Def Leppard is a name that just about everyone knows. Even if they don't, they definitely have heard a song or two from them. They originally formed in 1977 and were a big part of the new wave of British heavy metal.
Now I'm not sure if you'd call them 'heavy metal' today, I've heard everything from grunge rock, hard rock, or glam metal. Whatever you choose to call them, they're inevitablly a legendary band.
They originally were formed when Rick Savage, Tony Kenning, and Pete Willis all met at Tapton School in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. They filmed a band called Atomic Mass, originally, which had quite the different lineup. When it first started, they had Rick Savage on guitar, but then he switched to bass. Pete Willis took up the guitar, and Tony Kenny was their drummer. They then welcomed Joe Elliot as a guitarist, and it was supposedly all because Pete missed a bus to practice. During the audition, they actually decided he would be a great singer, so they decided to place him there.
Here's some proof that all bands start small -their first show was in the dining hall of Westfield School in Mosborough, Sheffield.
The name Def Leppard didn't come fully for a while, though they did adopt 'Deaf Leopard", which was something Joe Elliot thought of. He apparently thought of it while he was in English class, working on reviews for imaginary rock bands. As someone who writes reviews frequently, that's much appreciated.
Upon hearing it, Tony suggested that they change the spelling a bit, because it felt too much like a punk band name to him. Thus 'Def Leppard' was born.
Here's where their lineup changes began fully. In January 1978, Steve Clark joined the band
In November, just as they were about to record their first EP, Tony left the band suddenly. He was replaced for the recording sessions by Frank Noon. By the end of the month, they also welcomed a full time drummer , RIck Allen, who was only fifteen at the time. He however, joined just after the recording of what would later be called The Def Leppard EP.
The three song EP was released in January 1979 and had great sales after "Getcha Rocks Off" was played on BBC Radio 1 frequently.
Then throughout 1979, their following began to grow around the British heavy metal and hard rock community. This lead them to become one of the leaders in the new wave of British heavy metal, despite their young age. All of this success lead to them getting a record deal through Phonogram/ Vertigo (also known as Mercury Records in the US). Upon getting signed and getting a new management team, they were booked to go on tour with AC/DC.
Def Leppard finally released their debut album, On Through The Night the following year. The album came out on March 14, 1980.The album reached numbre 15 on the UK album charts and reached 51 on the Billboard 200 here in the US. By November 18, 1983, the ablum was certified Gold by the RIAA, and platinum by May of 1989.
The album featured re-recorded verisons of early demos, and two tracks from their EP. Those two tracks were "Rocks Off" and "Overture." Over all, the album recieved positive reviews, and many highlighted the fact that they were one of the leads on the new wave of heavy metal in England.
The songs from this album were performed live for a few years, but were mostly dropped after 1983. Only two that remained for a longer period were, "Rock Brigade" and "Wasted", but even those didn't get played life again until after 2000.
With this album, not only came some great fame, but also some displeasure. On the album is a song called "Hello America", which was percieved to be 'trying too hard to appeal to American fans.' People reacted so badly that when they performed at the Reading Festival in Reading and Leeds in England, that fans supposedly threw beer cans and bottles filled with urine at the band. Journalists accused them of "Selling out", and frankly, it was all about too much. Luckily, the band shut down what all was said about the Reading incident and said that all of the bands that performed that day recieved similar treatment. Sounds like a shitty festival experience, if you ask me.
Luckily none of this backlash effected them too harshly. In fact, by this time AC/DC's producer decided to approach them. They then worked together on what would be come the band's second album, High N' Dry.
This album too recieved some good reviews, and ratings. It hit 26 on UK album charts, and 38 on the Billboard 200. It even made a comeback on charts the following yaear, after the release of their third album, Pyromania. We'll get back to that album shortly, but when High N' Dry made its come back, it popped back up to number 72 on the US charts. This album also held the song that would become the very first metal video to ever be played on MTV. That song was "Bringin' On The Heartbreak", and the video was played in 1982.
High N' Dry was originally released on July 11, 1981, and then was re-released on May 21, 1984 with two more bonus tracks. The two tracks were remixes of "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" and "Me & My Wine." They made videos for both of these songs, and both videos featured Phil Collen who was actually not yet in the band, but soon joined when Pete Willis departed from the band in 1982. Pete departed exactly a year after the album was released, due to excessive alcohol consumption while working. He didn't stay out of the music scene forever though, he did go on to have two other bands, Gogmagog and Roadhouse.
