Trailblazers for '80s metal domination
The most commercially successful New Wave of British Heavy Metal band, Def Leppard ignited the 1980s reign of metal. Their anthemic hooks, melodic but powerful guitars, larger-than-life drum sounds, and sexy swagger created the ultimate stadium experience.
A group of fresh-faced teenagers formed Def Leppard in Sheffield, England in 1977. They quickly emerged as the most commercially successful band in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Combining new wave’s accessibility with metal’s guitar-driven power and glam rock’s sexiness, they set the stage for metal’s domination of arenas, airwaves, and television in the 1980s. Def Leppard defined visual theatricality. They staged larger-than-life concerts filled with pyrotechnics, unencumbered performance energy, and sexy swagger. They created the model for hard rock bands looking to harness MTV’s hard rock potential with classic videos like “Photograph” and “Rock of Ages.” On the multi-platinum albums Pyromania and Hysteria, Mutt Lange guided the band as they honed their signature sound—a sound that would sustain the band from pub rock to metal and points in-between.
With Def Leppard, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Joe Elliott’s anthemic hooks soared above glossy vocal harmony layers. At the height of their popularity, Steve Clark and Phil Collen saturated their songs with guitars, tracking single-note melodic licks over chunky power chords. Underneath, Rick Savage chugged on the bass to anchor the active sonic texture above. In 1984, Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident. He took this as an opportunity to use a pedal-oriented, all electronic drum kit to craft the perfect stadium drum sound: heavy, economical beats with gated reverb and plenty of space between the notes that leaves room for maximum echo throughout the venue.
Def Leppard opened the door for bands like Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, and Bon Jovi to ascend into the limelight of the 1980s. Artists from Metallica to Taylor Swift claim them as an influence today. But the band’s greatest asset is their perseverance. Throughout changes in the music industry and personal struggles, Def Leppard continues to find new ways to rock, inspiring legions of fans in their wake.
“Getcha Rocks Off,” The Def Leppard EP (1979) • “Hello America,” On Through the Night (1980) • “Bring’ on the Heartbreak,” High ‘n’ Dry (1981) • “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages,” “Foolin’,” Pyromania (1983) • “Animal,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Hysteria,” “Armageddon It,” “Love Bites,” “Rocket,” Hysteria (1987) • “Let’s Get Rocked,” Adrenalize (1992) • “Two Steps Behind,” Last Action Hero: Music from the Original Motion Picture (1993)• “Promises,” Euphoria (1999) • “20th Century Boy,” Yeah! (2006) • “Nine Lives” (feat. Tim McGraw) Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008) • “Let’s Go,” Def Leppard (2015)
Beginning October 9 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. EST on December 9, 2018, fans can cast votes for who they believe to be most deserving of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2019 inductees. Fans will need to login to vote. Voting is capped at one ballot per day.