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The Complete Story of Def Leppard

The Complete Story of Def Leppard

The Complete Story of Def Leppard

From the archives of Classic Rock, this book celebrates the iconic UK rock band who took on the world. Packed with exclusive interviews and the stories behind the albums, this is the ultimate Def Leppard tribute.

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United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd

in this issue

2 min
editor’s note

In 2001, long before Mötley Crüe movie The Dirt hit our screens in all its bodily fluid-splattered glory, Def Leppard had their own biopic. Sadly, Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story was a dismal failure on every front, from the wigs on the hapless actors’ bonces downward. This truly was Hysterical, and not in a good way… If any band deserve the proper Hollywood treatment, it’s Leppard. Their incredible success - from the highs of the 80s to their current status as arena and stadium fillers the world over - is matched only by their astounding story. If you’re reading this, you’ll know it by now: that rocket ride that took them from the backstreets of Sheffield to US superstardom and the backlash that followed; the monstrous success of Pyromania and the car…

3 min
“welcome to the show…”

“The Leps cavort around the stage with wild abandon, belying their tender years.” It’s Tuesday, June 5, 1979. Joe Elliott has just picked me up from Sheffield train station in a battered white Ford Escort van. After a brief stop at Joe’s parents’ house for tea and biscuits, we arrive at Crookes Working Men’s Club – the scene of tonight’s gig by a fledgling Def Leppard. The club initially reminds me of my old school dining room: unremarkable, high-ceilinged, lots of light-coloured wooden tables and chairs, little cliques of people huddled haphazardly around. But then again you could never buy a scotch and Coke for 30p at my school (let alone a double for 54p!). And so it is that those academic comparisons fade rapidly and the atmosphere becomes warm, comfortable and…

36 min
the birth of the nwobhm

Less than a decade after it had been forged in the white heat of the late 60s, British rock was in trouble. Its original pioneers had either split up, lost touch with reality or were spiralling into drug-addled irrelevance, their thunder stolen by both a wave of platinum-plated American bands and the incendiary punk movement. It may have been down, but British rock wasn’t quite out. As the 1970s hurtled towards its conclusion, a new wave of heavy bands from all corners of the United Kingdom sparked off a grass-roots revolution, rewriting the rule book on how things could be done and giving their more established counterparts a shot in the arm. Its leading lights would go on to achieve the unthinkable, but even the bands who didn’t and got left…

2 min
dramatis personae

Geoff Barton Legendary Sounds (and current Classic Rock) journalist. The first person to use the phrase ‘New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ in print. Biff Byford Barnsley-born Saxon singer. Has fronted the band since they formed as Son Of A Bitch in the mid-70s. Fast Eddie Clarke Former Motörhead guitarist and sole surviving member of the classic line-up. Formed Fastway after his departure in 1982. Jess Cox Original singer with Whitley Bay NWOBHM pioneers the Tygers Of Pan Tang. Resurrected groundbreaking label Neat Records in the early 90s. Andy Dawson Guitarist with Mansfield band Savage, whose track Let It Loose was covered by Metallica on an early demo. Bruce Dickinson Leather-lunged former Samson singer (also known as Bruce Bruce). Later replaced Paul Di’Anno in Iron Maiden. KK Downing Long-time Judas Priest guitarist. Left the band in 2011 and has since opened a golf…

30 min
joe elliott

He is the voice of Def Leppard – not only the singer, but also the band’s chief spokesman.And as anyone who’s ever met Joe Elliott will testify, when this man talks, he really talks… “Everybody knows what I’m like,” Joe says with a laugh. “I love to talk! But that’s why the other guys in the band say I’m the perfect frontman – because I don’t know when to shut the fuck up!” In his life as a rock’n’roll star, Joe Elliott has pretty much seen it all. Born on August 1, 1959, he was just eighteen when Def Leppard started out. In the years that followed he has led the band through good times and bad: the phenomenal success of 1980s albums Pyromania and Hysteria; the trauma of Rick Allen…

12 min
rock of ages.

1979 was a life-changing year for the five young members of Def Leppard. It began with the release of their debut record, The Def Leppard E.P. And before the year was out, the band had signed a major deal with Mercury/Vertigo, performed in 3000-capacity concert halls opening for Sammy Hagar and AC/DC, and made their first album, On Through The Night, in a mansion that was once home to John Lennon. “It was insane,” singer Joe Elliott recalls. “Before we signed to Vertigo I was a working as a deliveryman for an ironmongery firm, driving a clapped-out old Ford Escort van. And when we made the album, I remember saying to my mates, ‘Can you believe that this is going to come out on the same label as Thin Lizzy?’” The Def…