Skip to main content
Select Source:

Def Leppard

Def Leppard

Rock group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Despite an average age of only 18, Def Leppard burst onto the heavy metal scene in 1980 like a group of seasoned veterans. This band frequently transcends the mundane through sheer musical energy and playing ability, wrote Jim Schwartz in Guitar Player. In a genre known for cliched riffs and monotonous beats, these heavy metalheads have created a sound of their own while becoming one of the top-selling groups in rock n roll. Tragedy has plagued the group throughout its 20-plus year history, but the band continues to write and record, finding success with almost every release.

The groups five original members, Joe Elliott, Pete Willis, Steve Clark, Rick Savage, and Rick Allen, all lived in the steel-producing town of Sheffield, England. Before employment as a van driver, lead singer Elliott used to dream about forming a band in school, creating song lists, logos, and band names while others in his class were studying. I figured out fairly early that I wasnt gonna be a brain surgeon or a nuclear physicist, he told Rolling Stone,so I fantasized about rock and roll.

Guitarist Willis was studying engineering at college when he met fellow axeman Clark. Already playing with

For the Record

Members include Rick Allen (born on November 1, 1963, in Sheffield, England), drums; Vivian Campbell (born on August 25, 1962, in Belfast, Northern Ireland; joined group, 1992), guitar; Steve Clark (born on April 23, 1960, in Sheffield, England; died on January 8, 1991), guitar; Phil Collen (born on December 8, 1957; joined group, 1982), guitar; Joe Elliott (born on August 1, 1959, in Sheffield, England), vocals; Rick Savage (born on December 2, 1960, in Sheffield, England), bass; Pete Willis (born on February 16, 1960, in Sheffield, England; group member, 1977-82), guitar.

Willis and Savage formed Atomic Mass after completing schooling; Clark, Elliott and Allen joined, changed name to Def Leppard; released EP, 1979; signed with Polygram, released debut On Through the Night, 1980; following three albums went multiplatinum: High n Dry, 1981, Pyromania, 1983, and Hysteria, 1987; Steve Clark died of alcohol and drug overdose, 1991; released Adrenalize, hired new guitarist Vivian Campbell, 1992; released two greatest hits albums, Retro Active, 1993, and Vault, 1995; released Slang, 1996; Euphoria, 1999; and X, 2002.

Addresses: Record company Island Def Jam Music Group, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019. Management Q. Prime, 729 Seventh Ave., 16th Floor, New York, NY 10019. Website Def Leppard Official Website: http://www.defleppard.com.

Savage on bass in the band Atomic Mass, Willis asked Clark to sit in, and he soon joined the group. With the addition of Elliott and drummer Allen, they changed their name to Deaf Leppard and later dropped the a. In July of 1978 they made their debut at Westfield School in Sheffield earning a grand total of $12.00. With a twin guitar assault reminiscent of Wishbone Ash, they began gigging in bars with a repertoire that included 50 percent of their own originals. We always thought our songs would be good enough to get us by, Allen told John Swenson in Rolling Stone.

Britain experienced a new wave of heavy metal as the 1980s rolled in, and Def Leppard was in a prime position to cash in. They recorded a privately made EP, Getcha Rocks Off, which sold out its initial 24, 000 copies. AC/DC manager Peter Mensch picked up the group and convinced Polygram to sign them to a deal. In 1980 the chartbreaking On Through the Night was released, climbing all the way to number 51 in the United States. We actually wrote the first album nine months before ever playing a live concert, Willis told Guitar Player. We wanted to do it right from the start and be polished. Songs like Rock Brigade, Hello America, When the Walls Come Tumbling Down, Overture, Sorrow is a Woman, and Wasted were recorded in just 18 days and made for a remarkably strong outing. Displaying a wisdom beyond their years, Def Leppard take the timeworn basics of heavy metal, give them a punky Eighties overhaul and come up with, uh, heavy melody, stated David Fricke in Rolling Stone. On Through the Night is awfully impressive for a band making its vinyl debut. The band then toured the United Kingdom opening for Sammy Haggar and AC/DC before coming Stateside to warm up audiences for Ted Nugent.

