Articles: October 1983

1} HISPANICS LAUCH ROCK GROUP BOYCOTT {including Joe Elliott's apology transcript}
Apology for slur called an added insult
October 1, 1983
By Michael Quintanilla
El Paso Herald-Post

State and national Hispanic leaders joined El Pasoans Friday, calling a rock band’s apology for an ethnic slur and the offer of a free trip for two El Pasoans to a European concert, an insult to injury.
They instead launched a state and national boycott against the top-rated British rock group Def Leppard, said a spokesman for the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Joe Loya, LULAC district director in El Paso, called the free trip a payoff, and said boycotting the trip “is just as important” as boycotting the band.
Elliott made the offer from Japan on Friday after apologizing for a comment about El Paso as “that place with all the greasy Mexicans: made to a Tucson, Arizona concert audience the night after Def Leppard played El Paso September 6th.
Apologizing, Elliott said:
“Being an English person I really didn’t understand that was such an insult because I’m not Mexican-American…..And, obviously that night I made a big mistake. It was not meant as a racial or harmful statement in any way….And, if I’ve offended anybody, I’m very, very sorry about it.”
Elliott made the telephone apology after Hispanic leaders and rock radio stations reacted angrily to the ethnic slur reported in Arizona Daily Star Friday.
While broadcasters at radio station KLAQ, where the call was placed from Tokyo, said Elliott’s apology seemed sincere, they also agreed to stick by the weekend boycott of Def Leppard music.
Elliott had been awakened in Tokyo, where it was morning, to comment on the matter. The station promoted Def Leppard’s El Paso performance.
Responded Loya to Elliott’s apology:
“It’s a payoff. He’s trying to buy a fault. He’s trying to buy off El Paso and we won’t have it.”
Loya said he did not know how long the boycott would last but added the local organization will meet Monday to discuss the issue. He said he would be in touch with the LULAC state director Johnny Mata and LULAC national president Mario Obledo over the weekend to discuss to boycott in detail. He said a major plan of action will be implemented Monday.
“It’s my understanding that Hispanics across the state and in California are upset over the comment,” Loya said.
Soon after KLAQ took the lead in boycotting Def Leppard’s music this weekend, other rock radio stations joined and conducted listener polls.
By late Friday night, local record stores and rock nightclubs had joined the boycott.
“The only song we’ve been playing is Rock of Ages. But since the comment about El Paso, we’ve taken it off our dance requests for the weekend or until the boycott is lifted,”
said an Eastside rock nightclub manager.
Earlier on Friday, Loya, and Charlie Cohn, KLAQ general manager, demanded the apology from the rock group.
As for the trip Elliott offered to pay from his own pocket, Loya said, “That doesn’t satisfy LULAC a bit. This is just an offer he is making to forget the whole thing. Why does he bother to take two greasy Mexicans out to Europe?”
“A Lot of people sweep the floor with El Paso and it’s not right,” said Janice Henderson while browsing at a record store.

