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Def Leppard

In many ways, Def Leppard were the definitive hard rock band of the '80s. There were many bands that rocked harder (and were more dangerous) than the Sheffield-based quintet, but few others captured the spirit of the times quite as well. Emerging in the late '70s as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Def Leppard actually owed more to the glam rock and metal of the early '70s, as their sound was equal parts T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. By toning down their heavy riffs and emphasizing melody, Def Leppard were poised for crossover success by the time of 1983's Pyromania, and skillfully used the fledgling MTV network to their advantage. The musicians were already blessed with photogenic good looks, but they also crafted a series of innovative, exciting videos that made them into stars. They intended a quick follow-up to Pyromania, but were derailed when their drummer lost an arm in a car accident, the first of many problems that plagued the group's career. They managed to pull through such tragedies, and even expanded their large audience with 1987's blockbuster Hysteria. As the '90s began, mainstream hard rock shifted away from their signature pop-metal and toward edgier, louder bands, yet they maintained a sizable audience into the late '90s and were one of only a handful of '80s metal groups to survive the decade more or less intact.

Def Leppard had their origins in a Sheffield-based group that teenagers Rick Savage (bass) and Pete Willis (guitar) formed in 1977. Vocalist Joe Elliott, a fanatical follower of Mott the Hoople and T. Rex, joined the band several months later, bringing the name Deaf Leopard with him. After a spelling change, the trio, augmented by a now-forgotten drummer, began playing local Sheffield pubs, and within a year the band had added guitarist Steve Clark to the lineup, as well as a new drummer. Later in 1978, they recorded their debut EP, Getcha Rocks Off, and released it on their own label, Bludgeon Riffola. The EP became a word-of-mouth success, earning airplay on the BBC. The group members were still in their teens.

Following the release of Getcha Rocks Off, Rick Allen was added as the band's permanent drummer, and Def Leppard quickly became the subject of the British music weeklies. They soon signed with AC/DC's manager Peter Mensch, who helped them secure a contract with Mercury Records. On Through the Night, the band's full-length debut, was released in 1980 and instantly became a hit in the U.K., also earning significant airplay in the U.S., where it reached number 51 on the charts. Over the course of the year, Def Leppard relentlessly toured Britain and America, playing their own shows while also opening concerts for Ozzy Osbourne, Sammy Hagar, and Judas Priest. High 'n' Dry followed in 1981 and became the group's first platinum album in the U.S., thanks to MTV's strong rotation of "Bringin' on the Heartbreak." MTV would be vital to the band's success in the '80s.

As the band recorded the follow-up to High 'n' Dry with producer Mutt Lange, Pete Willis was fired from the band for alcoholism, and Phil Collen, a former guitarist for Girl, was hired to replace him. The resulting album, 1983's Pyromania, became an unexpected blockbuster, due not only to Def Leppard's skillful, melodic metal, but also to MTV's relentless airing of "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages." Pyromania went on to sell ten-million copies, establishing Def Leppard as one of the most popular bands in the world. Despite their success, they were about to enter a trying time in their career. Following an extensive international tour, the group reentered the studio to record the follow-up, but producer Lange was unavailable, so they began sessions with Jim Steinman, the man responsible for Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell. The pairing turned out to be ill-advised, so the bandmembers turned to their former engineer, Nigel Green. One month into recording, Allen lost his left arm in a New Year's Eve car accident. The arm was re-attached, but it had to be amputated once an infection set in.