Now with Phil Collen in the band, they released their third album, Pyromania. See, I told you we would get back to this one? Pyromania was released on June 20, 1983. This is where they really hit a turning point in their career. The lead single, "Photograph" is what helped make them a household name. According to Wikipedia, it even beat out Michael Jackson's "Beat It" as the most requested video on MTV and became a massive part of radio in the rock world. It also topped the US charts for six whole weeks, and brought them the chance to do a headlining tour around the US.
After the success of "Photograph", they decided to release two other singles, "Rock of Ages" and "Follin'."
All of this helped them sell over six million copies of the album, and broke into some new charts. Never before had they reached charts in Sweden, Canada or New Zealand but here they did. Pyromania reached number 4 in Canada, number 26 in New Zealand and 23 in Sweden. It also reached number 18 on UK charts, and number 2 in the US. This album brought them the most success they had had yet. By 2004, Pyromania was actually given a diamond certification, for selling over 10 million copies in the US. So clearly, this was quite the impressive album.
After the success of that album, the band relocated to Finland, supposedly for tax purposes to begin writing their next album.
Then suddenly, on New years eve of 1984, their drummer, Rick allen was in a bad car accident back home in Sheffield. He was out with his girlriend and swerved off the road and went through a drystone wall. This accident resulted in him losing his arm, yet Rick remained very determined to keep going with the band.
His dedication is highly impressive, and admirable. He realized he could use his legs to do some of the drumming, and taught himself to do that. He also then worked with the brand Simmons to design an electric drum kit to help him out. Def Leppard supported their friend and never once looked for a replacement. Within a matter of months, he was back drumming, and once said the moment he was able to drum one of their songs again, was quite emotional.
Even if you're not a Def Leppard fan, you really have to respect that. That's a massive challenge, that some couldn't cover come. He didn't let that get him down, and that's a very inspiring feat.
He made his comeback officially at the 1986 Monsters of Rock festival and recieved an ovation from the audience.
Probably partly due to his accident, there was a bit longer of a gap in between albums for Def Leppard. Finally though, they released their fourth studio album, Hysteria on August 3, 1987. This one managed to beat out the success even o their last album, selling over 25 million copies, and charting number one in both the US and UK. The album's title actually in a way is a tribute to Rick, who thought of it. He was refering to the accident and the coverage the media produced surrounding the situation.
This album features the one song that I am certain just about everyone has heard. That one is "Pour Some Sugar On Me." Many would say they have much better songs, and they definitely have tons of other hits, but that song is one I am confident just about everyone has heard at least once in their life.
This album literally exploded with success. Since its release, its gone 12x platinum here in the US, 10x Platinum in the US, 2x platinum in the UK and 4x platinum in Australia. It remained in the US Top 40 charts for 96 weeks straight, had three singles break into the top ten here in the US, and still sits as the 51st Best Selling album of all time here in the US. This is the kind of success that bands dream of, so I can just imagine how completely thrilled they must be with everything they've done.
"Pour Some Sugar On Me" was the fourth single from the almost, reached number 3 on the Billboard 200, and was named by VH1 to be number two in the list of "100 Great Songs of the 80s'."
They just kept getting hits with this album, having "Love Bites" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, "Armageddon It" hit the Top 5, and "Rocket" was in the Top 20.
Adter all of that excitment, surely they felt on top of the world and wanted to give fans even more. So, they then performed "Tear It Down", which was B-Side for Hysteria at the MTV Music Awards in 1989. After the fans gave extreme postive feed back, they decided to rework it some to put it on their next album, Adrenalize.
They were eager to record the fifth album, because the last album was so successful but also came after quite a long gap. However, there was quite the setback. Steve Clark, the band's guitarist was struggling quite a bit with alcoholism, and it had gotten worse somewhat recently. He took a six month leave from the band, after being in and out of rehabb for quite some time. Then unfortunately, on January 8, 1991, he died in his house in London from alcohol and perscription medications.