Their follow-up LP, High n Dry, was an even bigger seller breaking the top ten. Their sound also expanded as Bringin on the Heartbreak stretched the metal boundaries even further. In 1982 Willis was replaced by ex-Girl guitarist Phil Collen who told Guitar World,We offer a lot more melody than most heavy rock bands, vocally as well as musically. Def Leppard was now a headline act after only two albums, and Collens style differed enough from Williss to create a unique combination with Clark.

They employed the services of ace producer Mutt Lange for 1983s Pyromania, another top-ten LP which eventually sold more than two million copies. The album also included three hit singles: Photograph, Rock of Ages, and Foolin. By now the five members were being featured in teen magazines and ruling the MTV airwaves.

Tragedy struck the band on New Years Eve 1984, when drummer Rick Allen severed his left arm in an auto accident. Refusing to accept the conventional wisdom that such an injury would certainly end his musical career, Allen determined to relearn to play with the aid of a special drum kit. In a show of loyalty, the band didnt replace Allen, deciding to remain on hiatus until he was able to return.

Lange was used again as producer on 1987s Hysteria LP, and more hits followed. Animal, Women, Hysteria, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Armageddon It, and Rocket each received substantial airplay. In 1988 Def Leppard issued a 17-cut video entitled Historia providing an excellent summary of their musical career. With its intriguing perspective and loads of superb, hard-driving solos, Historia will hopefully inspire other bands to release similar projects, wrote Jas Obrecht in Guitar Player.

Five years passed between the release of the multiplatinum Hysteria and its follow-up, Adrenalize, released in 1992. During the recording of Adrenalize, tragedy again struck the band. Founding guitarist Steve Clark was found dead in his apartment on January 8, 1991, from an apparent alcohol and prescription drug overdose. Clark had been an alcoholic for years, and his abuse problem left him nearly unable to function during the recording of Adrenalize. The drugs that he had taken before his death were painkillers prescribed to him after breaking three ribs earlier in the year.

The band dedicated Adrenalize to Clark, and released it a year after his death. They brought on a new guitarist for the subsequent tours to support the album, White-snake axeman Vivian Campbell, who became a permanent member of the group. David Hildebrand, a reviewer for People, deemed the album superior to Def Leppards last release, 1987s Hysteria, although he acknowledged that shifting tides of public taste meant the album wouldnt be nearly as successful as it would have been five years earlier.

Def Leppards next two releases were greatest hits collections: Retro Active, released in 1993, and Vault, released in 1995. In support of Vault, Def Leppard accomplished something no band ever had: playing three shows on the same day on three different continents. They began October 23, 1995, in Tangiers, Morocco, hopped a plane to play a show in London, England, and closed out the day in Vancouver, Canada. That same year, drummer Rick Allen was arrested for beating his wife in an airport. He was later sentenced to community service and made public service announcements denouncing domestic abuse for MTV.

An album of new material, Slang, was released in 1996. By this time, heavy metal had waned considerably in popularity. Pop and grunge ruled the radio, and Def Leppard tried to modify their sound to fit the current climate. The band cited such varied influences as female rappers Salt-N-Pepa, R&B crooners Boyz II Men, and alternative rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers in a People interview. [W]hat weve always tried to do is take a bit from everything, Collen said. Just mix it all up. But in trying to mold their music to current pop tastes, the band came up with a lackluster, poorly received album.

It was no surprise, then, that Def Leppard decided to return to its roots with 1999s Euphoria. The band also reunited with Mutt Lange for this album, the producer who helmed the controls for some of Def Leppards greatest hits. When a certain kind of music is successful, Allen remarked on CNN.com, theres going to be a backlash. We took a good, hard listen to our past stuff, and knew we wanted to make a really classic Def Leppard album. Billboard writer Larry Flick called the album unabashedly bombastic and noted that Euphoria picks up where Hysteria left off.

Def Leppards next album, X, released in 2002, more than two decades after their debut album, met with surprisingly positive critical praise. There isnt a dog on this album, according to the Knight Ridder/Tribune New Service. The elements boil down to classic Def Leppard, which stands for sugar-sweet pop-metal with occasional displays of flashy liquid guitar and high-pitched vocals that create good, thick harmonies. The varied elements work to the bands advantage: Were on classic rock radio, and modern rock radio and pop radio, and thats what we wanted, that cross-the-board appeal, Elliott said to the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire.

