubters.. no audience. he could achieve something. he cou ld now make the most of his still limited ability while the songs seemed to fit his range far better th an previously. Joe Elliott who put his finger on Lange's enormous contribution to Leppard's renaissance.' No false modesty thi s. With On through the night widely viewed as a disappo inting first blast from them. To ny Currie or Stan Bowles. it stands out as pr ob abl y the mos t important record they've ever mad e. Mutt's reall y patient. for any dispassionate ob server would ha ve to agree that his performance on On through the night was awful. T he album was flawed. inevitably. Amid th e cries of 'sell-out'. he just tries to bring out in my voice what I'm 60 . Joe wasn't about to let a little thing like a lack of na tural ta lent come between him and success. th e absolute conviction in the delivery overshadowed these deficiencies. High 'n'dry was no mas terpiece.. . It had to show a dr amatic imp rovement but. But I was determined to do it. . whereas the others were lazy . crucially. I got locked out of the room. Joe was candid in his assessment of his own voice: 'They put up with me not being able to sing for two and a half years. It was. Even though he was still a long way from riva lling the likes of David Coverdale. Leppard really just returned to their roots and produced a selection of driving pop rockers.Def Leppard process shone through on an alb um that was a 100 per cent imp rovement on its predecessor.

Mutt got him to recor d it again. With Back in Black such a huge hit commercially and critically. more dynamically structured.indeed at everyone invo lved in the entire project . the lyrics. Elliott apologized eight years later. If it was prett y sta ndard roc k'n'roll. it wa s obvious that Def Leppard demanded reassessment for th e m usic was tighter. for AC/DC were not a dumb metal act. with Elliott look ing too keen to step into Bon Scott's shoes . the latter a classic 61 . 'Let it go' set the tone. so by the time they entered Battery Studios. Jo e was something of a seasoned campaigner. If he failed to get it right first time. Nowadays. And again until it was exactl y th e way it should be. some of them are fuckin ' useless.Wai ting for the Man capable of but what I wo uldn't do myself because I'd get fed up trying. Joe was a tired man. it rarely wa s exactly the way it should be for Joe still had much to learn about his art but Lange was exper ienced enough to realize when he had wrung the last ounce out of Elliott and wise enough to know when to call it a day. By the end of recording. Naturally Lange's involvement in Back in Black an d Higb'n 'dry meant here wo uld be similarities in the sound.' The record carrie d its fair share of uncomplicated rock songs. only diminished by the 'get read y for the back seat' sex ism implicit in the lyric. saying ' I look back and think " thank God I was on ly twent y" . it wasn't a bad reference point and at least it proved they were heading in the right direc tion. If there was a rea l criticism that could be levelled at him .it wa s that they seemed determined to beco me the new ACIDC. a long way removed from the adolescent fare of 'Rock brigade'. I'd pac k in after six attem pts but Mutt'll keep me going for twelve'. In fact . but an intelligent rock ban d. it was done well. Singing on the road night after night helped him with phrasing and with pacing himself and his voice. punchier. aw ful "get down on your knees" stuff. Leppard sailed a little close to the wind . From the outset. And again . but the real difference was the way in which Lange made him jump through hoops in order to get the sound right. but a proud one too for he had proved himself a capable singer at last. Familiarity with the material helped too. an altoge ther more arresting sound. I mean. but at times. I try to do it a bit more tactfully. ~High ' n ' d ry ' and 'No no no' being cases in point.

a hango ver from th e first a lbum perhaps. eac h in th eir ow n di stinctive fashion . see yo u at the end rifferama. ' T he oth er th ree t rack s o n H igh 'n'dry we re espec ia lly imp ortant. Stev e o nce hijack ed a taxi in Par is and t ried to wr ite a so ng abo ut it. Lyrics re mai ned a bugbea r fo r th em. es pecia lly as it loo ked liked t hey st ill didn 't need to shave . remini scent o f Rainbow's 'Since yo u been gone'. Steve C la rk's 'Switch 625' made it clea r th at here was a guita rist a nd w rite r o f real di st inction. th e clu msy arra nge me nt a nd dubious execution meant th e so ng so unded cluttered with little room for th e instrumentation to br eathe. ' M irro r. desper ately so. H a rd edge d pop di splaying an improvem ent in the so ngw rit ing. tho ugh Joe suggeste d t ha t th ey had tri ed to wo rk ha rder o n th em thi s time aro und. for t ho ug h it w as obviou sly anthe rnic. Fortunately. popp y wit h so me ver y nice guitar interpl ay that left it roo ted in th e roc k ge nre. inevitably d uelling . guitars. ' O n th rough the nig ht ' . th ese so ngs were to prove th e exce ptio n rather th an the rul e as th e gr oup's poppier instincts tended to hold sway . so we scra pped it. wh er e the backing served to bolst er Joe's vo ice w hich was clearl y st retc hed by the mat eri al. 'O n thi s a lbum. it dem anded inclusio n. 'L ady stra nge' also provided a flimsy excuse to cut to the guitar cha se at th e bridge. It was a sha me t hat the lyrics wer e so relentlessly crass. but it just so unded like a piece of shit. let things do wn . deliberately. o ne o f th e grea t co r po ra te entertainment ind ust ries. Th e lead guitar line wa s excellent a nd th e tr ack 62 . yet it was sa lvaged by the layers of backing voc als which wer e an immensely pr omising departure. Altho ugh it didn 't rea lly fit into th e ove ra ll co nce pt of th e a lb um. The co nce pt of rock 'n 'roll . we tri ed to wri te abou t a ll so rts o f sto ries. rewro te th e lyri cs a nd it sou nde d a lo t better.Def Leppard exa mple of heads do w n. the lyri cal idea wa s wholl y ludicrou s. ha vin g 'no sa fety net' is p la in ly a bs urd while th e im age of Leppa rd as a hard living rock 'ri 'rol l ba nd sti ll didn 't was h. though th e central guita r riff was wo rt h hearing. That careful struct ure was eq ua lly well employed on ' Yo u got me runnin ". featuring lots o f senseless screa ming from both Joe and the twin. for m usica lly t he so ng was much clo ser to the d irect ion Leppard were as piring to . mi rr or (loo k int o my eyes )' was a perfect exa mple o f thi s curate's egg o f an a lbum.

Nevertheless. but it wa s too little too late for the ba nd in Britain. They could rest assured that this time around. so painstak ingly record ed . this allowed for a nice change of pace. Indeed th ere were plenty of uns ubstantia ted rumours in the music press th at he was considering leaving the band in order to form a 63 . Willis allegedly less keen on t he new d irection the music was taking. th e critical reappraisa l was welcome. proving to be ultimately irresisti ble to a generation of record buyers . Elliott was philosophical abou t it all. the band had little time to reflect on what they'd achieved. accepting th at ' it's irrelevant how I see things. High'n 'dry is a titanium toecapped kick in the teeth for Def Leppard's British critics. not least because W illis and th e rest were becoming increasingly estranged. Geoff Ba rto n helped himself to a very large plate of humble pie in Sounds : 'I realize now that 1 wrote Def Leppard off prematu rely. so awesomely bright and full of life that the sheer scop e of th e pro duction was simply overwhelming. the wash of colour that would become the ir trademark over the years and provide the blueprint for countless imitator s. the critics would be migh tily impressed . with th e album only mak ing num ber twent y-six. Q uite simply. 'Heartbreak' was straight out of the classic rock power ballad mould. It was the first really huge vocal harmony tha t they'd used to date. those backing vocal s were so lush. With the album co mpleted an d concert dates looming. neither charted. It's how t he audience sees them th at decides how many records we sell. We lost our market beca use th e mu sic press slagged us to pieces'. crue lly a nd unnecessarily.Waiting for the Man could have been ta ken from the so undtrack to a European thriller. It was clear th at Leppar d's horizons really were broadening and 'Another hit and run ' was perhaps the best example of their improved attention to detai l withi n their songwriting.' The album co llected the maximum five stars. Where so much of their material was designed to rock hard. Minds had been made up about Def Leppard long since an d th ough both 'Let it go ' and 'Bringing on the heart break' were released as singles. illustrating an intuitive understanding of dynamics that would go on to serve them we ll in the future. but it took the form to a new level. Point ing the way ahead was 'Bringing on the heartbreak' with its lovely guit ar work a nd Gary Moore-ish introduction.

you got SOp off t he price of High 'n 'dry .Def Leppard more traditional metal outfit. Th ere were more fund am ental. I'd never seen an ything like it in Sheffield! ' With a renewed spirit of optimism spreading through the cam p. Any personal differences were buried for the course of the tour however. now wa s not the tim e for celebration wit h ever. They were just th e w ro ng band for th e tim e. British rock mu sic in th e early 1980s was going through a co nspicuously dour per iod wit h the 'i ndie' ba nds such as Jo y Division . reservations th at were founded in th e facts. it was th e synt hetic doodlings and fashion co nscious performan ces of th e New 64 . even the British dates went tolerably well. though M elody Maker's Steve Gett was a little more circumspect in his praise.lengt hening dole qu eues and wor senin g eco nom ic situatio n allied to the omnipresent threat of glo ba l war as intern at ion al relation s reached a low point between the west and the pre-glasnost Soviet Union. later on th e Smit hs holding the more committed rock fan s in thrall. although an accompanying promotional gimmick . If you were serio us about your mu sic. a to tal reassessment. th e members of th e Fourth Estate co uld not be held so lely to acco unt for the band 's failure at home. Philip Bell wrote in Sounds that the Leppard show was based upon 'Absolute professionalism . th e band enjoying all th e road had to offer. Gigs just prior to Christmas 1981 proved that their rehabi litation was all but complete in the eyes of the pres s. Gigs in West Germany offered some of the stranger sights as Joe recalled. 'We went to the Star Club in H am burg in 1981 to see wh ere the Beatles had pla yed but it's not there any mo re and eventually we ended up in an un derground car park w hich had all the se women chained to the pillars and littl e rooms off th e main area. It wo rks'. deep-seat ed reasons for this malaise than a simple sheaf of bad reviews. Echo and the Bunn ymen and.tarnished things a little . o n a more co mmercial level. So yo u' d walk aro und thi s mea t market and at tw enty-one it was a real eye opener. though the fan s still stayed away in droves. .if yo u took your ticke t stub to t he HMV chain of stores. . admitting that th e new music was ' ideal for th e US market but I have my doubts regarding the st rengt h of th eir British popularity'. Alt ho ugh Def Leppard had had a ro ugh tim e at th e hands of the press in 1980. What wa s th ere to celebrate? On th e ot her hand .

Lang e him self was t he hottest nam e in American AOR at the time with Forei gner 's 4 on its way to sales of six million units. paving the wa y for future triumphs. British music was a ll ab out image and Leppard's just did not fit in. Def Leppard wer e complete outcasts. 65 . Peter Mensch had put his reputation on the line with Higb 'n'dry and wa s determined to turn it into a major seller. With th e wholesale compartmentalization of rad io in the States. In fact. Th e band we re even begin ni ng to sport ex pensive hairdos. That' s the next ste p'. Elliott accepting that 'other bands have time to evolve and grow up in the small clubs. too frivol ou s and lyrically inept for th e ' indi e' scene. th ings looked a lot more posi tive for th em. but crucially it made th e breakthrough in terms of acceptance. the on ly sensible response was to create your own world filled with bright and shiny young things. th e Jon Bon Jovi poodle cut as it wo uld becom e kn own later. drink the right coc kta ils and know the right people. too down to ea rt h and 'ordinary' for th e N ew Rom antics. Littl e wonder that Joe complained 'wha t we rea lly need is an audienc e that'll accept a band that look s like D ura n Duran but sound s like Saxon. As it was. T heir ethic wa s that things were so bad in the o utside world. Life could be a co nsta nt w hirl if you appro ached it properly. topping the Billboard charts in th e States for ten weeks. pro vided them with a way in to those radio stations which the y ex ploited to the full. Supporting Blackfoot. Def Leppard fell outsid e those two camps. In America.Waiting for th e M an Romant ics that were swamping th e cha rts. To gain entrance to th is world of twent y-fou r-hour party people. it wa s onl y a min or improvement on On through the night in sa les term s. charting at number thirty-eight. the y spent much of 1981 on the road in America. That gave Def Leppard added kud os. all th e more so now th at the y wer e workin g with Lange. yo u had to dre ss pr op erly. in 1981 . We'r e making all our mistakes in front of thousands of people'. Their on ly refuge wo uld have been with th e met al crowd th at had initia lly brought th em to prominence but they were set on taking reve nge for Leppard's apparent betrayal of th e NWOBHM and th eir American preoccupations. playing a mix of good and bad shows. Leppard slotted in nicely to the FM format.

They're getting points off H igh 'n 'd ry for as long as it sells. Ironically. wh o' s to say th at Leppa rd might not have sti ll been languishin g in o bscur ity ? It was th e very fact that they had a deal th at ena bled th em to go on to make a seco nd record and it does n' t seem especially un fair th at MSB sho uld be entitled to some of th e finan cial rewards for th e hard work th ey put in.' Such ga mes helped relieve th e tension in th e rest of th e camp but did littl e for Will is's peace of mind. M SB had ar ra nged th eir deal with Phonogram and if th ey hadn't don e so. Elliott was especia lly angry with th e wa y things had worked out. T hese o ut bursts could only ad d to th e impress ion th at Leppa rd 66 . Elliott's atti tude seemed chu rlish to say th e least given th at Lepp ard we re sta rt ing to look like a real act for th e fut ure. th ey were still giving th e band pa use for thought more than a yea r afte r their dem ise. Like it or not . They had nothing to do with th is album. th ey'll get money off it. everyw here we went it was summer. notabl y in England . It's on e th ing ma nagi ng a ba nd th at 's alrea dy go t a deal and a reputation. it's quite another to take o ne from th e clubs and win th em a record contract . we'd be round th e pool all da y and-doing a co uple of inte rviews.Def Leppard Mi stak es or not.' Such busine sslike preoccupa tion with th e pen nies might have served th e ba nd well in their co mmerc ial dealings. Pete was living th e lifest yle and putting less and less into the per forman ce. If say. Pete go t his co me uppa nce th ough . but it was always "eno ugh's eno ugh. 10. but it d id little for th e pu blic's perception of them. The rest of us were pretty rampant in th ose da ys and we' d all ind ulge in a drink or bird s if th ey were around.we used to gaffa tape his boot s to th e roof of the van and wh en he wa s as leep we'd put shav ing foa m on the back of his hand and tickle his nose with a feath er . th ey were beginning to make waves in America and we re a ble to live th e life of bona fide rock stars as Elliott remembers. we've go t a gig tomorro w".000 cop ies sell in ten years' tim e. Th ey were with us w hen we did the first so ma ybe th ey'r e entitled to a little bit of th at . It wa s beginning to become o bvious th at he might yet go th e way of MSB. beca use th ey did get us a deal with Phon ogram but th ey'r e entitled to no thing off thi s seco nd one as far as I'm co ncerned. 'It cos t us a fortu ne to get rid of them. 'We had little girls chasi ng us all over the place.

money seemed to be central to every mov e that th e group made and with a skilled negotiato r like M ensch behind them. for mon ey seemed to be th eir greatest preoccupation.' Leppa rd we re never embarrassed by their ability to mak e money. or at least to pretend to be poor. Def Leppard could not co mpla in if people thought they were tailor ing their sound to ea rn t he maxim um amo unt o f money. It was that th at had allowed th em to escape lives in th e fact ori es of Sheffield and had freed them to see th e world. Never mind. Rightl y or w ro ng ly. the nation prides itself on its ega lita rian wa y of life. or so th e story goe s. As one of the great w or kin g class esca pe routes . screamin g 'Ioadsamoney' in 1981 wa s not as acce pta ble as it became in the lat e eighties.footb all's the other one in Britain . If you have th e talent and th e drive to get a hea d.a damn fine evening out and a record that they could enjoy over a nd over again. even th ough some might sneeringly suggest that that says mor e a bo ut the paucity of American culture than the quality of Leppard 's mu sic. T hey're making money bu t they're embarrassed by it. so that's wh at Joe did . th ey' re middle cla ss.W aiting for th e Man were a bu nch of money grabbing thugs and it detracted from the great strides they'd made on record. For those who liked their rock mu sic clean and simp le. Leppard were the perfect soundtrack to th e perpetual party th at 67 . If you do mak e it big. If money's not there to be enjoye d. America suffers from no such inhibitions. flaunting it was not the don e th ing.one of th e biggest reason s for joining a rock band wa s to get rich. you ' re just ask ing for tr ouble. Their bl uff. W hen you then attack the pr ess's favourite band at th e sa me tim e. yo u sho uld be proud of your hard wo rk. th ey genera lly got the best deals. T he America n Dr eam itself is based on success. th en yo u can. wh at is it for? Nor were the nation's doors closed to those fro m ab ro ad who might add som eth ing to the culture as Def Leppard clearl y did . blunt Yorkshire mann er got them into trou ble on many occa sion s for bands are not rea lly supposed to speak th e truth when it comes to ha rd cas h. Why be em ba rrassed a bo ut it? The answer wa s that in Britain. 'T he Cla sh . It wa s chic to be poor. plea sed that you finall y mad e it a nd revel in yo ur self-creat ed wealth . Ame rica wa s happy to lavish its dollars on Def Leppard and the band were happy to reciprocate by giving th em w hat they wanted .

68 . If the band stood out like a sore thumb in Britain.Def Leppard accompanied the Reagan years as a nation fell in love with itself all over again. taking Leppard to its heart. It was a love affair that had only just begun. America provided ample recompense.

th ey ha d a pretty goo d idea how the st ud io worked and were start ing to rea lize that perh ap s th e availabl e technology wa s not being fully util ized by a ra nge of artists whose mind s were still rooted in 1970 s metho do logy. With new invent ion s and inn ovat ion s co nsta ntly coming on strea m. Pyromania. while their European follow ing had been enhanced by a tour supporting Judas Priest. Touri ng co nsta ntly through to December . The author of th at remark wa s Phil Collen. to replace Pete Willi s. th ey were determined to use th e platform th ey'd built for th emsel ves. with Pete co-writing four 69 .7 FIREPROOF One th ing abo ut success: it keeps you bus y. H aving ma de an artistic breakthrou gh with High 'n 'dry. By th e tim e th ey co nvened at Battle's Park Ga te studios to work on the basic tracks for th e album. th e band wa nte d to tak e a brief sa bbatical at the start of 198 2 in order to prepare material for thei r new reco rd. it was time that somebody turned recording on its head. One member of th e band remarked th at 'we wanted to mak e "Star Wars" for th e ears' . He'd been bro ught into the group during th e recording of their thi rd album. Musically things were still reasonably okay. With two albums under their belt . taking th eir music on to th e next level. it was beco ming increasingly obvious that Willis wa s out of ste p with th e other four. dispe nsed wit h th e conventi on s and approa ched making a record in a sp irit of iconoclastic fervour. They took heart from the warm reception they 'd received in the Sta tes and th e gra d ually increasing media pr ofile th ey'd ea rne d for themselves th ere.

Willis was officially made an ex-Leppard at the start of Jul y 1982. Pyromania contained some of Willis's best mom ents. fuelled by the 70 . For Pete Willis. ' Billy's got a gun ' and. Mensch wasn't going to let them dodge their obligations so easily . the excellent ' Photograph' . Mensch told them where to get off. More importantl y. especially since the decision was based on musical gro unds. felt that afte r all his efforts. it had made little difference to his personality. but still involved as a writer and studio perfor mer ? Much of th e answe r lies in th at nebul ou s quality 'chemistry' . five feet tw o. nor his ab ility to wo rk. so wh y not keep Pete at arm's length . for whi le Steve Clark was still dr inking heavily. He wa s a nasty guy to be around when he was drunk. in particular . according to the others. it's amazing that Def Leppard co uld not find some wa y to acco mmoda te him within the line-up. While cowardly bands habitually hid e behind managers. To his credit. Joe Elliott's version of events was sta rk. He did not believe it was his place to sack Pete. they'd tolerated Joe Elliott's inadequ at e voice for a co up le of years. for he did co ntribute distin ctive guitar work to all the backing tr acks befor e his departure. he deserve d more than just receiving his cards in the post. As a writer t oo . As the sessions wo re on. he felt it was right that Willis should hear it from the men wh o wanted sho t of him. He suffere d from th e classic Little Man syndrome. he began to argue with Lange about the actual recording methods used on Pyromania. to the point wh ere the band ordered Peter Mensch to get rid of him.' Not only did Willis give Lepp ard trouble. has a pint and all of a sudden he's eight foo t nine . forcing them to do their dirty work because the y're ultimatel y just paid emp loyees. Summoning up the courage to do th e deed. given Pete's poor studio attitude. cha nged a lot of things. this wa s not the mo st inte lligent of moves. Whe n Def Lepp ard were five likely lad s back in Sheffield. After all. he could feel justifiabl y happy wit h so ngs like 'Comin' under fire'. 'He was fired becau se he wa s an arsehole when he was drunk. drink had. Parad oxicall y. The pro blems were on a personal level. Pete's presence became increasingly disruptive. Since Lange was at the pinnacle of his profession .Def Leppard songs from the alb um. Whi le he wa s able to produce work of th at ca libre.

A rock group is much more like a soc ial club w here th e level of your abi lity is often far less important th an wheth er or no t you're on good terms wit h yo ur band mates. Pete had mislaid th at origina l intensity and wa s cha nnelling his ene rgies in diffe rent directions. people they can spend time with when th ey're not wo rking or other musos who they've encountered on the roa d and w ho und erstand th e pec uliar demands placed on them. has its ow n jok es. Mor e than that though. the very ro utine th at peopl e ru n away to the rock'n'roll circ us to avo id in the first place. In th e office. Rock ba nds ar e a very peculiar soci al grouping. a guita rist. More than anything else. Th ere are go od operatio na l reasons for this. from W althamstow . By the end of the decade. he was already on decidedly dodgy ground. Everyone knows w hat makes th e others tick. he was a leading light with glam-rockers Girl.Fireproof musketorial principle of 'all for on e and one for all'. yet had never quite managed to make the breakthrough. a group that had always threatened to becom e big. Breaking point came whe n he and the band fell out with one another and ceased to be on friend ly terms. who'd entered Def Leppard's circle was Phil Collen. he'd received his first gu itar as a birthday present in 1973. O ne such musician . its own way of life. factory or sports field. its ow n way of wo rking. It becom es a self-sufficient pack th at scorns th e outside wo rld. a rock gro up is often ru led by th e gang ment ality th at carries kid s throu gh their school years . a common goa l that drove th em on. th e band had that indefinable something. since to uring gro ups tend to live in and o ut of o ne another's pockets for mo nt hs at a stretch and. managers co mpile a team mad e up of th e mos t ta lented people they can att ract given th eir locati on . a gruelling itinerary can quickly degenerat e into an a bso lute nightmare. if there's any an imosity between th e ind ividu als. unlik e any ot her work gro up th at yo u co uld encounter. Born in December 1957. th eir wage structure and so on. As th e band had no pat ienc e with slac kers. th ere are precio us few secrets from one another and intruders are definit ely not welcome. life in a band has to be fun becau se otherwise it's just ano ther job . View ed as too gimmic ky by so me beca use of 71 . Somewhere along th e way. It's only na t ura l t hat musicians cultivate different friendships away from their own ba nd.

