Sunday, July 6, 2014

Episode 19: Def Leppard--The Pete Willis Years

Def Leppard is without a doubt, one of the biggest rock bands of all time. They've sold over 100 million records over their four decade-spanning career. They have two diamond-certified albums (Pyromania and Hysteria). They've overcome tragedies that would have completely derailed lesser bands. And they're still selling out arenas today.

But for a lot of old school Def Leppard fans like myself, the evolution of Def Leppard's sound over the years has made a lot of us lose interest in the band. Hysteria was the turning point, and it's really the last Def Leppard album that bears any resemblance to their early stuff. I would even take it a step further and say that Pyromania was the last album from the original Def Leppard.

I think a couple of things contributed to the change in Def Leppard's sound. One was their work with Mutt Lange. His obsession with creating the perfect sound for the band and on endlessly polishing every facet of a song led to a very over-produced sound that only got worse when he left.

But the biggest reason I think Def Leppard's sound changed was the departure of Pete Willis. He was kicked out of Def Leppard after recording the rhythm tracks for Pyromania, and was replaced by Phil Collen, who wrote the solos for Pyromania and then became Def Leppard's full-time second guitarist.

But man, those early years with Pete Willis saw a Def Leppard that was a kick ass rock 'n' roll band. Heavily influenced by AC/DC, Def Leppard songs featured great riffs and ripping solos. Pete Willis and Steve Clark were a great duo, and Def Leppard's first three studio albums (On Through the Night, High 'n' Dry and Pyromania) were killer.

This week we celebrate the Pete Willis era of Def Leppard with six videos from their first two albums.

Hello America

Rock Brigade


Let It Go

High 'n' Dry

Bringin' on the Heartbreak

BONUS: Here is a segment from the Ultimate Albums show that talks about the making of Pyromania, as well as the departure of Pete Willis.

Tune in next Sunday night at 8PM EST on Twitter ( for another episode of Sunday Night Videos, and right here on the blog for the episode notes, which will go up shortly after 9PM EST. You can tweet me recommendations or get in on the discussion every Sunday night by using the hashtag #SundayNightVideos. Rock on!

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