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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 (andwere moredangerous) than the Sheffield-based quintet, but few others captured the spirit of the times quite as well.Emerging in the late '70s as part ofthe New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Def Leppard actually owed more to the glam rockand metal of the early '70s, as their sound was equalparts T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. By toning downtheir heavy riffs and emphasizing melody, Def Leppard were poisedfor crossover success by 1983's Pyromania, and skill ...read more

In many ways, Def Leppard were the definitive hard rock band of the '80s. There were many bands that rocked harder (andwere moredangerous) than the Sheffield-based quintet, but few others captured the spirit of the times quite as well.Emerging in the late '70s as part ofthe New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Def Leppard actually owed more to the glam rockand metal of the early '70s, as their sound was equalparts T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. By toning downtheir heavy riffs and emphasizing melody, Def Leppard were poisedfor crossover success by 1983's Pyromania, and skillfullyused the fledgling MTV network to their advantage. The musicians were alreadyblessed with photogenic good looks, but theyalso crafted a series of innovative, exciting videos that made them into stars. They intended tofollow Pyromania quickly butwere derailed when their drummer lost an arm in a car accident, the first of many problems that plagued thegroup's career.They managed to pull through such tragedies, and even expanded their large audience with 1987's blockbuster Hysteria.Asthe '90s began, mainstream hard rock shifted away from their signature pop-metal and toward edgier, louder bands, yetthey maintained asizable audience into the late '90s and were one of only a handful of '80s metal groups to survive thedecade more or less intact.

Def Leppard had their origins in a Sheffield-based group that teenagers Rick Savage (bass) and Pete Willis (guitar) formed in1977. VocalistJoe Elliott, a fanatic follower of Mott the Hoople and T. Rex, joined the band several months later, bringing thename Deaf Leopard with him.After a spelling change, the trio, augmented by a now-forgotten drummer, began playing localSheffield pubs, and within a year the band hadadded guitarist Steve Clark to the lineup, as well as a new drummer. Later in1978, they recorded their debut EP, Getcha Rocks Off, andreleased it on their own label, Bludgeon Riffola. The EP became aword-of-mouth success, earning airplay on the BBC. The group memberswere still in their teens.

