Articles: September 1983

*The first three articles are prior to Joe Elliott's comment*

September 3, 1983
By Clay Hutto
El Paso Herald Post

With only three albums behind them, and their average age in the early twenties, the band members of Def Leppard have suddenly become phenomenally successful. Their latest album, Pyromania, has sold more than 1 million copies and is holding firm in the upper regions in the Billboard’s Top Ten. Their second album, High and Dry, released almost two years ago, has sold more than half a million copies and is still listed in the Billboard charts. The success of these albums attests to Def Leppard’s increasing popularity.
But why is Def Leppard so popular? What is the cause for the group’s sudden surge in notoriety?
The band’s guitarist, Steve Clark, attributes Def Leppard’s success to timing more than anything else.
“Maybe there was a gap to be filled,” Clark said in a telephone interview, “and we just filled it.”
Of course, there has to be more to it than that. The adulation Def Leppard has been receiving is a result of something more than filling a gap.
“We spent a lot more time in the studio on our last album,” added Clark. “Everyone suspected that Pyromania would be the one to really take off.”
And take off it has. Pyromania has been on the Billboards’ charts for 31 weeks now and has climbed as high as fourth. And unlike many heavy metal groups, which rely mostly upon concert performances to sell albums, Def Leppard’s singles have sold well, stimulating album sales. Its most recent single, Rock of Ages {not to be confused with the gospel song}, is a hit and has climbed high into the Billboard rankings, an occurrence that is not common with most heavy metal or heavy rock songs.
But that is perhaps the key to Def Leppard’s popularity. Its music has the same power and energy that most heavy metal music has, but, in addition, its songs have more of a melody to them. At least Clark thinks so.
“We play rock music with more melody to it.” Clark said. “A lot of heavy rock groups can’t really get a melody in the their songs; their songs don’t have an identity. But our sound has more of a variety to it. It appeals to a broader audience.”
They debuted as a band in July, 1978 at a local school. It was an inauspicious debut. They were not yet polished musicians. But more than that, they were a hard rock band starting out in the height of the punk music trend.
“Everybody said, ‘You aren’t going to get anywhere playing hard rock’” Clark said, “but we stuck to our guns. We played what we felt comfortable with. We weren’t trying to be a part of a trend. We just played what we liked.”
The music they liked was hard rock. The band members listed UFO, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin as musical influences. “We all have about the same taste in music,” Clark noted.
Interestingly, when the band changed the spelling of its name from Deaf Leopard to Def Leppard {to discourage punks who for some reason came to Deaf Leopard concerts}, the band was accused of imitating  Led Zeppelin’s name.  It was really just a coincidence, but perhaps a fateful one. In many ways, such as style and now popularity, Def Leppard is the 80’s answer to Led Zeppelin. 

Def Leppard will rock the Coliseum 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Uriah Heep will open the concert. 

In the same sense, Def Leppard’s music, according to Clark, “has no real message.” It’s played so “everyone can enjoy it, without taking it too seriously.” It’s escapsism, Clark said, intended to bring relief and entertainment.
“It’s for people who have been working all day and who want to forget about all their problems and have fun,” said Clark.  
Apparently, that’s just what a lot of people want.


