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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 aswell.Emerging in the late '70s as part ofthe New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Def Leppard actually owed more to the glamrockand metal of the early '70s, as their sound was equalparts T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. By toningdowntheir heavy riffs and emphasizing melody, Def Leppard were poisedfor crossover success by 1983's Pyromania, andskillfullyu ...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 aswell.Emerging in the late '70s as part ofthe New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Def Leppard actually owed more to the glamrockand metal of the early '70s, as their sound was equalparts T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. By toningdowntheir heavy riffs and emphasizing melody, Def Leppard were poisedfor crossover success by 1983's Pyromania, andskillfullyused 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 Pyromaniaquickly butwere derailed when their drummer lost an arm in a car accident, the first of many problems that plagued thegroup'scareer.They managed to pull through such tragedies, and even expanded their large audience with 1987's blockbusterHysteria.Asthe '90s began, mainstream hard rock shifted away from their signature pop-metal and toward edgier, louderbands, yetthey maintained asizable audience into the late '90s and were one of only a handful of '80s metal groups to survivethedecade more or less intact.

Def Leppard had their origins in a Sheffield-based group that teenagers Rick Savage (bass) and Pete Willis (guitar) formedin1977. VocalistJoe Elliott, a fanatic follower of Mott the Hoople and T. Rex, joined the band several months later, bringingthename Deaf Leopard with him.After a spelling change, the trio, augmented by a now-forgotten drummer, began playinglocalSheffield pubs, and within a year the band hadadded guitarist Steve Clark to the lineup, as well as a new drummer. Laterin1978, they recorded their debut EP, Getcha Rocks Off, andreleased it on their own label, Bludgeon Riffola. The EP becameaword-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 Leppardquicklybecame thesubject of the British music weeklies. They soon signed with AC/DC's manager, Peter Mensch, who helpedthemsecure a contract withMercury Records. On Through the Night, the band's full-length debut, was released in 1980andinstantly 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 alsoopeningconcerts for Ozzy Osbourne, Sammy Hagar, and Judas Priest. High'n' Dry followed in 1981 and became the group'sfirstplatinum album in the U.S., thanks to MTV's strong rotation of "Bringin' on theHeartbreak." MTV would be vital to theband'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 bandforalcoholism, 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 airingof"Photograph" and "Rock of Ages." Pyromania went onto sell ten million copies, establishing Def Leppard as one of themostpopular bands in the world. Despite their success, they were about toenter a trying time for their career. Followinganextensive 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 inaNew 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 resumedrecording,and within a few monthsLange was back on board, having judged all the existing tapes inferior and ordered theband to beginwork all over again. Recording sessionscontinued throughout 1986, and that summer, the group returned to thestage for theEuropean Monsters of Rock tour. Def Leppard finallycompleted their fourth album, now titled Hysteria, early in1987. Therecord was released that spring to lukewarm reviews, with many criticsclaiming that the album compromisedLeppard's metalroots for sweet pop flourishes. Accordingly, Hysteria was slow out of the startinggates -- "Women," the firstsingle, failed toreally take hold -- but the release of "Animal" helped the album gather steam. The song becameDef Leppard'sfirst 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 fulltwoyearsafter the release of Hysteria. During those two years, Def Leppard's presence was unavoidable -- they were thekings ofhigh-schoolmetal, ruling the pop charts and MTV, and teenagers and bands alike replicated their teased hair andripped 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, astheband took abreak from the road and set to work on a new record. During the recording process, however, Steve Clarkdiedfrom 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 wassocrippling that Collen began recording the majority of the band'sguitar leads. Following Clark's death, Def Leppard resolvedtofinish their forthcoming album as a quartet, releasing Adrenalize in the springof 1992. Adrenalize was greeted withmixedreviews, and even though the album debuted at number one and contained several successfulsingles, including the Top20hits "Let's Get Rocked" and "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad," the record was a commercialdisappointment inthewake of Pyromania and Hysteria. After its release, the group added former Whitesnake guitarist Vivian Campbell tothelineup,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 acousticballad"Two StepsBehind." Two years later, the group released the greatest-hits collection Vault while preparing for its sixthalbum.Slang arrived in the springof 1996, and while it proved more adventurous than its predecessor, it was greetedwithindifference, indicating that Leppard's heyday hadindeed passed and they were now simply a very popular cultband.Undaunted, Leppard soldiered on, returning to their patented pop-metalsound for Euphoria, which was released in Juneof1999. Despite the success of "Promises," the record failed to produce any additional hits,resulting in a return to adultpopballadry on 2002's X. The two-disc Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection arrived in 2005, followed in2006 by Yeah!, astrongcollection of covers. In 2008, the guys released their ninth studio album, Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, whichdebutedatnumber five and was supported by a lucrative summer tour. Material from that tour helped make up the bulk of MirrorBall: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

2.8
99 Votes
Yeah!
2006

3
72 Votes
X
2002

2.3
111 Votes
Euphoria
1999

3
102 Votes
Slang
1996

2.9
110 Votes
Adrenalize
1992

3.2
166 Votes
Hysteria
1987

3.8
478 Votes
Pyromania
1983

3.9
409 Votes
High 'n' Dry
1981

3.9
232 Votes
On Through the Night
1980

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

3.4
6 Votes
First Strike
1985

The Def Leppard E.P.
1979

3.3
16 Votes
Live Albums
Viva Hysteria!
10/28/2013

4.3
4 Votes
Mirror Ball: Live and More...
2011

3.3
14 Votes
Compilations
Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection
2005

4
54 Votes
Best of Def Leppard
2004

4.1
14 Votes
Vault: Greatest Hits 1980 - 1995
1995

4
76 Votes
Retro Active
1993

3.7
62 Votes

Contributors: iGuter, Mad., AleksiS, rockandmetaljunkie, TheRamblingElf, Nagrarok, Willie, bigdctherock, magas92, gunmaster, AeroZeppelin1, Alex101, lessthanderek123, Voivod, LittleStranger, AleksiS, rockandmetaljunkie, Nagrarok,

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