Perhaps what is most surprising about Def Leppard is the longevity of the band. Early 1980s contemporaries like Ratt and pop-metal posterboys Poison have long since disbanded, but Def Leppard remains relevant and as committed as ever to making music. We could have retired in 1988 if this was about money, Elliott told the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. The secret behind their continued success, as revealed to CNN.com, We actually really like each other and thats the biggest reason why [weve stayed together]. Every person has talked about leaving at one time or another, but we never did because we couldnt think of anything else wed like to do. And besides, it would be like leaving your family.

Selected discography

On Through the Night, Mercury, 1980.

High n Dry, Mercury, 1981.

Pyromania, Mercury, 1983.

Hysteria, Mercury, 1987.

Adrenalize, Mercury, 1992.

Retro Active (compilation), Mercury, 1993.

Vault (compilation), Mercury, 1995.

Slang, Mercury, 1996.

Euphoria, Mercury, 1999.

X, Universal, 2002.

Sources

Books

Clifford, Mike, consultant, The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, Salamander, 1988.

Lazell, Barry with Dafydd Rees and Luke Crampton, editors, Rock Movers & Shakers, Banson, 1989.

Nite, Norm N., with Charles Crespo, Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Volume 3, Harper, 1985.

Pareles, Jon and Patricia Romanowski, editors, The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Rolling Stone Press/ Summit, 1983.

Periodicals

Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, September 21, 2002.

Billboard, January 19, 1991; May 15, 1999.

Business Wire, October 19, 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, April 10, 1992; January 12, 2001; July 20, 2001.

Guitar Player, March 1982; November 1988.

Guitar World, September 1983.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, July 31, 2002.

People, May 11, 1992; May 20, 1996.

Rolling Stone, June 26, 1980; October 2, 1980.

Online

Def Leppard, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (September 24, 2002).

Def Leppard, VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/def_leppard/bio.jhtml (September 26, 2002).

Def Leppard Official Website, http://www.defleppard.com (September 24, 2002).

For Those About to Rock, Def Leppard Salutes You,CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Music/9906/03/defleppard/index.html (September 26, 2002).

Calen D. Stone

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Def Leppard." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Def Leppard." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/def-leppard-0

"Def Leppard." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/def-leppard-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Def Leppard

DEF LEPPARD

Formed: 1977, Sheffield, England

Members: Rick Allen, drums (born Derbyshire, England, 1 November 1963); Vivian Campbell, guitar (born Belfast, Northern Ireland, 25 August 1962); Phil Collen, guitar (born London, England, 8 December 1957); Joe Elliott, lead vocals (born Sheffield, England, 1 August 1959); Rick Savage, bass (born Sheffield, England, 2 December 1960). Former members: Steve Clark, guitar (born Sheffield, England, 23 April 1960; d. London, England, 8 January 1991); Pete Willis, guitar (born Sheffield, England, 16 February 1960).

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Adrenalize (1992)

Hit songs since 1990: "Let's Get Rocked," "Two Steps Behind"


Def Leppard enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 1980s with their approachable brand of hard rock. Initially inspired by such bands as Judas Priest and AC/DC, Def Leppard soon developed their signature sound of electric guitar riffs and straightforward rock beats augmented with synthesizers and lush vocal backups. Although their lyrics are simplistic and at times banal, Joe Elliot propels each song with his earnest and emotive delivery. The band has weathered hardships during its career, most notably the injury incurred by Rick Allen and the death of Steve Clark. While largely ignored during the 1990s, Def Leppard has continued to produce albums, staunchly retaining their style of arena rock.


Getting Started

Guitarist Pete Willis and bassist Rick "Sav" Savage formed the band Atomic Mass in their hometown of Sheffield, England, in 1977. Singer Joe Eliott soon joined and suggested the name Deaf Leopard, which was reformulated into Def Leppard. With the addition of guitarist Steve Clark and drummer Rick Allen, the group began to perform in various venues and was eventually signed to Phonogram/Mercury in 1978.