September 7th, 1983
By Clay Hutto

It was more like being in a combat zone than being at a concert.
When Def Leppard seized the stage and shelled the audience with Rock, Rock {Till You Drop}, some actually did just that.
It wasn’t only the buzz-saw loudness of the music, it was also the sweltering heat that did a few in. The Coliseum Tuesday night was steamier than a Swedish sauna. It was a hot night and the thousands of bodies giving off heat didn’t help. Neither did the glaring lights that bathed Def Leppard like beams of sunlight.
Standing in the rear of the Coliseum, opposite the band, gives a new perspective to a concert. The distance did little to muffle the music. It thundered across the open court with all the velocity of a mortar attack. One could feel the thump, thump of the drum pounding the solar plexus.  But worse of all was the oppressive heat and all the stale air. It all added up to an assault on the senses.
Most didn’t mind: most didn’t seem too seriously affected. But a few, mostly teenage girls, swooned and had to be carried to the first aid station.
There were also a few rambunctious males, looking as discreet as Hell’s Angels, that had to be forcibly escorted to the exits.
Fans walking around the rear of the Coliseum were as interesting looking as the band. All kinds of garb  was on display, from girls in tight jeans and Def Leppard t-shirts to older girls in more chic apparel, to young men who looked like pirates.
But the most interesting sight of all was a young fellow who looked like an undernourished Bill Walton. Standing close to seven feet, with frizzy blond hair and wispy whiskers, and clad only in red shorts and sneakers, the tall one strode through the crowd like he was going for a dunk.
But other than those diverting sights, the Def Leppard concert roared right along. Most of the songs were taken from Def Leppard’s last two albums. Several were from its latest album, the million selling Pyromania, a prophetic title considering the temperature of  the music and the Coliseum during the concert.
In addition to Rock, Rock {Till You Drop}, Def Leppard blitzed the responsive and teeming crowd with Billy’s Got a Gun, Foolin’ and Photograph, all cuts from their latest album. Def Leppard also played some its more popular cuts from their second album, High and Dry, including Mirror Mirror {Look Into My Eyes}.
But the highlight of the concert came near the end, when Def Leppard launched its current hit single, Rock of Ages, complete with two giant pinwheels bursting into spinning sparklers on stage during the chorus.
All things considered, it was an apt image.

Leppard performance leaves some good, bad impressions
September 9, 1983

By Edna Gunderson

El Paso Times staff writer

These days, one of the more important milestones between birth and high school graduation has to be the attending of your first rock concert.
For 13 year-old Travis Duke, an eighth-grader at MacArthur School, the magical evening took place Tuesday night at a sold-out Def Leppard concert in the El Paso County Coliseum.
“It was great,” he said casually, as if he’d fully expected nothing less. “I really had a good time.” Travis, a lanky blond with a love for basketball, spends much of his free time collecting and selling golf balls that stray into his East Side neighborhood from the Cielo Vista course across the street. He also enjoys listening to albums by Judas Priest, the Scorpions and Def Leppard, a leisure activity his parents, John and Q Duke, owners of both Griggs restaurants, simply can not identify with. Travis long had pestered his parents for concertgoing priveledges.  But his young age coupled with the lousy {and deserved} reputation of Coliseum rock audiences led Mom and Dad to postpone that rite of teenhood. Until Tuesday, when they nervously relented.
Concerned about reports of pervasive pot-smoking, Mrs. Duke said, “I told Travis not to inhale all night.”
Of course, the Duke’s claims were allayed by their son’s chaperone, a 30 year-old Times reporter who eschews drugs, refuses to engage in Coliseum fistfights and likes to sit a safe distance from the seething mass of bodies pressed against the stage.
We arrived at the Coliseum about 30 minutes before the 8 p.m. showtime, and already the parking lot was jammed with cars and wandering teens desperate to buy scalped tickets. Beer bottles littered the asphalt, and some chemically polluted kids needed the support of the sullied Coliseum walls to remain standing. They fought to keep their eyes open. Sheriff’s deputies strolled the lot keeping watch for the inevitable throngs of drug pushers, car burglars and passing out as they leaned against the building.
None of this seemed to faze Travis. I asked him where he preferred to sit.
“Anywhere’s fine.”

Anywhere turned out to be passable seats at the side of the stage. Uriah Heep guitarists were in full view, but the keyboardist and the drummer were hidden behind speaker stacks. Travis said he didn’t mind, but then he’s terribly polite.

