Pop stars !!
My favourite ‘polaroid’ from last night. The Def Leppard boys presented me with this fabulous painting of a hero of mine -just before I made my speech inducting them into the Rock and Roll hall of fame. What a typically thoughtful act of kindness. All the stuff I said in my ‘citation’ was from the heart. These guys are truly the greatest – in skills, in dedication, in youthful energy and passion – and …. they are the greatest adopted family of pals. Love ‘em.
It was a great night – capped by a final romp through ‘All The Young Dudes’ with guest appearance by Ian Hunter. Fond memories for me, for sure. Rog and Freddie and I often used to sing backup vocals for this song when we were on tour opening up for Mott the Hoople … erm … many years ago, when we was boys.
(These are the notes for my speech inducting Def Leppard into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 29th March 2019 at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn. These notes represent roughly what I intended to say, but most of the time I was letting it flow rather than following the notes. – Bri)
Good Evening folks ! What a night ! Judging by tonight, it seems that, 65 years after Bill Haley sang “Rock Around The Clock”, Rock and Roll is alive and well ! Am I right ?!!
HOW HAPPY I AM to be here … I got the best job – to induct the fabulous Def Leppard into the Hall of Fame !! But I also feel a great sense of responsibility. I have 5 minutes to [do] these justice, and I want to do it right. I don’t feel right reading an autocue. I want to just speak from the heart. But I also don’t want to miss anything out – so I have some reminders on cards .. forgive me – I’m Old School !!
My guiding principle here is from the Joe Elliott Book of Philosophy. It says … YOU GET ONE CHANCE to do the good shit in life … DON’T FUCK IT UP ! !! So hopefully I won’t fuck it up.
I’m not going to give you a complete history of Def Leppard – it’s not possible in the time – I’m gonna give you a personal view, of how they came into my life, and why they’re important to me.
Cast your minds back to 1981 Where were you ? We, Queen, were recording a album, which would eventually be called Hot Space, in Munich.
I took a night off and went to see some friends, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, play locally. I was late. I missed the opening act … a young band called Def Leppard. As I remember it, I was so upset I had missed their act,
I went backstage and found their dressing room and poked my head in. And said “Hi guys I just wanted to say hi. I’m Brian May from Queen … they were like “Yeah. No shit .. ! …” And they told me that from the beginning, they’d looked to Queen as a template for building their career. I had no idea they even knew who we were. So from that moment I think we got on.
Cut to early 1983 … we’re on a long tour of the USA, and the game was, when we got into a car in a new city, was put on the radio, and keep hitting the scan button to see which radio stations were playing our new tracks on the local Rock Radio stations. Well, we were doing well .. but as we went around, in every city, city … I would hear this track – with an arpeggiated guitar clang … it’s got big fat drums, it’s dripping with riffs, it’s got a big melodic bass end … it’s got soaring multitracked harmonies … and it’s got scintillating vocals with an English twang … no it’s not Queen – it’s this a precocious young bunch of English guys called Def Leppard. And they were the hottest new thing. They were all over Radio. The track is PHOTOGRAPH. A massive hit from their third album – produced by Mutt Lange – called Pyromania – which eventually sold 10 Million copies – 10 TIMES PLATINUM … and catapulted the band to stardom.
Cut to September 83, we’re in Los Angeles, recording The Works album … And Def Leppard are playing at the legendary LA Forum. I’d recently been trying to produce an album for a band who wanted to sound just like DL, and by now I was burning with curiosity to see what the fuss was all about. I HAD TO SEE IT. So I go – I’m near the back of the arena …
Ladies and Gentlemen – I have NEVER seen a reaction like that, as these boys hit the stage. It was like an explosion. I have seen some great shows at the Forum .. but I have never heard a noise like that from the audience, and as I remember it, not a single member of that audience sat down in the in the 90 minutes DL were on stage. They stood and screamed and roared the whole way through. Def Leppard on stage was a master class in full frontal assault on an audience. These guys had infinite youthful energy … they were running about the stage, bringing those riffs home to every corner of the arena … the sound was cataclysmic, all the harmonies – that you might not imagine they could pull off live – were there sparkling … and … they killed. I went backstage to see them after the show, and, just like us a few years earlier, they’d flown their parents out to see the show. All their proud Mums and Dads were there … these guys were still young boys from Sheffield, Yorkshire. I got introduced … and the band, to a man, told me I had to get up and play with them on the second night. So the next night we played the Creedance Clearwater song Travellin’ Band … and the rest is history … except it was nearly the end of my career ! This was the Pyromania tour – and the clue is in the name ! The production had loads of real fire on stage. Now, Joe had actually warned me … “Look out for the fireworks at the end, Bri – stay with me”… but at the end of the show, that’s all gone from my head. We’re all up on the platform behind the drums … I’m leaning forward looking into the nice chasm in front of us … right where the sheet of FLAME comes up … Joe shouts “Bri – Bri !” but I just think he’s being appreciative !! I’m giving it all that on the final chord, leaning into the chasm, where the final massive sheet of flame comes up … but a nanosecond earlier, Joe’s grabbed me by the shoulders and yanked me back … just in time to escape getting fried. So early on in our friendship JOE ELLIOTT saved my life !