Def Leppard toured with Sammy Hagar and AC/DC and garnered some modest radio airplay with their debut album, On Through the Night (1980). Working with producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, the band released their second album, High 'n' Dry (1981), which included the hit song "Bringin' on the Heartbreak." Although the song sounded empty at times, with the guitar doubling the bass rather than producing chords and the obvious lack of synthesizer textures, it heralded several key elements of their style, including their reliance on guitar riffs and lithe vocal harmonies. While recording material for their next album, Pete Willis left the group and was replaced by Phil Collen.

With the release of Pyromania (1983), Def Leppard gained widespread attention and headlined their own tour. The album rose to Billboard 's number two slot and included the power ballad "Foolin'" and the rock anthems "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages." During this time Def Leppard faced their first serious setback. Rick Allen was thrown from his car during an accident on December 31, 1984, and his left arm was completely severed. The band took a hiatus, and Allen slowly taught himself to drum one-armed on a Simmons electronic set. Cautious at first, the band began to perform and record, releasing their hugely successful album Hysteria in 1987.

Hysteria includes some of Def Leppard's biggest hits: "Love Bites," "Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Armageddon It," "Hysteria," and "Rocket." The ballad "Love Bites" begins slowly with two full verses and a long transition before presenting the chorus with its soaring melodic line and vocal backups, accompanied by an equally poignant solo guitar riff. "Pour Some Sugar on Me" features a swerving guitar riff and straightforward power chords in the chorus. Although their lyrical style is powerful in its simplicity, at times it veers into banality: "Step inside, walk this way. You and me, babe. Hey hey."

After another round of touring, Def Leppard began working on their next album. On January 8, 1991, Steve Clark died from respiratory failure induced by alcohol and pain killers. Vivian Campbell, previously of Dio and Whitesnake, joined the group, and Def Leppard soon released Adrenalize (1992). Although this album rose to Billboard 's number one slot, the songs were largely formulaic and uninspired.

The following year, Def Leppard contributed the song "Two Steps Behind" to the film Last Action Hero. Surprisingly enough, this B-side became a hit and prompted them to release a full album of unreleased material and alternate versions. Retro Active (1993) included the ballad "Miss You in a Heartbeat" and the raucous "She's Too Tough," with Eliott replicating the vocal delivery of AC/DC's Brian Johnson.

In 1995 Def Leppard released the compilation album Vault, which included the previously unreleased ballad "When Love and Hate Collide." Showcasing a different approach, Def Leppard introduced piano and strings to the texture, with the electric guitars providing unobtrusive accompaniment. Aside from the ubiquitous guitar solo, the song reveals a pop sensibility far removed from their earlier material.

For their next album, Def Leppard decided to work with the producer Pete Woodroffe rather than their long-time collaborator "Mutt" Lange. Unfortunately Slang (1996) was unconvincing and inconsistent. With their next release, however, Def Leppard achieved a balance of new musical styles and signature approaches. Euphoria (1999) included the funk-inspired "All Night," the pop song "21st Century Sha La La La Girl," and the straightforward rock songs "Demolition Man" and "Promises."

"Promises" begins with a striking guitar riff that is quickly augmented with a second guitar line. During the chorus, the backup vocals proclaim, "I won't make promises," to which Eliott finishes the thought: "that I can't keep." This technique of sharing the chorus reflects the method in such songs as "Photograph" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me." The funk approach in "All Night," while obviously a stylistic aberration, is surprisingly successful. Def Leppard alters the vocal backups from tight harmonic passages into delineated bass and tenor doublings of the melodic line. While using funk guitar voicings in the verse, they still manage to insert a heavily distorted guitar line in the chorus. With their next release, X (2002), the group experimented further with different producers. Although songs such as "You're So Beautiful" and "Now" are promising, the album as a whole is undeveloped and one-dimensional.

Def Leppard developed a popular approach to heavy metal and hard rock in the early 1980s. Along with Van Halen and Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard ushered in the pop-metal movement, which spawned such bands as Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Poison, and Cinderella. The craftsmanship of their guitar riffs, melodic lines, and vocal harmonies set them above many of their peers, and their rock anthems and earnest power ballads became emblematic of the 1980s. Def Leppard's subsequent albums, particularly those of the late 1990s and early 2000s, seemed like relics of an earlier era and attracted little notice.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

On Through the Night (Mercury, 1980); High 'n' Dry (Mercury, 1981); Pyromania (Mercury, 1983); Hysteria (Mercury, 1987); Adrenalize (Mercury, 1992); Retro Active (Mercury, 1993); Vault: Def Leppard's Greatest Hits (Mercury, 1995); Slang (Mercury, 1996); Euphoria (Mercury, 1999); X (Mercury, 2002).

