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Originally formed in 1977 in Sheffield, England by five teenagers who really liked glam rock, Def Leppard became grouped with the NWOBHM before turning early-MTV pop-rock sweethearts. After kicking out a founding guitarist for too much drunken tomfoolery (Pete Willis), they released a well-received rock album (Pyromania), lost another sixth of a member (Rick Allen's left arm), released a phenomenally successful pop-rock record (Hysteria), which was essentially aiming to be "the hard rock version of Thriller", then the other original guitarist drank himself to death over the course of a few years (Steve Clark).
Best known for predicating a thirty-year career on the bawdy Chorus-Only Song, "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and the terribly unfunny joke, "What has nine arms and sucks?", they continue to release records (much more often than in their heyday) and do a world tour almost every year since 2003 despite becoming musical pariahs in the Post-Grunge era.
They are one of only five bands to have two original (non-greatest hits or live) albums sell more than ten million copies each; the others being Van Halen, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. Musically, they are known for melodic dual lead guitarists, four-part harmonies both on record and live, and massively over-produced, Queen-esque albums.
- Rick Allen plays drums on a custom kit built to bypass his disability.
- Vivian Campbell wrote and played the guitar parts on Dio's "Holy Diver" and moonlights as a member of Thin Lizzy.
- Phil Collen is in too good of shape for a man in his fifties.
- Joe Elliott never met a bad metaphor he didn't put in a song.
- Rick Savage used to be "the Cute One" (even getting name-checked to that end on Heroes).
- Album Title Drop: Pyromania gets its title from a line in the song "Rock Of Ages". Strangely, "On Through the Night" off of their second album shares the title of their first album.
- Bawdy Song: "Pour Some Sugar on Me", "Let's Get Rocked", "Rock Rock (Til You Drop)", "Women", "Make Love Like a Man", and that doesn't count album tracks.
- Chorus-Only Song: "Pour Some Sugar on Me".
- Cover Album: Yeah!
- Cover Version: The Sweet's Action, Mick Ronson's Only After Dark on Retroactive
- Crossover: With Taylor Swift, of all people, via CMT Crossroads.
- Determinator - Rick Allen after his accident learning to play one handed. To the point after one show on the comeback tour after the accident the backup drummer on standby in case Rick couldn't play the songs said to the rest of the band essentially "You guys don't need me here" and flew home.
- Dress Rehearsal Video: "Hello America".
- The Eighties
- Gender Blender Name: Vivian Campbell.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: They were originally called Atomic Mass, which was changed to Deaf Leapord. They became Def Leppard on Joe Elliott's suggestion after he joined the group as a tribute to Led Zeppelin (who deliberately misspelled the first word in their name) and to differentiate themselves from punk bands who named themselves after animals.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck: "Let's Get Rocked".
- Hair Metal: The band themselves deny that they were part of the genre and Joe Elliott has been somewhat dismissive of other hair bands when asked about Leppard's association with the style. They count the British glam bands from the 1970s, such as T. Rex and Sweet, as key influences.
- Handicapped Badass: Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident. His response? Get a specialized drum kit and keep playing.
- Heavy Meta: "Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)", "Let's Get Rocked", "Rock of Ages", "Rock Brigade", "Rocket".
- Heavy Mithril: "Overture", "When the Walls Came Tumbling Down"
- Intercourse with You: If you shake one of their records, several of these songs will fall out.
- Lighter and Softer: Their first two albums were definitely Heavy Metal, but starting with their third album Pyromania they adopted a more radio-friendly hard rock sound. Their fourth album, Hysteria, moved even further in this direction due to nearly half the songs being ballads.
- Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition: Pyromania, Hysteria, and Adrenalize.
- List Song: "Rocket", which lists the bands that Def Leppard count as influences or the titles of their songs, including David Bowie, Elton John, Mott the Hoople, Queen, Thin Lizzy and many, many more.
- Lyrics Video Mismatch: "Bringin on the Heartbreak".
