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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: Yeah!

1. 20th Century Boy

2. Rock On

3. Hanging On The Telephone

4. Waterloo Sunset

5. Hell Raiser

6. 10538 Overture

7. Street Life

8. Drive-In Saturday

9. Little Bit Of Love

10. Golden Age Of Rock 'n' Roll

11. No Matter What

12. He's Gonna Step On You Again

13. Don't Believe A Word

14. Stay With Me

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

2. Waterloo Sunset

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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I'll bet the now forgotten drummer remembers who he is.
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rbutler1321
Damnitt..the y r playing my song
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I'm gonna see these guys next month in Austin and I can't f**kin wait!
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You guys are still ROCKIN' can't wait to see you guys in August and we All will Rock the House ❤
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I really need it tonight
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Love def leopards songs oldies but goodies. (Memories)
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Dear Pandora, if you're gonna have their discography on here, please include them all. I know Slang wasn't their biggest album, but neither are some of the ones listed.
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OZZY OSBOURND HAS NEW SHOW

ON HISTORY CHANNEL
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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Great song....
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wiseman421
Don't read this. You will be kissed Bon the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Now you have started this don't stop this is freaky. But if you ignore this you will have really bad luck. Put this on 15 different songs in 144 mins. When you are done,press the space bar and you crushes name will appear on the screen this is so freaky it really works
Report as inappropriate
alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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Luv def leppard! Keep rockin!
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alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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well I guess I will have to seek you out for your kisses this way and a big bear hug mimi
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❤️❤️❤️
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curtisvasseu r
Good use of the toms. Lol
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In my profession im always Under Fire...but im a fool for the chase but im coming like the thunder on your a** though...
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I can feel your presence even when your not in the room I'm alone tonight mimi
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Love does bite. Love this song.
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higginslady
Rock of Ages...the greatest song by the greatest band.������
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Today's the day. What a great way of celebrating High 'n ' Dry anniversary. Seeing them live at Jones Beach Arena knowing beyond a shadow of doubt they will Let It Rock, Let it Roll, Just Let It Go!
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I'm not foolin myself....
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July 11th 1981, the release of the masterpiece High ' n ' Dry. 35 years later and it still sounds amazing!
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cherokeeprin c e s s 1 2 7
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
Im always Comin' under Fire in my job.Billy's gotta Gun,so you better run...lol
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seen them tonight in concert. Can check that off the bucket list. They kick a**
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Loves best
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Best. Band. Ever.
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The boys from Sheffield delivering a sonic and visual assault on all senses for 39 years. ROCK ROCK TILL YOU DROP!
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Have you?
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Heart and soul babes!
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I'm barely 15, and I've been rocking to Def Leppard ever since I could crawl.
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cherokeeprin c e s s 1 2 7
❤❤❤
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We love it rock out
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The best music in the world
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Finally some rock!!!¡
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Say your crushes name 10 times. Kiss your hand twice. Post this on two other songs. Look at your hand
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❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Report as inappropriate
Will Always Love This Tune!!!
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cherokeeprin c e s s 1 2 7
❤❤❤❤❤
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Comin' under fire Rocks.... These guys kicked but in those days!!!
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I love this song : )
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mysteriousst r a n g e r s 8 6
❤❤❤❤❤
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True Rock
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kdpflugrad
Rocking hard
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mysteriousst r a n g e r s 8 6
❤❤❤❤❤
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Amazin song
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Love bites hard...deep into the soul
Show more

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