Def Leppard

Origin: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England

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Genres: Glam rock, Hard Rock, heavy metal

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Def Leppard is an English rock band formed in 1977 as part of a new wave of British heavy metal movement.  Since 1992 the band has consisted of Joe Elliott (lead vocals), Rick Savage (bass, backing vocals), Rick Allen (drums, backing vocals), Phil Collen (guitars, backing vocals, and Vivian Campbell (guitars, backing vocals).  The current lineup is the band’s longest lasting.

As one of the world’s best selling musical artists Def Leppard have sold more than 100 million records worldwide.  With their albums Pyromania and Hysteria Def Leppard are one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling more than 10 million copies each in the U.S., alongside The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Van Halen.   Both Pyromania and Hysteria are on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The origins of Def Leppard came together when bassist Rick Savage formed  a band called Atomic Mass in 1977 with several of his South Yorkshire classmates.  Joe Elliot initially tried out as the band’s guitarist but was thought better suited as the lead singer.  It was Elliot who proposed the name “Deaf Leopard” which was a band name he thought up while writing reviews for imaginary rock bands in his English class.  The spelling was then slightly modified in order to make the name seem less like that of a punk band.  In January 1978 guitarist Steve Clark joined the band and by the end of the month 15 year old Rick Allen joined the band  as its full-time drummer.

The band’s strongest commercial success came between the early 1980’s and the early 1990’s.  It was Def Leppard’s third album 1983’s Pyromania that brought them worldwide success.  The lead single “Photograph,” turned the band into a household name supplanting Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” as the most requested video on MTV and becoming a staple of rock radio and sparking a headline tour across America.  Fueled by “Photograph” and subsequent singles “Rock of Ages,” and “Foolin,” Pyromania went on to sell more than six million albums in 1983 (more than 100,000 copies every week) and by 2004 had sold more than 10 million copies in America.  As a testament to the band’s popularity at the time, a 1984 U.S. Gallup poll saw Def Leppard voted favorite rock band over such peers as The Rolling Stones, Journey and AC/DC.

In December 1984, drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash.  Despite the severity of the accident, Allen was committed to continuing his role as Def Leppard’s drummer and realized that he could use his legs to do some of the drumming work previously done with his arms.  After more than three years of recording, Def Leppard’s fourth album, Hysteria was released in 1987.  The album topped the UK and U.S. albums charts going on to sell more than 25 million albums worldwide.  The album spawned seven hit singles, including the U.S. number one “Love Bites,” alongside “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Hysteria,” “Armageddon It,” “Animal,” “Rocket,” and “Women.”

Following Hysteria, the band set our quickly to work on their fifth album.  Guitarist Steve Clark’s alcoholism worsened and recording sessions suffered due to this distraction.  In January 1991 Clark died from a mix of prescription drugs and alcohol in his London home. The band carried on releasing their fifth album Adrenalize in 1992.  The album simultaneously entered at number one on both the UK and US album charts with the first single, “Let’s Get Rocked,” an instant hit.

By early 1992 auditions for another guitarist were held with Vivian Campbell, formerly of Dio and Whitesnake chosen.  Amidst the increasing popularity of alternative rock, the band decided to balance their original image as rebellious rock stars with a slightly friendlier energy, combining heavy metal with melodies and hooks more reminiscent of pop music.  In 1995, Def Leppard issued their first greatest hits collection, Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980-1995) that went on to sell more than 5 million copies in America.

In April 2008, Def Leppard released their first album of new material in six years, Songs from the Sparkle Lounge.   The album debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 in America.  The first single “Nine Lives” featured country singer Tim McGraw who co-wrote the song with Def Leppard.  The same year Def Leppard played with country star Taylor Swift in a taped show in Nashville.  A childhood fan of the band Swift chose Def Leppard to perform together for the show, and their crossover performance of “Photograph” was up for both Performance of the Year and Wide Open Country Video of the Year at the County Music Awards in 2009.

In 2018 Def Leppard toured America with Journey and Cheap Trick.  The highly successful tour played before more than one million fans in just three months.

In November 2018, the band released a new 2-disc bet of compilation, The Story So Far – Best Of.  Among the 34 tracks the collection featured the band’s cover of the Depeche Mode hit “Personal Jesus.” In March 2019 Def Leppard will be enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Reference –

Def Leppard discography

On Through the Night (1980)

High ‘n’ Dry (1981)

Pyromania (1983)

Hysteria (1987)

Adrenalize (1992)

Slang (1996)

Euphoria (1999)

X (2002)

Yeah! 2006)

Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008)

Del Leppard (2015)

Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM plays Def Leppard.  All part of 50 years of Rock, Blues and More, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/

Check out Def Leppard performing ‘Personal Jesus.”