Transcript records singer’s apology to El Paso

The following is a transcript of the Def Leppard apology to El Paso:
ARIN MICHAELS, KLAQ PROGRAM DIRECTOR AND DISC JOCKEY:  According to the Arizona Daily Star, a Tucson newspaper, you allegedly made a remark on stage while performing, during Rock of Ages, referring to El Paso as “That place with all the greasy Mexicans”. Is that what you said?
JOE ELLIOTT, DEF LEPPARD LEAD SINGER: In all honesty I don’t remember, but it’s very unlikely. It is possible. What happens, you see, during the set we always do this crowd participation bit. One thing that always gets the crowd going, usually, in a positive way is by mentioning the town that you played in the night before. By saying that they make twice as much noise. It gets, you know, the audience going in quite a big way. If I said that and offended anybody, then I apologize more than you could imagine I could do. The fact is the only reason it was said, if indeed it was said, and I do remember this actually is that when we played in Tucson, Arizona, the people I have eye contact with which is maybe the first 10-12 yards of the crowd. There was a lot of Mexican-Americans in Tucson, right, and the reason I said that was just basically they’re the people I see. So you expect the rest of the audience you can’t see to be the same kind of, you know, mixture of people. So the only reason I mentioned Mexican-Americans in Tucson is because I could see them there and we played in front of a lot of them in El Paso the night before.
And I thought it would wind them up more if I actually mentioned their own kind of, you know, their own race of people. It was not meant as a racial or harmful statement in any way. It was basically just a bit of a wind up to try to get the crowd more excited than they already were.
MS. MICHAELS:  So a remark about….why a remark about greasy Mexicans?
ELLIOTT:  I have no idea. I can’t answer that. Possibly because I watch too much Cheech and Chong. It wasn’t intended as a harmful thing. It was the same way as we get called Limey Tea Bags, you know. Why Limey? It’s the same thing, it was totally unintentional. Being English, right, being an English person I really didn’t understand that was such an insult because I’m not Mexican-American.
I do not live in El Paso, so I don’t actually understand what is and what is not a good or bad thing to say. And, obviously, that night I made a big mistake. It was unintentional, and supposedly just, you know, a bit of playful chit-chat with the audience. That’s all it was supposed to be. And, if I’ve offended anybody, then I’m very, very sorry about it….it actually upsets me to think that somebody out there thinks that I’ve intentionally ripped into El Paso. I mean, the day we were there, it was Def Leppard Day for a start…the lord-high mayor there made us all honorary citizens….it was something with a lot of pride involved.
There’s no way that we are gonna abuse that on purpose. We’re not that kind of band.
I always do remember….like four years ago, I was driving a van delivering nuts and bolts….that was my job. And now I’m the singer in a very successful rock and roll band and there’s no way I’m abusing that situation.
It was totally unintentional. I really am sorry if I offended anybody.
MS. MICHAELS:  Well, you did, that’s how El Paso took it and we do accept your apology, and we thank you very much for calling all the way from Tokyo.
ELLIOTT:  No problem. Before I go, I would like to, actually I’m just taking this into my own hands, it’s not sorted out, but we will sort this out, right?
ELLIOTT:  I suppose it’s the least we can do, really. We’re gonna organize some t-shirts and some albums, right? And, we will, at my own expense, fly out two listeners to see our show in Europe, Paris or somewhere like that from El Paso.
MS. MICHAELS: Wonderful, I think that’s only fair…We do appreciate that and again I thank you very much for calling and for the apology.

"Disc jockey Arin Michaels tapes Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott's apology to El Pasoans from Tokyo while KLAQ

general manager Charlie Cohn takes over broadcasting". 

                             "Arin Michaels holds an album cover ripped apart in protest to remarks by Def Leppard".

'Greasy Mexicans' regretted
October 1, 1983
By Edna Gunderson
El Paso Times staff writer