WEBSITE:

www.defleppard.com.

wynn yamami

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Def Leppard." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Def Leppard." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/def-leppard

"Def Leppard." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/def-leppard

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Def Leppard

Def Leppard

Rock band

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Despite an average age of only eighteen, Def Leppard burst onto the heavy metal scene back in 1980 like a group of seasoned veterans. This band frequently transcends the mundane through sheer musical energy and playing ability, wrote Jim Schwartz in Guitar Player. In a genre known for cliched riffs and monotonous beats, these heavy metalheads have created a sound of their own while becoming one of the top-selling groups in rock and roll.

All five original members, Joe Elliott, Pete Willis, Steve Clark, Rick Savage and Rick Allen, come from the steel-producing town of Sheffield, England. Before employment as a van driver, lead singer Elliott used to dream about forming a band in school, creating song lists, logos, and band names while others in his class were studying. I figured out fairly early that I wasnt gonna be a brain surgeon or a nuclear physicist, he told Rolling Stone, so I fantasized about rock and roll.

Guitarist Willis was studying engineering at college when he met fellow axeman Clark. Already playing with Savage on bass in the band Atomic Mass, Willis asked Clark to sit in and he soon joined the group. With the addition of Elliott and drummer Allen, they changed their name to Deaf Leppard and later dropped the a. In July of 1978 they made their debut at Westfield School in Sheffield earning a grand total of $12.00. With a twin guitar assault reminiscent of Wishbone Ash, they began gigging in bars with a repertoire that included 50% of their own originals. We always thought our songs would be good enough to get us by, Allen told John Swenson in Rolling Stone.

Britain experienced a new wave of heavy metal as the 80srolled in and Def Leppard was in a prime position to cash in. They recorded a privately-made EP, Getcha Rocks Off, which sold out its initial 24, 000 copies. AC/DC manager Peter Mensch picked up the group and convinced Polygram to sign them to a deal. In 1980 the chartbreaking On Through the Night was released, climbing all the way to #51 in the US. We actually wrote the first album nine months before ever playing a live concert, Willis told Guitar Player. We wanted to do it right from the start and be polished. Songs like Rock Brigade, Hello America, When the Walls Come Tumbling Down, Overture, Sorrow is a Woman, and Wasted were recorded in just eighteen days and made for a remarkably strong outing. Displaying a wisdom beyond their years, Def Leppard take the timeworn basics of heavy metal, give them a punky Eighties overhaul and come up with, uh, heavy melody, stated David Fricke in Rolling Stone. On Through the Night is awfully impressive for a band making its vinyl debut. The band then toured the UK opening for

For the Record

Original band members included Joe Elliott (born August 1, 1959), vocals; Steve Clark (born April 23, 1960), guitar; Pete Willis (born February 16, 1960), guitar; Rick Savage (born December 2, 1960), bass; and Rick Allen (born November 1, 1963), drums. Phil Collen (born December8, 1957), guitar, replaced Willis in 1982. All original members from Sheffield, England.

Willis and Savage formed Atomic Mass after completing schooling; Clark, Elliott and Allen joined, changed name to Def Leppard; released EP in 1979; signed with Polygram and released debut in 1980.

Addresses: 80 Warwick Gardens, London, W148PR, England.

Sammy Haggar and AC/DC before coming Stateside to warm up audiences for Ted Nugent.

Their follow-up LP, High n Dry, was an even bigger seller breaking the Top 10. Their sound also expanded as Bringin on the Heartbreak stretched the metal boundaries even further. In 1982 Willis was replaced by ex-Girl guitarist Phil Collen who told Guitar World, We offer a lot more melody than most heavy rock bands, vocally as well as musically. Def Leppard was now a headline act after only two albums, and Collens style differed enough from Williss to create a unique combination with Clark.

They employed the services of ace producer Mutt Lange for 1983s Pyromania, another Top 10 LP which eventually sold over two million copies. The album also included three hit singles: Photography(#12), Rock of Ages (#16), and Foolin (#28). By now the five members were being featured in teen magazines and ruling the MTV airwaves.