Uriah Heep, the opening band, was formed in 1968, so I wasn’t surprised when Travis said he wasn’t familiar with their music. While listening to some of the band’s earlier hits, it dawned on me: I saw my first concert, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, followed a few weeks later by Buffalo Springfield, before Travis was even a gleam in his father’s eye. In fact, the first time I saw Uriah Heep, Travis was still in diapers. Sitting next to this starry-eyed boy, I was beginning to feel like the only vestige of my youth was an all-too-frequent pimple.

As Uriah Heep charged through newer numbers like The Other Side of Midnight and standards like Easy Livin’, several girls, squeezed breathless and overcome with heat, were hauled over the barricade in front of the stage. Fights ensued when drumsticks were tossed into the compressed crowd. Deputies dragged away a few offenders. Travis never flinched. Obviously, his older friends had briefed him thoroughly.
Between sets, we wandered around the hall and finally, through the courtesy of a Def Leppard sound engineer, secured seats on the platform that held the sound and light boards. The lights dimmed, and the crowd’s roar shook the Coliseum. Sirens wailed, spotlights darted across the hall and a tape blared the noise of whirring helicopter blades. On stage, flames shot high, and Def Leppard charged into view as thousands pounded the air with their fists.
Travis smiled. The band launched into one of its many urgent anthems, and Travis began tapping his fingers. He occasionally stood up to get a better glimpse of wildly contorting guitarists racing across the stage. Travis was reserved compared to the screaming adolescents bouncing feverishly in Union Jack t-shirts.

Def Leppard delivered an impressive energetic show rife with bleating guitar solos and trampling rhythms. Even so, I found the sound deafening, and my eardrums were vibrating in pain after the first two songs.   Travis, however, said the volume was not nearly as high as he had expected.
“I thought is would be really loud,” he said.
Most of the band’s repertoire was gleaned from its phenomenally successful Pyromania album. When singer Joe Elliott asked how many pyromaniacs were strewn through the audience, many responded by holding up flaming popcorn boxes. One fire in the middle stands had to be stomped out by two quick-thinking youths. Travis watched this with awe.

Rock, Rock {Till You Drop}, Rock of Ages, Foolin’, and Billy’s Got a Gun drew fierce cheers, but the loudest reaction came with Photograph, a Def Leppard tune that has won MTV’s ‘Friday Night Video Fights’ for eight consecutive weeks, beating out videos by such stellar acts as ZZ Top, Duran Duran, David Bowie, Loverboy and even Michael Jackson.

When the show ended at nearly 11 p.m., Travis seemed fresh and cheerful, while I was fatigued and dazed. With 8,000 other shuffling fans, we inched our way to the car. While we waited for a chance to squeeze into the line of cars, Travis gave me his impressions:

“It was kinda what I expected, but it was more crowded than I really expected,” he said. “I really didn’t like the first band, but Def Leppard was great. I liked it at the end the way the stage caught on fire.”

Was the concert too long? Too short?

“Just right,” Travis said, adding, “But it shouldn’t be general admission. It should be reserved. When it’s general admission, it gets too crowded and that might be the reason people start fights.”

I said I thought hard rock crowds often tread dangerously close to anarchy, but Travis saw an advantage in the rowdy nature of concert goers: “I think it’s good because the band might think of our town as being louder than the next one. They might like us better.”

He did concede that some crowd elements are undesirable. “To a degree, being rowdy is OK, but sometimes they get too crazy, like when they start fires.”

Travis said he recognized the pungent odor of marijuana
wafting through the crowd and was not disturbed or surprised, although he certainly didn’t condone its widespread use: “I guess those people want to do it at a concert. But I think it should be prevented in some way, even if the cops just show those people to the door.”
Though he admitted his ears were ringing loudly, he said he thought the sound system was excellent. As for audience conditions, Travis was a fairly gentle critic: “The Coliseum was OK, I guess. The building is kinda bad. I think they should build a new one
. I can’t stand smoke. That was the only thing that bothered me.”
He insisted he was never bored and, in fact, was enlightened by singer Joe Elliott’s strongly stated insistence that fist fights be taken outdoors.