The rest of the band decided to contiune and recorded the album as a four pierce band. Phil Collen tried his best to imitate the style Steve would have produced on the guitar for the album. They then released Adrenalize on March 31, 1992.
The album reached number one in the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia, and has gone gold in the UK, 3x Platinum in the US and 4x Platinum in Canada. From the first single, "Let's Get Rocked", it was a massive hit. That song alone was nominated for the Best Song Of The Year at the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards. Being the glam metal that it was, it stood out quite a bit. At this point in time, pop-metal and grunge were quite popular so they drew a ton of attention.
In October of 1993, they released a collection of B-sides and unreleased tracks that spanned anywhere from 1984 all the way to 1993, and called it Retro Active. Also in this time, as a reflective sort of states, Def Leppard released their first greatest hits album. This one was called Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980-1995). That one came out on October 23, 1995, and had alternate track listings in North America, the UK, and Japan. All of the albums issues though featured a new track, which was a power ballad called, "When Love & Hate Collide." This song actually became their biggest hit ever in the UK, as it hit number 2 on the UK Singles charts.
Also on that day, the band got placed in the Guiness Book Of World records by performing three concerts, on three continents in one day. Starting at midnight, in Africa, they began a marathon tour and finished late that night in Canada. They made a stop in England along the way for good measure.
Then in May 1996, they released their sixth studio album, Slang. This album was a massive difference for the band musically, as it featured darker lyrics than ever before, and a stripped down, more alternative rock feel to it. Something else that was a bit different for this album, was the band recorded it all together, rather than recording each part seperately. This gave the album a bit of a live feel to it, and had quite the response. The album hit number 5 in the UK and number 14 in the US. It also has been certified platinum in Canada and gold in the US and UK.
This was also the first album to be recorded with Rick Allen using a semi acoustic drum set since his accident. Prior to this, he used his electric set.
They did revive their classic sound though on June 8, 1999 with Euphoria. This one too was recieved very well -its beginning to feel like Def Leppard could release the sound of a rock dropping to the floor and it would still do well on charts. This one hit number 11 in both the UK, and US, and had a number one hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. That song was the lead single, "Promises."
After all the success they had over the years, Def Leppard were induced into the Rock Walk Of Fame on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard by Brian May of Queen. Thne in 2001, VH1 released a biopic docudrama called Hysteria- The Def Leppard Story. This played dramatic restorations of the band's history, ranging from 1977 through 1986. They did include the struggles and overcomings of Rick Allen and Steve Clark. They said this gave them some of their highest ratings ever, and you can get the documentary on DVD.
Now it came time for Def Leppard's tenth album, which was simply titled X. X was released on July 31, 2002. This album has a vastly new direction for the band, as it leaned a bit more toward pop. When obviously their sound was always more on the hard rock side, this album is seen as one of the lesser successful albums. However, it still had a decent reaction. Strong crowds still showed up to the tour supporting it, and the album reached number 11 on the Billboard 200, and 14 in the UK. However, it did not spark any number one hits, nor has it gotten certified at all.
This is where they slowed down a bit on the recording, but still were doing other things. They released an expanded and updated version of their Best hits in October 2004, switched their management team from Q-Team to HK Management, and releaased a cover album titled Yeah! Yeah! Came out on May 23, 2006, and were covers of many childhood songs for them from bands like Blondie, The Kinks, Sweet, ELO, Bad Finger and many others. This album also broke into the top 20 in the US, reaching 16, making it the tenth consecutive Top 20 hit.
They were also the inagural indutees of the VH1 Rock Honors, along side Queen, Kiss and Judas Priest on May 31, 2006. They also got to hear All American Rejects do a cover of their song "Photograph." Following this show was a tou with Journey, and they re-released Hysteria in a two- disco deluxe edition that gave the original album in a remastered format. Included with this were b-sides, bonus tracks and remixes. To support this, they went on toru with Foreigner and Styx.
Finally on April 28, 2008, Def Leppard released their first studio album in six years. This one was called Songs From The Sparkle Lounge and clearly fans were extremely excited for this new release. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, 7 in Canada, 8 in the over all world chart, and broke the top 50 in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Fermany, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK. The first single, "Nine Lives" actually featured Tim McGraw and was a joint effort written by Joe Elliot, Phil Collen and Rick Savage.
