Articles: December 1983


December 28, 1983
By Charles Ellis
El Paso Herald-Post

Def Leppard’s rock albums are still selling well in El Paso despite an Hispanic organization’s attempt to boycott the group, several record stores reported.
But Joe Loya, El Paso director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said the boycott— which started in October after Def Leppard’s lead singer Joe Elliott referred to El Paso as “that place with all the greasy Mexicans”— was a success. He added, however, that after the boycott ends Saturday, he is willing “to let bygones be bygones.”
Mayor Johnathan Rogers, who previously said he wanted El Paso’s boycott of the group to be permanent, said Tuesday he will agree to end the boycott.
“I will support LULAC because it was the Hispanic community that was insulted,” Rogers said. “Whatever LULAC decides to do, I will certainly support their efforts.”
Yvette Mona, who led a petition drive to lift the boycott,  said Roger’s decision means she won’t have to submit her 5,000-plus signatures to the mayor.
“If he decides to lift the boycott, I guess it’s OK,” said Miss Mona, who used to be in charge of U.S. membership for Def Leppard’s international fan club.
“We’re still going to keep the signatures, just in case he decides not to lift it. But I guess everything’s all right then,” said Miss Mona, who said she received a Christmas card from Elliott.
Six of nine El Paso record stores reported Tuesday that the boycott didn’t affect the sales of the band’s four albums, especially Pyromania, which has been on the Billboard magazine chart for 47 weeks and is currently listed as the 17th best-selling album in the United States.
“I could not tell that the boycott hurt us as far as sales go,” said Sharon Price, manager of Disc Records in the Cielo Vista Mall. “We had a lot of people call and say, ‘How dare you sell those albums in your store.’ But we also had a lot of people call and say ‘Please don’t take Def Leppard’s albums out of your store.”
She said album sales for the band decreased somewhat, but only because Pyromania has been available for so long, and that sales picked up again during the Christmas season.
“A lot of Spanish kids came in here to buy their albums after it {news of Elliott’s remarks} happened,” she said. “That surprised me more than anything else.”
Ernie Angerstein, manager of Sound Warehouse at 4100 N. Mesa St. agreed that the boycott didn’t affect sales.
“There was a drop at the beginning, when it was all going on,” Angerstein said. “But a week later, it skyrocketed right back. Our store is still selling Pyromania as a really hot item.”
But other record store representatives said they felt the boycott’s affects.
“The sales were really going great, then they just fell,” said Lupe Rivera, manager of Star Disco Music, 303 N. Oregon. “Even when sales normally slow down, they just don’t drop like Def Leppard did.”
The program directors for El Paso rock radio stations KLAQ-FM and KSET-FM said the boycott may be responsible for the decrease in listeners requesting Def Leppard songs.
“We don’t hear too many requests for their music anymore,” said Cat Simon, program director for KSET.  “But I don’t think the boycott hurt their album sales, because everybody who liked it had already bought it before the boycott.”
Arin Michaels, program director for KLAQ— which refused to play Def Leppard songs for five days after the incident occurred— said LULAC’s boycott won’t prevent Pyromania from being the best-selling rock album in El Paso in 1983. Before the boycott, she said 90 percent of KLAQ listeners who called in said Def Leppard was their favorite band. Now, only about 50 percent say that, she said.
“Initially, when the comments were first brought to public awareness, the popularity of Def Leppard went way down,” she said. But after KLAQ aired Joe Elliott’s apology in an interview from Japan, “their popularity returned,” she said.
Some people have criticized LULAC for refusing to accept Elliott’s apologies for the derogatory statements he made at a concert in Arizona in early September. But Loya said it was correct not to accept the apologies, or offers by Elliott to donate $10,000 to help needy children in El Paso.
“We’re only standing for our rights,” Loya said. “We demand respect. A few years back, they would’ve laughed at us. But Hispanics have come of age. If you insult us, you have to pay the piper.
“The thing to learn from this is that any group can organize, whether they’re handicapped, black or senior citizens. They can stand up for what they believe in.”
After the boycott ends Saturday, Loya said Elliott can feel free to come to El Paso—when his schedule permits— to make a public apology.
“It’s done, it’s over, it’s forgotten,” Loya said. “It’s behind us, that’s it. I don’t think Elliott feels bitter, and we don’t feel bitter. But he should’ve been thinking before he spoke."