Terming the remark “playful chit-chat,” Joe Elliott, lead singer for rock group Def Leppard, apologized Friday for calling El Paso “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
Elliott earned the dubious distinction as the Earl Butz of rock ‘n’ roll after making the remark during a Tucson, Arizona concert September 7, the day after the British band played before a sell-out crowd in the El Paso County Coliseum.
Jill Schensul, pop music critic for The Arizona Daily Star, the Tucson newspaper that quoted Elliott, said the singer blurted the insult while encouraging audience participation in the song Rock of Ages.
Elliott apologized by phone from Tokyo to El Paso radio station KLAQ-FM, which broadcast the message at 7 p.m. Friday.
“If I’ve offended anyone, then I’m very, very sorry for it. Being an English person, I didn’t really understand that the expression was such an insult,” Elliott said, noting that few Americans realize the label “limey” is considered derogatory by Britons. “I’m not a Mexican-American. I do not live in El Paso, so I don’t really understand what is and what is not a good or bad thing to say.” Elliott explained that he made the comment while encouraging audience cheers.
“What gets the crowd going is mentioning the town the night before and saying they made twice as much noise,” Elliott said.
Both the Tucson and El Paso audiences were heavily Hispanic, he said, adding, “I thought I would wind them up more if I actually mentioned their own race of people. It was not meant as a racial slur of harmful statement in any way.”
Asked why he used the word “greasy,” Elliott said, “ I don’t know. I can’t answer that. Possibly because I watch too much Cheech and Chong {a comedy team}. Obviously, that night I made a big mistake. It was unintentional.”
Def Leppard members were proud to be named honorary citizens of El Paso the day of their performance, Elliott said. In recognition of the band’s popularity, Mayor Johnathan Rogers had proclaimed September 6th Def Leppard Day.  “There’s no way we’re going to abuse that on purpose,” Elliott said. “It actually upsets me to think someone out there thinks I’ve intentionally ripped into El Paso.”
He promised to send Def Leppard t-shirts and records to KLAQ for distribution to El Paso fans and said, “At my own expense, we’ll fly out two listeners to our in Europe, in Paris or somewhere like that, from El Paso.”
Elliott’s apology came on the heels of a public outcry Friday, with angry reactions fired from the mayor, rock radio stations and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
The mayor issued this statement Friday afternoon: “Such comments are disgusting. The Hispanic culture is valued highly in all of the world and especially in El Paso. An apology is certainly due to the citizens of El Paso. As far as I’m concerned, the band will not be welcome in El Paso again.”  
Irate representative of KLAQ-FM radio and LULAC blasted the band Friday. Joe Loya, LULAC district director, called for a boycott of Def Leppard records, concerts and t-shirts.
“We need to hit him where it hurts….in the pocketbook, Loya said, adding that Elliott’s apology would not affect LULAC’s plans. “An apology won’t cut it. Anybody who makes that kind of statement is a bigot and a racist. It should never have been said. What good reason can you give me to forgive someone like that? There’s no reason.”
Hoping to mobilize nationwide action, Loya said he contacted other LULAC district directors and the organization’s national president, who Loya said plans to file a protest with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“We are asking all Americans against racism to destroy their Def Leppard records,” Loya said. “We are not going to stand for this. They come here, take our money, then insult us.”
Loya first got wind of the gaffe from his 14 year-old daughter, Sabina, who heard the announcement on KLAQ.
“My daughter thought the world of them, and they called her a greasy Mexican,” Loya said, adding that he had paid $13.95 for his daughter’s Union Jack t-shirt. “Now I’m going to burn it.”
At the suggestion Elliott’s words may have been spoken jokingly, Loya spat angrily,
”Whether it was said in jest or seriously is immaterial. I’m not laughing. It’s not funny. I hope they don’t come back.”
KLAQ declared a weekend boycott of Def Leppard records, but may extend the boycott if the station’s listeners demand it during a phone poll planned for Monday.

Station to heed public's will
October 2, 1983
By Pat Henry
El Paso Times staff writer
Pepe Lopez, music director of KLAQ-FM radio, is willing to lift the station’s boycott of Def Leppard records, but he’s leaving the decision to El Pasoans.
Def Leppard, a British rock band, drew El Paso ire because the lead singer, Joe Elliott, called the city “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
Lopez will extend the radio station’s weekend boycott of Def Leppard records through Tuesday, and possibly Wednesday, to give El Pasoans a chance to write the station or to vote at Sound Warehouse locations.

Elliott made the remark at a Tucson, Arizona concert September 7th, the day after the band packed El Paso County Coliseum. Elliott apologized by phone from Tokyo to KLAQ Friday.
Lopez is willing to forgive.
“He has apologized. In hindsight, I don’t think he meant the remark as an insult. I’m of Mexican-American descent myself. I think we ought to let bygones be bygones,” Lopez said Saturday.
The station received 3,000 calls Friday and Saturday concerning the boycott.
“Most people are dead set against Def Leppard. About 20 percent don’t know what is going on. Ten percent are willing to give the guy a break,” Lopez said.
He believes the reaction about Elliott’s remark has gotten out of hand. On Friday, mayor Johnathan Rogers issued a statement calling such remarks “disgusting” and said the band would not be welcome in El Paso again. Joe Loya, district director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, called for a boycott of Def Leppard records, concerts and t-shirts.
Meanwhile, Yvette Mona, a lifetime member of Rock Brigade {the band’s fan club}, tried to rally supporters Saturday.
“I want to urge fans to come to Def Leppard’s aid and let the media know they stand by Def Leppard,” Mona said.
She thinks Elliott’s comment was “an innocent mistake.”
“The day Def Leppard was in town, I took Joe and his girlfriend shopping in El Paso. I am Mexican-American myself, an in no way did he lower me because of it. He has nothing against Mexican-Americans,” she said.
In his apology, Elliott offered to pay the expenses of two El Pasoans to a Def Leppard show in Europe.
“Some people are calling that a payoff,” Mona said. “But the band members are from working class families themselves. Joe’s not offering the trip with that in mind.”
Radio station KSET-FM is boycotting Def Leppard records at least through the weekend. Disc jockey Mark Ross said that in a telephone poll Friday afternoon 77 percent favored the boycott.
Ron Haney, disc jockey at KEZB-FM, said the station isn’t taking a stand, one way or another.
“We have only one Def Leppard record and the time for it hasn’t come up for it, yet. We haven’t pulled it and we haven’t played it,” Haney said.
Jaime Torres doesn’t have a comment about Def Leppard. But he’s talked to plenty of people who do.
Torres is manager of Mane Event Hair Design, whose telephone number differs one digit from that of KLAQ.
“I’ve had so many calls today because of that,” Torres said Saturday. “It’s Def Leppard this and Def Leppard that.”
He received at least 30 wrong calls, none in favor of Def Leppard.