No-one could que stion his ability as a guitarist. As a con scientio us and tho roughly profession al manager th ough. As a band co mmitte d to their career. If Higb'n 'dry hadn't br ought quite th e return that Me nsch's investment warranted.000 a week in lost tim e at a point where the gro up was already ha lf a million in debt. Gary Glitter. If yo u' re pushing the boat out th at far. leaving Collen without a job. he was not disma yed. so his d ismissa l mu st ha ve been on M ensch 's mind. he acce pted th at it wa s not his place to change th e group's personnel 72 . yo u have to make really sure there are no holes in th e bottom. Girl had finally been forced to accept the inevitable and had disbanded.if people wanted to hear an y glam rock. Def Leppard were not men wh o were keen on taking needless risks. In the earl y months of 1982. their similarity to the New York Dolls and their garish make-up. remainin g co nfident that their tim e would come. Willi s looked like a potential leak . he decided that the overa ll outlay on Pyromania sho uld be doubled to make ab solutely sure th at th ere was not a single pr ospective record buyer that d id not know all th ere was to know ab out thi s record . others sense darker forces at work.Def Leppard their androgynous behaviour. Collen nipped in through the back to take his place. they were trying to keep alive a form that had already slipped into the twilight world of nostalgia . Synchronicity is indeed a wonderful thing. so a new band in the same vein wa s virtually redunda nt. News of his unemployment soon reached Leppard's ears and while Pete Willi s wa s bein g ushered out of the front door. Willi s had become som ething of a liab ility and. Clark sometimes lacked. th e more so since stories ema na ting fro m th e Leppard ca mp suggested th at his drinking was slow ing things down so badl y it was costing th em up to £ 10. and for that matter. if Leppard were to make the final push towards superstardo m. How strange th en that such a gifted player should come on to the market at th e exact moment when Def Leppard needed a new guitarist. Where some see lucky co incidence. they had to be able to rely on every piece of th e machine doin g its job at all tim es. Searching his own co nscie nce in order to decide whether he had don e all he co uld. Slade and the Sweet were still knocking aro und th e cabaret circuit. for technically he was quite superb with an added depth to his playing that Willi s.

bu t one ca n' t help but feel that had Girl been going from strength to st rength and had Phil not suddenly become ava ilable. wh y would they have even allowed him to start wo rking on th e album. if Willis had become so probl em atical. If that was th e case. Pete Will is would have completed work on Pyromania and join ed th e ba nd for their global trek. If he really had been as incapable of working as the y suggest. For Phil. Lange wa s espe cially pleased with this development. he wa s also kn own to be a keen admirer of Phil Collen's and one is left to wonder whether his name might have occasionally cropped up in con versati on . right at th e beginning of the Pyromania sessions if he hadn't shaped up . not a course of events that implies total dissatisfaction with his co nt ribution. for the traumas clearly pre-dated the recording o f Pyromania? He did survive four months' worth of work on it after all. or complete ineptitude on his part. how was he a ble to co-write four songs? Certainly. The pr incipal players would st renuo usly deny it. the more so as Girl were disintegrating. That's just not their style. but that the y didn't want to take the risk of sacking him wit ho ut having a replacement in min d. the opportunity in Leppard was too good to let slip for as he admitted ' Girl had finally split. Girl's dissolution solved all th eir problems. However. that he was drinking too hea vily. if the y wanted to give him time to sort himself out. for he was impressed by Collen's ability and with his willingness to work hard in the studio . th e whole balance of the band might hav e been fatall y disrupted. 73 . the y might have been unable to find a suita ble repl acem ent. The official version of events says that Willi s's co nduct was beyond redemption. I got a call out of the blue from Jo e asking me to take over from Pete Willis and I was so content just to be back in a band aga in' . The fact s suggest th at th e band wanted Pete out. sacking a founder member midway through ma king th e album th ey hoped would make their fortun es would hav e been unthinka ble. For a band that likes to eliminate risks and play th e perc entages. th e chemistry with som e unknown new bo y might not ha ve wo rked. yet accounts from the group sa y that th e problems with him were at their worst on the road.Fireproof and so he kept his own counsel. the time to sack him would have been at the end of the 19 8 1 to ur o r. I was alm ost penniless.

for now the last impediment to Leppard 's success had been removed. Record pluggers were briefed. he and Burnstein had not been idle. With the mu sical ob stacles removed. Like Queen had done ten years earlier. Leppard were forgivably bulli sh a bo ut their new product.Def Leppard Co llen's invo lvement with Pyromania began in July as the gro up moved from Park Gate to the more familiar env ironment of Battery Studios in London to begin overdubbing. those punters could find no such reasons to leave Pyromania on th e rack s. For a further five months. Joe's objective opinion being that 'I serio usly th ink Pyromania is one of the best recorded LPs I've ever heard. for it was here that the new Def Leppard sound was rea lly constructed. every line was considered. The vast swathes of sound that had so distin guished so ngs like 'Bringing on the heartbreak' on High 'n 'dry were deployed once again. If Joe's rasping vocal s had put off likel y buy ers in the past. it was left to Mensch to take care of business and make sure that all the promotional tools were in pla ce. every note. Fo r several weeks. Joe Elliott now possessed a fine rock'n'roll lar ynx with an impressive ran ge to boot. Wh ile th e band had been recording for nine months. but it wa s not without a pri ce. Elliott's voice simply packed up under the stra in and it wasn't until after he'd flown to see a specalist in New York that he was able to complete work on the album. With all th e basic tracks down. for his voice continued to improve at an alarming rate. it was here that Lange's expertise was especially important. from a son ic sta ndpoint at least. We kn ew th ere had to be a better way'. we rewrote the rul e book on how to make rock music in 1983 with Pyromania. Nev er on es to hide their light under a bushel. Phonogram alerted to th e qua lity and ground-breaking nature of th e album. The culmination of thi s huge phy sical and mental effort wa s a record the like of which. Buttressed by those trademark backing vocals. reconsidered. Joe in particular had reason to applaud the results. rew orked and refined. The effort had to be wo rth it though. putting in an equally awe some number of hours on th e co mmercial side of things. video directors approached with a view to 74 . but this time with yet greater style and con viction. had not been hea rd before. Lange's quest for perfection had clearly brought th ings ou t that he didn't believe he had in him.

plan ned with th e sa me attent ion to det a il th at Lan ge app lied to his production duties. We spent nine months on and off doi ng the albu m and getti ng everything exactly rig ht. it didn't sound like a record that had taken th e best part of a yea r to crea te. They had not recou ped th e sizea ble sum t hey had pumped into High'n'dry and were de term ined to mak e sure that the same did not happen agam. th ere were sugges tio ns that Leppard were little more than puppets. probabl y th e most asto unding thing about Pyromania was th at in many w ays. With such powerful persona lities as Mensch and Lange on th e team. It wasn' t a clear-cu t attempt at turni ng us into th e biggest thing since sliced bread . fronting an enormous organization.' The songs were undenia bly st ro ng. 'Pyromania is a grea t record . certain ly the best body of work they'd yet prod uced. da ncing to their tune. Everything was in hand. We had a fair idea that the material we had prepared was stro ng enough to bea t High'n 'dry but to be hon est it ca me as a rea l shock to find us top three in America all th rou gh th e summe r. It was an accusa tion tha t rankled. a ll grea t tunes. in one way or another. so we did ha ve everyth ing geared up for its release. incl uding the business side of things. but th e plain truth was that it was the level of product ion th at pro pelled Pyrom an ia into th e histo ry books. th e res ults a re o ften horribl y 75 . W ha t is overlooked is the fact th at Def Leppard we re very much part of tha t producti on. with Steve Cla rk especially vociferous in his attempts to put t he record straight.Fire proof getting clips o n the im minent MTV ca ble cha nnel. local radi o stations across th e States plied with promotion al item s leading up to th e release of th e album . It was in th e top ten in America before we'd even promoted it! We d id go for th is one correctly right from the word go bu t no matter how lon g we spent getting the prod uction right. th ey co ntr ibuted ideas in the stu dio. Oddly th ou gh . you ca n't deny th e fact th at th ey are. t hey had wr itten th e ba sic so ngs. T he whole process wa s a team effo rt as mos t o f th e great albums are. When an art ist is in th e studio for such a prolonged peri od . idea s which Lan ge's kno w-how t urn ed into rea lity .

that opened up the spaces for embellishment with those dripping. I do n' t wa nt to prowl ar ound th e stage all stern and gri m-faced. leavin g just th e kernel of the original idea. swee ping up die-hard opponents in its wake. if rather bombastic. sound aside. I just got the feeling th at th ings we re becoming too po-fa ced. Th e extensive preparation time the y'd allowed th emsel ves was not wa sted either. ' Rock of ages' was cra mmed full of rock' n' roll cliches. As far as the basics went. everything had been pared right back to th e minimum. Part of th e allure was that.Def Leppard laboured. it read like a Gary Glitter tr ibute. too serio us . In turn. a mindless stomp that was goo d fun. lacking in excitement or a spark of life. it was apparent that something had changed. for th e highly original. not unlike the co d-operatic struc tures used on Meat Loaf's Bat out of hell.you can't enter tai n peopl e unle ss yo u' re enjoying what yo u' re doing yourself. it wa s a model of eco no my in man y ways. put our tongues in our cheeks slightly. played well and played confidently can carryall befor e it. driving roc k music. but very much apart from the rest of th e music which was determ ined to make its mark. removed totally fro m the real world. for th e early months of 1982 had seen th em honing every song. the epic dynamics of 'A night at th e op era'. ' Small wonder th at he was moved to add 'I'd say Iron M aiden. Fro m th e very first chords on th e album. It succeeded in lightening the ton e as Joe explained: 'We wanted to bring a littl e bit of fun back int o it. Leppard weren't afraid to inject a little humour int o their songs . wa s that Pyromania had th e stamp of classic Queen a bo ut it. A greate r compliment yet and one wh ich th e band wo uld settle for. cutting away the excesses. drastically and for th e better. Pyromania did not smack of self-indulgence. The atmosphere and the scale th at leapt o ut of th e grooves gave early warn ing th at Def Leppard had taken a quantum leap into the unknown and had bene fited from th e experience. th e joyo us exu berance of 'A da y at th e races'. again like Queen in th eir heyda y. Saxon and our selves are th e Sweet of tod ay! T here are definite comparisons'. over the top harmonies to tak e centre sta ge. Love it or loathe it. removing the over-playing th at had so cluttered th e pre viou s albums. even if it was in th e for m of dumb studio in-jokes such as 'Roc k of ages'. Almost a decade 76 . This was th e goal th at Leppard wanted to attain.

fortunately. The idea th at wo men were there to entertain the likes of Mr Elliott wa s Neanderthal in th e extreme. Pyromania wa s light years ahe ad of On thr ough the night and it was hard to credit th at the same ban d had made both recordings. If thi s was a plea for 77 . but in February 1983 such clarity of sound was highly unu sual. Joe informing the world that ' it's about women who com e backstage after shows. ' Rock! rock! (till you drop )' wa s a case in point where th e crystal clear production had to do battle with the sort of sex ist ru bbish that wa s continuin g to give rock a bad name. . but they sho uld have died with him in 1980. things just change. we have never tailored our mu sic fo r th e radi o.Fireproof and a half later the chiming guitars. the choruses more memorabl e. We're writing better songs. 'If you listen to our first album and then our third and yo u can't tell th e difference. We've got more experience . th ou gh a few traces remained. the y don't wanna know any more. It happens all the time'. Even Joe was surprised by the distanc e th ey'd travelled in so short a space of time. the melodies we re clearer. They're either completely ab ysmal or ab solutely brilliant' . 'Stagefright' would not win an y pri zes for int ellect ual enlightenment either. The school of 19 79 wa s now but a fading mem ory. th e cra shing drums all sound a little old hat for they've been so regularly and so slavishly copied. ra dio was attracted to the new Def Leppard simply because the new Def Leppard wa s more attractive. Joe suggested th at ' I don't honestly believe an ybody takes them seriously or tak es any real notice of them. Th e production 's better. 'Comin' under fire' wa s a case in point for it centred around th e very simplest of guitar riffs wh ich ushered the song into a ma ssive cho rus . Bon Scott could get awa y with th ese lyrics. then yo u sho uldn' t be listening to hard rock music anyway. We 're perform ing th e so ngs better. With all extraneous material chopped awa y. . notably amid the atrocious qual ity of th e lyrics. They show you their wares and then when you take them as far as they want to go. Joe adding probably his best vocal performance to date to crow n a track that no other member of the NWOBHM could ever have performed.' Even so. the shining vocals. they mov e on. though th e lyrical thrust was. larg ely lost beneath th e huge wall of sound. the tunes easier to follow. No pri zes for guessing which.

a sumptuous. chugging rhythm. Sensibly. 'Billy's got a gun' was obviously in the same mould. Where Leppard really had learned their craft was in the pacing of the set. 'Kashmir' opening. providing the basis for a superb guitar solo. notably on 'Slippery when wet'. handling more complex atmospheres. overshadowed again by the musical accompaniment which defied criticism. If that was good. very light. Though Def Leppard may have dreamed of replacing Led Zeppelin via such songs as 'Billy's got a gun'. the run off groove at the end of side two was filled with industrial noise. 'Action. 'Photograph' was peerless. building slowly into an epic from a brooding. it was an obvious hit with 'Top Ten ' written all over it. With songs like 'Die hard the hunter'. they provided it. the bluesy introduction adding another element to the sound mix. it fell on deaf ears. The rhythm section was tight and powerful.Def Leppard sympathy with the star's plight. it was clearly elsewhere that their real talents lay. Those backing vocals stole the show once more. very poppy. laying down the plans that Bon Jovi would later expand upon. akin to something that U2 might have put on Zooropa a decade later. To make a record stand out from the crowd of releases. tackling bigger lyrical subject matter. Clearly. it needs something that is original or idiosyncratic. much the best that Leppard had so far recorded. In the same fashion. the whirling sound effects offering something different from the competition. the middle section all the more aggressive and potent in contrast. the following year. warm guitar line crowning a gorgeous chorus. based on an obsessive fascination with Marilyn Monroe. very enjoyable. not words' was a lovely example of the genre. commercial mainstream pop at its sublime best. it needs to be something of an event. Huge drums. It said much for the way that Leppard were treated in the UK that it only reached number 66 when. Van Halen 78 . lyrically intriguing. memorably coloured by the most attractive guitar figure. songs like this were Leppard's stab at achieving the legendary status they coveted. its delicacy of touch and intimate introduction offering brief respite from the emotional clout of 'Die hard the hunter' . As a band they were at their best when delivering classic hard edged pop as Mott the Hoople or Slade had done before them. they chose not to insist on using the wide screen on every song and were happy to loosen things up on 'Foolin".

Geoff Barton made it clear that this was their finest moment: '[I'm] astonished by th e Def ones new fo und maturity. venture d to the Marquee to catch their first da te. To be fair. awe. pea king at num ber seven.Fireproof cloned 'Photograp h' and the resu lting 'Jump' single spent weeks on the survey. the Def Leppard line-up had remained intact. "Photograph" is a pop-rocker that ough t to tak e th e charts by storm. his bright yet economic guitar style did add a new dimension to the sound. able also to offer wise counsel about the way promising groups could fail to fulfil their 79 . the pre ss realized just how good Lep pard now were. He 's given them the maturit y they've always lacked . Co llen injected new impetus into things.. noting that it ' pro ved Collen's wo rth to the band. to write and perform together as a unit . Kemp's analysis was apposite. the Leppard think tank.' His view of Collen was unerringly acc ura te. but it was his perspective on the group as an outsider that was so very valuable. An unashamed fan of glarn. not a renowned supporter of Leppard in th e pas t. Bringing in Co llen was a breath of fresh air. While outside influences like Lange and Mensch were helpful. all the habits the y'd fallen into. That was th e grea t probl em that Leppard still had to overcome. fitted in to the itinerary to give Phil Co llen a chance to debut live out of the full glare of the spotlight. . No amount of persuasion co uld. at this stage. a cata lyst th at made them question every aspect of the band. In his rave four star review in Sounds (oddly the same rati ng as On through the night. Only th ose five knew what it was like to be on stage toge ther.' Melody Maker's Nick Kemp. re-eval ua te all tha t they were doing. but they were simply too close to the band to be properly objective about what the y were doing. all five musicians having been together from a time way before their first ever gig. For four years. I' m with Def Leppa rd every stra tospheric centimetre of their rio to us rock'n'r oll re-entry. reeling from the soaring grandeur of the song arrangements. persuade them otherwise.. for while they were producing th e very best of straightforward classic American rock. th eir home audience on ly wanted to hear th at kind of song fro m rea l Americans. It's an old tru ism. even they coul d never be pa rt of the inner sanctum.struck by the sheer brooding atmos pherics of Mutt Lange's masterful production . one less than High 'n'dryi..

I'd for sake being able to walk do wn Oxford Street for succcess in England an y day'. we're losing a hecku va lot of money here. If we were onl y in it for th e money like so me peopl e think. Despite their global success. Def Leppard bring ano ther dimension th at th eir recorded work mer ely hints at. T he reality is th at America's paying for us not to be big in Britain at th e mom ent . 'deep down. It's ridicul ou s. Sensing that Pyromania would fare little better than High 'n'dr y. we' re still 80 . Simo n Scott reviewed the Birm ingh am Odeon gig. 'Peo ple ha ven 't go t the dou gh to see bands like us out of inte rest like they used to in th e old days. that's £10. Not that th e UK gigs were treated lightl y. damning them with faint praise: ' O n stage. it wa s good commercial sense to use the UK as a warm-up for th e real tests that were to come on the arena stages in America .. things still hadn't cha nged when th ey returned for a few Christmas shows. Leppard could then jet into th e States like conquering heroes. we'd say "No way! " We wouldn' t pla y one gig her e and we' d be £5 0. It wa s a strategy that worked to per fection . th en faced with th at kind of finan cial disaster.000 just by playing eleven gigs. . . It remained a sizeab le priorit y for them but it still pr oved an impossible nut to crac k. Th is could be seen as loyalty to th e old home.000 eac h .Def Leppard potential. they were only able to pla y eleven UK dates through February and M arch with Rock Goddess in support . They were still st uck on the Odeon circuit. with venues ranging between 150 0 and 3000 seats in size. we'd love to be big in Britain. They save th eir mon ey for th e big tours like A C/D C or Queen. but it was more likely another piece of shrewd business planning. Pyromania reaching the T op Ten on the Billboard survey befo re th e band had played a gig in suppo rt of it. We' re going to lose £5 0.' Joe ca nd idly admitted that finan cially at least. giving them the first chance to see the show. UK gigs followed hard on the heels of the release of Pyromania. atthis mom ent. Helping steer them away from the traps was as much a part of Collen's input as his unquestionable skill as writer and player.000 better off. Pyrom ania edging up to number eighteen in th e album chart. for as Joe made clear. delaying their arrival in America would give the promotion al machine the time to build the album into the monster success every body wanted and expected. . At th e same time. As a co nseq uenc e. th ey were on to a loser.

Ultimat ely. In marketing. 20 .AOR heavyweights Asia had been forced to can cel shows because of the econ om ic downturn and th e consequentl y depressed market . a singer wh o went on stage with a calculator and a till roll so that during th e instrumental break s he co uld tot up the evenin g's receipts. male or female . They we re the hottest ticket wherever the y we nt.000.' N othing machi avellian in that. 9. explaining that th ey wer e not rolling in it. Such an attitude wa s a total irrelevan ce in th e States where only th e quality of th e mu sic was an issue. playing to pack ed auditorium s of 10.000.Leppard pro ved to be fireproof. Pyromania clocked up ninety-two straight weeks on th e Billboard chart and six million album sales in the US alone. making him appear more and morelike an accountant. including tw o wee ks at number two behind Michael Jackson's Thriller. suchcomments had the opposite effect. their boyfriend s th e second category. it wa s simply th at many saw th e hard rock bands as too loud or too simpli stic or th eir audience as too threatening to get involved with whil e at the other end of the spectrum.Fireproof in debt. though obviously that situation's changing rapidly. American soft roc k wa s simply too soporific for rock'n'roll fan s to bear. had a band they could enjoy with their friends. but hard rock had long since prided itself in being 81 . firmly establishing it as one of th e landmark rock recordings. for it was a given tha t you wo uld want to mak e money out of yo ur talents. In a recession hit market . giving couples a shared interest whil e singles. Co llen put his finger on the key to Leppa rd's success they offered people something they couldn't get elsewhere: 'There was a hu ge great gap between REO Speed wa gon and Van Halen and we just happened to fit that area perfectly. Girls made up much of the first group. What Def Lepp ard provided wa s a band that th ey could enjoy unconditionally. tr ying to help them understand their situation.000 or more. Success doesn 't come mu ch bigger. 'recession-proof' as Elliott termed it. those demographics stacked up just perfectly.' Th ough Elliott was merel y tr ying to inform th eir UK fan s.4 million worldwide. It's a remarkable thing. W ith th e added impet us given to Pyromania by th eir exte nsive touring schedu le. it's down to a knowledge of demographics and for Leppard. 15. it spent mo st of the summer in the top three.

