Step inside, walk this way…
Sure, I could’ve selected “Pyromania” and many of you would’ve nodded and agreed that “Photograph” and the Union Jack is etched upon the hearts and into the ears of anyone my age who loved rock music in 1983. “Let It Go” and “Bringing On The Heartbreak” set the Def Leppard stage even earlier when these guys were teenagers opening for Blackfoot at the Towson Center. And then the triumph of the “Rock Of Ages” era and that incredible album and tour turned to tragedy when Rick Allen lost his arm.
There have been movies made and books written about the legend of Def Leppard. The drugs, the girls, the alcohol, the tragedy of the 1980s hairspray metal life is woven into the soul of this working class band, employing the genius of “Mutt” Lange who schooled them to become iconic rock gods.
My roommate Doug Bennett, a dearly departed recurring #MusicalNes friend in the early part of my life, kept bugging me about when the new Def Leppard album was going to arrive in the summer of 1987. I was on every major record label mailing list so boxes dropped daily with music for me to review. I always got the music before it was at the mall and when the radio station only had the advance single. “Hysteria” actually came on an old-school LP (they always had a gold stamped “REVIEW COPY” with a legal warning that everyone ignored). I think some record companies still preferred sending the album because you got the artwork in a larger format. The next morning, after Doug had spun it all night, he declared it the greatest album he’d ever heard. He swore every song was going to be a hit. In the end, it only had seven major hits – and all six on Side One!
Sure, we’ve all been hot and sticky and sweet for three decades and don’t ever need to hear that one again. But “Women,” “Animal” and “Love Bites” are the reasons I was delighted to be in New York at the Barclay’s Center last spring when Def Leppard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
My wife would tell you that the one rock star I’ve always wanted to meet – and never have – is Joe Elliott. I actually interviewed Phil Collen on the fly in Hershey a dozen years ago and scored a picture with the inspirational and sensational Rick Allen. And Vivian Campbell is a two-time cancer survivor.
Def Leppard is another band that I have seen in every time zone in the United States in every era and circumstance you can imagine. Baseball fields, theatres, gyms, arenas, sheds, a field in the middle of Western Wisconsin at midnight under the stars and mosquitoes – even in the round, back at the Capital Centre once! These songs always stand the test of time.
We saw them play with Bryan Adams on my birthday at Bristow earlier this century and everyone in the third row with us were amputees from Walter Reed, clearly guests of Allen wearing backstage passes. They were all shaking and headbanging their prosthetic limbs over their heads during the concert in unison.
You don’t forget nights like that.
Mad music, all around. Crazy people, crazy sound…
Do you wanna get rocked?