Since their heyday, Def Leppard has sold more than 10 million copies of 1983’s “Pyromania” and more than 12 million copies of 1987’s “Hysteria” — numbers from when people actually bought albums.
But with massive sales didn’t always come respect.
“I think that because of enormous commercial success, it seems that the credibility factor got washed away,” says frontman Joe Elliott, one of two original members still in the group.
But 42 years after first bringin’ on the headbanging in Sheffield, England, the band behind such ’80s pop-metal classics as “Photograph,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and, of course, “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Friday at Barclays Center. Making it in on their first nomination — although they have been eligible for rock’s exclusive club since 2005 — Def Leppard will be enshrined in a 2019 class that also includes the Cure, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, Roxy Music and the Zombies.
“It’s a very eclectic mix. Every band is British, and then you’ve got two female Americans — one black, one white,” says Elliott, 59, who is particularly honored to enter the hall with Bryan Ferry’s art-rock outfit, Roxy Music: “I’ve been a fan since I was 12. I’ve got everything they’ve ever done, and I still play their stuff all the time.”
Also cranking up the excitement for Elliott is who will be inducting Def Leppard: Brian May, guitarist and co-founder of Queen. “It was a no-brainer for us,” says Elliott of asking May to do the honors. “He’s always been an incredible supporter of the band since we first met him backstage, I think in Montreux [in Switzerland]in 1981. We were opening for Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.”
May also poured some love on Def Leppard when they got their spot on Hollywood’s RockWalk in 2000. “We’ve shared a lot of emotions together,” says Elliott, who calls May “the sixth member” of his band. “He was the first person to speak to me outside of the band after Steve [Clark, Def Leppard’s former guitarist] passed away. And I believe I was one of the first, when Fred [Mercury] died, to speak to him.”
Enlarge ImageDef Leppard: (from left) Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage and Rick Allen.
Def Leppard: (from left) Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage and Rick Allen.Kevin Nixon
At the height of their popularity, Def Leppard had to overcome drummer Rick Allen needing to get his left arm amputated after a car accident on New Year’s Eve 1984. The band remained loyal to Allen — who now uses four electronic pedals for his left foot to play what he used to play with his left arm — throughout his ordeal.