“It really shocked me when he told those people to stop fighting,” Travis said, mentioning that he owned two Def Leppard albums. “It seems like most rock groups wouldn’t care what happens in the audience. When he told them to stop fighting, it gave me a different perspective. I had figured they were just another rock group, but now I think they are really interested in their music and they really care about people who come to the show and want to listen.”

I looked at the rumpled Def Leppard t-shirt he held in his lap.

“Are you going to wear that to school tomorrow?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. “It’s kinda wrinkled.”

I talked to his mother Wednesday morning.
“It was so cute,” Mrs. Duke said. “He said he was worried all through the concert that you would forget that he wanted to buy a t-shirt. He was so relieved when you reminded him about it after the show. Of course, he just had to wear that shirt to school this morning.”

Travis Duke, first-time rock concertgoer, stands near the stage between sets at the Def Leppard concert.

Def Leppard promises apology on El Paso radio
September 30, 1983
By Margo Hernandez
And Clay Hutto
El Paso Herald-Post

El Paso rock radio stations and Hispanic leaders are reacting strongly to an anti-Mexican remark made by the musical group Def Leppard.
A spokesperson for the group said members of the band would call El Paso radio station KLAQ today from Tokyo to apologize on the air for the “stupid” remark.
A tape recording of the apology will be sent to Hispanic leaders, the spokesman said.
Playing in Tucson, Arizona, on September 7th, Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott told a concert audience that the band had just returned from an engagement in El Paso, “that place with all the greasy Mexicans,” the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Station KLAQ is boycotting the music of Def Leppard this weekend because of the remark, said Bill Briggs, a KLAQ spokesman.
“There will be no Def Leppard music played on this station all weekend,” Briggs said.
Disc jockeys at another El Paso station broke a Def Leppard record album on the air today.
Station KSET was polling its listeners on whether the band should be boycotted.
Bill Clifton, disc jockey with KSET said he was breaking records “in protest of that comment they made.”
No Def Leppard records will be played today, he said, “at least during my shift.”
Joe Loya, district director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, demanded an apology from Def Leppard, and said he would ask all Americans to “boycott a racist group like that.”
In addition, Loya said that he will ask that Mayor Johnathan Rogers demand an apology from the group.
Loya said that he heard the news about the comment from his 14 year-old daughter.
His daughter was in the sell-out crowd at the El Paso County Coliseum when the group played here September 6th.
“When she heard that, her face just dropped,” Loya said. And she no longer is a Def Leppard fan, he said.
Unless the apology is made, LULUC will boycott the concerts, records and t-shirts of the group, Loya said.
“They’re willing to come here and take our money. Then they go and make a dumb statement like that,” Loya said. “It is uncalled for and unnecessary.”
Drew Murray, spokesman for the group’s recording company, Polygram Records in New York City, said the group will call station KLAQ to apologize on the air. A tape of the apology will be sent to the LULAC main office in Houston, he said.
Two members of the group are in Tokyo. The others are in Copenhagen, preparing to start a European tour.
Discussing the comment made by Elliott during the Tucson concert, Murray said, “From what I’ve been able to gather, it was not aimed at the Mexican-American ethnic group.
“In the heat of the moment, Joe directed his comments at the security guards who were manhandling the fans at the Def Leppard concert in Tucson.”
The guards Elliott saw, Murray said, were Mexican Americans.
“It was a stupid comment, not meant to be a derogatory statement to the people of El Paso.”
Def Leppard always regarded Texas as the place that helped make them popular in the United States, Murray said. “El Paso was one of the first to embrace Def Leppard. They broke out of Texas.”
Def Leppard members describe themselves as a “hard rock” band.

                  "Steve Crosno of KSET radio looks for any record to play other than one recorded by Def Leppard".

                 "Members of Def Leppard are, from left: Steve Clark, Rick Allen, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage and Pete Willis".