These were developments that plainly perplexed Elliott as he frankly confessed in the late eighties. We're got just ugly enough faces not to worry the lads and in America. something that is simple verse chorus. Def Leppard's metal lite was the perfect wa y to wind down and relax. 'We've managed to get away with murder on the cross-over factor.Def Leppard an all-male preserve. You can end up with a ninety-five per cent female audience who you know aren't going to be there next year unless you put out another hit single. verse chorus. but with most rock bands. For the boys. but for the industry as a whole. welcoming everyone in for a huge party. concert-going was still a prospect that could fill the strongest stomach with foreboding. Leppard turned gigs into celebratory occasions.don't lose your hardcore fans. but true nonetheless. Suddenly girls started to buy their records in real quantities too which had an enormous impact on their sales. Why restrict yourself to fifty per cent of the possible audience when you can appeal to everyone? A few rock groups such as Queen and Thin Lizzy. trading on Phil Lynott's roguish charm. Def Leppard blazed a trail that had seemingly never occurred to anyone else and changed the face of rock marketing in the process.' Nevertheless. Leppard's lyrics were little better than that while some of Joe's comments on the fairer sex were hardly couched in the most seductive of language: 'Rule One . getting girls to the gigs and to buy the records was a sensible move. We get Vietnam vets who stand unembarrassed next to a sixteen year-old girl that's wetting her knickers. excluding girls except in the role of groupies. Bon Jovi don't get that. we still get kids in Metallica T-shirts at our gigs. there are times when you want something a little easier on the ears than Led Zeppelin. There was no stigma attached to listening to Pyromania as there was if you admitted to a penchant for Saga or Toto.' Inelegantly and unchivalrously put. or prepare yo urself for an evening with Ted Nugent. This may not have been as important to the fans or critics as a musical breakthrough such as Revolver or The Velvet Underground & Nico. something you can sing along to enjoy without having your ears bleed from the effort. to the industry's movers and shakers such as Mensch. it opened up new vistas that 82 . had managed to bring a greater proportion of girls to the concert hall. Leppard were still a band with an edge.

Best Male Singer. Top Live Act. th e massed ranks of American yo uth were awash with the Union flag tha t th eir forebears had fou ght so hard to have rem oved from th eir so il 200 years previously! By the end of 1983 with a solid yea r of touring behind them. it was simple common sense of the sort they'd em ploye d right from th e off. yo u have to work for th e compan y as Joe ex plained .' The most bizarre manifestation of Def Leppard's incr edible love affair with the American people came in th eir stage wea r. you get up and yo u do so me phone interv iews. the American Music Awards. If yo u wa nt th e co mpa ny to work for you . Within weeks. W hen the votes were counted. That earned plenty of cynica l criticism. thi s spawned cop ycat dressing a mongst their ardent fan s and then a new line in merch andise. tr avel by bus or plane to the venue and the n ma ybe tw o o r three o f us will go to the radio stations. 'It is a machin e and I see it first hand . Som etimes we might have to do the "meet and greet" after th e show o r do a lat e night radio int er view to o. Some wi ll be quite adventurous and some will be in 83 . but in reality. In the States. in spo rt ing Unio n J ack T -shirts and shorts . They were willing to co-o perate with th eir record company to an unprecedented extent. About eight. with Leppard portrayed as a band th at would roll ove r at th e sight of a dollar sign. we have th e " mee t and greet" where yo u put on your smiley face. they won awards as Top Grou p. or revenge. Phil 's contr ibut ing much more in the writing department and we' ve go t some great ideas.Fireproof helped tr ansform rock'n'roll int o the avowedl y co rpo rate institution it is today. voted for by the public. We're one of th e few th at act ua lly put up with a nything they want us to do beca use we feel we need to. Not that the band were shy of th e corporate implication s of their work. We're not going to repeat th e formula. underli ned Leppard's pre -eminence and the valu e o f such a strong work ethic. do ph otos a nd a utograp hs for a while. second best tour. Where do yo u go from there? According to Steve Clark 'there's still room for lot s of impro vement. Top LP Sleeve. Top Ma le Sex Object (Elliott). th ey took so lace. When the touring finall y came to a halt late in the year. Rejected by Britain. Then it's off to the venue and I can have maybe thirty or fortyfive minutes to myself before we go on stage. Top LP.

By then.' Though they were on top of the world as 1983 came to a close. We're more concerned with developing our potential than cloning our past. the pressures of following up a hit would seem irrelevant. it would be close to four years before that next recording would be released.Def Leppard the typical Leppard tradition. Real life would come crashing down on the kings of good time rock'n'roll. 84 .

though how they reconciled that po sition with Rick 85 . th ey'd be happy to bu y the next one. There again .. check straight into a studio and repeat the whole process within twelve months.. pro viding it measured up to the same standards. It should have all been so straightforward reall y. you should flog it to death on the road. leaving it four yea rs was pushing the public's patience to extremes . they felt that if nine million people had bought Pyromania an d loved it. Def Leppard being on e such band. Otherwise. They had taken a house there once the tour had ended in February 1984. whenever it was out. the audience with its legend ar y minute attention span will have moved on to something else. Fo rt una tely. many artists have a rather higher opinion of th eir fans th an th e executives do. none of the band we re resident in England.' Hence the y opted for tax exile in a country that is famed for its relaxed attit ude towards artists of every kind. During a well deserved break after taking Pyromania to the world.a lot more money . the band settled down to pre-production in Dublin. The progression from High'n 'dr y to Pyromania showed that th ey were on th e top of their form and the partnership with Mutt Lange seemed to ha ve plenty left in it. By now. Sensi bly.8 ANIMAL MAGIC Standard music business lore ha s it that once yo u've mad e an exceptionally successful album.than we did for Pyromania and we just didn't agree with that. another controversial mo ve that merely enhanced their reputation for looking after the pennies as Joe explained: 'The government got more money .

Clearly Def Leppard were not Lan ge's pet studio project. listen to all th e tap es and select the best material for further work at the studio th ey'd booked in Hil versum . H aving followed Forei gner' s 4 with High 'n 'dr y and th en Pyromania. Such an obsessive qu est had to take a toll on his nerves and by the tim e he reached Dublin.' H ow had Lange come to be such an important member of the 86 . always looking for the tini est detail that might be letting down a song. th e recording and rehear sal faciliti es expanding rapidly there as a new musica l infras tru cture grew up aro und th e success of U2. H aving writte n mat erial both separately and togeth er. 'Mutt dropp ed th e bombshell that he co uldn't do the album.but especially to the English first and for emost because we are English. Rick Savage was qui ck to accep t th at . Lange was und er the mo st int ense pr essur e. H olland. N aivete aside.' Not a respo nsibility th at extended to swelling the coffers of the Exchequer th at paid out the dole mon ey to some of their fans though. th ose crucia l early days degenerat ed into disaster as it became apparent to one and all that Mutt Lang e was in no fit state to continue working with them. Nevertheless.Def Leppard Savage's views on home was not recorded: 'We have a responsibility to English people . H is alm ost insa ne dr ive for perfection meant th at all th e time he was wo rki ng. Very quickly. H e is a perfectionist and that's why his records so und so good. he was alr ead y in a state of virtua l collapse.to ever ybody who likes you . T he Cars' album rea lly took a lot o ut of him and he said he wasn't ready to spen d another year in th e studio'. he wo uld have had no raw material with which to work . he's a great producer and I do n' t think anybody in their right mind sho uld turn him down. saying 'Mutt is one of th e main reason s that Def Leppard are successful. Dublin provided an excellent base fro m which to wo rk. As Joe recalled. producing Heartbreak city for th e Ca rs. the band had to conce de that Mutt had been an essential ingredient in th eir meteoric rise over th e previou s three years. for if they had not been goo d songwriters and stro ng per for mers. he had becom e em bro iled in another mammoth proj ect. Bombshell was th e right word for having to emba rk on such an impo rta nt album pr oject witho ut their men tor at the reco rding conso le was a daunting prospect. the plan was to get togeth er in Augu st with Mutt.

Casting aro und for possible alternatives to Lange. the more so since st udio time was alrea dy booked. Such a task requi res a phenomenal mem ory as well as an abso lute understand ing of each song. as he had a world tour of his ow n to start in February 1985. exa mine them and then piece it back together. Obviou sly the truth is often very diffe rent . With Lange now so clearl y out of th e equation. he is doing precisely th e oppos ite. including Phil Co llins. each piece put togeth er in isola tion to th e rest so th at it's not until the w ho le thing's finished that you ca n see how it will work . ma ny nam es were suggested. O f course. Certainly Def Leppard do stand acc used of having too mu ch polish when a little spit might have served th em better . so it' s littl e wo nder th at Lange's work was so ex hausting. to breathe sponta neity. Lang e has his cr itics.it's sti ll a car. th e melody migh t lack a little punch. to believe th at it isthe greatest four minutes' worth of mus ic ever heard and th at it will spend months at op th e cha rts and yea rs in people's hearts. those w ho believe that by disrupting th e ori ginal spark.the track may be too lon g.No Jacket Required . One of Lange's greatest gifts was to break eac h and every so ng int o its smallest constituent pa rts. yo u always know where yo u' re ult imatel y goi ng. almost like stripping down a car engine and rep lacing any dubious components with th e best you can get unti l you've t urn ed a Ford Co rt ina into a Ferrari .highl y skilled . That was a shame in many ways.Animal Magic team? In the recording process. Def Leppard were left in a corner. or at least been more interesting. he was avai lab le but. like Lange. If yo u've wri tten a so ng.nearing co mpletio n. th e natural inclination is to t reat it like your ow n chi ld. for 87 . but an eno rmo us improvement. Leppard felt they would be compromised by having to co mp lete an album in such a relatively short space of tim e. Joe compar ed it with th e product ion of a feature film. On th e ot her hand . th e bridge may be too deri vat ive. one should never under-estima te th e value of ano ther .pair of ears from outsi de th e gro up. W it h a solo album . th e guitar solo could be too indulgent. th is is a fascinating meth od of working. nin e million sa les of Pyromania suggest that plenty of people would back th e ba nd and th e producer in their ques t for perfection. There are many who prefer th eir rock' n'roll to have a ro ugh edge. If. to include mistake s. particularly if a band is still in its rela tive infancy and is consequently unfam iliar with th e recording process.

If Mutt Lange had had very clear and defined ideas as to what Leppard should sound like. that album had indicated that Steinman was very definitely the power behind the ample throne. while his belief in not losing the : initial spirit of a song would have been a striking contrast to Pyromania and all the more interesting for that. the most obvious reference point was Meat Loaf. arguing that the intimacy of Collins' method would be out of place in the arenas that they were playing and in the songs that they were writing. Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell had been every bit as all-encompassing and sonically overwhelming as Pyromania. vocals and effects. while simultaneously attempting to impose his vision on them too. The complete opposite of Lange. Steinman later accused the band of lacking intelligence and of being incapable of 88 . Much of the credit for that sound had to go to writer and producer Jim Steinman who. taking it on into the 1980s. later in a full-scale recording facility. well alongside Leppard's songs. With its melodramatic flavour and epic operatic construction. 'Jim Steinman was genuinely interested and seemed to have the credentials at the time.' He seemed the obvious candidate and so the band moved into Wisseloord Studios. It's been noted already that while in many respects. Steinman's tastes and those of the group did not dovetail so happily and the result was regular conflict between the two parties. As Joe pointed out. his work with the likes of Bonnie Tyler on 'Total eclipse of the heart' merely underscoring the fact. they remained committed to the large-scale production. adding further instrumentation. There was no meeting of minds. Working that way might have been a refreshing change for Leppard. The search was still on for a suitable producer. Similarly over the top. Bad for Good. proper drums and vocals. Pyromania updated Queen's work.Def Leppard Collins' instinctive grasp of radio friendly pop would have worked. featuring layer upon layer of studio trickery. The sessions were shambolic. in the aftermath of that success. someone who was musical and technical. However. produced his own solo record. they were empathic with the band's own goals. Steinman imposing his method of working on the band. Hilversum to begin work with him. Collins has such an attachment to the original writing sessions that he often uses his home demos as the basic backing track for a song.

Yet once the y had him. experiment and look for a differ ent approach as had been the case when th ey changed from Allom to Lan ge for High'n'Dry . with a good engineer on board.ha ve th e same methodology. bringing in Nigel Green. That reflects well on Def Leppa rd's drive to mak e an album the y could sta nd behind.certainl y no tw o such successful and highl y indi vidualistic producers . an impossibility. allowing him to overdub later. for no two producers . their intran sigence betrayed both inflexibility and a lack of confidence. chose to produce th e 89 .Animal Magic playing songs together in the studio. In a nutshell. hen ce the engagement of Steinman. Steinman wa s sacked and all th e wo rk done so far consigned to the bin at huge cost. Mutt Lan ge himself had tried to instil th e belief into the band that they did not need him aro und any longer. If you call in a new producer. Lange's engineer. th ey appa rently expected him to work in precisely the same way th at Lange had . tot ally reliant on th e sound through ma sses and masses of overdubs in th e orc hestral sense rather th an in the tight sense whi ch we were used to doing. they sho uld have learned enough to produce themselves. For their part. We listened to wh at we'd done . Leppard's whole appro ach to the Steinman sessions betrayed a lack of adventurousness that belied their avowed desire to break new ground again. However. it does call into question th eir attitude to the studio. th at ind eed. didn 't like any of it and scrapped the lot. ' By Novemb er. It was clear that the band did not share th ose views. it should be becau se you wa nt to stretch out. 'It wa s a Meat Loaf album. 'after a co uple of months. we realized we were just making a substanda rd version of Pyromania' according to Elliott. for if they were solely motivated by money. plenty of tim e to pick up th e tricks of the trade. the band went back to Mutt' s advic e an d. Stuck in Holland. feeling that they should record 'live'. for though Steinma n obviously was not the right man for the job. the y could ha ve ru shed the Steinman product out for February 1985 and still sold in the regio n of five or six million off the back of Pyromania. Leppard found Steinman dictatorial and completely at sea when working on material that he had not had a hand in writing and were alarmed by his refusal to allow them to follow the step-by-step recording pr actices the y'd evolved with Lange. They had spent a full year in the studio with Lange after all.

the second. Allen tried to overtake. In a protracted operation. The impact was shattering. he was on the critical list. merely laying the ground rules and rehearsing some material. the first person on the scene was a local nurse. Freed of what they felt had been Steinman's disruptive presence. they set to work with a vengeance. Miraculously. another nurse who was driving by. It's an old tradition to look forward to a new year. they split up for Christmas with renewed optimism. with Rick hurled through the windscreen with such force that his left arm was sheared off by the restraining seatbelt. Def Leppard's new year saw their problems only just beginning. looking forward to resuming work in earnest on 3 January 1985. for they were hit by tragedy. Savage taking] on the mantle of responsibility. they arranged for him to be rushed to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield where microsurgeons operated almost immediately. hoping that Rick would pull through. overseeing the production and ! cracking the whip accordingly. In a moment of madness. we heard a massive improvement right away'. All worries about making records went out of the window as they feared 90 . less seriously injured. By now. The Corvette clipped a wall on the bend. fortunately. Driving to his parents' home in Sheffield along with Dutch girlfriend Miriam Barendsen in his distinctive and very powerful Corvette Stingray. for though his arm was clearly the main source of concern. Miriam was. packing the severed arm in ice. Rick Allen and the driver of an Alfa Romeo became involved in a fairly juvenile argument. not seeing a left hand bend in the road since the Stingray was a left-hand drive vehicle.DefLeppard album themselves. the arm was reattached. receiving some heavy bruising. as though a mere change in the calendar will somehow magically usher in a brand new world where all your problems can be put behind you. the atmosphere improved almost at once and Joe felt that 'once we brought in Nigel and got down to it. In the few weeks that remained before the. They were able to calm the still-conscious Allen and. news of Rick's accident was starting to reach the rest of the group and each spent a traumatic and dismal New Year's Eve lost in their own thoughts. ~ Christmas break. flew out of control and rolled over. Although they'd not really got going as yet. the other driver surging past and then holding Allen up.

' When his medicati on wa s redu ced and he regained norm al co nsc iousness. pointing o ut th at 'when so mething like th at happens. a band th at prided itself on th e pr ecision of its so und. An infecti on set in a nd th e medica l staff we re left with no alternat ive but to a mputa te. it beca me clear th at the o peratio n had no t succeeded . understandabl y ga ining little consolat ion fro m th e new s that his life was no lon ger in dan ger and that he wo uld mak e a full reco ver y. an industr y. The cha nces of act ua lly being a ble to play in a profession al ro ck band such as Def Leppard. like maki ng nuts and bolts. for even Holl ywood would have to think twice befor e daring to produce a script so co rny.' It' s sca rce ly cr edible. playing th e drums since I was ten yea rs old ha s pr etty much been my life'. but it was Def Leppard th at pull ed Allen through . so th e fut ure was indee d bleak. mu sic becom es as imp ortant as Kleenex toilet rolls.. If I'd been doing any othe r kind of job . playing drums agai n was an as pira t ion rather than merely a matter o f time. What kind of a recove ry wo uld it be. Th ou gh th e arm had been successfully sewn bac k a nd was thank fully free fro m any furt her in jury. As he told Sounds 'i f I hadn 't been in Def Leppard th en I would have been out on a limb . th e band that had been his life for seven years ? 'I had my usual pile of tap es w ith me and I'd hear the drums and think " I used to do th at " . a job. Bands w it h one-a rmed drum mers we re few and far between . Allen was kept und er sedation a nd later revealed 'I wa s never awa re th at th ey tri ed to put the arm back on a nd I'm glad I didn't find out until later o n.Animal Magic for th eir friend's life.. it's fuck all. It wa s aw ful. seemed littl e mor e th an a pipe dr eam.th e ab solute minimum req uireme nt for a dr ummer is usuall y a full compleme nt of arms a nd legs. I ca n' t reall y co unt . Joe mad e it clear where their pr ior ities lay. 91 . in th e days imm edi atel y followin g th e cras h. It's nothing.. 'scuse th e pun! The rest o f th e boys we re my lifelin e. The dam age inflicted on th e tissue ha d been far too ex tensive for th e arm to fun cti on agai n. th is is th e only th ing I' ve ever been a ble to do . wh at kind of life would it be if he had to quit th e ba nd. he was devastat ed by his 'disa bled' sta te. When yo u put it in perspecti ve. Even so . I'm not to o bright. ove r the co urse of th e nex t couple of days. H ere was a guy wh o might die. . he was on th at critical list fo r 4 8 hours'.

but at the same time. Sessions in Hilversum were. surrounded by letters and gifts from well-wishers. sombre. All his advantages were of little consolation to Rick at a time when he could onl y think that his career had come to a close. His friends in the band were equally distraught. better news began to filter through. we read in the papers of someone who has suffered similarly horrendous injuries and is then consigned to a life at the margins of society. He was one-fifth of a group with more than ten million album sales to its name. If it came to the point where he could not work again. the opportunity to retrain and learn other skills and the certainty of a place within Leppard's operations should he want it. Clark and Collen wrapping themselves around a bottle or two in their Parisian apartments. Rick and the Leppard organization had the financial wherewithal to enable him to rehabilitate properly after the crash. materially. Savage and Elliott visited Allen and were amazed to find him in relativel y good heart. inevitably. things moved slowly . though of course they all continued to pay flying visits to him . Allen had completed most of the backing tracks before Christmas. he remained in an enviable position. while confined to their homes. though they tried to throw themselves into their work as a means of taking their mind off his plight. Accompanied by his pile of cassettes. He would be able to have the use of the best medical and psychological care that money could buy. Month after month. although that would be a grievous blow to his self-esteem and would rob him of his greatest passion. Fortunately. As January wore on. His courage and determination are not iri'l doubt and will be dealt with later. eking out an existence on meagre invalidity benefits. Allen has been lauded as a beacon of heroism in a-1 dark and cowardly world. Elliott remembering that he wept until his eyes were drained. In that sense. after all. so there was plenty to get on with but. it would not leave him destitute. let's get things into perspective. Although it looked very much as though his livelihood had gone. On the same point.Def Leppard Over the years. Rick had begun 92 . the fearful blow was somewhat cushioned. Savage recalling an evening spent in stunned silence. Rick ultimately received around half a million letters from all over the globe and these helped his spirits when he was left in the hospital while the band returned to Holland.