Def Leppard's future looked cloudy without a drummer, but by the spring of 1985 -- just a few months after his accident -- Allen began learning to play a custom-made electronic kit assembled for him by Simmons. The band soon resumed recording, and within a few months Lange was back on board; having judged all the existing tapes inferior, he ordered the band to begin work all over again. Recording sessions continued throughout 1986, and that summer, the group returned to the stage for the European Monsters of Rock tour. Def Leppard finally completed their fourth album, now titled Hysteria, early in 1987. The record was released that spring to lukewarm reviews, with many critics claiming that the album compromised Leppard's metal roots for sweet pop flourishes. Accordingly, Hysteria was slow out of the starting gates -- "Women," the first single, failed really take hold -- but the release of "Animal" helped the album gather steam. The song became Def Leppard's first Top 40 hit in the U.K., but more importantly, it launched a string of six straight Top 20 hits in the U.S., which also included "Hysteria," "Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Love Bites," "Armageddon It," and "Rocket," the latter of which arrived in 1989, a full two years after the release of Hysteria. During those two years, Def Leppard's presence was unavoidable -- they were the kings of high school metal, ruling the pop charts and MTV, and teenagers and bands alike replicated their teased hair and ripped jeans, even when the grimy hard rock of Guns N' Roses took hold in 1988.

Hysteria proved to be the peak of Leppard's popularity, yet their follow-up remained eagerly awaited in the early '90s, as the band took a break from the road and set to work on a new record. During the recording process, however, Steve Clark died from an overdose of alcohol and drugs. Clark had historically battled alcohol, and following the Hysteria heyday, his bandmates forced him to take a sabbatical. Although he did enter rehab, Clark's habits continued, and his abuse was so crippling that Collen began recording the majority of the band's guitar leads. Following Clark's death, Def Leppard resolved to finish their forthcoming album as a quartet, releasing Adrenalize in the spring of 1992. Adrenalize was greeted with mixed reviews, and even though the album debuted at number one and contained several successful singles, including the Top 20 hits "Let's Get Rocked" and "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad," the record was a commercial disappointment in the wake of Pyromania and Hysteria. After its release, the group added former Whitesnake guitarist Vivian Campbell to the lineup, thus resuming Def Leppard's two-guitar attack.

In 1993, Def Leppard released the rarities collection Retro Active, which yielded another Top 20 hit with the acoustic ballad "Two Steps Behind." Two years later, the group released the greatest-hits collection Vault while preparing for its sixth album. Slang arrived in the spring of 1996, and while it proved more adventurous than its predecessor, it was greeted with indifference, indicating that Leppard's heyday had indeed passed and they were now simply a very popular cult band. Undaunted, Leppard soldiered on, returning to their patented pop-metal sound for Euphoria, which was released in June of 1999. Despite the success of "Promises," the record failed to produce any additional hits, resulting in a return to adult pop balladry on 2002's X. The two-disc Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection arrived in 2005, followed in 2006 by Yeah!, a strong collection of covers. In 2008, the guys released their ninth studio album, Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, which debuted at number five and was supported by a lucrative summer tour. Material from that tour helped make up the bulk of 2011's Mirror Ball: Live & More, a three-disc live album containing a full concert, three new studio recordings, and DVD footage. Another live album followed two years later: Viva! Hysteria found the band running through their 1987 blockbuster in its entirety on the first disc, and a collection of early, rarely played material on the second. In 2014, the band announced the upcoming release of their 11th studio album and first collection of original music since 2008. The resulting Def Leppard was issued via earMUSIC on October 30, 2015. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Mirrorball - Live & More