Following the release of Getcha Rocks Off, Rick Allen was added as the band's permanent drummer, and Def Leppard quicklybecame thesubject of the British music weeklies. They soon signed with AC/DC's manager, Peter Mensch, who helped themsecure a contract withMercury Records. On Through the Night, the band's full-length debut, was released in 1980 andinstantly became a hit in the U.K., alsoearning significant airplay in the U.S., where it reached number 51 on the charts. Overthe course of the year, Def Leppard relentlesslytoured Britain and America, playing their own shows while also openingconcerts for Ozzy Osbourne, Sammy Hagar, and Judas Priest. High'n' Dry followed in 1981 and became the group's firstplatinum album in the U.S., thanks to MTV's strong rotation of "Bringin' on theHeartbreak." MTV would be vital to the band'ssuccess 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 foralcoholism, and PhilCollen, a former guitarist for Girl, was hired to replace him. The resulting album, 1983's Pyromania, becamean unexpected blockbuster, duenot only to Def Leppard's skillful, melodic metal, but also to MTV's relentless airing of"Photograph" and "Rock of Ages." Pyromania went onto sell ten million copies, establishing Def Leppard as one of the mostpopular bands in the world. Despite their success, they were about toenter a trying time for their career. Following anextensive international tour, the group reentered the studio to record the follow-up, butproducer Lange was unavailable, sothey began sessions with Jim Steinman, the man responsible for Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell. The pairingturned out to be ill. advised, so the bandmembers turned to their former engineer, Nigel Green. One month into recording, Allen lost his leftarm ina New Year's Eve car accident. The arm was reattached, 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 beganlearning to play a custom-made electronic kit assembled for him by Simmons. The band soon resumed recording,and within a few monthsLange was back on board, having judged all the existing tapes inferior and ordered the band to beginwork all over again. Recording sessionscontinued throughout 1986, and that summer, the group returned to the stage for theEuropean Monsters of Rock tour. Def Leppard finallycompleted their fourth album, now titled Hysteria, early in 1987. Therecord was released that spring to lukewarm reviews, with many criticsclaiming that the album compromised Leppard's metalroots for sweet pop flourishes. Accordingly, Hysteria was slow out of the startinggates -- "Women," the first single, failed toreally take hold -- but the release of "Animal" helped the album gather steam. The song becameDef Leppard's first Top 40 hitin the U.K., but more importantly, it launched a string of six straight Top 20 hits in the U.S., which alsoincluded "Hysteria,""Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Love Bites," "Armageddon It," and "Rocket," the latter of which arrived in 1989, a full twoyearsafter the release of Hysteria. During those two years, Def Leppard's presence was unavoidable -- they were the kings ofhigh-schoolmetal, ruling the pop charts and MTV, and teenagers and bands alike replicated their teased hair and ripped jeans,even when the grimy hardrock 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 theband took abreak from the road and set to work on a new record. During the recording process, however, Steve Clark diedfrom an overdose of alcoholand drugs. Clark had historically battled with alcohol, and following the Hysteria heyday, hisbandmates forced him to take a sabbatical.Although he did enter rehab, Clark's habits continued, and his abuse was socrippling that Collen began recording the majority of the band'sguitar leads. Following Clark's death, Def Leppard resolved tofinish their forthcoming album as a quartet, releasing Adrenalize in the springof 1992. Adrenalize was greeted with mixedreviews, and even though the album debuted at number one and contained several successfulsingles, including the Top 20hits "Let's Get Rocked" and "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad," the record was a commercialdisappointment in thewake of Pyromania and Hysteria. After its release, the group added former Whitesnake guitarist Vivian Campbell tothe 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 StepsBehind." Two years later, the group released the greatest-hits collection Vault while preparing for its sixth album.Slang arrived in the springof 1996, and while it proved more adventurous than its predecessor, it was greeted withindifference, indicating that Leppard's heyday hadindeed passed and they were now simply a very popular cult band.Undaunted, Leppard soldiered on, returning to their patented pop-metalsound for Euphoria, which was released in June of1999. Despite the success of "Promises," the record failed to produce any additional hits,resulting in a return to adult popballadry on 2002's X. The two-disc Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection arrived in 2005, followed in2006 by Yeah!, a strongcollection of covers. In 2008, the guys released their ninth studio album, Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, whichdebuted atnumber five and was supported by a lucrative summer tour. Material from that tour helped make up the bulk of Mirror Ball:Live &More, a three-disc live album containing a full concert, three new studio recordings, and DVD footage. « hide

Similar Bands: Whitesnake, Van Halen, Atomic Rooster, Bon Jovi, AC/DC

LPs
Songs from the Sparkle Lounge
2008

2.9
92 Votes
Yeah!
2006

3.1
64 Votes
X
2002

2.3
103 Votes
Euphoria
1999

2.9
94 Votes
Slang
1996

2.9
103 Votes
Adrenalize
1992

3.2
154 Votes
Hysteria
1987

3.8
453 Votes
Pyromania
1983

3.9
389 Votes
High 'n' Dry
1981

3.8
215 Votes
On Through the Night
1980

3.5
152 Votes
EPs
Live: In the Clubs, in Your Face
1993

3.1
5 Votes
The Def Leppard E.P.
1979

3.2
14 Votes
Live Albums
Viva Hysteria!
10/28/2013

4
3 Votes
Mirror Ball: Live and More...
2011

3.2
12 Votes
Compilations
Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection
2005

4
52 Votes
Best of Def Leppard
2004

4.2
13 Votes
Vault: Greatest Hits 1980 - 1995
1995

4
75 Votes
Retro Active
1993

3.7
58 Votes

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