They then set out on tour with a few different bands over the course of 2008/ 2009. These bands included Styx, REO Speedwagon, Black Stone Cherry, Thunder, White Snake, and more. In this time as well, they got to play the Download festival!
Oddly enough, they actually performed with Taylor Swift in October 2008, and it was for CMT Crossroads: Taylor Swift and Def Leppard. It was released on DVD June 16 the following year, and was sold exclusively through Walmart.
They also unfortunately had to cancel the final leg of the 2009 North American tour, due to unseen personal reasons. Of course, people assumed they were breaking up, which the band instantly shut down. No idea what really caused it, but honestly touring can kick your ass. Sometimes you get sick, run down, and its just simply too much. People tend to forget that.
After that happened, the band decided to take all of 2010 off of touring, but to somewhat make up for it released their first live album. The album was called Mirror Ball- Live & More and was a two disc live album that feautred three new recorded songs. For some erason they chose to release it in parts of Europe on June 3, then the rest of Europe on June 6, and finally the US on June 7. It was also announced around this time that Def Leppard would be performing at that year's Download festival.
They also set out on a two month tour around the US that summer with Heart, and then also did seven shows in Australia in October with The Choirboys, and Heart as well. Two Japanese shows happened in November, and ssix happened in the UK in December with Steel Panther and Motley Crue. They also toured with Poison and Lita Ford in the US over the summer of 2012.
In June 2013, Vivian Campbell announced that he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which is a malignant form of cancer that effects the Reed- Sternberg cells, all of which are locationed in the lymph nodes. He kept playined with Def Leppard, and never canceled or rescheduled a show. He said that performing was the best way to remain otimistic, so he refused to quit. He proudly annunced in November that he was in remission, but unfortunately it came back. Hey said once it goes back into remission, he can undergo a stem-cell transplant.
They released another live album, Viva! Hysteria the following year, on October 22, 2013, and this was the first time they actually played an album in full from start to finish.
In February 2014, the band decided to do yet another remastered verison of an album. This time it was Slang, and they relreased it with 30 tracks total, and included unreleased material, B-sides and demons. Following that, they went on tour with Kiss, and all ticket sales contributed to military chariteis such as the Wounded Warrior Project. They also contriubuted to the Paul McCartney tribute album, Art Of McCartney. Joe Elliot on his own also recorded another song for the album.
In more recent time, they've done a decent amount of things, including some unique things such as having a cartoon and documentary in the works. However apparently these things were put aside, but hopefully at some point the world will see these.
They toured quite a bit over the course of 2014 and 2015 with Kiss, Styx, Tesla and Whitesnake. Then they released their eleventh and most recent album, which was self titled. The album came out on October 30, 2015 and debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200. It ended up going up to number 5 on the Bollboard 200, but also hit number 1 on three other US charts. It hit 2 in Swizterland, and broke the top twenty in the UK, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, Austria and Australia.
This brings up to this year. They kicked off 2016 with the Hysteria On The High Seas Concert Cruise around the MSC Divina. It was supposed to be open just for concert goers, but the sales were a bit low, so cabins on the boat were opened up to others as well. The cruise apparently was something of a mess. First sales were low, then the boat could not dock at the island they were supposed to, due to terrible weather. Then Joe Elliot got laryngitis, and that lead to the band performing without him for the first time ever. Vivian and Phil took over on vocals, and shorted the set.
When they got back to land, Joe was still sick. He worked to get through the first concert back on land, but then unfortunately they had to cancel the next night's show because the doctors told Joe that he would do serious damage if he kept trying. Luckily, it didn't take too much longer for him to recover, and by July they were able to go back out on tour and completed all 48 concerts.
As the year comes to a close, things are really looking good for Def Leppard. They will be performing at a few big festivals, starting with Fort Rock on April 29, then they will be playing Welcome To Rockville on April 30, Carolina Rebellion on May 6 and River City Rockfest on May 27!
They also have yet another live DVD out for pre-order right now. This one is called Def Leppard Live from Detrot, and will be out on Feburary 2017. You can pre-order it now through PledgeMusic, and get several pre-order bundles!
Be sure to stay up to date with Def Leppard by liking their Facebook page and checking out their official website.
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