Def Leppard are firing on all cylinders at present, with the recent launch of their new album Drastic Symphonies while also being on a massive tour together with Motley Crüe. To make it even more of an epic effort, they have released their first official biography as a luxury hardcover book.
To say I enjoyed this book would be a huge understatement. Holding this piece of work feels like a privilege and being part of history being written as we speak.
Whether you are a fan of Def Leppard or not, if you like your rock music, this book should be a mandatory addition to your home library. This is a unique, in-depth biography of one of the most iconic rock bands of all times. Even just the collection of photos, paper cuttings and various scrapbook items from their private collection are enough to make acquiring the book worthwhile. Some of the artefacts will make you laugh, others will warm your heart, all being pieces of one giant puzzle giving you an insight into the phenomenon called Def Leppard.
The book is structured chronologically, following the order Def Leppard’s albums were released in. Most of the interviews narrating the stories were taken specifically for this project, and are an immense pleasure to read. Those who listen to Joe Elliott’s show on Planet Rock will easily be able to ‘hear’ his voice in this book, with his colourful language and expressions, and his wicked sense of subtle humour.
You will not find any dirt on anyone here, or any saucy intimate stories. This is a book about the history of the band as a musical item, the experiences they all shared together as a family, being there for each other through all their ups and downs. The sections dedicated to traumatic episodes from Def Leppard’s history (Rick Allen losing his arm, Steve Clark’s death, Vivian Campbell’s cancer, Phil Collen’s hand injury, Steve’s and Phil’s alcohol addiction, to name a few) will wrench your heart. There is so much love and care for each other here, and so much love for what they do together. It is also warming to see that the success and fame have not gotten to their heads, and they are immensely grateful for what they have achieved: ‘We all really do love our work. We genuinely feel humble about what we do and there is a very deep sense of gratitude amongst the members of the band. We don’t take any of it for granted.’ (Viv Campbell)
This is how the book has been put together: the guys sharing their stories and experiences showing them in a different light to being rock gods. They will lead you through their early years as boys, through their youth up to being grown ups going through life with a lot of insecurities, worries and facing numerous crises. In the words of Phil Collen: ‘A lot of bands don’t have what we have. We’ve spent so much time together over the years and we know each other intimately well. We’ve been around each other’s pain and suffering, as well as the wonderful stuff like the kids and marriage. So, we can relate to each other on so many levels. And then when we make music together it’s amazing. I’m sure we all feel very grateful for what we have as a band. I know I do.’
With incredible energy and optimism, Def Leppard keep going and challenging themselves to be better and greater – always. ‘Be it song-writing, recording of the live show’, elaborates Viv Campbell, ‘the attention to detail is almost mind-numbing. But that kind of resilience and drive are a big reason why the band has endured.’
Dotted throughout the book, there are special mentions of various musicians and rock friends Def Leppard have had encounters with through the years. A notable presence has been given to Brian May who is also the author of the foreword. All stories about working with other bands ooze warmth, love and mutual respect – which is what rock is all about, instead of working against each other in competition. Queen, Ronnie James Dio, Kiss, Taylor Swift, and many more have been given special mentionings in this history.
You can’t help but literally fall in love with these guys… over and over again. With the hundreds, if not thousands, of photos collected throughout the years, you will enjoy so much awesomeness and handsomeness in one place that it is a bit of an overload – in the best possible sense.
The great news is that, despite their long history, they are nowhere near over yet. The book ends on this high note, assuring us the best is yet to come. As put by Phil Collen, ‘There’s no plan B. We haven’t achieved what we set out to do yet. We’ve got this wealth of music to share with everyone. When a painter creates art, whether they’re Picasso or someone completely unknown, they want people to see it. There’s an ego involved. And that’s the thing… people haven’t seen all our paintings yet.’