By Steve Baltin
Thirteen years after becoming eligible, Def Leppard are nominated for the first time for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2019. Joining a stellar and diverse list of nominees that ranges from Roxy Music, the Cure and Kraftwerk to Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine and Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard can, as frontman Joe Elliott, add another notch to a resume that includes over 100 millions albums sold, two diamond albums (Pyromaniaand Hysteria) and a million concert tickets sold just on this recently completed tour with Journey.
Elliott fully credits the fans and the addition of a fan vote for finally getting Leppard their long overdue spot in this conversation. And for Elliott, as he explains in this very fun and fascinating conversation, that ranges from Roxy Music to discussing soccer with Robert Plant, the greatest thing about the Rock Hall honor to him would be sharing it with the Leppard fans.
Steve Baltin: What takes you to Hawaii?
Joe Elliott: We’ve been rehearsing for two days. After we finished this massive tour with Journey in the States we kind of hit the reset button and we’re starting here tonight. We’ve got two shows at the Blaisdell Arena, which is where Elvis did his Aloha From Hawaii comeback in ’73. We played here 35 years ago actually, but we’re doing the whole Hysteriaalbum in sequence in the middle part of the show. So we’ve been here rehearsing for three days.
Baltin: So what one Elvis song from that special would you cover?
Elliott: I have no idea what he played. My Elvis is pre-army Elvis, before I was born. The stuff that I like of Elvis is the black and white Elvis if you like, “Jailhouse Rock.” But I am quite partial to “In The Ghetto,” that was a fantastic song. In fairness we were just in Memphis three months ago and we had a day off there so I did the honorable thing and we went to Graceland again, which has totally changed. I went there in ’83. Without Elvis there wouldn’t have been a plethora of other bands that were more of an influence on us. So we all think of him as the daddy of everything — with Jerry Lee [Lewis], Roy Orbison. They’re important, even if we don’t own a ton of their records we’re very aware of their value and it’s just interesting we’re here and there’s a big statue outside the venue and all that kind of stuff. It reminds you we’re a cog in a huge machine and it’s a good thing to be in.
Baltin: You’re part of a long lineage and in a few months you could be in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with them.
Elliott: We weren’t looking for accolades when we got together as kids. We just wanted to be part of everything we grew up listening to. It was like, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could jump on this mad crazy train and have our own carriage?” The station we get on and get off at is kind of irrelevant as long as the ride is fun. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the better part of 40 years. And when you’ve been around this long you do tend to ricochet off different artists of your past and connect with them, whether it be [Pete] Townshend and [Roger] Daltrey last October, when we played with them in Brazil, to knowing Brian May from Queen for 35 years now. And there are a million others in between, It’s not like you feel like you belong, you just feel like you don’t not belong.