October 3, 1983

Yvette Mona believes that El Paso acted too quickly in condemning rocker Joe Elliott of the Def Leppard band for saying El Paso is “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
Miss Mona, assistant manager of Cielo Vista Cinema, has been working with the group’s fan club, The Rock Brigade, for two years. When the group visited El Paso last month, she acted as a guide for Elliott and his girlfriend.
So far, two radio stations have suspended play of the Def Leppard music and the League of United Latin American Citizens has called for national boycott of the group.
“The reason Joe Elliott made his remark…..he thinks it’s a playful thing they say to each other,” she said.
The group is from England. She said the media are “blowing it out of proportion.”
Elliott called radio station KLAQ from Tokyo to apologize for the remark saying he did not realize it was such an insult.
She said radio stations here should have waited until they had word from Elliott about the incident before taking action.
At radio station KLAQ, morning disc jockey Jeffrey Scott said the station is asking listeners to cast votes for or against a ban of Def Leppard records at one of El Paso’s Sound Warehouse stores.
The station suspended air-play of Def Leppard music Friday.
So far, he said, the phone calls he has solicited on the air have been divided 50-50. One person, he said, suggested the band change its name to Dead Leppard..
Some of the callers believe El Paso has been slapped in the face, and that the comment is unforgivable.
Others, he said, say they believe El Paso didn’t fully realize what he said.
KSET-FM morning disc jockey Steve Crosno said that the band’s music was suspended after the station took a survey and found that about 77 percent of those responding were against the air-play.
“We’ve had a lot of people call and say ‘let’s forgive them,” Crosno said. And, he added, if the station gets more of those calls, it may take another survey and put the music back on the air.
Miss Mona said Elliott learned the phrase “greasy Mexicans” from movies starring comedians Cheech and Chong.
She said that LULAC, which is pushing for a national boycott of the group, should “go after” Cheech and Chong.
She said she believes Elliott is “not at all” bigoted.

Rogers backs LULAC against Def Leppard
October 5, 1983

Mayor Johnathan Rogers called for a permanent boycott of all Def Leppard music in El Paso and gave his support to the League of United Latin American Citizens who reinstated a state and national boycott of the rock band today.
“I support the LULAC decision,” said Rogers after speaking to Joe Loya, LULAC district director, who informed the mayor of the boycott.
“There should be a permanent boycott of all Def Leppard music by El Paso radio stations because Def Leppard insulted the Hispanic community which is so vital to El Paso.”
Meanwhile, El Paso rock music lovers decided to forgive the British band’s lead singer, Joe Elliott, for calling El Paso “that place with all the greasy Mexicans” after a five day boycott of the group was lifted at radio stations throughout the city.
Leading the lift was the station that led the boycott, KLAQ, as early morning disc jockey Jeffrey Scott spun Def Leppard’s  Photograph. Said Scott: “Time heals all wounds. We’re going to bring back Def Leppard.”  
The station and Loya…on behalf of LULAC, began the boycott after learning that Elliott made the remark last month before a Tucson, Arizona audience one night after performing before El Paso fans.
On Friday, Elliott telephoned the station from Tokyo and apologized to El Paso for making the mistake.
As a peace offering, Elliott said he would give two El Pasoans an all-expense paid trip to a European concert as well as give KLAQ Def Leppard t-shirts and albums to give away to its listeners.
The radio station has decided to reject Elliott’s gifts, including the trip, general manager Charlie Cohn said.
“We are going along with that request from the LULAC’s and the mayor,” Cohn said.
“We felt that if we could agree on not accepting the trip and t-shirts and records, we would remain basically in the same corner. We went into this thing together and will stay in this together.”
“We will forego the trip. But we had to play the music depending on what our audience wanted and decided.”
Weighing heavily on that decision was a two-day poll of El Pasoans who voted at local record stores. The vote was 65 to 35 percent to return Def Leppard music.
Meanwhile, Loya said a state and national LULAC boycott of the rock band will get underway.
“The El Paso LULACs voted to boycott Def Leppard. Def Leppard t-shirts, records and the trip. We’ve been getting phone calls from all over the state in support of the boycott,” Loya said.
“LULACs feel the youngsters don’t understand the significance of the remark. We don’t want to accept any pay-off and that is what the offer of the trip and other Def Leppard items are….a pay-off,” Loya said.
In addition to the boycott, a written apology from Elliott has been demanded from LULAC state director Johnny Mata.

