If you’ve recently discovered the glory of the 80’s metal scene, you might be wondering – is Def Leppard still together?
Or even as a card-carrying metal fan, with years of air guitar and CD-collecting behind you, you might still ask the question.
So, we thought we’d check out the scene and report back on Def Leppard’s status.
Let’s jump in!
The Story of Def Leppard
Def Leppard is one of the most popular English hard rock bands of all time. Originally named Deaf Leopard, the band formed in 1977 in Sheffield, U.K. In 1978 they played local pubs, recorded their first EP, and gained underground success. Lead singer Joe Elliot gave their EP to John Peel at BBC Radio 1, and word of the band took off.
Def Leppard hightailed it into worldwide popularity in the early 80s’. Ever-increasing record sales peaked in 1987 with the album “Hysteria.” And so did the hairspray! Seven songs off “Hysteria” charted in the U.S. Hot 100. It seemed like all was on the up and up.
While recording Def Leppard’s fifth studio album, guitarist Steve Clark died from a drug and alcohol overdose. Clark had been struggling with addiction for some time. Unfortunately, the support from his bandmates and friends was not enough to overcome it.
After some bereavement time for the band, Def Leppard released “Adrenalize” in 1992. This release marked a period of varied interest by the music industry, and Leppard’s popularity waned. They experimented with different musical styles, returning to their musical roots with their eleventh and final studio album in 2015, entitled “Def Leppard.”
In 2019 Def Leppard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Regardless of whether you’re a die-hard fan or a dipper in the 80’d torn muscle tee, the legacy of Def Leppard reigns!
Def Leppard’s albums “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” are both certified Diamond. They are one of only five bands to claim this achievement.
When Did the Band First Hit the Music Scene?
Rick Savage, Tony Kenning, and Pete Willis went to the same school in Sheffield, England. Their first band was called Atomic Mass, formed in 1977. When Joe Elliot joined later that year, they renamed the band Def Leppard.
Although Atomic Mass played in 1977, it was one gig in Sheffield at the Tapton school gymnasium.
The band truly hit the music scene in 1978, during a period of social and political unrest in the U.K. Def Leppard would soon be crowned as one of the pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. A genre-brother to punk rock, metal offered the jobless, frustrated youth music to party to. They didn’t want to start a revolution. They wanted to have fun and let loose.
By 1979 Def Leppard had a solid fan following. They scored a major label record deal and toured year-round. Their debut album, “On Through The Night,” was released in 1980 and hit the top 15 in the U.K.
Who Are the Members of Def Leppard?
The founding members of Def Leppard were Joe Elliott (lead vocals,) Rick Savage (bass,) Pete Willis (guitar,) and Tony Kenning (drums) in 1997.
But like most bands of such tenure, Def Leppard has had their share of line-up changes over the decades.
The four-piece quickly became a quintet with the addition of guitarist Steve Clark in January 1978. Drummer Tony Kenning soon split and was replaced briefly by Frank Noon. Ultimately Rick Allen stepped in and became Def Leppard’s full-time drummer at the tender age of 15.
The band replaced Pete Willis with Phil Collen in 1982 after firing Pete for years of excessive drinking. Things were going too fast for Pete, and he could not cope without drowning it all in booze. Several months after Steve Clark’s untimely death in 1991, Vivian Campbell came on as guitarist.
The current Def Leppard lineup is Elliot (lead Vocals), Savage (bass and keys), Allen (drums), Collen (guitar), and Campbell (guitar).
What Are Def Leppard’s Most Popular Songs?
It’s tough to narrow down Def Leppard’s most popular songs. But they all came from three of their eleven studio albums: “High ‘n’ Dry,” “Pyromania,” and “Hysteria.” The ’80s were certainly Def Leppard’s heyday. Ok, everyone, get your Aquanet hairspray out, and let’s rock!
Music Videos and the launch of MTV unquestionably helped. In the early ’80s, “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” and “Photograph” were on heavy rotation. These enabled the band to reach a new audience and got the day’s youth requesting their songs across America. There are even two versions of videos for both pieces!
“Photograph” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” are tied for our personal favorites. Minor chords and melancholia mixed with metal riffs make for some excellent music.
Then there’s the more straight-ahead, headbanger classics that get you through the working day. “Rock of Ages,” “Foolin,” and “Hysteria” are easily the top three. These are drivin’ songs with a one-two punch.
But Def Leppard’s most famous song to date, without a doubt, is “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” ‘Sugar’ was the fifth track on the band’s fourth album called “Hysteria,” released in 1987. It reached number two in the U.S. Billboard charts in 1988. It’s since been ranked highly in various ‘best of ‘ charts via MTV and VH1 and is a certified gold hit.
How Did the Drummer in Def Leppard Lose His Arm?
Drummer Rick Allen played in three bands before joining Def Leppard. By age 15, he had played in four bands. How incredible is that?
The kid certainly had passion!
Tragically, on New Year’s Eve, 1984, Allen lost his arm in a car accident. Allen was driving with his girlfriend at the time to a party. Reportedly, Allen’s passion, in this case, heightened his temper with another driver, and he wrecked his car in a reckless fit of road rage. Luckily, his girlfriend was not seriously injured. But Allen’s life would never be the same.
Taken by his devotion and resilience, Allen’s bandmates became determined to keep Allen in the band. Singer Joe Elliot worked with Allen and drum engineers to design an electronic kit Allen could play with one arm.
Not only was Def Leppard successful staying together through this incredible challenge, but Allen went on to become a philanthropist. Rick Allen and his wife Lauren formed Raven Drum Foundation, Project Resiliency, and donate music to help the plight of wild horses. Rick Allen’s everlasting passion is a true inspiration!
Is Def Leppard Still Together?
YES! Yes, in double bold with flaming cherries on top, Def Leppard is still together. According to an interview with Joe Elliot on the band’s website, they’ll play for years to come, health allowing.
According to setlist.fm, Def Leppard has played over 2300 concerts. They have toured almost every year since 1978. The closest they ever came to breaking up was in 1984 when drummer Rick Allen lost his arm and in 1991 after the death of guitarist Steve Clark.
In 2013 guitarist Vivian Campbell announced he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Although he has ongoing struggles with cancer, his challenges only fuel his passion for life and touring.
Def Leppard hits the road June 16th for their 2022 Stadium Tour. They will play over 30 dates in The U.S. The possibility of added dates around the world remains strong!
Will you see Def Leppard on tour in 2022? Are you ready to blast your air guitar bedroom sessions out to join the fans in the stadiums? Let us know! We’re here for it all the way.