Animal Magic banging his feet against the bottom of his bed, tapping out the rhythms of these favourite songs. He started to wonder whether or not this might offer him a way of coping with his loss - could his feet do what his left arm had been accustomed to doing? It all seemed a little far fetched until he received a visit from Mutt Lange and began to talk to him about the possibilities. Lange was immediately enthusiastic and started to list all the available technology that might help Allen to play again. Once Lange had finished, Rick had a real goal to aim for - if the master of the studio environment saw no problems, why should he worry? The rest of the band were delighted to hear that Rick was no longer in the doldrums and was beginning to battle his way back to fitness. Later on, they were all clear that the decision to continue or not had always been left to Allen, that they would wait until he was ready, but they would not have been human if they hadn't begun to think about replacements. Joe later posed the question 'would you kick your brother out if he lost his arm?', though that did beg the question 'would you kick your brother out if he had a drink problem' as Pete .Willis had had. Nevertheless, their commitment to Rick was highly laudable and once he made the decision to work his way back into the band, they were completely behind him. Joe explained 'there was no mass depression, no "I can't do it man". We gave him encouragement, we took the piss out of him. Phil and Steve went to see him in hospital and they were calling him an inconsiderate bastard. And it worked! He knew we were rooting for him'. Behind the playful jibes was real concern of course, for these extensive delays were further harming the band's future. It does speak volumes that the other members of the band, the management and the company stayed behind Allen - though had they chosen to do otherwise they would have been crucified in the media - but it cannot have been an easy decision as the months were slipping away and new Pyromania inspired imitators were taking to the airwaves. It's ludicrous to call Allen 'lucky' when such terrible injuries had been inflicted upon him but, if it was going to happen, it happened at the least inopportune time. He was fortunate perhaps that the Steinman sessions had been aborted and that the album was being started again from scratch. Had it been on the brink of completion

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DefLeppard with a world tour ready to go, would they have been able to wait fat, him? Booking venues is an expensive business and failing to play!: costs a lot of money. If the new album had been ready to hit the racks,': Allen's position might have looked a little more tenuous - at the very least, they would almost certainly have had to tour with a replacement, leaving Rick with a couple of years in which to kick his heels. And if the session drummer fitted in well, who knows what the future might have held. In the same way, developments in recorded sound meant that returning to the band would be far easier than a handful of years before. With the increasing prevalence of electronic drums - ideal for the sounds Leppard wanted - and the introduction of sophisticated sampling keyboards such as the Fairlight, it would now be perfectly possible for Rick to program a vast range of drum sounds and play them through a computer. Once more, Leppard's financial security ensured that whatever instrument was needed, Rick could have it, a luxury not extended to bands lower down the scale. Had only acoustic drums been available, it would have been much harder for him to become sufficiently proficient in the space of time he had. Rick accepted that, saying 'I never thought about still using an acoustic drum kit for a second. We worked out a combination of electronic pads which I play with my right hand and foot pedals which play pretty much what I did with the left.' Acoustic drums were all that was available as the band were forming and making their earliest recordings. If Allen had lost his arm back in 1980, the technology would not have been there for him. Not only that, but since Leppard were far from being an established act, the luxury of time would not have been there either. Even now, they needed to get on with making the record as quickly as possible but, with the success of Pyromania behind them, such delays were inconvenient rather than career threatening. Once more, it's hard to see how Allen could have retained his seat at the drums if the accident had happened during the recording of On through the night. Perhaps the band would have been strong enough to wait for him but the record company would not. For all their protestations that Allen is like a brother, Leppard are hard-headed enough when it comes to business not to take any prisoners. Maybe Willis' problems were
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Animal Magic more self-inflicted, perhaps it was harder to feel sympathy for an obnoxious drinker than a mate lying in a hospital bed with horrific injuries, but if Allen's injuries had threatened to sabotage their career, surely he would have been eased out, at least temporarily. But let none of that obscure the fact that the band were compassionate in the extreme in allowing Rick the chance to return to the fold when he was, nor the importance of their encouragement in helping him overcome the enormous obstacles that were in his way. Above all, do not dismiss the enormous reserves of courage, dedication and determination that Allen possesses, upon which he drew so extensively and which allowed him to regain his place in the vanguard of rock drummers. Not only did he overcome a physical disability which would have beaten many, he had the mental strength alongside the natural talent to learn a whole new way of playing his instrument, a monumental task given that he'd been playing drums for a decade or more. Now he had to forget all he knew, all that was instinctive and start all over again. Rick was a shining example to the .rest of the band who were getting themselves bogged down with the new record, giving it neither the concentration nor the enthusiasm it required. Allen's efforts spurred them on, forcing them to keep up the pace so that they wouldn't be letting him down. It was a task that proved largely beyond them, for Joe was forced to confess that 'we tried to put a brave face on it but we just fell apart. Nothing got done, literally, until Rick came back'. The band were unstinting in their praise for Rick and for the part he played in keeping their spirits up in the darkest hours. Joe admitted that 'he's the most strong minded person I know. In hospital he was banging his feet and once he'd decided he could transfer what he did with his left arm to his left leg, he had a guy design a kit for him and disappeared. He got himself locked away in a room 'cos he didn't want anybody to hear him re-learning and then one day, four months later he came back and he was playing again. He said "come and hear this" and he played "When the levee breaks" and it sounded brilliant, tear-jerking time.' Rick's return was unquestionably the high point of the whole long, drawn out recording process. Now that he was back, the band could have been forgiven for thinking that after losing two producers and

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Eighteen months since their previous tour had finished and they still hadn't recorded a note of new music. They'd recognized their error and acted quickly to correct it. Though things had gone better with Nigel Green. nor did it improve their reputation. They worked on it further.two and a half years on from Pyromania. Having spent very nearly a year on the album. but he found a record that was in a state of disarray. He was frank in his assessment. By April when the five piece were reunited. Their reliance on Lange enabled dissident voices to claim that Leppard were little more than a manufactured band. Rick coming back to play with the band was a fillip.on the album. Working with Green and producing themselves was another enterprising strategy which might well have worked. a band that were all at sea without Lange's guiding influence. Mutt Lange had kept a watching brief through it all. they were still far from the perfection for which they strived. tinkering here and there.Def Leppard almost losing a friend. That was bold and showed great strength of purpose. a verdict with which they broadly concurred. no more traumas could possibly beset them. Even then. It didn't bode well for the future. Wrong. Steinman had been a mistake. plain and simple and surely everybody is allowed a mistake. but it must have dented their confidence when a successful producer like Steinman used his time in the studio to berate them. With this damning verdict ringing in their ears. that some of the material had to be rewritten and some of the songs were beyond redemption. and in July Lange was given all they'd done to date. offering advice. These barbed comments were harsh. everything they had was consigned to the dustbin . informing them that they were making the same record they'd made the last time. but forgivable given the shocking state they were in. a band of no native ability. a new record was not on the horizon. the band were turned upside down by Allen's accident. Steve Clark's own 96 . But that was to ignore the traumatic times they'd gone through. it was obvious that another kind of major surgery would be necessary . things could have been salvaged. they'd wait for Mutt to help them put things right. listening to recordings. that the song structures needed a lot of work. Just as things were starting to move. the band decided that once again.

it was hardly a surprise to find that the y wer e not fully focused while in th e studio . road crew and man y others were reliant upon Def Leppard coming up with the goods again. Hit for six. Leppard were putting together a carbon cop y of Pyromania. a lack of concent ra tion was a fatal flaw. Financial pressures were imm ense too. as on e of th e top handful of acts in the world. That was th e nub. at Phonogram. a failure of nerve rather than of ability. The two of us went to Pari s to do vocal s for the backing tracks but after a month we had to get o ut because th ere was 97 . Once he wa s back on board. they cannot fully cover Leppard's sudden decline from kin gs of th e studio to shambling novices.Animal Magic drink problem wa s also cause for con cern .the y did progress effectivel y. Since their wo rk was built around a compulsive att ention to detail. Man management in th e studio is as much a part of th e producer's job as any technical expertise . wondering if they could do it again. and ultimately his contribution to the album wa s a comparatively small on e. for Leppard's success paid their wage s.it wa s on e of th e reasons for Steinman's failure just as it was a fundam ental part of Lange's success. Now. no easy task. not necessaril y on a personal level but becau se so man y people now depended upon them as a source of incom e . Following up a multi-million seller is a demanding business.the people in the management office. Though the se are reason s rather than excuses. they were able to pla y with greater freedom. Lange understood the band and knew how to guide them to get the very best out of them. A lot of the blame must be put on the pressur e the y were under. because our time there had run out. for suddenly you' re put in a very new and different position. According to Joe ' M utt came back in Jul y 1985 but we had to leave Holland. everything had changed. As a con sequence. They themselves had the pressure of producing ' a record that was bett er than the predecessor. The eyes of the world were on them.that simpl y wasn't his style . promoters. for the y didn't have the nerve to do anything else. Putting togeth er Pyromania. Def Leppard were just another band on the Phonogram roster hoping to piece together a good record and looking to make the breakthrough. With nothing to lose. hence the problems with the material th at Lan ge identified. although thing s were never going to progress quickly .

furt her warm-up s were planned in Ireland . Leppard booked in to the Wi ndmill Lane facilit y in Dublin. after a period of almost a year where at least one member of the band wa s always working in th e studio. They'd already don e so me rehear sals in th e summer of 1985 for a to ur th at had to be abo rte d owing to t heir recording d ifficulti es. an invitat ion was exten ded to them to play th e 'Monsters of Rock' festivals across Europe. A mo st exceptional exa mple of resilien ce and fortitude '. Rich had other co mmitments with Status Qu o in mainl and Europe but had agreed to fly back in 98 . passion and skill. home to U2. The first show wa s played in Cork's Connolly Hall in Augu st 198 6. W ith th e followi ng summer fast a pproaching.Def Leppard no air co nditio ning an d he had to go out every twenty minutes beca use he was co llapsing. If it becam e too much for him. T he cha nce to blow away the cobwebs was an a bso lute Godsend for th em. contingenc y plan s would be necessa ry. giving a cha nce to escape fro m the rigo urs of Lange's working patterns for a few weeks. for it even helped the British warm to them at long last. T he onl y British sho w would be at Donington.' Such approbation co uld not be avoided though. Status Quo's drumm er Jeff Rich wa s recruited for t hese few shows so that Rick wo uld not be so exposed . T he last thing I'd want is for the album to get five stars out of kindness. a very d ifferent disc ipline to that of playing in the st udio. out of fair play to us for keeping Rick on .' Una ble to acclima tize to th e Studio Des Dames. I'd get rea lly annoyed. they bega n to get itc hy feet. the project bega n to tak e on its own life as th ey fell back into the ro utines that had served them so well on Pyromania. If he co uld co pe with t hese gigs. wh ere Leppard wo uld be third on Ozzy Osbourne's bill. Slow ly but surely. O'Donog hue wa s ironically. To offer a safety net. Even so. the chances were tha t he would be ab le to han dle th e exte nsive to ur ing tha t wo uld accompany the new record's release. It wou ld also provide them with an opport un ity to assess Rick's state of hea lth and his a bility to pla ya live show. confirming one o f th e gro up's greatest fears as Joe explained: ' I hope we don 't get th e sympath y vote. Prior to th at though. H ot Press' Ton y O'Donoghu e writing that ' Rick Allen ga ve a st unning performance of cour age.

indignity heaped up on indi gnity. Lepp ard trudged through th eir set. Donington was next on th e age nda and Leppard we re luck y to survive it for Phonogram had got things horr ibly wrong again. The caption read ' Life at th e top 84. it wa s enough just to see th e band back on stage. The Eur op ean arm of Phonogram turned o ut in nu mb ers to see if th ey still had a band worth promoting. at the 'M onsters' festiva l in M annheim . though th e band were decided ly rusty and lacklu st re. Perh ap s it was meant to be iro nic after the prolonged hiatu s but given Brita in's jaundiced atti t ude towards t he ba nd. H e missed his flight in Stockholm and then the taxi bringing him on th e hour and a half journey from Dublin to the gig broke down in th e middle of nowhere. To th e company peopl e. Ultimat ely. th e sho w wa s salvaged by a crowd that were act ua lly willing th em to succeed. with Jeff Rich turning up in tim e to see that he was now redund ant and co uld return to Sta tus Q uo .87'. it was obv ious th at if their fourth album was an ything like. in th e mid st of rural Ireland. th e mu sic pap ers carried a full page advert for Leppa rd saying 'They'r e back. Showing a nice line in self-deprecating humour. but fo r th e band it wa s yet another disaster in a th o roughl y exa sperating year. it was no t very clever. Simply the grea test roc k band in th e world '. Meanwhile. Heading back to Holland to complete work after the shows were over. Th e die was cast Rick had to pla y alone for th e first tim e.Anim al M agic time for Leppard's show in Ballybunion . happy to forgiv e pa st misdemean ours o ut of respect and admiration for the way th ey'd fou ght bac k in th e face of adversity. the band included a photo from th e gig in th e booklet th at went with the new album on its eventual release. Rick Allen wa s getting increa singl y nervous as show tim e approa ched . Rick received an astonishing response that simply overwhelmed him and by the end of th e show. they had a rea dy. For it would be 198 7 before th e album saw the light of day.ma de audi ence th at wer e gagging for it. soa ked to th e skin and with possibl y the worst live sound th ey'd ever had . In pouring rain. Th e week of th e festival. On e major show wa s left. T he fairytale return was compl ete. Joe immediately contracted a serious bout of mumps which left him in quarantine for a couple of weeks and put th e band even 99 .

Januar y 198 7 thi s time . Cra mmed with hit singles. so th at wa s ano t her four gra nd down th e dr ain. recon cile themselves to another missed release dat e . but these constant traumas were just wearing the band down. We had th e sleeve ready. talk would have been of Faustian pacts. it made it appea r mor e massive. In th e light of all that. M ost notable of all was th e release in the a utu mn of 1986 of Bon jovi's third record Slippery when we t. Hysteria . Rick was on th e front of t he Daily Star and it was like he was the Queen or Ian Botham or somet hing. Mutt was involved in a car crash on his way into the studio.Def Leppard further behind schedule.and hope that by th e following Christmas. Leppard. though. It's all down to th e material and the show'.' Th e titl e was a lat e decision for as Joe recalled ' it wa s going to be called " Animal Instincts" but th en we thought th at so unded really st upid.reception a rea of th e hospital was teeming with newspaper reporters and kids and becau se we weren' t all that popular in England at th e time . It got pretty close to hysteria two da ys after th e acc ident . But it just was n't right.' Th eir a bsence from the scene had thrown ano ther pot ential problem into t he melting pot. W ith Pyrom an ia having br ok en the mould. 'It wa s Rick 's idea. We had to be sn uck in through the fuckin' laundry chute to go see him. afte r all th e stuff that went on with his acc ident. th e album had elevated Bon Jovi to t he top of th e heap afte r the y had released tw o poorly received records. th e band stiffened their resolve to produce so mething th at would again leav e th e competition standing. Jon had replaced Joe as th e number one sex symbol 100 . If they'd been Led Zeppelin. Th e album finally had a name too. ot hers blatantly copying what they saw as the formula. He was fortunate to escape with leg injuries that allowed him to be back at work within three weeks. In the ir enforced absence. as Joe explained. they might have finally completed work on an album th at was turning into a nightmare. it was inevita ble that others wo uld follow th eir lead. All th ey could do wa s brace themselves for furth er months in th e studio. so me intelligently. hence th e additiona l st udio time required . As Joe returned. wer e to o normal for that kind of nonsense for as Peter Mensch ruefull y po inted out 'Def Leppard will never be famous like Led Zeppelin in th at way because the y're just not cont roversial. Leppa rd had seen co untless other gro ups aping their so und.

Bye bye lad s!' Not one of his better pred icti ons. By August 1987 w hen t he new album fina lly emerged. As Lange had observed. for there was more th an eno ugh room for bo th groups to coexist per fectly happily. Joe tr ying to deflat e thi ngs by merely no ting th at 'after spending so mu ch tim e on th is. Eventually. Elliott shrugged off the probl em. if th ere's anything w ro ng with it then we need a jolly good kick up th e bottom . I think th ey'r e really good . Bon Jovi would pr ob abl y have never exis ted. It's fair to say that we did crea te something new within a very o ld-fas hio ned form of mu sic with Pyromania . .I th ink th ey'd say we were th eir favourite ban d. at an estima ted cost of £1 millio n and afte r three years of solid work. . It was a wo rrying development in so me ways. 101 . Good luck to them . So many peopl e ha ve improved on our so und over th e pas t few years when we didn't have th e cha nce to t hat th ere was no po int in doing the same th ing. Pioneerin g is never eas y and at times Joe's temper snapped when having to justi fy his existence. well.' Having to ret hink th eir who le style was easier said than done. If we've got it wrong .Animal Magic in the rock music field and had usurped much of the audience too. . mu ch of Bon Jovi's initia l impetus had sta rte d to ru n out an d th e wo rld was read y for Leppard to take over from them for a while. if we had never ex isted. But I'd rath er have an album do well in th at market th an if th ere were no other rock albums about. What they're doi ng is wh at we were doing three years ago. I take it as a complimen t! Now the re's Bon Jo vi. They've just kept o ur seat warm for th e past two years and it's time for th em to move over. N ow. so me of th eir earlier songs were 'Pyromania by numb ers' an d it took a fund am ental reth ink to come up with something new once more . we could have got it w rong in th ree wee ks'. Poison . . 'We couldn't really tak e w hat we had with Pyromania any further. 'Look. Cindere lla . for where Pyromania had given people somet hing th ey cou ldn 't get elsew here. And a lot of peopl e copied it. no record can justify that kind of outlay or th at amo unt of tim e and it's stupid to try. then it' ll have do ne well.if th is album can sell four million in that so rt of co mpany. now there was no sho rtage of similar albums . Hysteria was in th e sho ps. so the ban d an d Phon ogram simply decided to let the music do th e talking for th em . W hitesna ke.

Def Leppard

Hysteria didn 't so much talk as bawl at the top of its voice for it was nothing if not a ver y good, state of the art, technological rock record. While U2 were sim plifying down to folk so ng stru ct ures, Leppard were involved in a ' kitchen sink' production , invoking huge wa lls o f so und in th e way th at Phil Spector had tw enty years pr eviou sly. T ho ugh th ere were atte mpts to sugges t th at thi s album was radi call y di fferent to its pr ed ecessor, such claim s wer e rubbish. With th e cha rts teeming wit h th e likes of Bon Jo vi, Ratr, Motley Crue and Whitesn ak e, it was readil y apparent that metal lite st ill held sway in th e public mind. W ith an investment of £ ] milli on to recoup, taking cha nces was neither sens ible no r pr acti cal. In H yst eria, Leppard pr ovided th e fan s with a record very mu ch rooted in Pyromania but sho wing a degr ee of progression . Its st rengt hs were co nso lidated w hile its weaknesses - the rambling nature o f some so ngs, th e tenden cy to ove rplay - had been rem edi ed. In esse nce, it was Leppard remi ndi ng all and sund ry that there might be plenty of imitat o rs, but t he origina ls were still th e best , th ou gh in fairness , Bon Jo vi did ha ve legitimate cla ims to their crown. Improving o n Pyromania wa s a tough task, but th ey we re up to it despite th e di st ract ion s. Rick Savage wa s qui ck to point o ut that 'we a lways wa nted to keep so ngs concise and not self-ind ulgent . People think we've cha nge d o ur sty le to get a wider audi ence but we haven 't. We' ve just improved in th e way we always wa nted to .' Ce rt a inly, Lep pa rd were mo re ra dio friend ly th an th ey'd eve r been before, but w hethe r th at was na tu ra l progr ession o r me re ly a product o f th e need to sell records has to be a matter of o pinion. O ne co ntrib uto ry factor was t he change in Allen's d rumm ing sty le. Always a sk illed pla yer , his sty le had been rather busy, showi ng th e aud ience ho w good he wa s, so met imes to the de trime nt of th e so ng . Now, presumabl y because of circumsta nces, he was less o btr usive and his drumming was a lmost ske leta l at tim es. In turn, so ngs tended to be simpler and if th er e's one recip e fo r rock rad io success, it's keep it big and dumb, th e bigger and dumber the better. W ha t better exa mp le o f th at co uld th er e be than ' Po ur so me sugar o n me', a sing le whi ch reach ed number two in the Sta tes . Almost a te rrace a nt hem a la ' We a re th e cha mpio ns ', its choruses, carefully cra fted, were bu ilt round a hoo k that led inexo ra bly to a huge black hole th at simply suc ked in the un war y
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Animal Magic listener. Kiss without the make-up, Slade without th e top hat, Mott by an y other name, it wa s classic glam boasting a guitar riff you could play in your sleep. Joe wa s largel y responsible for th e song which he describ ed as ' just Gar y Glitter meet s the Sweet but still so unding like us. We 've always been a rock band, not a heav y metal band'. Its pot ential as a single was ab solutely crucial to the pr ospects of Hysteria as a who le. Joe under stood the machinations of th e market place pretty we ll by now and accepted th e need for hit s. Th ey had wo rked har d to prod uce them and he wa s happy with th e results: 'I seriously believe that we 've got up to five hit singles on thi s record, even " Rocket" , though it's such an unusual so ng and such a change from something like "Pour some suga r on me", which is an obvious shot at the commercial market. Th e ch orus is three chords - 1 wrote it like that 'cos it's all 1 can play, 1 alwa ys have to think commercially. 1 can't write "Gods of war ". Wh en 1 pick up a guitar, 1 tend to pla y "Wild thing" a lot better than " All along th e watchtower" . Peter M ensch is to tally right. You cannot survive without hit singles th ese days becau se AOR radio in America isn't responsible for breaking bands any more. Slipp ery when wet so ld eight million copies through the singles. There wa s a period where people were reall y sno bby about hits, that it wasn't credible. That's the most ridi culous thing. 1 like being on T op of th e Pops, 1 find it funny. Ninety-eight per cent of our stuff is tongue-in-cheek anywa y. Wh en yo u've got a rh inoceros in one of your videos, you can 't tak e yourse lves that seriously.' Elliott was right that AOR radi o wa s no lon ger so impo rtant. MTV had taken over that responsibility now, som ething Lepp ard had benefited from already when the clip for 'Ph otograph ' had launched Pyromania. Bearing that in mind, prior to releasing H yst eria, the y seemed to have stopped off for a visit to th e stylists - th e carefully distressed jeans and jackets of 1987 were a marked contrast to th e rough and ready Union Jack raggedness of four years earli er - so the y would be made even more welcome on MTV. To make the most of

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Def Leppard this TV ex posure, songs had to be further simplified, purely because th e so und quality on television did no t really co mpare with radio, since stereo broadcasting wa s still in its infancy. All th e extraneous so und had to be cut awa y for a song to cut through. For th at reason , Hysteria was perhaps not so aggressive as Pyroma nia, but more polished. They'd added a danceable quality to the tunes too which did th em no harm at all given that on MTV their so ngs rubbed up alongside th e likes of Madonna and the Jackson clan. One of th e more inventive tracks on the record, one of its best, was ' Rocket', which in parts wa s reminiscent of Malcolm McLaren's 'Buffalo ga ls', not a comparison th at would have spru ng readi ly to mind in th e pa st! The use of sound effects was beginning to so und a little jaded now but the rhythmic opening was genuinel y enthralling. Sounding like something from the drummers of Burundi, a sound th at artists as diverse as Echo and the Bunn ymen, Peter Gabriel, Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow had emp loyed to good effect, it had never been used in a rock setting before. It wa s a very adventurous mo ve th at opened them up to cri ticism from th e tr aditionalists but one whi ch sho wed that creative atrophy had yet to set in. 'Rocket' wa s clean and pristine, light, poppy and a genuine ru sh of singalong fun , a virt ua l rap name-checking the band's heroes such as Bowie, Beatl es, Elton John, Queen and Thin Lizzy befor e ending in a wild rh ythmic section. Eq ua lly inte resting was Steve Clark's ' Go ds of wa r'. Musicall y in similar territo ry to 'Switch 625' at times, th e brooding introduction and spellbind ing guita r figure made it clear th at here was a more mature work, dar k and intense. Th e anti-war , 'why are we fighting? ' sta tement was scarcely new, but it's a sentiment th at bea rs repetition. T he so ng ma rked Clark's eme rgence as a maj or writer and offered such promise for th e future, promise that would never be fulfilled. On th e other side of the coi n, 'Anima l' wa s an eq ua lly ass ured piece of work, brilliant pop mu sic which was to be accompani ed by a daft video, an unbeatabl e co mbina tion as promos such as Gabriel's 'Sledge ham mer' or N ew Order 's 'True faith ' hav e pr oved . The crystal clear clarion guitar - th at yea r's so und, Guns N 'Roses' 'Sweet child o' mine' worki ng on th e sa me principle - heralded a lovely, simple melod y, affecting, throa ty voca ls and an engaging dru m pattern.