October 27, 1983

By Joe Olvera

El Paso Herald-Post

Joe Elliott, lead singer of the rock group Def Leppard, wants to make amends for his insulting remark about Mexican-Americans by donating $10,000 to El Paso’s needy children.
Orlando Fonseca, East Central alderman, said Elliott telephoned him Tuesday, wanting to make a gesture of friendship to El Paso Hispanics.
Elliott came under fire from Mexican-American groups when he told a concert crowd in Tucson, Arizona, in September that his group had just finished playing in El Paso—“that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
The uproar Elliott created reached national proportions, and a boycott of the English group’s music was initiated throughout the country.
“Elliott called me and said we wants to come to El Paso the latter two weeks in November to apologize profusely,” Fonseca said. “He also said he wants to donate $10,000 to the needy children of El Paso.”
If Elliott is sincere, Fonseca said, he should offer to do a free concert for El Pasoans. There he could make his apology public and “also present the $10,000 to the needy children of El Paso. Then, we’ll know if he truly is sincere,” Fonseca said.
Fonseca said he promised Elliott he would call the “more vocal” Hispanic leaders to get their reactions to Elliott’s proposal.
He said he will call Elliott on Monday to give him an answer.


October 27, 1983
By Joe Olvera
El Paso Herald-Post

Mexican-American leaders in El Paso are still angry with rock band Def Leppard’s insult of Hispanics and one said they can’t be “bought off”— not even by the singer’s offer to donate $10,000 to El Paso’s needy children.
Cesar Caballero, President of Concilio del Paso, said Def Leppard may “someday be forgiven,” but what they said will never be forgotten by Mexican-Americans.
Def Leppard is the British rock group, whose lead singer Joe Elliott referred to El Paso as “that place with all the greasy Mexicans.”
Tuesday, Elliott called Alderman Orlando Fonseca to offer a “sincere” apology. Fonseca said that Elliott offered to fly to El Paso in late November, offer a public apology, and donate $10,000 to El Paso’s needy children.
“We do not want any money in any way, shape or form,” said Joe Loya, director of the League of United Latin American Citizens District 4.
“They have been offering us the world, and to add insult to injury, Elliott wrote Mayor Johnathan Rogers and told him about the insults the group hands out to Germans and other Europeans during their concerts. We won’t accept a penny,” said Loya.
Loya said he is not speaking for every Mexican-American, and is not saying that every Hispanic should boycott the group.
“We just should not allow anybody to demean Mexican-Americans any more,” said Loya. “We can no longer be bought off, it’s not that easy anymore.”
Caballero said he would support the LULAC boycott of the group.
“As long as LULAC wants to maintain the boycott, we do support it,” said Caballero. “Elliott should make the apology anyway; whether LULAC accepts it or not remains to be seen,” he said.
Caballero said there will be a time for forgiving, but that the group should understand that Mexicans in El Paso are as important as the Queen of England, and that Europeans, if they don’t know about Mexicans, should become familiar with them.
Loya said he will go to the LULAC state convention in Houston in November and call for a vote on the boycott.
“After the state meeting, we will go to the national executive meeting in California to call for a national boycott,” said Loya.
Loya said he “foresees a boycott” until he talks to the state and national office, which could take “months.”