For years everyone talked about the metal that came from the heavy steel industrial town of Birmingham, but in the ’80s the town of Sheffield (also known for its steel mills) was put on the map by one of the biggest selling bands of all time, Def Leppard.
From the get-go, the band had a masterplan, become the biggest band in the world, and were ready to do whatever it took to achieve their ambition.
With some serious success behind them, the band undertook the task of writing their fourth studio album Hysteria.
As singer Joe Elliott recalls it. “We were scared,” adding: “We had absolutely nothing in the way of ideas. We’d learned we couldn’t write on the road; you were doing all these shows and interviews and appearances. If you managed to get an idea down, you were proud of the achievement rather than asking yourself whether it was a good idea. Besides, we’d enjoyed Pyromania so much, and we’d been living with that for nearly two years. We had nothing to go on.”
Def Leppard’s Producers
Initially, Hysteria had a different title, Animal Instinct, and was set to be produced the band’s longtime producer and collaborator, Mutt Lange, but during pre-production Lange dropped out, citing exhaustion.
Enter Meatloaf songwriter Jim Steinman. He came to the album with the idea of producing a raw-sounding record that would ‘captured the moment.’ This totally conflicted with the band’s vision, Leppard wanted a bigger, pop production, and Joe Elliott has since stated that: “Todd Rundgren produced (Meat Loaf’s) Bat Out of Hell, and Jim Steinman wrote it”
Steinman was shown the door and the band attempted to produce the album by going it alone with Lange’s engineer Nigel Green. This resulted in the scrapping of all the initial recording sessions.
How Def Leppard’s Drummer Lost His Arm
Things went from bad to worse when on the 31stof December 1984, drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm when his Corvette flipped off a country road. In a show of unity, the band stood by and despite his disability, he returned to the drums using a combination of both electronic and acoustic drums using electronic pedals for the sounds that he would have played with his left arm.
Wrapping it up
The production of the album continued, all be it slowly until Lange returned to take the producers seat a year later. In January 1987 the final recording sessions took place in for the song “Armageddon It” and the band even added a last-minute track “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
Lange then spent three months mixing and the album was finally released worldwide on 3 August 1987, with“Animal” released as the albums first single except for the U.S. and Canada where “Women” was first out of the box.
On release, sales of Hysteria hit the wall at around five million and let’s face it, for any other band this would have been nothing short of monumental, but hey, this is Def Leppard. Then in a twist of fate, strippers on mass started dancing to ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me,’ this then led to some serious rotation on radio stations across the United States. Almost overnight the album rocketed back into the charts and was shifting tens of thousands of units a day.
Hysteria is Def Leppard’s best-selling album to date and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, and what started as nothing short of an uphill battle, turned out to be one of the classic British rock albums of all time.