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Def Leppard
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Def Leppard

Def Leppard is a band from Sheffield, England, that emerged in the late 1970s as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Rick Savage and Pete Willis formed the band in 1977 in Sheffield (see 1977 in music). Joe Elliott joined as the vocalist, and brought the name of the band with him. Elliott had thought of the name Deaf Leopard in school. Savage and Willis liked it and, after a spelling change, Def Leppard was born. They began playing locally and soon added Steve Clark and drummer Tony Kenning before recording the underground hit "Getcha Rocks Off" for Bludgeon Riffola, their own label. Rick Allen was added as the permanent drummer, to replace Kenning. They signed to Mercury Records.

Their major label debut was On through the Night (1980 in music). High N' Dry (1981 in music) was their first album to be produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange. From it, "Bringin' on the Heartbreak"'s video was one of the first "metal" videos played on MTV video. Phil Collen, former guitarist from band "Girl", replaced Pete Willis who was fired on July 11, 1982 due to alcoholism. This personnel change took place during the recording of their next release, Pyromania (January 20, 1983). Lange was again the producer. Aided by the singles "Photograph", "Rock of Ages", and "Foolin'", Pyromania sold six million copies in 1983 & 84.

The period after the album's success, however, was difficult: on December 31, 1984, Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash in which his Corvette veered off the road into a concrete wall. While recovering in the hospital from his accident, Rick was committed to continuing his role as Def Leppard's drummer. He practiced drumming with pillows, and realized that he could use his legs to do some of the percussive work previously done with his arms. He then worked with Simmons to design a custom electronic drum kit.

Leppard's next album, Hysteria, (yet again produced by Lange), was released in 1987 (see 1987 in music). The first released single, Women, was not very successful. Album sales were slow until the fourth single, "Pour Some Sugar On Me", became a hit. The album included a total of six Top 20 singles. The seventh and last single to be released from this album was Rocket in early 1989 (see 1989 in music).

Much of Leppard's success in the 1980s is credited to their producer, Robert John 'Mutt' Lange, who was considered by the band to be its sixth member.

After Hysteria 's release, internal problems (including the death of guitarist Steve Clark from a drug and alcohol overdose on January 8, 1991) resulted in a long delay before the follow-up.

Adrenalize was finally released in 1992, the only album recorded by Leppard as a four-piece (Elliott, Collen, Savage, and Allen). The album entered the US charts at number 1. It remained there for five weeks, selling six million copies, and the first single, "Let's Get Rocked," was on MTV's video countdown for a long time. It was also nominated for Best Video of the Year at the 1992 9th MTV Video Music Awards. However, it did not have the longevity of their previous albums, and in retrospect many fans consider it one of their weakest albums.

Retroactive was released in 1993 and is a collection of songs which, although not new, were either rare or never previously released. Some of this album's songs were written as B-sides for Hysteria singles. Retroactive was followed by the release of Vault 1995, Def Leppard's Greatest Hits, which sold 3.5 million copies.

In 1992, guitarist Vivian Campbell joined Def Leppard. (Vivian had been a member of DIO from 1983 - 1986, and a member of Whitesnake in 1987 and 1988.) He collaborated in the songwriting for Slang, which was released in 1996. Next came the album Euphoria in 1999.

X, Def Leppard's tenth album, was released in 2002. The band has stated that they are very satisfied with this album, and that in many ways they wish it had been the follow-up to Hysteria -- in sound and style, it is a logical progression from their previous albums. It is also Elliott's finest album as a vocalist, and the themes presented in the lyrics represent a maturing of the band members' outlooks on relationships.

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