The History of Def Lep is now an enormous catalogue of achievements. As you’ve seen in the clip this evening, from humble beginnings, August 1977 in Sheffield, England, the boys worked their way around the world in the time-honoured REAL way of building a rock career … they recorded 11 great albums, and played their asses off around the world multiple times. Built up a great following. They sold more than 100 million records world wide. They endured being fashionable and being unfashionable … They were making strong albums, but they also dared to have what you might call Pop/Rock hits. BIG hits, which some people frowned on .. but look at those hits … … – Bringing on the Heartbreak …Photograph, Foolin’, Pour some Sugar, Armageddon it, Hysteria, Let’s Get Rocked, When Worlds Collide, Animal, Love Bites, Rock of Ages … Rocket … and there are plenty more. All in all they’ve released SO FAR over 50 singles and most have then have been big hits, including number ones.
In the Press and media, especially in the UK, this has sometimes been regarded as evidence that Def Lep are not quite cool … but, as usual, the fans – the people – know best. … it’s called ‘writing real songs’ – songs that people can sing… and that’s something which perhaps was seen as unfashionable for a while .. but .. now has come back into fashion in a big way, and a whole new generation is now appreciating the depth of the Def Leppard Catalogue. Right now, the band packs out arenas and stadiums all across the US as big and bold and successful as EVER. And actually those SONGS are what will ensure Def Lepp’s place in people’s hearts and minds in the future, long after we’ve all left the room.
I want to talk about the Def Leppard spirit. The DL band is a family – an evolving FAMILY. Amazing bass man RICK SAVAGE, or Sav, as he’s always known – can really be regarded as THE FOUNDER MEMBER in 1977, who is still here in the continuing situation, but Joe joined soon after, and came up with the name – based on an aurally challenged big cat – and these two are stalwarts from the very birth of the band until now.
The family then grew and evolved and faced all kinds of adversity. The loss of drummer Rick Allen’s arm in 1984 was a massive shock and set-back, which would have ended the career of many lesser bands, but actually, thanks to the incredible tenacity and bravery of Rick, and the amazingly strong family loyalty in the band, this tragedy actually propelled both Rick and the band into a brave new place, with Rick inventing a totally new way of drumming using both feet. I was there for his triumphant comeback gig at Donnington.
The loss of riffmeister Steve Clarke in 1991 will always be mourned – what a great player – and it might well have been thought this he was irreplaceable and this was a mortal blow to the band. But the current guitar duo of Phil Collen and Viv Campbell is massive. In fact, the partnership of Collen and Campbell is actually frightening. Not everybody realises the top level of technical skill that this band embodies, as well as being crowd pleasers.
I regard all of the guys as great friends – in fact more like MY family — I couldn’t have stood to see anybody else do this speech. They turned up to play at our Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley Stadium 1992 … and we’ve played numerous times together since.
… but Joe and I have shared so many precious and fun moments snatched amongst the madness of touring life. We have a strong bond … he’s one of my dearest pals. When Steve died, Joe says the first phone call he got was from me, and as I remember it, when the news of Freddie’s death came out, the first phone call I got was …Joe Elliott.
Early on in our relationship Joe asked me “So what’s the biggest secret of continued success for a Rock Band ?” I said “DON’T SPLIT UP !!” Later on he came back to me and told me he’d figured out two more big secrets of success … he said “If You don’t get fat and you don’t lose your hair you can still be a rock star !”
Ladies and gentlemen, Def Leppard didn’t get fat, they didn’t lose their hair, and they didn’t split up !!!
They’re are a magnificent rock group in the classic tradition of real live and dangerous magically energetic entertainment. They still have their youthful energy, and they still rock. They are also as honest and decent a bunch of magnificent human beings as ever came out of Yorkshire. Or Britain. Or the world. And I love ‘em.
“I am honoured and thrilled to induct, and please welcome, DEF LEPPARD into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”
I wear this small pin/badge with pleasure and some pride ! It seems to encapsulate the whole extraordinary journey of the making of our Freddie film … Bohemian Rhapsody indeed. Nice to have a bit of memorabilia that doesn’t get cast into a drawer. I think this was promotional rather than merchandise. Maybe we should order up a few ?! OK – I’m probably a bit delirious returning to London Heathrow from a 52-hour round trip to New York ! Hello England !! Still … job done. And enjoyed to the full extent of my capabilities !
The Sol-Fa family are thriving ! The seven little fox cubs – that you guys helped to name – Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, and Ti, have noticeably grown in just the 3 days I was away. Already Anne can tell who is who – not sure I can yet. 3 girls, Do, Mi and La, and 4 boys, Re, Fa, So, and Ti. The biggest by fa (sorry – far) is Ti – with a conspicuous white tip on his tail. (This isn’t at all confusing, is it ?!) Lady La is the smallest, and probably in the natural world would have got pushed out of the feeding and might not have made it out of the Earth. But here she stands a good chance of growing big and strong. And hopefully happy.
Not so happy, this picture. Hope it isn’t too shocking. This poor girl badger was found by two little girls and their family, in a sad state, with deep bite wounds apparently inflicted by a large dog. Right now we don’t know any more. Badger baiting still goes on – a vile ‘sport’ in which dogs are sent into badger setts and terrible wounds are suffered by both animals. But maybe there is another explanation here – maybe the attack was due to her getting lost and a dog attacking her. Yes, she’s a girl, and the little human girls who found her have christened her Luna. She’s currently under sedation with pain killers and antibiotics – we’re hoping she’ll stabilise tonight. Check out @anneatsaveme for updates.
PLEASE OBSERVE COPYRIGHT