Def Leppard is an English rock band that rose to fame during the heavy metal invasion of the ‘80s, but has remained popular into today’s times. The band began with childhood friends Pete Willis, Rick Savage, Joe Elliot, and Tony Kenning. Later other members such as Vivian Campbell, Steve Clark, Phil Collen, and Rick Allen would join the band.
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The Rise to Fame
Formed in Sheffield, England by a group of teens in 1977, Def Leppard infused melody into heavy metal. This style took longer to catch on in England than in America but eventually they would be renown worldwide. Their rise came at the perfect time, as there was a new wave of British pop-oriented rock bands focused on reviving the genre.
The band first released an extended-play record on an independent label, which helped Def Leppard reach the British charts with just one album. The album On Through the Night was released in 1980, followed by High ‘n’ Dry in 1981. Their second album sold two million copies with the help of wizard producer John “Mutt” Lange. It was their third album, Pyromania, in 1983 that skyrocketed their careers and solidified their spot in rock history.
Amid their booming success, Def Leppard would begin having problems in 1982. It started with Willis getting fired and replaced by Collen due to his drinking problem. And then their bad luck continued into the next year when Allen lost his arm in a car crash. Thanks to a customized drum set, he was able to continue playing with the band. Now that’s loyalty!
By 1987, Def Leppard had released its fourth studio album, Hysteria, which would sell over 14 million copies and include hits such as “Love Bites” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
In 1991, the group’s guitarist Steve Clark passed away from a drug overdose, and though Def Leppard continued to release albums such as Adrenalize, the group never fully regained the exalted status. However, they did continue to be a big concert draw, so for most of the 21st century, the band has focused on live albums and re-releases, with some original studio albums such as Songs from the Sparkle Lounge in 2008 and Def Leppard in 2015 thrown into the mix.
Def Leppard announced in 2018 that they would embark on a North American tour consisting of 58-stops with Journey. It was a highly successful tour that was played for over a million fans within just three months, making it one of 2018’s most successful music tours. During this year, the band’s music was also released on streaming platforms and made available for digital download.
They ended 2018 with the release of The Story So Far – The Best Of, which was ultimately a greatest hits collection that featured the remake of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” The album also contains a remake of “Rock On” and “We All Need Christmas.”
Def Leppard Hits Vegas
In 2019, Def Leppard announced that they would take up another residency in Las Vegas titled Def Leppard Hits Vegas. Later that year, they announced an upcoming tour with Poison, Joan Jett, and Motley Crue, which was originally scheduled for 2020 but ended up getting pushed back to 2022 due to COVID-19. Def Leppard most recently released Diamond Star Halos, their twelfth studio album, reaching the top 10 on the charts.
Current Def Leppard members
Rick Savage – bass, backing vocals (1977–present)
Joe Elliott – lead vocals (1977–present)
Rick Allen – drums (1978–present)
Phil Collen – Lead/Rythym guitar (1982–present)
Vivian Campbell – Lead/Rythym guitar (1992–present)
Former Def Leppard members
Tony Kenning – drums (1977–1978)
Pete Willis – guitar (1977–1982)
Steve Clark – guitar (1978–1991) passed away in 1991