Def Leppard

Definitely: The Official Story of Def Leppard
Def Leppard

When Def Leppard released its 1980 debut, On Through the Night, most members were barely out of their teens. Now among rock’s elder statesmen, they’re aiming for a Rolling Stones-like career.

This autobiography – described as “part memoir, part scrapbook” – is a chronological oral history of Leppard’s 45-year journey. Most text comes from new interviews with the current lineup, especially vocalist Joe Elliott. Archive interviews represent original guitarists Pete Willis (barely) and the late Steve Clark. It’s bursting with scads of memorabilia and many fantastic previously-unseen photos – including a large percentage of the members with guitars, mostly live.

Elliott says they hated being lumped in with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement and American “hair metal.” Guitarist Phil Collen explains how he and Clark layered their different styles to create “guitar orchestration.” Vivian Campbell, who once met Clark briefly and replaced him after his death, says, “Steve had very melodic solos that weren’t blisteringly technical, but fitted the song perfectly.” Campbell got the gig by beating out Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake vet John Sykes (for being pushy), Iron Maiden alumnus Adrian Smith (not a good musical fit), and one other guitarist. Viv’s singing ability clinched it.

In sum, Definitely is spot-on, a must-have for Leppard lovers.

This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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