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but joe tried to defend his words. 'Love bites'.' The single buyers rushed out to pick up Hysteria.000 people. but had other talents on which to build . comfortably their best performance to date at home. it indicated a group th at wa s still struggling to come to terms with the form. we're still animals an d sometimes the prima l takes over. 'Animal' provided it. w hich gave them a number one in the States showcased a band that was continuing to mature with a deeper lyric rum inating on love an d betrayal. Lyrically of course.' It was richly ironic that Def Leppard. hands in the air fare. perfect for singalongs in the company of 15. But we can't be just Def Leppard because we' re a rock band and people are prejudiced against rock bands.'You give love a bad name'. a band from Sheffield. arguing that it made a point about basic instinc ts: 'Men can't help it. but one that was striving in th e right direction. the final call of 'Animal' was blat an t audience participation/manipulation stuff. finding much to enjoy and giving the band th eir first British number one album into the bargain.fans were ready for more in that style. There's been Bon jovi. "Def Leppard . it made it obvious that Leppard were not willing to be pigeonho led as hairy old rockers. a reflective ballad that was a nice change in pace. it was Bon jovi's single success that finally awakened the British pop audience to Leppard's charms. they certainly had improve d. As songwriters. which tended to irritate more than somewhat. H alting and hesitant. joe had resigned himself to his fate. 'Livin' on a prayer' and 'Wanted dead or alive' . it remained undemanding. H ysteria itself was a case in point. Repaying the favo ur. With New jersey's finest having tott ed up three top twenty sing les in the UK . Classic epic po p in th e 10CC style. racing to number six in the charts. had paved the way for Bon jovi's success back in America. it's in our genes. 'I can see it now. All this sexist crap that's thrown at us annoys me because no ma tter how educated we get. bui lding gradually to a powerful crescendo. 105 .the new Bon jovi".Animal Magic Obvio us crowd-pleasing. no t con tent to allocate time to plodding filler rock but willing to stretch themselves further. It was however in wha t was now termed Bon jovi territory. there's been Europe and hopefully there'll be Def Leppard. And it's just because we're a rock band. There were few better roc k sing les that year.

' Love and affectio n'. love it or loathe it. as th e tr ack played out yo u co uld visua lize a huge mirrorball reflecting across th e da ncefloor. T ho ugh it was n' t sta ndard Leppard fare mu sically. 'A leaf out of Queen's book I'm afraid' Elliott was force d to admit. it provided a co mpulsive singa long cho rus . there wa s still room for so me daftness. Leppard doing what th ey'd done best in th e past. the ob ligatory rau cou s opener was tight. Its constituent parts all seemed hopel essly slight yet th e final combination wa s co mpelling. a bo ut ever ything working o ut. Phil and Sav so we get a different blend .Def Leppard ' Run Riot ' was a left over of so rts. th e sheer tempo of the so ng allowed them to co ncoc t a genuinely thrilling ru sh of excitement . evide nce of Lan ge's inva lua ble handiwork. 'Excita ble' was th e 'Ro ck of ages' style jok er in th e pack. Very co rny 'you and me babe' stuff. the hyped up heavy brea thing and clan ging guitar pr oving th at it sho uld be taken with a pinch of sa lt. with Allen's imaginati on working overtime as he searched for inventive new rh ythm patterns. no loose ends. a love song t hat set th e pr ot agoni sts aga inst th e wo rld. and yet it still managed to be emo tiona lly affecting. ' Do n't shoot sho tgu n' shared sim ilar character istics. 'Women '. taut and crass. w hile th e seductive back ing voca ls were once again employed effectively. T he final song. th e atmosp here of th e song was very revealin g and said a grea t deal about just why it was th at Def Lepp ard were so successful. a hu ge power ba llad. Like much of H ysteria. it all relied a little too heavily on sto mping cho ruse s th at were all too familiar in th e days of the Gary Glitter sho uts. Def Leppard's music is all abou t happy endi ngs. 'I don't do th em . AC/D C-influ enced following a beautifully distorted guita r int ro duction. was pro ba bly th e most atyp ical track on the album. his new restraint leaving holes for the vocals to fill. high lighting th e wa y in w hich th e pro fession al band co uld separate th emselves from th e priva te traumas w hen th ey wer e at wo rk.' Th e backing vocals on th e title track reputed ly feat ure d 200 vo ices! Altho ugh the album project had been a har ro wing. but th ey we re hugely likea ble and played with a kn owi ng iron y tha t deflected any lat ent pomposity. und erli nin g his priceless value to the gro up . it's M utt. 'Armageddon it' wa s packed with th or oughly dumb double ente ndre. frus tra ting and exha usting process. abou t tak ing refuge in th e ar ms of 106 . th ou gh agai n.

T. I' d sooner stick with th e British app ro ach which is totally am biguo us. If I wrote from ex perience. Yo u simply choose w ha t suits you best and igno re th e rest. pro mising to deliver a fun time if that was what you wanted. 'So me people seem to forget tha t everyt hing you do doesn't have to have so me kind of social sta te ment. Def Leppard are th e first to admit that "there isn't any major intelligence in our lyrics and we don't put th em on th e sleeve because they don 't read very we ll!'" But how co uld any serious artis t have failed to channel such person al tr agedies into th eir wo rk? It is impossi ble. th ey'r e corny at time s but they' re also heartwarming in the way th at H ollywood 's most popular movies are. It mu st be said how ever th at a qui ck ru n through Leppa rd's lyrics wou ld leave yo u tot ally una ware of th e tumu ltuous events th at had wreaked such havoc in th e pr eceding th ree years.. Yo u can particip at e in a Leppard song and come out the other end feeling bett er abo ut yourse lf.Rex make your imagination work harder. th ey just so und alright. doesn't mean anything. I used to wri te th at way. N o-one gets hurt and we all live ha ppily ever after.. Th e only con clusion was th at Def Lepp ard migh t be dea d ly serious abo ut their work but th ey we re not serious artis ts in the N eil Young sense of the phrase. Leppa rd are melodram at ic. If th at so unds harsh. I don 't t hink it wo uld so und very good. a kid on the dole doesn't wa nt to hear a record a bo ut being on th e do le. then you can figure mine out. To me. " H ub-cap diam ond star halo " means more to me th an "I went down to the river " I'm afra id. Def Leppard's Hysteria didn't make any demands on yo u and merely trie d to make you feel good to be alive. It may be hop elessly super ficial. th e last five-a-sid e ga me I had . 107 . w hich tot ally mak es no sense at all and the kid can make up his ow n mind a bo ut it. If yo u can figure his out. doesn 't say anythi ng.Anima l M agic your partner. I have opinions. Elliott held up his han ds to the charge but was uncon cerned by it. T here's room for PJ Harvey just as there's roo m for Take That . or at least for the sixtyminute durat ion of th e album. it's no t meant to be for all music doesn 't have to be angst-ridden or po litically mot ivat ed. In a live review. Melody M ak er's Caro l Clerk wrote th at 'unas ha med ly escapist. You explain what T-Rex's lyrics are about. but it is a tempting escape route from a wo rld of increasing uncertainty. I'd ra ther wr ite "Pour some sugar on me". but I don 't sing so ngs abo ut it .

It was left to Q to offer a dissenting vo ice.000 on a co nventiona l stage set when Peter Mensch was struck by th e idea of pla ying in th e ro und. T here's little that mak es a state ment'. on e w hich wou ld mark Leppard o ut as being d istinct fro m the Bon Jovis of the world . . which is how th ey started promot ing H ysteria in th e UK. it will crac k Britain wide op en and mak e the band a househ old name in th eir back yard'. Reviews were predicta bly mixed. Joe remark ing with typical humility th at 'even at our wo rst. we're 100 times better than anybo dy else'. Prescient co mment indeed . Whatever reservati on s there might have been. the seating built around it. th e stage being set in th e centre of th e arena.just imagine what Elvis Costello would have ma de of all th is emotional and ph ysical carnage. He explained th e reasoning behind such an ambitious proj ect: 'We ll.Def Leppa rd but it didn't wo rk for us. M ensch was th rilled with the idea. th e Police also tr ying it out in 1983. . It's hard to see it being surpassed'. They'd spent $ 100. A.' Each to his own. you ca n play in th e ro und. One sta tement the ba nd we re keen to make was on th e road wh ere th ey saw themselves as an altogether superior proposition . reinforced by Ho t Press's Jon De Leon. but it did seem a terrible waste of experience . [showing a] greate r breadth and maturity . every bit as fresh and vita l as back in '83 . It's like Edmund Hillary and Everes t.. It was an audacio us move. almos t un ique in rock mu sic although Yes had dabbled with th e co ncept back in 1978. it wo uld give us mo re seats and every seat would be goo d. much of the press comment was favourabl e. The pap er's marking system termed it ' intoxicating'.. In Sounds. Emily Fra ser arg uing persuasively that 'a minority of us feel that the band have become sanitized by th e experience and are now more polish th an passion. Leppard's finest hour. Paul Elliott's five sta r review called it 'a progression of sorts. the review pointing o ut th at ' it sets the standa rd for other met al-inclined rockers in 1987. it had never been do ne before by a hard rock band and B. you play it becau se it' s there. I figured t hat if you can play with a one-armed drummer.' T his wo uld form the basis for th e H ysteria tour. Me lody Mak er's Chri s Rob erts telling his readers more about himself th an the band: 'Characterless 10 8 . th ou gh inevitably certain ven ues we ren' t a ble to provide the necessary facilities and the band was forced to play conventional shows th ere.

had to become a thing of th e past as wo rd of AIDS began 109 . After three gigs th ou gh. professional attitude from the group. albeit on a small er sca le. Th e first night we did it in the ro und. crea ting pro blems for th emselves in the process. They're not worth my time . Phil Co llen had already given up drinking aft er he'd bought a £6000 watch w hen so pla stered he didn't kn ow what he was doing. I enjoyed getting kind a hot and sweaty anyway. the gro up threw themselves into the unknown with real vigour. I'd like to th ink th at we'd pla y in th e round on th e next tour too. The specta cle wa s impressive and it did prev ent fans con centrat ing solely on Rick Allen. it wa s tim e to res ume their rela tio nship with the State s. The singer is a repellent nouveau-riche navvy. in th e round .MTV later adopted th e idea . The novelty probably is taking a bit of weight off Rick but at th e sam e tim e. becau se pla ying at one end wo uld be a bit of a downer now. The wilder days of yore. when it features him .' Th e sca le of th e ph ysical challenge req uired a w ho le new. H e' s not hidd en behind th e rest of us. we'd don e eight day s' rehearsal but we still ende d up tr ying to fill the stage too much and by th e end of the first couple of so ngs everybody was looking for a bucket to throw up into . for th eir 'Unplugged' series and for live specials by th e likes of Bon Jovi. N ever ones to shirk a cha llenge. Paul Elliott was rather more enthusiastic in his review of th e N ottingham gig: 'This wasn't perfect. 'In th e rou nd' was a bigger innovati on th an a one-armed drummer as Joe agreed. At th e same time. Will great do?' Britain had finally been co nquere d as venues the length an d breadth of th e co untry sold out in double quick time. Joe admitted th at 'I'd be a liar if I said it was n' t exhausting. We reached a certain fitness peak so th at we ca n deal with it and th e set's well paced enough to take care of itself. th e set-up was idea l . Joe Elliott accepted he needed to have a radical rethink of his approach to his craft.I' ve been her e a whole nine minutes when I see there's an exit fifteen yards aw ay'.Animal Magic and powerless.' Giving everyon e in th e auditorium a great so und and a great view . somet hing th at had worried th em. we were rea lly cookin'. 'T here's nothing we can do short of playing upside down next tim e to top thi s. particularly in the company of the female fans . With the UK in th e bag. it features him mo re.

'T he people are very ro ma ntic. so meo ne fro m Ratt last night and so mebody fro m Motley Cr ue tom orrow. I went at it like a rat up a dr ainpipe but that's cha nged now.Def Lepp ard to circulat e. Th at wouldn't suit the so ngs we do. th ere was also a growi ng disenchantment with th e st upid ity of life on the roa d and th e things th at entertained th em at nin eteen bored th em at twenty-seven. He ex plained that his overriding concern was the quality of t he show. N ow I ca n go on stage and perfor m bett er. If you're co mmitte d to a co uple of years on th e road . I don't drink or smo ke. popularity ca n quickly take a nose d ive.' It was an attitude tha t was beginning to permeate th e who le business for . I'm not gonna piss off 15. I ca n' t handle th e falseness. despite all of the wild stories th at still d id th e rounds. If I'd spe nt eighteen months in Los Angeles. no-on e co uld take th at risk. th e truth was th at most musicians spent th e evening 'in bed with th eir acco unts an d some sandwiches' as Bruce Dickinson once put it. a lot more emo tiona l th an in England. T he sta kes were simp ly too high. it's nice there. Amo ng the mo re seaso ned pros. Joe for example had been mellowed by his tim e in Ireland . I'd rather go to a club until five in th e morning 'cos I'm wide awa ke with all th e ad rena line but I kn ow I can't sing the night afte r if I do and for the sake of enter tai ning myself. We used to do all that. With reco rding and tou ring cos ts go ing throu gh th e roof.00 0 kids th e following night by singing like Lemm y or so mebody. It gets to be rea lly boring when you kn ow it might be you tonigh t. Th e mo st importa nt thing to me is th ose two hours a night and if th e other twenty-tw o have to be rea lly boring. Alcohol had to come off the menu too for it did little for th e voice. ' On th e first tour. Word soo n get s round if a ban d plays a few bad gigs and acts with a to ta l d isregard for the fans. too mu ch mon ey was han ging on the artists for th em to have the lux ury of getting wrecked and playing like id iots. I'd be in a lunatic asy lum. all t hat " hey 110 . I've got a stea dy girlfriend now. but it would've been a bit weird if we hadn't. th ere's fewer pa rties . Five lad s fro m Sheffield let loose in America? Co me on! On th e road. nothing must go wrong. th en so be it.

Being on the road can wea ken you. Every thing wa s focu sed on th e gigs and rightly so. everyo ne do es if they were honest enough to say it. you've got to enterta in peo ple. Th ey live on peanuts most of the time! H ot els are really imp ortant to us. Th e co ncerts a little gimmicky for some ta stes. Hysteria becam e America's number one album aft er forty-nin e weeks on th e chart.' Jo e felt 111 .help ed keep H ysteria in th e publ ic eye for mor e than a yea r. in Jul y 1988. it's t he only opportun ity you ha ve to tr y to crea te perfect ion . backstage is o ur hom e. but our popularity has come from a lot of hard work. it keeps doin g th e ro un ds. T he foo d can be a problem . but undeni abl y strong both visually and mu sicall y . We 've all paid our dues in on e way or ano ther. It wa s final compelling proof that everyt hing they'd endured. I'd rather have a pint and talk a bo ut foo tball. all the work th ey'd put in to Hysteria had been worth wh ile. and when th ey ask for a vegeta rian meal on the plan e. th ey get fish .' It's sma ll wonder th at bands on th e roa d do go off th e rails for it's a ter ribl y tediou s way of life. but if I did . But yo u hav e to do it in mod eration to enjoy it. but we don't want to tak e out an orchestra. H alf my job isn' t singing. Fro m th ere. Elliott accep ted th at 'the best part of being in a ba nd is playing live. it' s getti ng an a udience going. We've even set up st udios wherever we can so that we ca n tr y to write on th e roa d' . spending th e next few months fighting with Guns N'Roses' Appetite for destruction for the top spot. A good one has a mentholat ed steam roo m w hich is grea t for the voice. we want it to be us. despite th e seemingly glamoro us trappings.Animal Magic man! Wanna party? I' ve got a bag of cok e!" Fuck it! I'm not interested. Finall y. it'd look rea lly silly. We were on th e bus for six hours yesterday and you wo uldn' t believe how tirin g th at is da y after da y. Phil and Rick ar e vegetarians. Phil made it clear that 'we want to be successful. Live. I don 't really sta nd still an d you can on ly really sing properly when you' re stoo d still. you keep catching someo ne else's co ld. We've alwa ys been a band who wanted to get it right o n record. We set such a sta ndard on th e records and wh at we do th ere. we've all go ne down with so mething at some stage. five peopl e can' t physica lly do. During th e first Ame rica n leg of the Hysteria tour. T ha t's wh ere the fun comes in. That's why we got togeth er in th e first place. a gym and a good roo m service menu th at 's tw enty-four ho ur s a day.

It sho uld be judged on the so und of th e blood y thing . 'We're a po p band in th e same way th at T hin Lizzy we re.2 million copies.th ey'r e lying. I' m no t interested in gett ing grea t reviews and selling five records. Okay. Joe still wa sn 't sure where his heart lay: 'At the mom ent I have a very love/hat e relat ion ship with England.' Three cheers for th e tabl oid press and th eir peerless a bility to distort th e fact s. compared to Napalm Death. Hysteria had sold 14. We thought we could sell five or six again. showing th at all th e yo uthful br avad o had not pete red o ut in his lat e-twenties. or even ten million. we weren 't afraid of losing what we'd gained with Pyro mania becau se we didn 't wa nt to rush so mething o ut just to cash in on th e success.Def Leppard it wa s vind ication for their belief in the music before all else. ' It's nice to be nom inated but we' re never go ing to win anything. Even tho se fuckin ' poxy littl e ba nds who say th at's no t the ir th ing . excited by'. All th e papers we hav e from England are full of sto ries abo ut hooligans. I think everybo dy' s ambi tio n is to sell as many records as you can and to play in fro nt of as man y people as yo u can. Pleased to have mad e the gra de back hom e.. sma rting at th e snobbery prevalent in the industr y. With things go ing so well for th em. I /ik e playing the NEC and We mbley. I do miss my par ents. They ar e so mething to get affectio na te a bo ut. All we've ever wa nted to be is quite simply the biggest roc k band in th e wo rld and yo u don't becom e th at by so unding like Na palm Death. 'If mon ey meant th at much to us. I lik e sta nding on stage and seeing people o ut th ere . We're stuck in the mud heavy met al band . a million of which came in th e UK. Th at 's the arro ga nt side of us.' Retai ning the chip on his sho ulder. I like t he idea of a rock band cross ing over an d not having to to ta lly wim p o ut. but I don't miss th e fact that yo u can 't walk aro und at night without getti ng mugged. he we nt on to add 'I don't believe it sho uld all be based on sales. happy with.lon g hair and 112 .. Joe co uldn' t resist the oppo rt unity to stir t hings up aga in. we wouldn't have spent so much making this album because we had to sell two million to get the costs back. we 're soft. Melody Mak er' s Carol Clerk opining that ' Def Leppard are so mething vivid an d friendly and intimate. they never lost th eir cre di bility wit h roc k fans .' When the returns were in.' Co nt radicting him self. even a BRIT Awa rd nominati o n co uld n' t mollify him.

we don't wanna do that again. giving British fans the cha nce to see the full American production. th e black sheep in Sma sh Hits just becau se we're a rock band with two guita rists wh ere everyone else has got capped teeth and happy haircuts. We can 't vote for them can we? I like the fact th at we're unfashionable . Joe cast his mind back to shows mu ch earlier in their career: 'We once did a gig at New Brighton Pavilion near Liverp ool and eleven kid s turned up and one of them was doing his hom ework . W ith Pyromania and Hysteria.' Despite th ese irritations. noting th at 'they'r e boisterous and agile and openly thrilled to be home. Sounds reviewe d th e show. There comes a time when carrying the weigh t of experimentation on your shoulders gets a bit heav y. We're too busy. but one which took noth ing for granted. able to play Wembl ey and the N EC. When does a spectacle become untop pabl e? Satellite gigs? Hologram gigs? It's the same with th e albums. How do yo u follow that? It wa s a que stion that exercised the collective brain. th ey returned to Britain in spring 1988. having repeated the miracle of Pyromania. We hav e opinions but we don't ha ve our finger on the pul se like the y do.I know it's a pile of shit .but it only took us three weeks to record and High 'n'Dry onl y to ok three mo nt hs. Britain has every reason to be pr oud of them'. hyper-ventilating with confidence. The first album . Gigs like that make yo u appreciate playing Wembley! ' Ironically. It might 113 . Ma ybe we just wanna do an album which says bollocks to all that. Jo e understanding the difficulti es only too clearly.the black sheep in the charts. Def Leppard found themselves back in the same predicament th at the whole Hysteria phenom enon had begun with. 'Where do you go from stadiums? Th at 's why we have man agers. On the next album. a courtesy that not all groups extended to their supporters. in th e ro und. but delighted band. th e black sheep on Top of th e Pop s. We have no thing in common with the Pet Shop Boys like we ha ve nothing in common with Des O'Conno r.Anim al Magic jean s. by th e end of 1988 as the y settled down to a well-earned rest. yo u can 't be a master of all trades. Basking in such unu sual hyperbole. Leppa rd were a tir ed. we wanted to do something nobody had ever done before.

every reason to keep go ing. Ha ving becom e th e first band to sell seven million albums plu s. We also really wa nt to release so mething th at 's not th e official fo llow -up to H ysteria. a ton of new stuff and so me stuff tha t's been recorded but no t used yet. but yo u love it all the sa me? T his band's o ur bab y. but who cares? We want to put an LP ou t in 1989 . five of th em spent living o ut of eac h other's suitcases. nob od y's married or got kid s. It'll just be an odds and sods. back to back. T ouring th e world had only strengt hened the bo nd between th e indi vidu als and th eir loyalt y to th e Def Leppard ca use.Def Lepp ard not kick any door s down . Jo e pointed o ut on th e release of H ysteria that 'm ost peopl e in bands have got families and maybe th at 's th e reaso n we have th e success we have. We'r e eac h ot her's closest friend s. Th ere's eno ugh kid s wit ho ut me bringing another one into th e wo rld . Joe summed it up by as king 'you kn ow wh en yo u have a baby and it might be as ugly as shit. but th ey did get set to begin work in M arch of th at year. th ere was no reaso n to quit.. And we still get on after seven yea rs.' Those frien ds hips wou ld soon be put to the ultima te test.. a few B-sides. we'll not be using Mutt. penthou se tap es sort of thi ng. I don 't wa nt a kid .the band's too much of a bloo dy bab y'. I'm not sur e we'll even get to mak e th at record yet. wi ld lessly optimistic. we've spent three years with Mutt and learned a lot . but if we do . 114 . but soo ner o r lat er. Grasshopper ha s to leave the temple and ma ke his own way in th e world.' Hi sto ry proved t hat a 1989 release was hop elessly.

money and fun. without courting controversy. Def Leppard completed th e H ysteria world tour as perhaps the biggest band in th e world.9 THE LAST TIME Without having dominated the front page s of th e popular press . without carefully preening an image as devil-w or shippers. It was a polic y th at had clearly paid handsome dividends. Life was all about fast cars and great CD sound. parties.computerization was not yet requiring the ma ssive job cuts that have been a feature of the nineties. eclipsing the popularity of the likes of U2 and Guns N'Roses. there was more to Def Leppard's inexorable rise to prominence than mere songwriting proficiency. Perhaps th e eighties love affair with technology came about because it wa s relatively benign . th e pr evailing atmosphere was one of good times. The 1980s were a strikingl y different time from any of the previous rock'n 'roll decades. all their time had been channelled into making the best possible records. The ad van ce of technology seemed to be something to welcome. especia lly if it wishes to rise above its contemporaries. Instead of wasting energ y on a public persona. progress th at would onl y change things for the better. for th e music no longer set the cultural agenda in the wa y that it had and wa s now seemingly relegated to reflecting society' s mood. Take 115 . Tho ugh some shows such as Amnesty International's Conspiracy of Hope indicated that there were young fans willing to become pol itically engage d. Nevertheless. Timing is of vita l importa nce in the career of a band.