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: In their beginnings and on Pyromania, they were a solid 5, sometimes even a 6. By the time Hysteria rolled around, they had softened to a 4. High & Dry seems to be a 7. Perhaps a weak one, but most of the time it's clearly metal. Phil Collen has remarked on the trend ("We were always halfway between heavy metal and Duran Duran").
- Morality Ballad: "From The Inside".
- Myspeld Rokband
- New Sound Album: Slang. To be fair, Joe Elliott had been making noises about wanting to explore new sounds as far back as Hysteria.
- One-Letter Title: One of their albums is called X.
- One Steve Limit: Subverted between Rick Allen and Rick Savage, who is called "Sav" instead of his first name.
- Other Common Music Video Concepts: namely...
- Backstage Pass: "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (U.S. version) and "Armageddon It".
- Band From Mundania: "Me And My Wine".
- In The Studio: "Love Bites".
- Junkyard/Construction Site: "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (U.K. version; actually a demolition site).
- The Pete Best: Original drummer Tony Kenning.
- Power Ballad: Many, many.
- The Power of Rock: "Rock of Ages", "Let's Get Rocked".
- Rated "M" for Manly
- Record Producer: Mutt Lange.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: They just hid it real well until one of them died.
- Shout-Out: "Rocket", a shout out to the groups that the band likes.
- Song of Song Titles: "Rocket".
- Stalker with a Crush: "Two Steps Behind".
- Also applicable to "Photograph" when, after a few listens, one realizes the singer doesn't actually have a relationship with the woman in question, and is merely obsessing over her photograph (although Joe Elliott insists that it's a tribute to Marilyn Monroe).
- Step Up to the Microphone: They have four pretty good singers (Rick Allen only tends to do backing vocals during live shows), so it's no surprise that somebody other than Joe took the opportunity to sing lead for a couple of songs on Yeah! Sav does the lead vocals on their cover of "Dear Friends", while Phil sings and plays all the instruments on "Stay With Me".
- Stop and Go: "Animal".
- Technician Versus Performer: Steve Clark was the performer while Phil Collen is a technician. While Phil remains one of the group's most prolific songwriters, Steve very rarely composed songs, instead contributing partial ideas and riffs to other compositions. After he died, Phil was almost driven to leave the band himself out of frustration over his struggles to emulate Steve's playing style.
- Ironically enough, Steve was initially hired because he was a better player than original guitarist Pete Willis.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: sleeveless Union Jack shirts and short-shorts.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Pour Some Sugar on Me".
Def Leppard were the subject of a Made for TV Movie in 2001. Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story follows the band's beginnings and rise to stardom, focusing especially on the alcoholism of both Pete Willis and Steve Clark and on Rick's accident. There's also a little something about Pyromania and Hysteria in there somewhere.
This movie rocks the following tropes:
- The Alcoholic: Steve, so tragically much. Pete, not so tragically.
- The Determinator: Joe Elliott. Also "Mutt" Lange, once he shows up.
- Henpecked Boyfriend: Original drummer Tony Kenning is forced by his girlfriend to quit the band. In reality she was a factor, but not the only one or even the main one.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Anthony Michael Hall as "Mutt" Lange
- How We Got Here: The film actually starts with the auto accident, then flashes back to the band's beginnings.
- I Meant to Do That: used no less than three times, all by Rick Allen:
- When first auditioning for the band, Rick plays in the style of several drummers, then falls off his drumstool. He's just imitating the drunken antics of Keith Moon.
- In a Call Back to the above: When first trying out his new electronic kit with the band after his accident, Rick can't get the timing right, gets frustrated and falls off his stool. He echoes the audition incident to reassure the band.
- Backstage at his first on-stage performance after the accident, Rick is practicing stick-twirls but drops the stick. After a dead silence falls over the room, Rick invokes the trope word for word.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The band's history is compressed into a tidy 90-minute package.
- Composite Character: Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein, the band's early managerial team, are compiled into one person.
- Satellite Character: Rick Savage is barely in the movie at all, and tends to just stand around when he is; he neither says nor does anything to drive the plot.
- Technician Versus Performer: played up with Steve and Phil's first guitar duel.
- Television Geography
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Steve, so tragically much.