Tragedy struck the band on New Years Eve 1984, when drummer Rick Allen severed his left arm in an auto accident. Refusing to accept the conventional wisdom that such an injury would certainly end his musical career, Allen determined to relearn to play with the aid of a special drum kit. In a show of loyalty, the band didnt replace Allen, deciding to remain on hiatus until he was able to return.

Lange was used again as producer on 1987s Hysteria LPand more hits followed. Animal, Women, Hysteria, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Armageddon It, and Rocket each received substantial air-play. In 1988 Def Leppard issued a seventeen-cut video entitled Historia providing an excellent summary of their musical career. With its intriguing perspective and loads of superb, hard-driving solos, Historia will hopefully inspire other bands to release similar projects, wrote Jas Obrecht in Guitar Player.

Selected discography

On Through the Night, Mercury, 1980.

High n Dry, Mercury, 1981.

Pyromania, Mercury, 1983.

Hysteria, Mercury, 1987.

Sources

Books

The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, edited by Jon Pareles and Patricia Romanowski, Rolling Stone Press/Summit, 1983.

The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, Mike Clifford, consultant, Salamander, 1988.

Nite, Norm N., with Charles Crespo, Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Volume 3, Harper, 1985.

Rock Movers & Shakers, edited by Barry Lazell with Dafydd Rees and Luke Crampton, Banson, 1989.

Periodicals

Guitar Player, March 1982; November 1988.

Guitar World, September 1983.

Rolling Stone, June 26, 1980; October 2, 1980.

Calen D. Stone

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Def Leppard." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Def Leppard." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/def-leppard

"Def Leppard." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/def-leppard

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Def Leppard

Def Leppard

Def Leppard , the band that helped define 1980s pop-metal, formed 1977, in Sheffield, England.MEMBERSHIP: Joe Elliott, lead voc. (b. England, Aug. 1, 1959); Pete Willis, gtr. (b. England, Feb. 16, I960); Rick Savage, bs. (b. England, Dec. 2, 1960); Rick Allen, drm.(b. England, Nov. 1,1963); Steve Clark, gtr. (b. England, April 23, 1960; d. London, Jan. 8, 1991).

When Def Leppard were coming together in Sheffield in the late 1970s, their sound was inspired by the,”new wave of heavy metal” bands like Saxon, but Def Leppard had more pop sense than most of their brethren. This has made them more than a bunch of working-class kids from a steel town. All were working blue-collar jobs in England when the band formed, except drummer Rick Allen, who was just 15 and still in school—although he even claims to have been a truck driver at one point. All of them were less than 20 years old.

The group started playing gigs at local clubs in 1978, and in 1979, they put out an EP, Getcha Rocks Off, on their own Bludgeon Riffola label. The name of the label was appropriate, as the record was raw, but not thrashy or stark. The disc sold 24,000 copies aided by some BBC airplay. This helped them land a management deal and got them signed to Phonogram. They released On Through the Night in 1980, which had a trucking motif. On the strength of the songs,”Hello America” and,”Wasted,” the group gained quite a bit of notoriety on both sides of the Atlantic, as much for their two- guitar attack as for their youthful exuberance.

It was the next album, 1981 ’s High & Dry, that blew the band wide open, largely on the strength of the hit,”Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” a tune that added the phrase,”heavy metal ballad” to the lexicon of popular music criticism. Sparked by play on MTV and AOR radio, it was a mega-hit. It grabbed hold instantly with the Bad Company-inspired, double-guitar intro. The guitar work of Steve Clark and Pete Willis was rooted in the standard heavy-metal crunch: riff and speed. But the group vocals were the most distinctive and overlooked aspect of the Def Leppard sound. Essentially, High and Dry presented Def Leppard as a better then average, radio ready, hard-rock band, but while the album hinted at it, they had yet to find that niche that made them stand out from the crowd. The album topped out at #38, but still sold double platinum.

