Misc. Articles not local to El Paso

Circus magazine {excerpt from main article}
February 29, 1984

But Joe Elliott’s perfect year was nearly tarnished by a simple slip of the tongue. Back on September 7th, he tried to fire up a Tucson, Arizona, crowd by comparing it to the previous evening’s audience in El Paso, Texas—“that place with all the greasy Mexicans”—not understanding that his unfortunate choice of words constituted a racial slur. The residents of El Paso simmered for a few weeks, and by the end of the month—by which time Elliott was in Japan with guitarist Phil Collen— the repercussions from his remarks were in full fury:
Radio station KLAQ announced a boycott of the group’s albums, and was later joined by record stores and rock clubs. And Bill Clifton, a DJ at another station, KSET, told the El Paso Herald-Post that he was breaking Def Leppard LPs on the air, “in protest of the comment they made.”
Informed of the uproar, Elliott immediately phoned KLAQ from Tokyo with an apology; the record ban was lifted. But the local League of United Latin American Citizens {LULAC} called the apology inadequate and pressed for a nationwide boycott of the band’s albums and merchandise.
Following the European tour, Elliott flew to the U.S. in mid-November to make amends, meeting with State Sen. Joseph Montoya in Los Angeles and donating money to several Hispanic charities. Then he went to Mexico for three more days of penance. {El Paso, which was to be his primary stop, bluntly told him not to bother coming.} Elliott’s efforts to prove his remorse over having made the gaffe seem sincere, and the incident clearly upset him.
“People are calling me a racialist [sic], “ he protests, “which is not true. I said what I said out of total ignorance. See, I’m a fan of Cheech and Chong, and they always say things like that; it’s like the way you call us Limeys. If I were American and had known how it’d be taken, I never would have said it because I don’t like upsetting people. That’s not Joe Elliott. After five years, I almost ruined my career with one word.
“And so, I wanted to come over to show everybody that it’s a genuine apology. I didn’t come here to buy anyone’s friendship,” he adds staunchly, referring to a charge made by LULAC. “It was a stupid thing for me to say, and I’m truly sorry. But I’m not going to let it spoil my memories of the past year."

Creem magazine

Rock ‘n’ Roll News
Date unknown

Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott flew all the way from Paris to Los Angeles to make an in-person apology before a meeting of the Latino Community Representatives for his widely publicized remarks about El Paso. Of course, he augmented the apology with a $15,000 donation to local charities that work with minority youth. Say anything bad about the Creem staff lately, Joe?

People magazine
Date unknown


Sticks and stones may break your bones, but in El Paso, Texas it’s the words that have been really dangerous lately. It all began with a September concert in Tucson, Arizona, by the heavy-metal heavies Def Leppard. Not exactly famed for his elegant manners, lead singer Joe Elliott attempted to psych up his audience by deriding a previous concert in El Paso, which he called “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.” When a deejay at El Paso’s KLAQ got wind of the crack a few weeks later, he used explosive sound effects to blow up a Def Leppard record on the air and called for a boycott of their music. The news caused such an uproar that Elliott heard about it by the end of the day in faraway Tokyo. He called from Tokyo to say he was, like the title of their hit single, just f-f-f-foolin’ and didn’t mean any racial slur. That satisfied most of the 3,000 Texans who voted in a station poll to end the DL boycott. But not everyone is so forgiving: A Latin American group in Texas has called for another boycott. What’s more, when Mayor Johnathan Rogers received a letter from Def Leppard saying they would not return to El Paso till invited, he reacted swiftly: “it will be a cold day in hell before they are welcome here again.”

Other Mentions online:

1} This if from the Def Leppard FAQ Portal.


A case of a misplaced comment made out of frustration at the wrong time.

During a September 7, 1983 performance in Tucson, Arizona, Joe attempts to rile up the crowd during the "Rock of Ages" crowd sing-a-long. He tells the crowd:

"Last night, we played in El Paso, that place with all the greasy Mexicans, and they made a lot more noise than that."

Word quickly reached El Paso, where fans took to burning and breaking records on the air in an angry protest. According to Joe himself, the comment had been made because of a half-dozen Latino troublemakers who were throwing sharp metal objects at the band throughout the night of the El Paso show.

The "greasy mexicans" reference was in their direction, Cheech and Chong style, and never meant as any kind of racial slur. Joe quickly made a public apology for this comments, and even donated money for local charities.

2} A Conversation with Def Leppard's Joe Elliott from getsigned.com

G: With all you've been through and knowing what you know now, is there
anything you'd have done differently?

J: That's very difficult to say. Yeah, there are a few things I wish I'd never done.
I wish the whole El Paso incident never happened. But I learned so much from

it happening that in a way I'm glad it did happen. This was way back in
'83 when I made a bit of a racial slur. It was not intended toward a
nation of people but toward a few pricks down front who were throwing shit
at us. And being 22 years old and completely inexperienced, I didn't know
the barriers between the Mexicans and Americans were as diverse and wide
as they are, as well as the problems that there are, so it was a stupid
thing I did. So to stand up on stage in El Monte, California and say I'm
sorry and explain what I did, I went from a boy to a man overnight. In
many respects it was a great learning curve for me. But other than that,
for all the times I've f*cked up on stage, we've done 2,000 or so gigs and
I've probably done it wrong a dozen times--that's a pretty good average.
Every time you have a bad gig or you do something wrong, you click out of
it and become better for it. You have to go down to come up. I totally
believe that. In a nutshell, I really wouldn't change much. How can you
find fault in 50 million albums, unless you say. "You could have sold 51."

3} This if from the Def Leppard website, a Q&A with Joe Elliott and fans

What is the biggest mistake Def Leppard ever made as a band?
[long pause]..... Normally, I would have said, spending the amount of time and money we did on the "HYSTERIA" album, but in hindsight, it wasn't a mistake! Well, it was a mistake at the time but it ended up being an investment. People always judge mistakes by the amount of failure. So, the easy answer would be, from a commercial point of view, the "SLANG" album but to me that's not a mistake at all - it was not an artistic mistake and it was a very well-crafted record that we all still stand by.
Maybe our biggest mistake was not trying hard enough to keep Steve alive. Or, let Rick buy a Corvette. It's all hard to say, cause you can only tell when it's too late. Oh, what about not splitting up, so we could have reformed and come back bigger than we were the first time around. If anything, were too reliable!
Of all choices in your career, it could turn out to be a hit or a miss, but you won't find out until afterwards. I'm happy with "
SLANG", I'm happy we picked Rick when we had three drummers to choose from, I'm happy we didn't fire Rick after his accident, I'm happy we got Phil in when Pete Willis left the band, I'm happy we chose Vivian in 1992. That's the kind of decisions that could've gone wrong and then they would be regarded as mistakes now -- but they turned out right.
Oh, I regret saying what I said about El Paso [Joe referred to El Paso as 'that place with all the greasy Mexicans'], but having said that, I learned so much from that mistake and having to apologize that I almost became a man overnight. So that had a positive outcome for me.