Lepp ard we re easy to listen to . t hey were friendl y. later on. once you' d invested in a CD pla yer. Bruce Fairbairn and Trevor Horn became as famous as th eir clients. th at the y could sing along with or dan ce to. a disc that wo uld ma ke full use of its capacity to amaze. so mething th at so unded like 'Star War s for th e ears' . Improved studio facilities ena bled prod ucers and engineers to take a quantum leap forward. th ey were br ight and shiny. Leppa rd were simply using th e technology to mak e the music t hey enjo yed. tech nolo gy was represented by Leppa rd. working on th em to get th e clearest.Leppard were technology. producing records the sound qua lity of which far ou tstri ppe d anything tha t we' d ever th ou ght possible. you wanted to get hold of some discs that showed yo ur system off to its best ad vantage. fewer peo ple wanted mu sic that made them feel. For a time. the music ind ustry. Hysteria the album th at too k th e concept still fur ther. the y wanted them to be heard to best ad vantage.Def Leppard Leppard's field. In the eighties. the und emanding nature of Lepp ard ' s music suggested th at techn ology wo uld be similarly und em and ing. producers such as M utt Lange. Mini st ry and Ni ne Inch Nail s.N ew Order for insta nce or . crispest so und. such wa s the imp act th ey had on the way we listened to mu sic. probably the mo st significant innovati on in th e last twenty-five years of musical histor y. Subco nscio usly too. fairly traditi on al rock in a mod ern sett ing. so technology must th erefore be the same. the y were cudd ly. Hand in hand with th e development of the studio came the invention of digital recording and th e compact disc. Chea p vinyl with its inherent problems of durability and qual ity was not good enough while ca ssette s were simply useless. whil e U2 a lso sta rted to use 116 . Other art ists used it in a sta rtlingly different wa y. Def Leppard 's Pyromani a was one of the first albums that could do th at . Def Leppard with th eir minimal inte rest in th e lyrics provided a goodti me soundtrack for an org y of mindless mat eriali sm. By the same tok en. T he introduction of the CD wa s perfectl y tim ed for art ists who used th e stud io as anothe r instrument. The CD age was made for Def Lepp ar d just as they were made for the CD age. the y just wa nted tun es th ey co uld en joy. illustrating th e chaos or th e co ldness th at cha nge might pr ovok e . With groups spend ing hundreds of th ou sands of pounds on th eir albums. for the two were indiv isible . Of co urse.

The figurehead s of the age were Bruce Springsteen and Bono.like th e intro to " All the young dudes". Th e best guitar solos in the world are the one s yo u can sing . I ca n' t deal with stuff where you can 't hear what the guy's singing. That wa s not Leppard's onl y gift of course. th ou gh not necessaril y one th ey would have fully endo rsed. Bruce or Bono . no musician ship. I'd rather be a pa ir of stra ight-legged 501s. That kind of brutality. this attitude was bizarre to say the least. There's no melody. Th e cry of ' loadsamo ney' summed up the age when people weren 't really bothered by a social consci ence. members of the yuppie culture took Leppard as theirs. Def Leppard wer e manna from heaven. I ca n' t hear man y goo d songs coming out of thrash metal. For th ose on the sidelines who were happily amassi ng a sizea ble wad. They came to represent a way of life. the y did share common ground with Gabriel .' Ironically in the era of con spicuou s co nsumption. the y were a guilty indulgence. not obvious sex symbols nor men wh o luxuriat ed in their success or their wealth but wh o were appa rentl y embar rassed by it. whatever Live Aid might have suggested. it was a decade of anti -stars. Elliott 117 . th ey provided a mindless. Jim Kerr. wh o enjoyed being rich and mad e the most of their success. While members of Gre enpeace took Michael Stipe as a hero. In essence.Th e Last Tim e the cutt ing edge of computerization to show a wo rld torn apart by confusion. Def Leppard was not filled with egocentric idiot s. was not acceptable on a ma instream level in the 1980s when things seemed a lot mor e optimistic. a way of life. also exemplified by the burgeoning success of thrash metal. Jo e mad e th e point th at 'thras h meta l is a load of shit. for man y wh o despised yuppi edom saw much to enjo y in the hard rocking tunefulness of 'Animal' or 'Photograph' . flash th eir Rolexes at passers-by and order another round of drinks. At th e same time . Th ey were only too glad to flaunt th eir GTls or their Pors ches . It's a pair of platform boot s. but a bunch of lad s who you'd be happy to have a pint with at your local. especially if you had mon ey. a band who knew how to have a good time . it's an att itude. for thi s wa s also the tim e of 'good bloke' rock when bands were not populated with stars but with ordinary down to eart h guys. when the rate of tax wa s all that counted. sugary ant idote to the political polemic of Sting or Peter Gabriel. a fashio n. all the more thrilling for it. It's not a music.

T hey a lso wa nted to work mo re qui ckly. eve n if j oe's sugges tion th at th ey m ig ht be a ble to release a record in 198 9 was never likely to co me to fruitio n. People liked to bu y th eir records. th ere was still no real mot ivat ion fo r cha nging th eir way o f o pe ra t ing. t here bein g a co llective feeling th at perhaps th ey'd tak en to o mu ch notice of M T V's va lue to them a nd had sacrificed so me o f th eir mu sical mu scle in th e sea rch for hit singles. so meo ne like j oe Elliott co uld mak e yo u feel th at yo u co uld do well fo r yo urs elf and still be a decent guy. but we don't bother with that no nsense. T he ba sic idea behind th e new a lbum w as to find a happ y med ium bet ween t he pol ish o f H ysteria and th e aggr essio n o f Pyromania. in th e summe r of 1989. T hings we re aw kward eno ugh anyway since M utt Lan ge wa s prod uci ng W ak ing I 18 . it wa s a lau gh.' T he ca vea t to th at sta te me nt wa s th at it was t he las t fun th ey'd have o n th e pr o ject . If th ey were sta rt ing to feel th at sa les figur es were not th e be-all a nd end-a ll of life.Def Leppard remarked th at ' A lot of people use th e fact th at they 're fam ous as an excuse to act like a dick head. Bon j o vi. w riting sessio ns progressing at break neck pace as j oe recalled: 'We w ro te seve n songs fo r t he reco rd in a wee k. Th is was no ti me to d isappoint th em an d so w hen . Def Leppa rd had man aged to pull o ff th e co nside ra ble trick o f bein g a ll th ings to all peopl e. for so und fina nc ia l as well as mu sical reaso ns. we were o n a ro ll a nd it ca me o ut ha pp y. as goo d a wa y of gua rantee ing multi-platinum sa les as any. so th ey mu st have been giving th em w ha t th ey wa nted. Th ings sta rte d o ut pr ett y we ll. th ere seemed no need to tr y. As t he band work ed o n th rough 198 9 a nd int o the new yea r. his descent into a lco ho lism more o r less co mp lete w hile his a bility.' At a time wh en Live Aid had made us a ll feel guilty about o ur co m for ts. Fo r a period o f six years. t hey aga in go t do wn to wo rk in ea rnest. ha d re leased N ew Jersey to eno rmo us success . his very presence wa s ha ving a hop elessly di sru pti ve effect on pro gr ess. Steve C lark wa s becoming more a nd mo re of a problem with every passing week . to recover see med to dimin ish . The gulf bet ween th em a nd th eir a ud ience wa s never hu ge and th at ena bled th em to win fans amo ng th e mo re serio us roc k suppo rters w ho had no time fo r a sma rta rse. even his desi re. for no t o n ly had Leppa rd don e well but th eir co nt empo ra ries.

59 when they found him. Steve'd been in and out of rehab six times at least. Joe summed up the situation: 'We couldn't get any work done. Clark was found in Minnesota.Phil's guitar solos on 'Tear it down' and 'Tonight'. That didn't mean anything to us until they explained that a level of 0. Joe visited his friend there: 'There were people scratching the walls and standing on one leg reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards. Where Willis had been obnoxious though. He asked Elliott.' Things seemed to have come to a head in December 1989 when they were taking a break from the album. He didn't belong there.' admitted Joe.' The psychiatric hospital only highlighted how desperate things had become. as is customary there in such cases. 'It was awful. We'd lost him 119 . comatose in a gutter and was. If Leppard were the ultimate careerists that they are often painted as. We were a five-piece operating as a four-piece and we had a moral dilemma about the whole thing.41 had killed John Bonham.' The doctors felt that Clark was simply ignoring the problem. Once again. Clark was helpless and the band naturally wanted to help save their friend from himself. It was a long. Savage. In such unfamiliar conditions. The best medicine would be to confront him with the effects of his drinking. 'Since the "Hysteria" tour finished in October '88.The Last Time up the neighbours for Bryan Adams. 'It was the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever had to do. the incredible facts of the matter are burned on Elliott's memory. painful process as Joe recalled. Lange and Burnstein to write letters to Clark and then read them to him in a closed session.' An indication of their plight was the realization that six months of recording had yielded a mere two pieces of useable music . but he needed help from somewhere. the last thing they needed were problems with Clark which were every bit as significant as those which had lead them to fire Pete Willis during the recording of Pyromania in 1982. and Leppard were once again trying to produce themselves along with engineer Mike Shipley. It wa s "we should be a band but instead it's Us and Him and Him isn't contributing because he's a complete and severe alcoholic who's killing himself". the impact he was having on the lives of his closest friends. 'They told us the alcohol level in his blood was 0. Clark would have been quietly dumped in 1989 and a replacement sought. committed to a psychiatric hospital for observation.

I' ve always been co nsc io us of not wast ing mo ney .he w as such a nice pe rso n th at yo u naturall y tr y to protect him . W e we re like co-dependen ts ..tight -fisted bas tards fro m H ell that w e a re!' Joe felt tha t his tight co nt ro l o f the purse stri ngs ex plained his refu sal to get sucked into the d rug cult ure . Mutt saw him and sa id he'd got a dead man's skin and he was right. . he looked like he was de ad a lready. ser ving cha mpagne ou t of th eir bra s a nd go " Wow ! Grea t !" a nd th en find it cost £ 120. ass iste d by the fact that they 'd settled down to work in Joe's home st ud io .' The o nly so lution see med to be work. look a fter him . ' Ste ve started to hate all the things th at he'd loved in th e past because he th ou ght they trapped him. T he mo ney I'd waste on drugs. that's eig hteen gra nd each. 'I'm materialist ic w hic h is why I never got hoo ked . he actually tr ied to sm as h his hand so th at he would n' t be a ble to co me. H e lo ved th e road but when we sta rted to get ready fo r the big Am er ican tou r for Hysteria. I'd rath er use to fly ho me to see She ffield Un ite d. but tha can't tek Sheffield out of th e bo y! I put th e stud io in because I didn't want to spe nd tw o million qu id ma kin g a record! Serio usly. It's onl y now th at I reali ze how much tim e and effo rt we spe nt tr ying to care for him . we'd hear that Queen had a party with women swi ngi ng from cha nde liers. You hav e no other life a part from th at.000 a nd think . Joe joked with H ot Press that ' Aye lad. That was one aspect of Hyst eria that they did not wi sh to em ulate.I co uld neve r see th e point o f spe nd ing eno ugh to stick coke up my no se th at'd be go ne in fiftee n seco nds wh en I co uld spend the same amo unt on ten C Ds . ' Ric k Savage felt sim ila rly powerless to help and co uld onl y watch in horror as C lark 's mental state deteriorated. Accepting th at th ere would be another mighty gap betw een relea ses. It w as like orange peel. We'd o nly do th at if so me o ne else paid . I was bo rn to very proud but ave rage ea rn ing pa rent s. Leppard settled o n a more relaxed sched ule. It was him that got us on stage in the first place right at the start . I st ill lo ok for th e best price . th a ca n tek th e bo y o ut o f Sheffield. It drove us to desper ati on . I'd rather take it ho me and have a few pints" . a decision th at also had mu ch to d o wi th the esca lating cos t of the record. bu y 120 . I am aware o f th ings. I ca n' t help it. there was nothing in his eyes. " ha ng o n.Def Leppard by then.

sessions were not subject to the added stress of an over-s tre tched budget. able to tak e a balan ced view of th ings and to enjoy his success without wa nting any stereotypica l excess. attempting to humiliate him into seeing his addictio n in front of similar addicts.' Elliott was also blessed with a personality that was fairl y equ abl e. Though Steve had returned to London from Minnesota. Phil'd carryon playing. Steve couldn't stop. He was the best kept secret in rock'n'roll. he'd been drinking heavily since I'd known him. H e'd have a month or so in rehab. there was no pre ssure over time because studio time is so expensive. I'd sing seven 'til midn ight and if I knew I was having a bad time. Joe went with him to his AA meetings . it just meant we finished a day lat er. but to no avail. I'm not gonna die at thirty-five becau se of a dumb smack habit and I'm not gonna be skim at fifty either. It was important that. adding 'we just ca n' t record quic kly.Th e Last Time a load of CDs or some hi-fi.Phil took three months off at th e sta rt of 1990 when his son Rory wa s born and. if I couldn't sing on a given day. Joe recalled: 'He used to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but he never believed he had a problem. We had better secur ity over the tapes. Working at hom e.Phil did guitars eleven 'til six. Alcoholism is an illness and with all the will in the world. that wa s the th ing. To keep things moving. I think he was just destined to destroy himself. wit h Clark in such a state. for by th en.' Th ose split shifts came in in 1991 . on his return. I don 't wanna wa ste £3 00 on something that's gone in an hour. that's a guy that wants to die. The lifestyle didn't help either. puking blood back in '78. then he'd check out and go straight to the pub. Jo e concu rred. we recorded in split shifts . Everything end s but I'm determined I'll be alright when it do es. Thi s time. No problem. Jo e jetted off for a break in Lanzarote. Clark wa s not the only on e abl e to take adva ntage of th e new regime . Phil had twic e as much wo rk to do. To me. He'd 121 . It wasn 't something that happened in th e last few years. th e enviro nment helped. things wer e not improving. it's a waste of money and it's stupid. Steve Clar k was not so luck y. Becaus e Steve wanted to keep his problem from his family . Phil felt th at th e time apart 'helped us be objective abo ut each other's work'.

Def Leppard co me round to th e hou se and we'd hide the booze . Phr ases like 'a sha tte ring blow' tend to be tr otted o ut at times like th ese. a ll th at kept him go ing. nice. J oe explained th at 'We didn 't fire him . may feel there were th ings th ey could and sho uld ha ve don e. Steve was a ver y creative person. th eir reactio n wa s a nobl e o ne .' T he wh ole albu m was spinning further o ut of co nt ro l and in Septe mbe r 1990. May be in hind sight we sho uld have spe nt more time wit h him. Steve was sent on a sa bba t ica l by th e rest o f th e gro up.' Joe mad e a sta te ment on be ha lf of th e band th at summed up the ir feelings. but no words ca n do justice to such tra uma tic news. shy. a grea t pe rson to be a longside. feelin g that perh aps Def Leppard wa s Clark 's o nly lifeline. and 122 . The sa d truth was th at Clark wa s a n addict an d far more medically an d psych ol ogicall y q ua lified and ex pe rie nce d professionals th a n fo ur guys from a roc k' n'roll ba nd are co nstan tly faced with failure as the y tr y to brea k so meo ne's habi t. we told him to so rt him self o ut over six mo nths . resu lting fro m excessive quant ities of alc ohol mixed wi th pai nki ller s and a ntidepressa nt drugs. gentle so rt of blok e. he was the business. T he ban d ma y st ill har bou r feelings o f guilt ove r th e way they trea ted Cla rk. but yo u ca n't be your brothe r's keep er . Yo u're supposed to be an ex pe rt at ha ndling it but you're not .we co uld n 't dea l with him being arou nd in th at state and we thou ght th e best th ing wa s to give him space. Steve Clark was found dea d in his Chelsea flat.and he'd start asking why we'd hidden it a nd go a ll funn y. ev en if it wasn't entirely un exp ect ed as Rick Savage po inte d o ut: 'Jo e sa id to me so met ime a fte rwa rds th at it was a lmost like ha ving an elderly relative th at yo u kn o w is goi ng to die so me tim e. but yo u don't think it's going to be to day. T he co ro ner's report a month lat er stated tha t death had occurred beca use of a respirato ry failu re. On stage. th e master o f riffs. but in truth th ey have no reason to reproach th em selves. O n t he mo rn ing o f 8 J an ua ry 1991. T hey did th e ver y best th ey co uld und er th e circumstances and it just was not eno ugh. ve ry visua l and ver y ene rget ic. Maybe not hing ever wo uld have been.he might have been off it for a co up le of week s . ' Steve wa s a reall y quiet. humble.' N ot w ishing to put an en d to his career in the wa y they had wi th Willi s.

but I can't. but like Joe . It was such a was te.you die at thirty and life ain 't even started '. say ing 'so oner or lat er we wo uld have got to th e sta ge where we would have had to decid e "ca n we risk taking him on tour with us?" and I'd like to say he wo uld have been fine. it wa s sadly inevitabl e th at things would end thi s way: 'He was alright on tour because yo ur whole life is set out for you but as soon as he had tim e to sit down and think. It was a plea sur e to kn ow him for thirteen years and I'll miss him like a brother. I'd much rather it be that wa y.' The onl y co nso lation to be dr awn from Clark's tr ials and event ual death was that he gave out a wa rn ing th at was heeded by another member of the band who was in similar trouble. The qu estion that con stantl y recurred was sho uld Clark have been sacked years ago. Joe was und erstand abl y uncertain . So man y peopl e think that when yo u turn th irt y.' Had Cla rk lived. carried him out of places an d did all th at st uff but you can only do so much. there be a certai n ani mos ity between us bu t him alive than us love a guy who's dead. he's fine. Rick Allen had lon g been th ought of as fully recovered from his car acci dent. 123 . that he co uld drink forever but it doesn't work like th at '. H e kept tr ying but it we nt again st him . he worried and worried and worried. We'll definit ely miss his creative input. Joe admitted as mu ch. Phil Co llen wa s deeply hurt by th e loss of his clo se friend and playing partner. life's over . but no less painful for th at. given Steve's personality. wh enever I see him and he's on th e wagon. would th at have been the shoc k to the system that he needed or would it hav e merely esca lated his decline? It was an insoluble qu estion. Te n years after th e event. I wa nt to sto p but I can't". he wa s philosophical enough to realize that. th en Leppard would almos t certa inly ha ve had to get rid of him an ywa y. for he wasn't getti ng any bett er. Th e compari son s with Pete Will is we re inevita ble. How he staye d al ive as lon g as he did was a blessing. He was an alcoholic and it was horrible to see becau se it was my mat e w ho wa s shaking and going " Fuck. saying 'I'm glad th at Willis is alive and we get on okay. He th ou ght he wa s invincible.The Last Time wrote so me of th e best we've ever done. I pick ed him up. he was still tr ying to adapt to wh at had happened to him and its implications. The only esca pe was to hit th e bottle. but beneath the surface.

