On this day in 1979, a young group from Sheffield, Yorkshire, calling themselves Def Leppard played at Crookes Workingman’s Club in their home town. The gig was reviewed in the UK music paper Sounds which led to a recording contract with Phonogram Records.
Rick Allen, then only 15 years old, had joined the band as its full-time drummer and the group released their debut EP, the track “Getcha Rocks Off” to be given extensive airtime by renowned BBC Radio DJ John Peel, considered at the time to be a champion of punk rock and new wave music.
Throughout 1979, the band developed a loyal following among British hard rock and heavy metal fans and were initially considered one of the leaders of the new hard rock movement, dubbed by Sounds ‘The New Wave of British Heavy Metal’.
Their breakthrough came when Phonogram suggested working with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who helped to define their style, and nothing then could stop them. After Phonogram paid for the filming of some of their tracks to create promotional videos, “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” became one of the first hard rock videos played in heavy rotation on US MTV in 1982. The band’s next studio album Pyromania in 1983, with the lead single “Photograph”, turned Def Leppard into a US household name, although airplay in the UK was much more elusive, due to BBC Radio 1’s then-reluctance to play anything with a heavy guitar sound.
Def Leppard have sold more than 65 million albums worldwide, and have two albums with RIAA diamond certification, Pyromania and Hysteria. They are one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling over 10 million copies in the U.S., and are known as one of the nicest, most honest bands in the business.
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