Atricles: November 1983


November 7, 1983
By Joe Olvera
El Paso Herald-Post

The Texas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens has voted to continue a state boycott against Def Leppard until Dec. 31st, but a movement is growing in El Paso to end the boycott sooner.
Def Leppard is the British rock group, whose lead singer Joe Elliott referred to El Paso as “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
Elliott has made several overtures to the Mexican-American community in El Paso, but has met with a stonewall in LULAC District 4 Director Joe Loya.
Loya gained support for his stance this weekend at the LULAC executive board meeting in Houston. The 17 district directors in Texas voted to continue the boycott of all Def Leppard music, t-shirts and related items.
“The message has gotten across that we will no longer stand around and let people abuse us,” Loya said.
Loya said the district directors voted “unanimously” to continue the boycott, at least until the end of the year. “At that point, I will probably kill it,” Loya said.
Elliott has offered to fly to El Paso and make a personal apology and said he would donate $10,000 to El Paso’s needy children. Loya refused his offer saying LULAC would not be “bought off.”
But some El Paso youths don’t see the offer as a payoff.
Leaders of a petition drive hope to gather 20,000 signatures through a petition drive in El Paso high schools. They are asking Mayor Johnathan Rogers to lift a boycott that he helped start.
El Pasoan Yvette Mona, who described herself as the “U.S. correspondent” for Def Leppard’s fan club, said she is spearheading a petition drive at El Paso schools including Burges, Eastwood, Coronado, Riverside, and Bel Air.
“We presently have over 1,000 names, and we still have quite a ways to go, but we’re determined,” Miss Mona said.
Miss Mona said she knows Joe Elliott personally, and that he is really “upset” about the whole incident.
“Elliott’s girlfriend, Denise Dakin, wrote me from London to tell me how bad he feels that he offended people,” Miss Mona said.
“I just don’t think Mayor Rogers should decide for El Paso citizens which performing artists will or will not be welcomed in the city,” she said.
Miss Mona said LULAC should not try to run the city and that part of the problem could have started because Elliott “really likes the comedy team of Cheech and Chong.”
“Cheech Marin, a Mexican-American and Tommy Chong, a Chinese-American, are always poking fun at themselves and at others,” said Miss Mona. “Joe Elliott thought he was being playful, but he now realizes the big error he made.”
Loya said LULAC is not forcing anybody to boycott Def Leppard, but that many students “don’t understand” what Elliott said.
“Youngsters don’t always have the same values as us older people do,” Loya said.
“They don’t mind being insulted, but I’m really proud of Mayor Rogers, because, he took a stand, which is more than I can say for other Hispanic council members.
“This is a message, not only to Def Leppard, but to other groups that wish to insult Hispanics,” Loya said.
“We will not be pressured into giving up the boycott, because it’s much easier to accept an apology than to continue our stand,” he said.

Boycott will keep Def Leppard away
November 18, 1983
By Clay Hutto
El Paso Herald-Post

Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, who insulted Hispanics during a rock concert won’t come to El Paso to apologize because LULAC refused to drop the boycott of Def Leppard music and products.
A Def Leppard spokesman, George Knemeyer, said Elliott received an invitation from California state representative Joseph B. Montoya to publicly apologize in a news conference in Los Angeles November 22nd for his comment made in the Tucson concert. He said the group had just played in El Paso, “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
Elliott accepted the invitation but also wanted to come to El Paso before going to Los Angeles and “resolve the matter there.” But with LULAC boycotting Def Leppard until December 31t, 1983, Elliott and his management “saw no point coming when the organization that organized the boycott wouldn’t drop it {the boycott},” Knemeyer said.
Joe G. Loya, a representative of LULAC, said he knew Elliott wanted to come to El Paso. But Loya said that Elliott’s visit would have made no difference in ending the boycott before December 31st, 1983.
“It’s our stand that the boycott will end December 31st,” he said, adding that “we did invite Elliott to attend a news conference in mid-January, after the boycott, so he could apologize to the people of El Paso. But we understand that Elliott’s schedule will probably prevent this.”
Knemeyer admitted that “it doesn’t look likely” that Elliott will be able to come to El Paso in January. But he did say that Elliott and Def Leppard would be coming to El Paso on their next tour, in early 1985.
Knemeyer also said Elliott, after Los Angeles, will go to Mexico City, and along with some promotional work, will “explain to the Mexican people” that his remarks at the Tucson concert were “unintentional.”
Loya said Elliott’s upcoming trip to Los Angeles and Mexico City shows “just how big this thing has gotten. It’s gotten out to California and Mexico,” Loya said. He added that Elliott “must be feeling the pinch” of the protest and boycott.
Because it has been circulated in El Paso that Elliott intended to arrive Monday for a public apology, and since he isn’t coming, Knemeyer said Elliott wanted to release a statement to the people of El Paso. The statement reads, in part, as follows:
“I humbly apologize to all Mexican-Americans and the people of El Paso for my ignorant statement made while on stage in Tucson in September. While it was unintentional, I understand it deeply hurt the feelings of everyone in the community.
“I was wrong and can offer no excuses. Out of this terribly negative experience, I am trying to come up with something positive. I have learned a strong lesson. Racial or ethnic stereotypes are just plain wrong. Each individual, or each group, makes their own unique contribution to society.
“I hope that everyone can learn from my mistake and treat all people with the dignity they deserve.
“The band hopes to return to El Paso in 1985 to extend our hands in friendship to all fans and all the people of El Paso."

November 23, 1983
El Paso Herald-Post

El Monte, Calif. {UPI}— The lead singer for the English rock group Def Leppard Tuesday presented checks for $15,000 to five groups serving Hispanics and apologized for calling El Paso “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
Singer Joe Elliott, 24, outraged Hispanics with his statement about El Paso during a September 7th concert in Tucson, Arizona.
He later apologized, saying that as an Englishman he didn’t realize the nature of the statement.
“This is a lot harder to do than a gig,” Elliott said at a news conference in the predominantly Hispanic Los Angeles suburb of El Monte. “I would like to publicly apologize. The statement was entirely unintentional and was said during a highly emotional part of the concert when I was trying to increase audience participation. It was patently false.”
Elliott maintained that he does not remember making the statement and was unaware of the subsequent controversy until he was informed about it while on tour in Japan.
“My only excuse, although I am English and have spent most of the last three years in this country, is that most of what I have learned about Americans is through the media.
“The last thing Mexican-Americans need as they try to rid themselves of the stereotype is for me or anyone else to make such statements. It was stupid of me to make such false accusations.”
The predominantly Mexican-American audience packed into a room in City Hall appeared to accept Elliott’s apology, breaking into applause at the end of his statement.
Elliott then posed for photographers with his arm around a young boy in a wheelchair from one of the organizations that will benefit from the group’s donations.
Elliott had wanted to fly to El Paso to apologize, but decided against it because LULAC has refused to drop its boycott against the group until December 31st. The group invited Elliott to attend a news conference in El Paso in mid-January, but a spokesman said the singer’s schedule probably will prevent him from attending.
Elliott agreed to fly to Los Angeles from Paris Tuesday after state Sen. Joseph Montoya’s office contacted the management of Def Leppard to inform them they had received numerous calls from concerned constituents regarding the statement.
“I believe that he was unaware of the sensitive nature of his comment, and that he try regrets having made the statement,” Montoya said.