The group’s potential was realized on their next release, 1983’s Pyromania. The album effectively (perhaps in concert with Van Halen) ushered in the revolutionary idea of pop-metal. In large part, this was due to the departure of one of the group’s founders, guitarist Pete Willis, who was fired because of his drinking problem. He was replaced by Phil Collen (b. Dec. 8, 1957), formerly of Girl, a band with a decidedly glam image. There was musical chemistry between Collen and Clark right from the start, borne out by Pyromania.,”Rock of Ages” reached #16 pop,,”Photograph” catapulted to #12, and the power ballad,”Foolin’,” one of their songs to feature an acoustic guitar, got up to #28, an unprecedented third hit single from a hard-rock album. Def Leppard was finding their sound, and it was a sound that people liked. The only thing that kept Pyromania from the top of the charts was the pop juggernaut of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album eventually went nine times platinum.

Between the overwhelming success of Pyromania and 1987’s Hysteria, Def Leppard went through the trials of Job. Mutt Lange, the producer who guided them to success, had other commitments, so they enlisted two other producers, but neither worked out. By the time they had scrapped the two aborted versions of Hysteria, Lange was available, but then suffered a car accident that nearly cost him the use of his legs. When he finally got back on his feet and the band was about to go into the studio, Joe Elliot came down with the mumps. The most devastating blow came on New Year’s Eve 1985, when drummer Rick Allen’s Corvette went off the road. It could have cost him his life, but he deems himself lucky to have only lost his arm. Through ingenuity, dedication, and hard work, Allen and his drum technician developed a set that allowed him to have his left leg do the work his left arm used to do.

But the result of all these trials was an album that went 12 times platinum (and counting), spinning off six separate Top 40 singles. The Def Leppard on Hysteria is a band that has found its expression. Joe Elliot sounded more comfortable using the lower end of his voice. The overall sound became slicker. With the pop success of Pyromania, Def Leppard could get beyond the cliches of being a metal band without the fear of losing their audience. The album’s hits showcased the band’s many different sides.,”Animal/’ which peaked at #19, wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Cars album.,”Pour Some Sugar on Me,” which spent a couple of weeks at #2, effectively revived the glam-rock sound. The power ballad,”Love Bites,” the band’s first charttopping single, established a more vulnerable feel.,”Armageddon It,” which rose to #3, displayed their sense of humor.,”Rocket,” which hit #12 fully two years after the album came out, kicked off with the beat that made Gary Glitter famous.

Again, tragedy struck between Hysteria and their next album. Steve Clark, whose drinking had only been slightly less troublesome than Willis’s, died when he mixed pain medicine he was taking for cracked ribs with his libations. The band vowed to continue on without him, and recorded Adrenalize as a quartet. The 1992 record produced such anthemic tunes as the #15,”Let’s Get Rocked,” the #36,”Make Love Like a Man,” the #12,”Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad,” and,”Stand Up (Kick Love in Motion).” Despite spending five weeks atop the album charts and selling triple platinum, the album was regarded as a commercial and critical disappointment.

Before hitting the road for Adrenalize, the band added veteran metal guitarist Vivian Campbell (b. Belfast, N. Ireland, Aug. 25, 1962) to their lineup. Beyond touring extensively over the next couple of years, they recorded the #12 single,”Two Steps Behind” for the movie The Last Action Hero. That tune found its way onto Retro Active, a collection of non- album B-sides, other rarities, and the new single,”Miss You in a Heartbeat,” which peaked at #39. In 1995, they put out their greatest hits record, Vault, which they saw as closing an old chapter and starting a new one. The record peaked at #15 and sold double platinum.

The new chapter started with Slang in 1996. The album was more raw, practically devoid of the vocal harmonies that characterized the band’s previous al-bums. They used Indian instruments, funk, and even industrial sounds, trying to move with the times. Allen brought back his acoustic drum kit. The album met with great indifference, hitting #15 but only going gold. They remained popular live, however, and in 1999 released Euphoria, an album that harked back to their earlier records, reuniting them with producer Mutt Lange. It entered the charts at a peak of #11 and went gold almost immediately.

Discography

Getcha Rocks Off (1979); On Through the Night (1980); High V Dry (1981); Pyromania (1983); First Strike Flash (1985); Hysteria (1987); Adrenalize (1992); Retro Active (1993); Mega Edition (1994); Slang (1996); Euphoria (1999).

—Hank Bordowitz

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Def Leppard." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Def Leppard." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/def-leppard

"Def Leppard." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/def-leppard

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.