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leg·end  (l j  nd) n. 
One that inspires legends or achieves legendary fame 
A story about mythical or supernatural beings or events

star  (stär) n. 
An artistic performer or athlete whose leading role or superior performance is acknowledged
One who is highly celebrated in a field or profession

Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection is an expanded version of Def Leppard’s previous hits collection Vault, with a greater focus on the band’s entire career. The massive hits and fan favorites are all in place chronicling the band’s rise as New Wave of British Heavy Metal upstarts to blockbusting hit makers. Few bands have had the overwhelming success of Def Leppard and none have had a career quite like that of Def Leppard.

The beginnings of the band came in the summer of 1977 when friends Rick Savage and Pete Willis formed Atomic Mass with a few other guys from Sheffield. Singer Joe Elliott auditioned for the band later in the year, and through his excitement and ambition, not necessarily skill, he was hired as the new singer. Elliot was influenced greatly by T. Rex and David Bowie, the dreams of rock stardom included creating posters for a band that only existed in his head, Deaf Leopard.

A spelling change and the addition of guitarist Steve Clark marked the band’s turn towards playing shows and writing original songs. Late 1978 saw the band entering the studio to cut an EP, firing their drummer and picking up the 15-year-old Rick Allen. By the next year Def Leppard had a recording contract and supporting slots for some of rock and roll’s heavy hitters. 

Early songs like “Wasted” and “Rock Brigade” were propelled by the duel riffing and driving rhythm that became the hallmarks for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that Def Leppard quickly became one of the leaders of. The first official Def Leppard album, On Through the Night, was released in March of 1980 and was followed by relentless touring with the likes of AC/DC, The Scorpions and Judas Priest. The U.S. tour was a success for the band but a return to England was greeted quite differently. Perceived as sell-outs in their home country, the band was pelted with anything that an angry rock and roll crowd could bring into a club. It was heartbreaking for the band who craved acceptance in the U.K. 

1981 put Def Leppard back in the studio with the production skills of Mutt Lange in tow. Lange had recently produced albums for some of rock’s most popular bands and quickly became an essential ingredient in the Def Leppard formula. Released in the summer, High ‘N’ Dry was a hard rocking album that saw the band spread out with stronger songs and a harder sound. The Def Leppard sound owed a noticeable debt to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but with an identity all their own. 

MTV was the exciting new medium and bands either got it or feared it. Def Leppard quickly latched onto the new all music network and produced some eye-catching clips that MTV put into constant rotation, specifically “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”. While the videos have not aged well, the exposure catapulted Def Leppard into the limelight. But their career would only get bigger and life would get weirder in the next few years. 

Quickly Reconvening with Mutt Lange to record a new album, the band started facing problems with guitarist Pete Willis. While the band would never say no to a drink or two, Willis started to come in to recording sessions unable to play his guitar. His drinking had brought the sessions to a grinding halt and Willis was kicked out of the band in favor for Phil Collen. 

Collen came in and contributed a few solos to the nearly completed album that would become Pyromania. Propelled by the hits and eventual rock classics, “Photograph”, “Rock of Ages” and “Foolin’”, Pyromania has sold over 10 million copies in the U.S., standing as a perfect match of rock riffs and pop hooks. The ensuing tour was a whirlwind ride for the band that went from members of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to mainstream hit makers. 

“We started off that tour playing the Marquee club in London, which is about 800 people. We finished the tour nine months later in Jack Murphy’s stadium which was 55,000 people or so,” said Collen. The band then traveled the world as conquering heroes but had no clue of what was to come. 

A new year was spent writing and recording for the follow-up to Pyromania. Lange declined to provide production duties and only agrees to be an advisor. Jim Steinman is brought in to helm the new tracks but the band stumbles throughout the year. New Years Eve of 1984 would be a fateful evening as drummer Rick Allen crashed his Corvette Stingray, landing upside down in a field and without his left arm. 

Doctor’s were able to reattach Allen’s arm but an infection forced them to remove the arm again to save his life. Determined to play drums again, Allen relearns the drums with a specially designed electronic kit that lets him hit pedals. With support from the rest of the band, he was able to relearn the drums and join back into the recording of the new album by the year’s end. 

Midway through 1986, now over two years into recording, the band decides to take a break and play a few shows including the Monsters of Rock dates in huge U.K. venues. Allen was given a backup drummer, but when the backup didn’t show up for one of the dates, he played the show perfectly. The band never gave him another backup. 

Finally completed and released in the summer of 1987, Hysteria was received with a lukewarm response. The first single "Women" failed to catch on. It wasn’t until the videos for "Animal," "Hysteria," “Pour Some Sugar on Me” crashed onto the video screens of Def Leppard’s old friend MTV that the album started to take off. Hysteria took hold and became the definitive album of the late 80’s, inspiring many imitators but no one was able to match the success. With over 16 million albums sold, Hysteria reached the measure of success only held by artists such as Michael Jackson and the Beatles. With a ludicrous amount of the album’s songs being released as singles, it would be years before Hysteria would ease up. 

With each progressive album, it seemed Def Leppard stepped away from their roles as British metal and into pop/rock. It was a move that may have angered some hardcore fans but the pop hooks were always there. Def Leppard had become the most accessible band in the world, their style and the songs were unavoidable. The two years following Hysteria were the years when Def Leppard ruled the rock and roll roost. 

In 1989 the band went back to the studio after a mammoth world tour to write an album to follow Hysteria. Another two years would pass before any news would come from the Def Leppard camp. Early 1991, Steve Clark died after mixing alcohol with painkillers. This was a severe blow to the band but they soldiered on releasing Adrenalize in 1992 and mapping a tour even more expansive than the last. 

With new guitarist Vivian Campbell, best known for his work with Dio and Whitesnake, in tow the band was still a force overseas, but cooled in the U.S. due to the shift to grunge. Suddenly the kind of rock Def Leppard dealt in was off MTV, with new, not quite as polished, faces taking over. 

The band still had hits coming, including “Two Steps Behind” a throwaway that was given to the movie “Last Action Hero” and “When Love and Hate Collide” from their greatest hits collection, Vault. In 1996 the band switched gears with Slang, a hodgepodge of styles that left many long-time fans scratching their heads. The back-to-basics Euphoria followed in 1999 as well as X in 2002. The 90’s found Def Leppard as one of the few 80’s bands that was able to hold on to a sizeable audience and still create music that people would buy. 

Def Leppard could be considered legends just on the insanity of what is their life story. It is a testament to the friendship and dreams that this band has to be able to survive two decades of hard times and even harder good times. But it is always the music that will be measured and Def Leppard has created at least two flawless albums and several very good albums. Def Leppard is a band that realizes and revels in the ridiculousness of the rock and roll song in all its glory. 

Career Album Discography: 
(according to All Music Guide)

Album - (Release Year / Highest Billboard Position)

Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection (2005 / #10d)
Best of Def Leppard (2004/unknown)
X (2002 / #11)
Euphoria (1999 / #11)
Slang (1996 / #14)
Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1995 / #15)
Retro Active (1993 / #9)
Adrenalize(1992 / #1d)
Hysteria(1987 / #1)
Pyromania(1983 / #2*)
High 'N' Dry (1981 / #38)
On Through the Night (1980 / #51)
Def Leppard EP (1979)

d - debuted in high position
* Kept from No. 1 by Michael Jackson's Thriller


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