Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott – Does Rock’n’Roll Kill Braincells?

Every week in the mag we test the memory of rock and pop stars to see how the lifestyle has taken its toll.

Which David Bowie song covered by your Bowie covers band Cybernaughts was previously covered by Nirvana?
“‘The Man Who Sold The World’. Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged In New York’ was 1993, he died in 1994, the Cybernaughts sessions were 1997. I didn’t take much from Kurt’s version because, God bless him, he’s not very good at lead guitar – he misses a few notes. Phil [Collen, Def Leppard guitarist] was never going to let that happen.”

Where – exactly – was your first Def Leppard gig?
“Westfield School in 1978.”
Correct. Dining hall Block A, Westfield School, Mosborough, Sheffield


Why did your 1981 Top Of The Pops performance of ‘Hello America’ fail to broadcast?
“It was the day the first space shuttle launched (Columbia, on April 12, 1981 – Space Ed) so Top Of The Pops was cut to 20 minutes.”

Who kept Def Leppard’s third album ‘Pyromania’ off the US Number One slot?
“Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. We were Number Two for four and a half months and we were like, ‘Can’t you just leave for one week?’ The one week he did leave, ‘Flashdance’ went to Number One, he went down to Number Three and we stayed at Number Two.”


Which solo album by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood did you work on?
“’Slide On This’. We were just finishing the ‘Adrenalize’ album. I played him a rough mix of ‘Let’s Get Rocked’. I sang on a duet called ‘Always Wanted More’, and sang backing vocals on ‘Show Me’ and ‘Josephine’. I played bass on ‘Show Me’. They didn’t keep it, but I can tell my grandkids I played bass with Charlie Watts on drums and Ronnie Wood on guitar. Amazing.”

What was the name of the heavy metal band created by Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall in whose mockumentary you featured?
“Bad News. We crossed path with those guys a lot – we were on the French And Saunders show a few times (Adrian Edmondson is married to Jennifer Saunders – Comedy Ed). They were backstage at one of our gigs and went, ‘Do you want to be in this thing?’”


Which Def Leppard single debuted in Guitar Hero III?
“‘Nine Lives’. Record companies are looking for angles these days because there’s no industry left. Nobody’s going to play a new Def Leppard song on the radio because we don’t fit the format. I can’t see Chris Moyles playing anything much more than ‘Animal’, and Chris Evans isn’t going to play our new single, so games were deemed the next best thing. The Guitar Hero people said, ‘We’d love a new song,’ so they put it up and off if went.”

What faux pas did you make after playing at the opening night of the 2008-2009 NHL hockey season in Detroit?
“I put the Stanley Cup upside down on its plinth. I got death threats after that – these hockey fans are really weird. I tried to explain, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know much about hockey. It’s played by girls in England’, which probably didn’t go down too well.”

Which band sang, in 1997, “The Drummer from Def Leppard’s only got one arm?”
“Is it a rap song?”
Wrong. ‘Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ On Me?’ by the Bloodhound Gang

Def Leppard are one of only five bands who’ve had two albums sell more than 10 million in the US. Can you name the other four?
“Van Halen. The Beatles. Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin.”

Total Score: 9/10

“Do I win a prize? I get my picture on the back page of NME? That’ll do!”

The Brain Cells Hall Of Shame – who’s scored what in the quiz so far:

1. Tommy Lee, Motley Crue (2)
2. John Lydon (2.5)
3. Skream, Magnetic Man (3)
4. Tricky (3.5)
5. Jenny Lee Lindberg, Warpaint (4)
6. Jim Goodwin, Doves (4)
7. Aled Jones (4)
8. Tim Burgess, The Charlatans (4)
9. Theo Hutchcraft, Hurts (4)
10. Iggy Pop (4)
11. Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue (4.5)
12. Mick Jones
13. Meat Loaf (5)
14. Ray Davies (5)
15. Miles Kane (5)
16. Frank Turner (5)
17. Stuart Braithwaite, Mogwai (5.5)
18. The Coral (5.5)
19. Adam Ant (6)
20. Mani (6)
21. John Lydon (6)
22. Scott Weiland, Stone Temple Pilots (6)
23. Gene Simmons, Kiss (6)
24. Mike Shinoda, Linkin Park (6)
25. Murph, the Wombats (6)
26. Gary Numan (6)
27. Raekwon, Wu Tang Clan (6)
28. Tjinder Singh, Cornershop (6)
29. David Johansen, New York Dolls (6)
30. J Mascis, Dinosaur Jr (6)
31. Cole Alexander
32. Carl Barat (6.5)
33. Kelly Jones, Stereophonics (6.5)
34. Eugene Kelly, The Vaselines (6.5)
35. Tom DeLonge, Blink 182 (6.5)
36. Goldie (7)
37. Debbie Harry (7)
38. Billy Bragg (7)
39. Liam Fray, The Courteeners (7)
40. Damon Gough, badly drawn boy (7)
41. Rolf Harris (7)
42. Vince Neil, motley Crue (7)
43. Tim Wheeler (7)
44. Johnny Marr (7)
45. Dave Navarro (7)
46. Ray Manzarek, The Doors (7.5)
47. Jon Spencer (7.5)
48. Gerry Casale, Devo (7.5)
49. Michael Evis (8)
50. Orbital (8)
51. Serge Pizzorno, Kasabian (8)
52. Kyle Falconer, The View (8)
53. Stuart Murdoch, Belle & Sebastian (9)
54. Brett Anderson, Suede (9)
55. Alice Cooper (9)
56. Alex James (9)
57. Joe Elliott (9)


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