I realized th at th e last th ing I wanted to do was what Steve had done. now they tried to do th e same in the wa ke of Steve 's dea th. I'd go t a gut and it wa s starting to show on my face.' Joe agreed. I realized that every thing in my life doesn't revol ve around Def Leppard! I don't hav e anyt hing to prove. I just thought I could do it all on my own.Def Leppard ' I never went through any psychological rehabilitation after the accident. th ey reall y did wa nt to put th e record toget her quickly. ' Unfortunat ely. T his time. We didn't want to dwell on it or get depressed by it. th e entire sessio ns were scrapped and wo rk began afres h. wh en I tried to get him to see what was happening to him. making a reco rd for the sake of it. We were on auto. my girlfriend of seven years. Wh en we finally got a break in 1989. no t least becau se it wa s now almos t four years since th e release of Hysteria. th e band were so dr ained by th eir ex periences with Clark that th ey were bereft of any fresh inspirati on.pilot. co uldn' t co nq uer my own troubles at th at tim e. I didn't rea lize until lat er on th at I co uld have done with outside help. I brok e up with M iriam. wh en I tried to talk to Steve. Returning to Joe's Dublin hom e. I was drink ing. T he so und go t played out by other peopl e and we were left wondering wh at th e fuck to do next. Phil described other co nsideratio ns th at pushed them on: 'We recorded it again rea lly quic kly so we wo uldn' t have it ha nging over us. but to no avail. Maki ng t ha t reco rd wa s really stra nge. But before that. he'd just co me back at me with "what a bo ut yo ur problems?" I co uldn' t get through that barrier . add ing 'we spent two 124 . th ey worked so lidly for two months. more co ncerne d with Steve th an anyt hing else. Rick Allen admi tted th at ' I th ink we we re go ing through th e motion s a bit. However. I never really gave myself tim e to get to kn ow myself again. Joe admitting th at 'there was no soul in it'. met up with an old girlfriend from 1980 and got married. We kn ew we had to wr ite some stronge r songs and cha nge dir ection. As with Hysteria.' Ju st as th ey'd so ught solace in th eir work w hen Rick lay in his hospital bed six yea rs earlier. I spent so me time tr ying to put all that right w hich was really important for me. we knew th at we had this sou nd and th at we were ex pected to do certain things.

a record that seemed to shun any contact with the real world or with the real. Mutt Lange had attempted to veto its inclusion as Joe explained. I honestly think that in five year s' time . the method of recording was appreciably different. I'm going to think that Adrenalize is the best of the first five albums we did regardless of what comes over the next five years. the wheel had turned and misery was in vogue courtesy of Nirvana and the whole Seattle scene. Initially we were trying to second guess Mutt but any time 125 . raw emotions that they 'd lived with. Having a five year gap between albums is not only costly. not in noise terms. We had more control over it and we got it exactly as we wanted it'. but in the atmospheric and emotional tenor of some of the tracks. but while we were recording it. Sadly. things ar e hitting you where they sho uld. Joe saying 'it's more in your face. They would hav e been mu ch better ad vised to give free rein to their anguish. Fashion aside. Ironically.The Last Time years being miserable. the bollocks of Pyromania coupled with the songwriting capability of the last one. though the results were strikingly similar to Hysteria. while U2 had now become satirical industrial noiseniks co urtesy of Achtung Baby. by 1992. even if the sound was generally a little tougher. Alternative music had hit the mainstream with a vengeance and although Adrenalize sold in Leppard 's customary humungous quantities. There was a Zeppelinesque emotional bottom to songs such as 'White lightning' that were an obvious departure for them and this mature work was clearly a pointer for the future. we never thought we should change the sound of those original songs. the album seemed woefully out of date and Leppard a band teetering on th e brink of obsolescence. nothing th at moves with such bewildering pace. There were clear signs that the band were deliberately moving towards the heavier end of the spectrum. They knew it.' So. It was testimon y to th eir creation that the sound they pioneered with Pyromania was still sufficiently popular in 1987 to turn Hysteria into an even bigger seller. though they tried to put a brave face on things. Without Mutt Lange. it's a high-risk strategy too. out of the most miserable period of their collective life came a record that was relentlessly upbeat. th ere is no more ephemeral industry than popular mu sic. 'We wanted the performances to be raunchier.

but agai nst Janet Jackson '. Joe described it as being 'a bo ut anyo ne th at 's go ne down th at aven ue of self-destruc tion. Sad ly.w hen it came out it should have so unded more like Retro A ctive o r Slang but we spent half our tim e with Steve an d o ur heart wasn't in it.A drenalize isn't go ing to get play ed just agai nst Bon Jovi or Guns N' Roses. something of w hich th ey cou ld be proud and w hich Clark himself would ha ve loved to have played on. The easte rn. It was th e only rea l evide nce that Def Leppard might leave th eir ow n past behind them. Phil Co llen was particul arl y o utsta nding on thi s song. Jani s Joplin. Artistica lly th ou gh. He wa nted th e optimistic stuff to go on th e album.influenced open ing. th at wasn't really eno ugh and the band tha t had prid ed itself on lead ing the field had finally missed a trick as th eir great rivals Bon Jovi had already seen which wa y th e wind wa s blow ing and were record ing Keep th e faith . top ping th e UK chart on release and spen ding five weeks at number one in th e States. Ironi cally it was Steve him self w ho had first pushed th e band in th is d irect ion wit h 'Gods of war' on H ysteria. say ing th at 'it shou ld have been out in 1990 . it wa s a piece with real clo ut. we phoned him up in his capacity as Executive Producer and he'd make suggestions. Phil Co llen spo ke of the co mpeti tion. he was freaked out by " W hite lightn ing" w hich was mild as fuck . similar in some wa ys to 'T he cu tter ' by Echo and th e Bunnymen. It wa s a fucking horribl e tim e'. be it Jim M orrison . T ha t wa s perfectly tru e. and in that co mpa ny it perfo rmed exceptiona lly.' 'W hite light nin g' was th e obvious centrepiece of A drenalize. A dre nalize was a rolli cking rock'n 'roll record with no pretensions to be anyt hing else. Joe admi tte d as much. whil e th e anguished 'coming to claim you' section wa s incre d ibly stro ng. a significant change of pac e for th em.Def Lepp ard we got desperately st uck. pointing out t hat 'we' re very competitive . Leppard's standards had slipp ed for th ey we re pedd ling mu sic that had really had its fina l fling. I reckon we spoke th irt y or forty tim es but most of the time we just got on with it. By 1992. perh ap s its saving grace. In all. was a pot ent introduction to a so ng ab out add icts and ad diction. 126 . it took his death to encourage them to go further down tha t road. the inability to brea k free of th e shackles of a habit. Steve Clark o r so meo ne on a bench outs ide Mc Donald's in Mi lton Keynes' . Bon Scott.

Stra nge ly. th e music sounded as hap py as an y th ey'd produced. joe argued that 'we like varying the sounds with in so ngs. rockers and ballad s alike building stea dily to a crescendo before th e final mom ent of release in a glor iou s cho rus. a nice tune. a rou gher tr ack but with a stur dy cho rus and a memorable melody. The other three tracks. decorou s guitar and throaty vocal s combining supre mely well. 'Make love like a man' wa s a case in point . a lush opening. Th e same was tru e of 'Ha ve you ever needed so meo ne so bad?'. 'Sta nd up (kick love int o action)' wa s th e band at th eir seductive best. Ironically tho ugh. lovelorn so ul. Savage acce pting that 'we do look for th e commercia l aspect w hile keep ing th e power . in th e same vein as 'Roc ket'. It's su nny sound was infectious and it was d ifficult not to smile your way through it. its use of effects both clever an d amusing. th ough it remained endea ringly silly. 'Let's get rocked' wa s as daft a song as you co uld find. 'Personal property'. it's less tiring 12 7 . thi s was class ic ' lighters in th e air ' material. it wasn' t so mu ch w ha t th ey said. the production thi s time not having th e shee r sca le to paper over the cracks. it wa s clear th at th e band had to move on . it was no t so overwrought as their earlier ballad s and a real emotiona l qu ality was starting to emerge. j oe's impl oring 'S' pose a rock's ou t of th e que stion? ' was a do uble ente nd re th at neede d a younger ma n. N evertheless. songs th at co uld have been on Hysteria but pla yed with greater intent. Th e Q ueen motif co ntinued into 'Tonight'. but the way that they sa id it. An expert at playing th e unrequited . it was Leppard's preoccupati on with love so ngs of all shades tha t had been th eir grea test virtue on a commercial level.it's a fine line' .Th e Last T ime As has been pointed out. Lyrically. perfect for the co nce rt hall. but it was a challenge that seemingly bewild ered th em. 'I wanna to uch yo u' and 'Tear it down ' were sta nda rd rock'n'roll. proof of just how far his voice had improved since 1979. A drenalize wa s a solid eno ugh record. but ultim at ely rather characterless. after yea rs of being too young to be a lecher . in spite of th e ordeal. 'Heaven is' followed it up stro ngly. though it inevita bly lacked Freddie M ercury's charisma tic de livery and Qu een's cha rac ter. which was j oe's own to ur de force. lashi ngs of backing vocals and some of Brian May's stylized guitar ex plosions from Co llen. Lyrica lly unimpo rta nt.

intensely tuneful. . Yet Jo e still complained that 'nobody take s wh at we do seriously.' Desp ite Joe's reservati ons. . at th e end of th e day. T here 's littl e wo nder that Jimm y Page an d David Cove rda le's Lege nds album has been shelved until Oc to ber . We're really into metering and phrasing which is more impo rta nt in roc k'n 'roll than actual lyrical content. Rolling Stone called Lepp ard 'one of the ca tchiest bands in roc k' n'roll. and endorsed th e gro up's attitude in gushing term s: 'A terrace-friendl y record of excitement.' Only Phil Sutcli ffe in Q 128 . . the album receive d so me of the best reviews of t heir career. optimism.Def Leppard on th e listeners' ears.' In th e face of such ban ality.. . for Co llen in particular. Adrenalize will be th e rock album of the summer '. roaring roc k'n' ro ll . and not ed th at Adrenalize was 'sure to be a definit ive multi-million seller . We're tou ching more people so it has to be better as far as I'm con cern ed . Fiona Looney in Hot Press marked th em equa lly well. "Sta nd up " is the perfect pop metal single . Blur and EMF don 't sell jackshit co mpared to us. th e onl y people wh o not ice are record bu yers. . Peop le wh o get credit for being inn ovati ve like the T hompson Twins. elation and adren alin e . energy. easy mind-numbing far e that a ppea ls to th e heart and th e feet witho ut ta xin g th e head . Joe took the pri ze for th e mo st st upid attempt ever to justify their inane lyrics: 'T he Brazili an rainforests and ozone layer are fine for so me peopl e but we'd rather help save them by giving th em money so we can just mak e roc k mu sic. but surely th at 's what roc k' n' ro ll sho uld be and what it was befor e it was hijacked by whingers like Bob Dylan . but it does mak e you wonder. th e Leps rely almos t excl usively o n goo d old-fas hioned foot -stomping. it's no surprise that man y dismissed Def Leppard as a wild an achronism. . if we cheer one person up enough to go and do so mething enviro nmenta lly aware and do it while the y're listenin g to us on their Walkman. Less of Lan ge's st udio trickery. . now thoroughl y pa st th eir sellby date. T hey're th e most impo rta nt people. ten out of tw elve. unrepentantl y frivolous'.. it' s a tr iumph . Pau l Elliot t gave th em nin e out of ten in Vox . .' Speaking to Q. airpunching. sub consciously it makes it more appealing to peopl e. Jesus Jon es. more of a straig htfo rwa rd hard rock record . It might appear that a Def Leppard album isn 't go ing to save th e rainforest but it might.

Dio and Wh itesnak e among others. Adrenalize adds up to efficiency . th ey pla yed Wembley Stadium as part of the Freddie Mercury tribute concert. . a gig that was being bro ad cast to the wo rld. The band wer e dreadful. but it was a pr obl em th at had to be shelved . H ow did the y replace Steve Clark? Phil Co llen didn't even want to try: 'Steve was my best friend and the th ou ght of replacing him was cra p . There was evide nce th at this was exercising their minds rather mo re. having had spells with Sweet Savage. Campbell's style fitted in well alon gside Co llen and the two were sw ift to develop a good wo rking relati onship . it didn't develop quickly eno ugh to prevent one of his earliest gigs with the band turning into a disaster. moving in circles where they weren't so convinced of their ability? In sho rt. The die was cast and. the y seem to have come through the lon g process of emotion al turmoil and relentl essly professional selfcriticism with exa ctly th e album everyone was exp ecting . though Melody Mak er's John Selzer was unimpressed by their Earl 's Court performance calling th em 'a lifeline for the comato se . .you don't go ou t and get a new brother. Austral ian soa p dr ama and 129 . was safe but sure really good eno ugh ? Sho uldn' t Leppard be extending th emselves furth er.. bringing with it a huge problem. Born in Nort hern Ireland and a seaso ned hard rock guita rist. it also sounds like ano ther co mme rcial mon ster. propelling Adrenalize to wards sales th at even rivalled those of Hysteria.. Vivian Campbell got the job. It took me a year to come to terms with the fact that we needed ano ther guitarist. was eno rmo usly successful. after inte nsive auditions. In Apr il 1992. was n' t it time to take a chance or two? After all. Phil accepted th at it would be impossible for Leppard to tak e to the stage as a fo ur-piece band and recreate their album performan ces in any thing approaching meaningful fashion.The Last Time wo ndered how they had come through their personal tragedies so un scathed: 'For better or worse. they sca rcely needed the mon ey any lon ger. if it sounds safe.' Eventually th ough.' T he problem was th at at th is stage of their career. Th e accompanying tour. in the ro und agai n. Unfortunatel y. The latest tour was loom ing. Rick 's drum kit having got lost befor ehand dela ying their appearance and then their sound apparently coming from th e bottom of a swa mp.Mills & Boon novels.

In Oc to ber 1993. yo u don' t wake up o n to ur a ny more wonderi ng if t he guy in th e next roo m is goi ng to be dead .' T here wa s even time to piece together th e ragb ag of B-sides and rarities th at J oe ha d spoken a bo ut five yea rs pr eviou sly. . There were epic Ze ppelin influences on ' Desert so ng'. it wa s zombiefied. Q 's Valerie Potter writing th at th e album wa s a 'pleasantl y patterned pat chwork th at is.Def Leppard Def Leppard songs . . It was obvious that th is was a gro up finall y head ing into its full mat ur ity. th e peerless lovers' roc k of 'T wo ste ps behind ' a nd th e boi sterous bo uncy pop of 'I wa nna be yo ur hero' . 130 . th e band finall y enjoy ing the shows once more now that th e atmos phere in th e band had improved with Ca mpbell's add it ion. not on ly offered a breathing space to ena ble th em to co m plete th eir next record wit ho ut such an un seeml y ga p bet ween releases. but it provi ded a punctuat ion ma rk. th e o bligato ry greatest hit s set. Retro active ca me out. for disenfranchized co ns umers of the dr eam'. overtl y co mmerc ia l releases'. Vault. This new looseness. Elliott co mmented mem or abl y th at 'it's not a ball an d cha in an y mor e. th e newl y minted delicacy o f touch on th e mega-ballad 'M iss yo u in a heartbeat'. in man y wa ys.ro ck of th e brooding ' Fro m th e ins ide'. th e Queensty le cove r of th e Sweet's' Action'. read y perhaps to do its best work a nd w it h a stea dy gras p of a div erse range o f mu sic. Ano t her stopgap a lbum in 1995. indi cating th at Leppa rd were a band that wer e starting to reassess th eir place in th e scheme of things. th e product of the rela xed sta te of mind th at acco m panies an y such compilation. ad ding furth er fuel to th e rumours th at Def Leppa rd were rea dy to put th e first pha se of t heir ca ree r to bed a nd emerge again wit h something rath er d ifferent. preferable to th eir more co nt rived . The whirl of touring activity continued well into 1993. th e Irish folk. th e record itself having much to co m mend it. wa s an inspiration for th e future.

happy audience of th e 1980s. ult imat ely optimistic. but th e public still lapped it up. With Achtung Baby th at was behind th em fo r th ou gh th eir lyrical and spiritual preoccupa tions we re broadl y similar. The shiny. it's imp ossible no t to co ncede that Nirvan a and U2 radically reshap ed main st ream mu sic at th e beginning of thi s decade. U2 's particular brand of an gst had always been popular . bu t its sa les surpasse d even his.10 TIME FOR A CHANGE? Th ey were luck y to get aw ay with it . fan s w ho were perfect for Leppard's sunny. Even th en. where th e promised future for those who worked hard was eva po ra ting before th eir eyes. N o-one wo uld ca ll 'Smells like teen spirit' a cand idate for a Michael Bolton record . Savage suggesting th at ' it was obvious to us that we rea lly wa nte d a break fro m th e way we'd always recor ded. culmina ting in a darker. 131 . a fact th at Leppard were willing to own up to. we wa nted a d ifferent sound'. Wh eth er yo u' re a fan or not . a world th at offe red littl e. suga ry pop-rock were mutating int o th e Gen erati on X crowd. Grunge reflected th eir tak e on a wo rld t hat was changing too fast. cla ustro pho bic nois e. but it was cou ched in such mu sical terms as to remain upli fting. th eir vocabulary was overha uled. Adrenalize succeeded th anks to a loyal fan base and a huge pro moti on al bud get. th ere wa s no disguising that thi s was yester day's mu sic. 'T he fly' was no t fro m th e same whi stle-friendly sta ble as 'I still haven 't found what I'm looking for '. much of which was co nsumed by th e video for 'Let's get roc ked' which kick -started th e album across America.

partly becau se we so unded so poli shed . Everyt hing wa s different. mak e o ur lyrics stronger especially. Such attention to detail. Phil Co llen noted th at 'i n th e eighties. with a definite target in mind . It was a reacti on to reco rding sepa rately under the microscope. But we were looked on as th e McDonald s of rock mu sic. th eir concentration on getting every final aspect of a song. It was fun . ra uco us rock'n'roll. ' hea vier' . It was partl y because th e lyrics were so shallow. We had to put things right. its arr angeme nt and its product ion. but also milita ted against the songs sounding like anything but another Lepp ar d product. that did not deflect th em from th eir chose n path of upbeat . for altho ugh Steve Clark died during its making. no t the pr oduct ion. we just didn't fit. Leppard had been attempting to fresh ly mint a so und th at no -one had made in th e past and as Joe pointed out 'we're prep ar ed to go th at extra yar d . Looking back at th eir canon. M ak ing Pyromania and Hysteria. 'relaxe d'. H ow th eir meticu lou s prep aration would stack up alon gside th ese particular ambitions wo uld decid e how successful th e reinvention of Def Lepp ard wo uld be.was th eir rigidity. we didn't spend time getting so unds. th eir percei ved lack of ada pta bility. their intricate way of working in th e st ud io. to th eir liking before allowing its release was a guarantee of a certain qu ality.th ough paradoxically it's also a so urce of th eir streng th . that was the impression. In th e nin eties.dazed and confused. it wa s the social climate that demanded our sty le of mu sic. T he bu zzword s in th e camp now were ' loos er'. Collen felt that 'our pr eviou s albums were inte lligent on a mu sical level but th is tim e aro und we wanted to be freer.' A regula r cr iticism of Leppard . We spent eighteen mo nths on it. And 132 . Similarly. such a que st for per fect ion meant th at sacrifices had to be made along th e wa y with some so ngs overworked to th e point of exhaustion. misery became coo l an d when we were touring Adrenalize.Def Leppard The benign technology that had given us the CD was now consuming th e anticipated job for life and leaving the rock audience . T he A drenalize project co nfirmed that.who as yo ungsters were off into the workplace . th e guitars were genera lly one tak e.' O ne thing th at helped thi s tim e aro und was th e fact th at a blu eprint exis ted. everyone had money. all our effort we nt into th e songs.

not about production. but the changes that have taken place are not superficial. th is is th e heart of Slang and consequently the material ranks amo ng the best they've yet produced . Pet. There ar e still elements of quintessential Leppard on show. Leppard did the same.Time For a Change? sometimes you don't know where that extra yard is which is why it takes such a long tim e to get there'. Determined to remain valid in a new decade. Now. It's about us. allowing songwriting rather than musical talent to shine through. Joe infor ming jealo us repo rters that 'if you weren 't read y to work. It was alm ost like being in a new band. Though the y worked long and hard on the record . To ma int ain that lighter mood. Then. if not the radical rebirth that advance publicity might have suggested.there is no sense in which this is a laboured record. drafting in Pete Wo odroffe as co-producer while Lang e had littl e or no involvement . following the promotional chores for Vault. Gene sis brought in a new producer to help free themselves from habits and preconceptions.' The change in emphasis has proved to be a reso unding success. the y were following in the foot steps of many other bands. It has a livelier feel than any pre viou s album. then. back to Spain until May 1995. whi ch was mu ch better. they chose to rent a house in M arbella. much mor e inspiring. wh ere th ey would record from May 1994 onwards apparentl y. taking inspiration from a wider range of music and knowing precisely wh at th ey were looking for. The accent is on stro ng songs and on strong characters. two more months to finish off . Phil compared the who le experience with 'going on a school holiday. yo u co uld just go and look out at the ocean. the villa was used as th e hom e of villain Ally Fraser in the seco nd series of the TV co medy dram a Auf Wie dersehen. the rea ssessment that has taken place is similar to th e way Genesis restructured their so und in 1981 with Abacab. That immediat ely removed th e pressure and turne d reco rding into fun. two months more in Dublin. there was a new enthusiasm in Spain. even though musically it's quite dark. tha n the dungeons we usually record in' . not even getting involved with the songwriting process. and th e record reflected that. The atmosph ere wa s idyllic. th e product of the oblig atory 133 . the traditional size of the so und was trimmed back.in Marbella from May until September 1994.

a so ng that ex p loited Joe's expa nd ing emotiona l range a nd th e co nsta ntly imp ro ving pa rtn ership between Ca mpbell and Co llen. Where before the ba nd sim ply ign ored life. Allen noting th at 'i t was a gro up thing this ti me.' If yo u' re goi ng to stea l. the cover betrayed a st ro ng Indi an influ en ce as did so me of th e music. use of that eas tern so und inevitabl y leads yo u to think either of th e Beatl es. In mod ern rock music. W he n Viv ca me in. now its vicissitudes ar e grist to the so ngw rit ing m ill. no tab ly ' Kas hmi r' . Alt ho ugh it was Ph il Co llen w ho was the maj o r w rite r o n Slang. per soni fied by th e Sto ne Roses and H ap py Mondays. as th ou gh he'd taken o n a nast ier a lte r-ego. lazy sw ing bea t pop th at ca lls to mind Take T hat. 'T urn to d ust' was a case in poi nt. it ha s to be an influ enc e. replacing t he dr ead ful artwo rk t hey'd per sisted with throu gh th e rest o f th eir ca ree r. devo id of th e blatant love songs th at had cro pped up elsewher e. T he re were tr aces of both on 'T urn to du st '. mo rose. Collen acce pted that ' if it's th e best o f a sty le. If Boyz II M en provided the platform fo r ' Breat he a sig h'. th ou gh th e ide a o f Leppa rd performing a synco pa ted dan ce ro uti ne o n th e wo rld's concert stages remains an unlikely o ne. The lyric wa s harsh in th e ex tre me. Rick Savage lost his father w hi le Phil continues to go through a divorce all the more traumatic beca use o f th e qu esti on of cu stod y o f his yo ung son. a yea rn ing ballad t ha t reflects o n his loss. Ph il's ' Brea the a sigh' is a fine exa mple of that. or Led Zeppelin. Joe's vo ice was gruff. Musicall y. a subject that was to recur o n th e a lbum. touching a lso o n spirit ual matter s a nd a lack of fait h. it's th e most aty pica l so ng Leppard have eve r recorded. it was Allen w ho was pivota l in direc ting the so und: 'A fter th e first two 134 .Def Leppard harrowing times th at acco mpa nied it. particularl y Ge o rge H arri son. the w ho le th ing became more of a team' . N irvan a ha d more than a hand in ' Deliver me' . w hile Rick adde d a mod ern d imension w it h his use of the shuffle beat so preva lent in t he ' baggy' mo vem ent. To rein force th e mood of cha nge. o ne of the a lbum's sta ndo ut so ngs . In ton e. T his time. w hethe r it's Nirvana o r Boyz II M en . th e a lbum was impressionistic . stea l from the best has been a motto that ha s kept every decent ro ck' n' ro ll band in bu sin ess since time imm em ori al. th e so ng's pr otagoni st shutt ing so meone out for good. eve n th e sleeve a rt wo rk wa s mod ern ized .

