Joe Elliott has no problem addressing huge crowds at concerts and festivals. But when his band Def Leppard gets inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Friday, it’s the speech that will make him uneasy.
“Getting up and going ‘How’s everybody doing? Are we ready to rock?’ is a lot easier than standing there, for God knows how long, trying to acknowledge and hope to God you haven’t forgot anybody — people that go back all the way to the beginning of the band, which is 40-odd years ago. So, no pressure,” Elliott joked.
Def Leppard — whose hits include “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” ”Love Bites,” ”Foolin'” and “Animal” — enters the Rock Hall as a first-time nominee. They join a class that includes Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson, The Zombies, The Cure and Radiohead.
Def Leppard had been eligible to join rock gods such as Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley in the hall since 2005, but Elliott credited fans for creating a headwind during voting late last year. The top five artists make up a special fan ballot that’s tallied along with other ballots that are submitted by industry officials, music writers and selected artists.
“We got this huge fan vote, which then really kind of turned our heads as well. Because what it was then, it wasn’t just this faceless committee deciding who was cool enough and it was not good enough — it was the fans,” said Elliott.
“And we’d been told the last six years whoever won the fan vote was, you know, inducted. So, we kind of figured if we win it, we’ll probably get in and here we are.”
The band will be inducted by Queen’s Brian May. Elliott said Def Leppard and Queen have a history dating back to 1981, and said May has always been a “go-to guy” for the band.
“We first met him in Europe. We were opening for Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and I think Queen was recording ‘Hot Space’ in Munich, maybe. And he came in and said ‘Hi!’ and we were like just blown away. In 1983 we happened to be at the L.A. Forum and Brian was in town and he asked if he could come and jam with us, and we were like, ‘Are you kidding? Of course you can!”
Elliott shared how the band celebrated when they learned they were inducted.
“We were on tour in the U.K. and we were on a day off in a fantastic castle hotel on the outskirts of Glasgow in Scotland,” he said. “We decided we’d have dinner to celebrate it. So, we had this huge castle to ourselves. There’s nobody else in the dining room. We just sat at this big table, a couple bottles of bubbly and we just cheered each other. That’s it, we’re in. It’s a great moment, it really was.”