During a new appearance on the Rockonteurs With Gary Kemp And Guy Pratt podcast, frontman Joe Elliott once again dismissed suggestions that Def Leppard is a heavy metal band. He said (as transcribed by, “I have an issue with the term ‘heavy metal’ because everybody outside of rock always thinks if you’re a heavy metal band, it’s like bad news… You get this impression that everybody’s a moron.

“[AC/DC] were a blues rock band,” he explained. “UFO and Thin Lizzy were not heavy metal. Motörhead, even they had a blues influence to them… Queen were never a heavy metal band, but they had a couple of heavy metal songs, thanks to Brian May. And I think we were pretty much the same way. It was rock — absolutely heavy rock, for sure.”

Elliott continued, “You listen to our first EP [from 1979], there’s a song called Ride Into The Sun, which is a total pop song. But then [Get Your] Rocks Off’ was a, full-on rock song. If we’re heavy metal, then so are The Rolling Stones, ’cause it’s two guitars, bass, drums and a singer.”

“It’s a silly, silly term,” he added. I like ‘rock’. When you start pigeonholing, it gets on my tits, to be quite honest, because can’t we just all be just a rock band or a pop band or be both?”

6 Responses

  1. Joe… Joe… Joe…
    Def Leppard is my favorite band, but you seem conflicted and confused.
    You don’t like the terms “heavy metal” & “hair metal”
    When you broke out you were labeled N.W.O.B.H.M., which fit you guys and Maiden, Saxon, etc.
    Your first 2-3 albums were metal-ish/hard rock. Then you turned “pop rock”, and even dabbled in soft rock and bits of country over the years.
    Priest & Sabbath are heavy metal for sure. Name me the couple heavy metal songs by Queen.
    Everyone has their influences. Leppard’s was glam. The blues had to be the greatest, Zeppelin, Stones, Nugent, Bad Company.
    I’m afraid without Pete Willis & Steamin’ Steve Clark we’ll eventually call you “yacht rock”

  2. I don’t think anyone will confuse Def Leppard as a heavy metal band. Joe doesn’t need to worry about that term being used to classify his band.

    However, despite Joe’s insistence, I think Def Leppard are indeed a NWOBHM band. That doesn’t mean they are a “heavy metal band”, but rather they formed in that era and used self promotion, self financed recordings, and created independent record labels to release/promote their music….all ingredients to classified as NWOBHM.

    And I don’t understand why Joe thinks heavy metal bands are morons. There are plenty of heavy metal bands that have intelligent members that create, IMO, intelligent music. Iron Maiden, Warlord, Angel Witch, Fates Warning, Savatage, etc…

    1. He didn’t say HE thought heavy metal bands are morons; he said many of those that don’t know better think heavy metal bands are morons. Pretty big difference.

  3. I think he is referring to the Queen songs “Sheer Heart Attack” and “Stone Cold Crazy” as borderline Metal songs.
    Also Lizzy did release a Metal-ish album with “Thunder And Lightning” featuring John Sykes.
    I Love the first two Def Leppard records. Pyromania used to be my favorite but I Hate those electric drums and the baby-gang background vocals. It has not aged well

    1. Jeff,

      Pyromania is still my favorite, however it only beats High N’ Dry out by mere inches. As for what you describe as “baby-gang background vocals,” that is what I love about it. It’s a unique feature…

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