Disc 1

1. Rock! Rock! ('Til You Drop) (Live)

2. Rocket (Live)

3. Animal (Live)

4. C'mon C'mon (Live)

5. Make Love Like A Man (Live)

6. Too Late For Love (Live)

7. Foolin' (Live)

8. Nine Lives (Live)

9. Love Bites (Live)

10. Rock On (Live)

Disc 2

1. Two Steps Behind (Live)

2. Bringin' On The Heartbreak (Live)

3. Switch 625 (Live)

4. Hysteria (Live)

5. Armageddon It (Live)

6. Photograph (Live)

7. Pour Some Sugar On Me (Live)

8. Rock Of Ages (Live)

9. Let's Get Rocked (Live)

10. Action (Live)

11. Bad Actress (Live)

12. Undefeated

13. Kings Of The World

14. It's All About Believin'

Disc 3
x

Track List: Best Of

Disc 1

1. Pour Some Sugar On Me

2. Photograph

3. Love Bites

4. Let's Get Rocked

5. Two Steps Behind

6. Animal

8. Rocket

9. When Love & Hate Collide

10. Action

12. Make Love Like A Man

13. Armageddon It

15. Rock Of Ages

16. Hysteria

17. Bringin' On The Heartbreak

Disc 2

4. Slang

5. Foolin'

10. Too Late For Love

12. Work It Out

x

Track List: Vault: Def Leppard's Greatest Hits

1. Pour Some Sugar On Me

2. Photograph

3. Love Bites

4. Let's Get Rocked

5. Two Steps Behind

6. Animal

7. Foolin'

8. Rocket

9. When Love & Hate Collide

10. Armageddon It

12. Rock Of Ages

13. Hysteria

15. Bringin' On The Heartbreak

x

Track List: Hysteria

2. Rocket

3. Animal

4. Love Bites

5. Pour Some Sugar On Me

6. Armageddon It

10. Hysteria

x

Track List: Pyromania

x

Track List: Let's Go (Single)

1. Let's Go

Comments

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Nice....nice . . . t h a n k s . .
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Where Love and Hate Collide.. With a flip of Rock of Ages
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danheacock1
Nope.
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cathyl198511 1 4
Have you ever needed someone??
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Comin' Under Fire,, one of my fav.... This one's 4 u rwurzbach my friend... ROCK ON EVERYONE
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my mom is 67 now
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I never knew I would be 50..but here I am....thanks to you and. Your dreams .
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ANEEMAL!!!!! ! ! !
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cathyl198511 1 4
You can never go wrong with listening to Def Leppard...th e y started Rocking from the beginning and they will keep Rocking until the end!!! Women is an awesome a** song;-)
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cathyl198511 1 4
This band is still a favorite of my...they still know how to Rock and Roll
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i love this band
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love this song
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ninja gym
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kevinkopp5
Awesome
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velvet sky to join wwe
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Def Leppard just rocks a**, all their music is great. I seen them before Rick lost his arm, and then I seen him again after he had the accident,@ lost his arm. Def Leppard is one of my favorite 80s bands. They just kick a**! Rock and roll at its finest! Rock on!
Report as inappropriate
❤❤❤❤❤
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❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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jessica jones won a peabody award
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The actual song hysteria is so great
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4/23/1960. The birth of the Riffmaster. Here's to you Stephen Maynard Clark a Swan Song.
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nascar944
Hello America on through the night then bringing on the heartache
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t_vols
God's of War
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Favvv
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higginslady
Rock of Ages. The greatest song by the greatest band,Def Leppard.
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i love u def lep love bites is all i need
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silver surfer on pandora
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too late for love
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Def Leppard is by far my favorite band. TOO LATE FOR LOVE ��
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photograph
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I saw you on a screen
An icon,a legend, a king
I heard you in a song
That's still going strong

SMC
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die hard the hunter
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❤❤❤❤❤
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die hard the hunter needs the pyromania cover
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❤❤❤❤❤
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Hands down one of the best love songs of the great 80's
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Wild life..... What a life.. . thank...you. . . . . . d e f leopard..... l i v i n g it...
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Rock of ages........ . I ' m still. Rolling..... . t h a n k God........t h a n k you def leopard....f o r rocking..
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stormvet224. j m
Saw Def Lep 3 times, 2 before the accident and once after. They rocked each time
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Rocket is Def Leppards best song
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cathyl198511 1 4
Armageddon It...love
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cathyl198511 1 4
Where Love and Hate Collide
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k, im protestant
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What are you waiting on Christmas. It will be here December 25th. Until then.......h m m m m m m
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Bet....you win. Oh hell I win been there.....de f leopard kicks a**.
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Def lepard fricking rock I love them a lot
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Yes it does
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I wanna you?????? Let's kick a** I'm 49....././
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cathyl198511 1 4
I miss you in a heartbeat
Show more

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