In the ‘80s, Def Leppard was one of the few hard rock bands who captured the spirit of the times quite well. While considered a significant part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late ‘70s, the band gained a massive following outside the scene thanks to their toned-down heavy riffs and emphasis on melody.
Pyromania, their 1983 release, proved Def Leppard was poised for crossover success. However, the band achieved pinnacle success with the release of Hysteria in 1987. In 1992, their album Adrenalize was instrumental in helping them defy the mainstream turn toward grunge.
From there, Def Leppard toured exhaustively and released albums every few years. Amazingly, the band successfully maintained the attention of their audience through the years. Now and then, they surprise fans with albums that are reminiscent of their glory days, like Yeah! (2006) and Diamond Star Halos (2022).
Def Leppard started as a Sheffield-based band formed by then-teenagers Pete Willis (guitar) and Rick Savage (bass). Joe Elliot (vocalist) joined the band several months later. He also came up with the band name Deaf Leopard. After a spelling change, the trio began playing in local pubs in Sheffield.
After adding a guitarist and a new drummer to the lineup, the band recorded Getcha Rocks Off, their debut EP. The EP earned airplay on BBC after it became a word-of-mouth success. After adding Rick Allen (drummer), the band became the toast of the British music weeklies.
On Through the Night, their full-length debut was released in 1980 and became an instant hit in the United Kingdom. In 1981, they released High ‘n’ Dry, their first platinum album in the United States. In the spring of 1992, the band released Adrenalize as a quartet. The album received mixed reviews but debuted at number one.
Retro Active, their rarity collection yielded the wildly successful acoustic ballad Two Steps Behind. Another album, Slang, was released in 1996. More adventurous than its predecessor, the album was greeted with indifference. While it indicated the band’s heyday had passed, it also showed they had established themselves as a cult band.