When it comes to album sales, British rockers Def Leppard are in good company. Very good company. They are, in fact, one of just five groups to have recorded two albums that have earned the RIAA’s Diamond status. Yeah, that’s one level above Multi-Platinum. Who are the other four groups that share this distinction? That would be The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Van Halen.
With the U.S. leg of their tour with Poison and Cheap Trick a little over two weeks away, four Country Music Television award nominations (who would have thought?) and the re-release of two of their best-selling albums just days away, there’s plenty for the boys from Yorkshire to talk about these days.
Frontman Joe Elliott recently had a talk with In The News and shared his thoughts about the band’s success and some of the challenges they have faced over a career that has spanned three decades.
Elliott credits the groups success in North America – something that was more elusive in their native U.K. – to the birth of MTV. “In America, it had gone wall-to-wall MTV, everywhere from LA to New York, Toronto to Miami, everyone was watching it, because they’d never seen anything like it before,” he says.
That led to the exposure the group needed, which resulted in a deluge of requests for radio stations to play the group’s music that their new fans had discovered on MTV. It wasn’t long before Def Leppard was headlining tours, playing packed venues with 50,000-plus fans and breaking Led Zeppelin ticket sales records in some U.S. cities.
It’s hard to talk about Def Leppard without mentioning drummer Rick Allen, whose tragic car accident resulted in the loss of his left arm in 1984, a circumstance that, according to Elliott, actually made Allen a better drummer.
“He plays more to the song than the ego. If a drummer can do a complicated fill he will. But if he can’t, you can prove to yourself you don’t need it,” Elliot reports. Something that actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. As an amateur drummer who has the odd distinction of being someone who was never into drum solos, I know exactly what Elliott is talking about.
When asked about whether going on the road again for a 40-city tour will be grueling or great, Elliott responds enthusiastically, saying the group can do “do 40 dates for breakfast!” A confident claim that should make for high expectations among fans who plan to be in the audience.
Guitarist Phil Collen also set aside a little time to talk to Independent News & Media about what he’s been up to and how he managed to survive the decadence of the band’s early years.
Now a vegan, Collen says “I’ve felt weird about eating meat since I was a kid,” and proudly reports that he’s the “picture of health at 51.” Although he acknowledges that there was a time in his life when his health was not a top priority.
Asked about his former reputation as a boozer, Collen admits that his drinking eventually resulted in blackouts. Realizing that he didn’t like being out of control he decided to sober up.
Collen also talks a bit about the group’s disappointment with their record label, and how they do not get the kind of support from them that they think they should be getting. “…you pay a publishing company to protect you — and then everybody’s downloading your stuff and they don’t do anything about it,” he says.
Def Leppard’s summer tour with Poison and Cheap Trick gets underway on June 23rd in Camden, New Jersey.