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Joe Elliott recalls when Brian May played with Leppard in the 80s

Joe Elliott
Image by Sirius XM

Classic Rock

Joe Elliott recalls when Brian May played with Leppard in the 80s

Def Leppard was formed in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England in 1976 and released their debut album “On Through the Night” in 1980. But it was only on the band’s third record “Pyromania” (1983) that they really made it big, because the record had huge hits like “Photograph”.


In an interview with Sirius XM (Transcribed by Ultimate Classic Rock), the band’s vocalist Joe Elliott recalled when Queen’s guitarist Brian May called and said he would like to play with them on stage one night in Los Angeles during the tour to promote the record.

Joe Elliott recalls when Brian May played with Leppard in the 80s

At the time someone called the band’s management and told them that Brian May would like to go to the show in Los Angeles. “We were like, ‘OK, we’ll sort him out a pass.’ [The messenger] says, ‘No, he wants to come and play with you.’ We’re like, ‘Oh, – oh, wow!’”

“So he brings his gear down and sets it up onstage. And we stood out at the mixing desk watching this iconic guitarist on our stage, start playing the riff to ‘Photograph.’”

Joe Elliott continued:

“And that was like, ‘Wow, OK, I think we’ve kind of arrived!’ We hadn’t made it, but we’d arrived, you know. … When ‘Photograph’ was voted the most popular video on MTV, [it] was a eureka moment.”

“You didn’t get paid the second your video got played on MTV. We didn’t see a penny until that tour was finished. So we were still on a hundred dollars a week. … We were selling out arenas, but we still hadn’t seen any money, so it was just weird,” Joe Elliott said.

Brian May inducted Def Leppard into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Queen was a huge influence to Def Leppard since the early days and curiously, Brian May was the one who inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. In his speech he said: “They made real songs that people can sing”.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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