Even so. th ey finally so unded as if they were playing together as a band in the st udio . Slang had an exuberance that one wo uld have expected from a band making t heir first albu m. th ey were clearl y in th e grip of change. but tha t was uncharacteris tically mod est for tho ugh it wa s pop mus ic. top ped off by a fine clos ing guitar refrain from Co llen. The sou nd was tru ly thu ndero us. partl y beca use it was easier after I lost my ar m. it wa s the band 's ow n persona lity that was striking home. Viv Campbell's 'Work it out' was tr emend ou sly catchy. From the same school as th e rap-meta l sty le of Terrorvision.Time For a Change? albums. the electronic kit was more convenient. an o bvious hit sing le th ou gh in a different way to somet hing like 'Animal'. T hose more tradition al suppo rters co uld still find a lot to enjoy on Slang for th ey were clearl y no t to be alienated by it. 'Truth?' for ex ample featured heavily industria lized vocals that were somehow more humanly authentic than j oe's norma l transa tla ntic dr awl and it wa s lovely to hear real drums again. but also beca use of t he kind of reco rds we were ma king.' Listening to 'Turn to dust' and its predece ssor . j oe felt th at ' it's th e only thing with a foot in the o ld camp. it was a long way from 'Le t's get rocked'. and an interesting one at tha t. it seemed right to go back to th e acoustic kit to get a mor e earthy so und. I also missed th e ph ysical side of hitting the drums. an inescapable. T he so und just set the tone. th ey can be forgiven for wanting to break in th e old fans gently . the startling rea lization was that rather than listening for the prod uct ion tricks. not one in its eighteenth year. T here was more int eract ion between th e five members of Def Leppard on t hose two songs than on the pre viou s two fully-fledged albums. with j oe's rest rained vocal only adding to th e imp act. Rick Savage felt th at 'it wa sn't so much a change as so met hing we'd been wanting to 135 .' Co llen agreed. As we changed tack. overwhelming so und. 'Slang' itself was th e cho ice as lead-off single. 'All I wa nt' used th eir trademark voca ls. saying 'we wanted Rick to use th e acou stic kit that he still used at home and it sounds so much better on w hat we 're trying to do now. the albu m ope ner 'T rut h ?'. A little disappointing tha t it was chose n as the first single w hen riskier ch oices ex isted. th ree minutes of pop a bo ut phone sex'.

We could have carri ed on. but had to admit 'there's nothing wrong with it which is a sur prise because we were afr aid of it . We'd made o ur trilogy of big production albums and during th e Adrenalize tour.' Phil was a little unsure of their ground before recording. it becomes stupid. If it described his ow n srate of mind . Q suggesting that th e changes we re radical while Vox felt that no thing had altere d.Def Leppard do for a few years. a message t hat was imp licit in ' Bloo d runs co ld'. th e personal nat ure of it lead ing him to cloud its mean ing in o blique references and imp ressio nistic phrases . 'Pea rl of eupho ria' was a fitting con clusion to wh at was becom ing a very cat hartic al bum. Reviews were mixed. If yo u stay with th e same sound. a recurrent the me on th e swing laden 'W here does love go when it dies?' O n ' Blood run s co ld'. th e music wa s as chilling as th e theme. th en Plan et Elliott was not quite th e happy go luck y place it often appeared. It was easier to make Slang than a record that so unded like what we 'd been doing for the last eight or ten years. juxtaposing a loss of faith with an alm ost Ca tho lic dose of guilt. a lyric th at look ed at th e futility of suicide. pretending to be th e champion s of teena ge rock but as you get olde r. yo u becom e like Wishbon e Ash o r so mething whi ch is a shame. worrying a bo ut th e change in gear. th e value of life could only have been bro ught hom e still further to th e ba nd. ' Gift of flesh ' employed volume with int ent rather th an with bluster. it was just so obvious that we wanted to do so mething different . w hich termed it 'their most d iverse work so far. th e add ictive phrases remini scent of 'White lightning' and th e mu sic dooml ad en.it's not a dance floor production for sure !' The final four songs indi cated th at they were growing up as a band and tou ching on subjects th at would have been taboo just a few years befor e.' Joe was adamant that th ey had to mak e thi s leap: 'It was a logical progression. Joe felt tha t it 'was quire an inward loo king so ng'. With Savage having lost his fat her. The band are rapping into diffe rent areas but rarely do yo u get 136 . Probably th e besr summary ca me fro m Me tal Hammer. A pot ent end to Def Lepp ard 's finest hou r. for the image ry wa s bleak . perhaps inspire d by Kurt Co bai n and by the loss of Steve Clark wh ose addictio n was ta nta mount to a death wish. ano the r of Phil's so ngs that dwelt on th e darker side of his psyche.

Rick Allen suggests that 'the emphasis will be on us. Wh en th e du st settles. Ea rly ind ications are that if the new album is as well received as th ey hop e. It was getti ng to be too much'. not th e set. Def Lepp ard co uld be touri ng th e wo rld for the next two yea rs. Leppard have made it clear th at th ey intend to remain valid for yea rs to co me. wh erever yo u ar e. while born agai n roc ker Joe Elliott sees it as 'us. a few lights and lots of M ar shalls'. th e pr ocess will star t aga in for with Slang. Live date s will inevitably follow. 137 . so th e public's verd ict is not yet in. bringing th eir own br and of rock' n' ro ll to a venue near yo u. Slang has just hit th e shops. th e gigs showing an evolution eq ua l to that on th e album. J ust do n't ex pect another new album th is millennium. It will be interesting to see how many of th eir ardent supporters tak e th e necessary leap of faith with th e band.Time For a Change ? th e impression that a rock's o ut of th e que stion! ' At the time of writing.

Leppard did th eir utm ost to ingratiate themselves with Phonogram. T he consensus of o pinion is that Leppard are mad e up of forthright. th ey have go ne on to write the rul e book for making it big in th e mu sic industry. an a llega tion w hich th ey do ver y little to dispel. No T V show. T alkin g of the co mpetitio n. Reviled by the critics for th eir fascinatio n w ith commerce. so calculating in th eir ga me plan. working th em selves into the gro und in th e pr ocess. Phil Co llen is renowned for spe nd ing hours talking to th em at gigs a nd hotels. bands that have been so deliber ately and defiantly ambiti ou s. the mu sic th ey lo ved united them as did a fierce co mpulsio n to use it as a passport to a better life. no meet a nd greet that might help adva nce th eir ca use has ever been needl essly refu sed while th eir regard fo r a nd gene ros ity towards th e fan s is legendary. Co llen adm itting that ' we' re as hip as piles!' Though th ey have th eir sha re of tal ented mu sician s.11 ALL WE WANT IS EVERYTHING Trying to sum up Def Leppard's ca reer is a peculiarly difficult task. if a ny. hardworking journeym en . Yet Leppard have never been tr eated with much respect by the press. As a bunch of teenager s in Sheffield. so manic in their need to ove r ac hie ve. Joe feels th at 'Jagger's th e best. no interview . N ever impressed by bands who made great pla y of a terrible relation ship with th eir em ployees. The ult im at e frontmen 138 . non e of them would necessarily be at th e forefront w he n it co mes to selecting a band to play in the Ro ck 'n 'Roll Fantasy Leag ue . Th er e a re few.

Rod Stew art. I'm Brian M ay fro m Queen . you can do owt! ' Perhaps it's a reflection of our times that a band who think of themselves as honest craftsmen rather than multi-talented art ists can become the biggest in the world. Un fairly ove r th e years. Lepp ard have been protected fro m the vagaries of life by a breathtaking ar roga nce. th ey would not be diverted from their goal. yo u learn from other peo ple. Joe is perfectly correct in stating that 'one of the greatest qu aliti es in thi s band is willpower. In what we do.' At th e sa me tim e. Nothing could deflect Def Leppard. Befor e sett ing foot in the st udio for Pyromania. Townshend .Jagger. th ey've been portrayed as Mutt Lange 's creatio n. Leppard wer e well aw ar e th at they wanted to bre ak the mould of ha rd rock recordings. That might 139 . but I'll keep going until I get it right. nobod y ca n touch us'. Lange was crucial . you get there in the end. it's like th e Queen introducing herself. Meat Loaf. 'W hen we first met Brian M ay. Steven Tyler. The word "can' t" isn't in our vocabulary ." As if we did n't know.' Such humility is one of th e lesson s learned early on following a meetin g with one of th e legend s of th e hard rock ga me as Jo e recalls. spot on". he ca me up and said " He llo. but largely as an inte rpreter rather than an instigator. amassing album sales well in excess of forty million. In another age. Allen 's horrifying accident wa s overcome. If you practice lon g eno ugh. With the colossal dedic ati on to the cause that has been at the heart of their armoury. maybe such a utilitarian combinat ion as Def Leppard would not have earned a second glance. You couldn't really dr aw me but it do esn't seem to have hind ered our success. We've got this reference point that says if yo u can have a on e-armed drummer. Phon ogram's an xiety over th e ga p between High 'n 'dry and Pyromania was dismissed. Alice Cooper. It' s a lon g way from the truth. down to eart h. You mak e a mental not e. We sa id "what a guy. Bowie. much more than talent. Some people won't sing a top C because it's hard. Th ey had a ver y clear vision of what th ey wa nted to do having spo tte d an area that no-one else was catering for and followed that vision to the hilt. casting Lange as Frankenstein to Leppard's monster. an utter co nviction th at 'we're the best. Th e bile of British audiences was treated with so mething approaching contempt.All We Want Is Everything are those yo u can caricature in cart oons . Steve Clar k's aw ful death wa s pu shed as ide.

In on e wa y or ano ther. go ing to a footba ll match if you have to reh earse.' T he final word goes to the ga rrulous Elliott. We want to get on th e cove r of a rock history book. but they 've alwa ys lived by the maxim th at th e show mu st go on. But they always seem to get th ere. 'You forsake being able to go to th e pub with yo ur mat es. How's th at for cliche! ' In th e end . Savage adm its to th e imp ortan ce of the work ethic. all of those. Steve Clark tragically did not. can do . use your intelligence to look for new angl es. Pete Willis the next . and succe ss ma y yet be yo ur s. for th e friend ship extended to Rick Allen was striking. is their very best. In th at . bringing th e sto ry full circle. th ey have given an object lesson to any young group coming up behind them. ' In the winter of 19 78. Rick Allen lived to tell the tal e. and sac rifices have had to be made along th e wa y as Elliott recounts.sett ing th e most unlikely tar get and th en worki ng toward s it in th e most blinkered of fashions. You can 't think about Def Leppard without reflecting on the casualtie s. bar Allen.' T he shock of Clark's death has given th em ca use to rethink their prio rities though as Allen po ints o ut 'we do tak e it all a lot more light-heartedl y now. But wh at you lose on the one hand you gain on th e other. like th e immense cama ra der ie on to ur. You forsake your girlfriend . that's w hat Def Leppa rd ar e ab out . me and Pete Willi s were walk ing hom e fro m th e rehearsal room and we had eno ugh money to buy one 140 . th ough Clark wa s event ually in no fit state to commit hims elf to anything. lacked the almost psychotic devoti on to th e band that th e rest demanded. We don 't sto p and we don't look down. That's not to say that th ey'r e brutal. but overall nothing is allowed to come between the group and their goal. sayi ng 'we spend all our time just tr ying to stay ahead of the game. Make th e absolute mo st of yo ur talents. Operating within such a taut working environment is not likely to lead to an easy life. perhap s in Cla rk's case the y were almost too support ive. MSB we re th e first. But we still wa nt to be legend ary. Possibly the rest of th e band didn 't deal with the issues as sensitively as th ey could have . yo u do n't see yo ur parents very often.Def Leppard be th e case but all th at the band could do.

We had a pint with two straws. That's one side.000 tickets in one day. th ere's always room for impro vement . we do n' t wa nt to go bac kwards like Uriah Heep or Wishbone Ash an d keep on playing wh en nobod y ca res. years later. At hom e I've got a disc for Pyroman ia an d Hysteria for th e first septuple million back-to. We don't want to be a one-o ff.back albums in histo ry.' 141 . We wa lked hom e past Sheffield City Hall where I found some chalk an d wrote " Def Lepp ard will play here in 1980 " on the wall. Now. We sold it out in 1980 and th ou ght we' d mad e it. There's always more. huddled round a fire in a pub near Bramall Lane. We were the first to do that.All We Want Is Everything pint between us or tak e th e bu s hom e. The other is that we've done two nights at Wembley Arena and tw o at th e N EC but not fi ve nights at Wemble y Stadium wh ere Gun s N 'Roses so ld 450 .

UK DISCOGRAPHY SINGLES Getcha rocks off January 1979 See notes Wasted November 1979 Chart: 61 Hello America February 1980 Chart: 45 Let it go August 1981 See notes Bringin' on the heartbreak November 1981 See notes Photograph January 1983 Chart: 66 142 .

Discography Rock of ages August 1983 Chart: 41 Too late for love November 1983 See notes Animal July 198 7 Chart: 6 Pour some sugar on me September 1987 Chart: 18 H ysteria November 1987 Chart: 26 Armageddon it April 1988 Chart: 20 Love bites July 1988 Chart: 11 Rocket January 1989 See notes Let's get rocked March 1992 Chart: 2 143 .

Def Leppard Make love like a man June 1992 Chart: 12 Have you ever needed someone so bad September 1992 Chart: 16 Heaven is January 1993 Chart: 13 Tonight April 1993 Chart: 34 Two steps behind September 1993 Chart: 32 Action January 1994 Chart: 14 When love and hate collide 1995 Chart: 6 Slang April 1996 Chart: 17 ALBUMS ON THROUGH THE NIGHT Rock brigade/Hello America/Sorrow is a woman/It could be you/ SatellitelWhen the walls came tumbling downlWasted/Rocks off/It don't matter/Answer to the master/Overture 144 .

mirror (Look into my eyes)/No no no Jul y 1981 Cha rt: 26 PYROMANIA Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)/Photograph/Stagefright/Too late for love/Die hard the hunter/Foolin'/Rock of ages/Comin' under fire/ Action! not words/Billy's got a gun February 1983 Chart: 18 HYSTERIA Women/Rocket/Animal/Love bites/Pour some sugar on mel Armageddon it/Gods of war/Don't shoot shotgun/Run riot/ H ysteria/Excitable/Love and affection August 1987 Chart: 1 ADRENALIZE Let's get rockedlHeaven is/Make love like a manITonightlWhite lightning/Stand up (Kick love into motion)/Personal property/Have you ever needed someone so badII wanna touch you/Tear it down March 1992 Chart: 1 RETRO ACTIVE Desert song/Fractured love/Action/Two steps behind (acoustic version)/She's too tough/Miss you in a heartbeat/Only after dark/ Ride into the sun/From the inside/Ring of fire/I wanna be your hero/ Miss you in a heartbeat (electric version)/Two steps behind (electric version) 145 .Discography March 1980 Chart: 15 HIGH'N'DRY Let it go/Another hit and run/High'n'dry (Saturday night)/Bringin' on the heartbreak/Switch 625/You got me runnin'/Lady strange/On through the night/Mirror.

Def Leppard October 1993 Chart: 6 VAULT Pour some sugar on me/Photograph/Love bites/Let's get rocked/ Two steps behind/Animal/Heaven is/RocketlWhen love and hate collide/Action/Make love like a man/Armageddon it/Have you ever needed someone so bad/Rock of ages/Hysteria/Bringin' on the heartbreak October 1995 Chart: 4 SLANG Truth?/Turn to dust/All I want is everythingIWork it out/Breathe a sigh/Deliver me/Gift of flesh/Blood runs coldlWhere does love go when it dies/Pearl of euphoria May 1996 Chart: 5 146 .

SOURCES HOT PRESS Live review . Cork Connolly H all by Tony O 'Donogh ue. Toulouse Gr and Palais Des Sports by Ca ro l Clerk. Live review. H ammersmith Od eon by Steve Gett . 23 Apri l 1992 MA KING MUSIC 'In Def Th ere Is Life' by Andrea Th orn . Hammersmith Odeon by Chris Roberts. 'Pyroman iacs!' by Frank Worrall. 17 Decemb er 1983. Live review. Live review. Live review. 10 Jan uar y 1981. May 1992. 10 Decemb er 198 3. 'T ravelling Band ' by Ca rol Clerk. 19 Februa ry 1983. 9 April 1988. 24 September 1987. 147 . 19 September 1987. 'T il Deaf Do Us Part' by Derek Oli ver. . 2 Apri l 1983. 8 August 1981. Adrenalize LP review by Fiona Looney.. . Hysteria LP review by Jon de Leon. 'If I'd Spent Eighteen Months In Los Angeles' . 26 August 1986. 10 September 198 7. Live review . Birmingham Od eon by Simo n Scott. 23 Apri l 1992. 'I'm A Rocker' by George Byrn e. Marquee Club by Nick Kemp . ME LO DY MA KER ' Growing Up In Public' by Brian H arrigan.

148 . June 1996. 1 March 1980. 'Star Trekkin" by Lisa Tilston. RECORD MIRROR 'Armageddon Time ' by Ian Dickson. . May 1992. We Are' by Deanne Pearson. 30 July 1988. 12 August 1987. 23 February 1980. 'We Wanted To Be The Biggest .' by Steven Wells. 'Hello America' single review by Mick Middles. Earls Court by John Selzer. 'Life Is Sweet' by John Aizlewood. SMASH HITS 'What A Bunch Of Weeds' by Silvia Patterson. Live review. May 1988.Def Leppard 8 April 1988. 16 June 1979. 29 September 1979. 'Rebellious Jukebox' by Joe Elliott. June 1996. 23 April 1988. Retro Active LP review by Valerie Potter. December 1993.. Adrenalize LP review by Phil Sutcliffe. May 1992. 1 March 1980. 'Most Successful Rock Singer In The World' by Richard Lowe. 'Loadsamoney' by Mat Snow. . 16 October 1993. October 1987. METAL HAMMER Slang LP review by Dave Ling.' by Jerry Ewing. 'More Brutes & Loonies'. 'Def Or Glory?' by Geoff Barton. 22 February 1989. 21 January 1989. Q Hysteria LP review by Emily Fraser. 'Blast Off' by Roger Morton. 'You Don't Wake Up On Tour . SOUNDS 'The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' by Geoff Barton.. 11 July 1992. NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS 'Are You Crap? Yeah.

' Once Bitten Twice Shy' by Mary Anne Hobbs. 5 March 1983 . Hysteria LP review by Paul Elliott. 5 December 1987. May 1992 149 . 'It's Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away' by Geoff Barton. 6 August 1983 . 'Bringing Up Baby' by Mat Snow. 12 September 1987. 22 March 1980. Pyromania LP review by Geoff Barton . Hammersmith Odeon by Philip Bell. Wembley Arena by Mary Anne Hobbs. 'Magic Roundabout' by Paul Elliott. live review. Higb 'n 'dry LP review by Geoff Barton. Live review. Newcastle by Ian Ravensdale. 'Cat Scratch Fever'. 18 Febru ary 1989. 18 Jul y 1981. 'The Luxury Of Real Fur ' live review.Sources On through th e night LP review by Geoff Barton. VOX Adrenalize LP review by Paul Elliott. 22 August 198 7. 'Will The Rollercoaster Red Ca rpet Ride Ever Sto p' by Robbi Mill ar . 'Def For Glor y' by Pete Makowski . 'Sugar On Th e Rocks '. 25 Jul y 1987. 4 Jul y 1981. Live review. 12 February 1983. 23 April 1988. 26 April 1980. N ottingham Royal Centre by Paul Elliott. 'Spot Cash For Metal' by Garry Bushell. 2 July 1988. 8 August 1981.

Steve. Left: Leppard co nquer America.Rick . Sav. Phil. . and Joe. 1983. 1983 .Above: All the young dudes .

Ste ve C lar k.W hi te lightening . . A ba nd t hat lo o ks like Saxon a nd so unds like Duran Duran .

Rick Savage. "Ad rena lize " .

Viv. 1992.Joe Ellio t tea rs it down . Rick . Sav. . Joe. and Phi l pr epare to get roc ked.

. Ap r il 19 92 . Right: Joe Ellio t and hi s h yst eri ca l rousers.Above: Phil wi th Brian May a t th e lercury tribute.

Back in black, 1992.

Above: Jon Bon Jovi keeps an eye on the competition; Viv, Sav, Rick and Joe on the "Vault" promo tour 1995.

Left: Rick Allen and real drums, 1995.

Joe Elliott, Spai n, 1995.

.

REM. ..99 II .Ie lio .99 O LEPPARO: TW STEPSAHEAO EF O ISBN1-BB B94-42-6 f £9. Def Leppard: Two Steps Ahead reveals the full story of the and t at has remained ahead of the game and bas changed the face of hard rock forever.ipped those of LJ2. • '. Their achievements offer an inspirational example of the ay strength of character can triu ph over a versi . Def leppard have not merely changed musical attitudes but have fought their ay to super tardom with a steely determination and camarader:ie that has helped them get over potentially devastating illness andinjury.0 ( RfWR I ]1 BOK NHlU I ffiAKf R( m~ Ie PRICE : $17. Guns 'Rose .. 1992 At the Rea ing Festival ilil 1980.. their album areeagerly awaited by a legion of fans across the globe and their record sales have 00 tr. Gene i and Queen.."s ""'s I . Today. Fo million records sold is just part of their story.". larger than life entertainers in th elasslc rock tradition. Def leppard left he stage to a ai storm of bottles..

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