Def Leppard's Joe Elliott Defends Taylor Swift's CMTs Performance

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Joe Elliott is slightly confused by some fans' reaction to Def Leppard's performance of "Pour Some Sugar On Me" with country-music sensation Taylor Swift during Tuesday night's 2009 CMT Music Awards. While the performance was well received by the Nashville audience, post-show some critics described Swift's delivery of the song's first line as "breathless."

"What a lot of people don't know, because they're not supposed to, is, she was up for five awards; two of them with us, and three on her own," Def Leppard's frontman says. "She won three of them, and about a minute before we started that song, she had just picked up an award. So, after she accepted the award, she had to run down the stairs, run back to her dressing room, and change her clothes."

(Check out photos of Swift, Def Leppard, Kid Rock and more onstage and backstage at the CMTs.)

As Swift was sprinting back towards the stage, Elliott says the director started counting down to the band's live performance. "Literally, she's running up the ramp, trying to put her in-ear monitoring in and clip the pack to the back of her skirt, so she can try to sing this thing," says Elliott. "She was really a busy girl that evening. All we had to do was watch, and then wander out and get ready to perform this song. People said she was a bit breathless on the first line, and that's why she was."

Elliott says since the awards, the CMT camp has informed him that Def Lep's Taylor Swift collaboration was the "most-watched part of the entire evening," and he applauded Swift for delivering a fist-pumping performance.

"We brought the house down in the building," he says. "The reaction was unbelievable. She's such a bundle of energy, and she's so easy to work. She's been a fan since she was in the womb. Her parents are responsible for her Def Leppardness. They were big Leppard fans, so obviously, she's heard the records growing up, and rather than resent her parents' music, she's embraced it."

Tuesday was a big day for Def Leppard, as the band's CMT Crossroads: Taylor Swift And Def Leppard DVD landed in stores that morning. Elliott told Rolling Stone that it was Swift's idea to do the episode with a band she's loved since she could crawl.

"When she made it plain, via some interview on an Internet site, that she wanted to work with us on 'Crossroads,' we made it plain we were available and ready to do it," he says. "We've never really had a problem, doing the cross-genre thing, if you like... dipping our toe into some other stuff. We haven't done it so much very often in public, but we'd worked in the past with a band called Hothouse Flowers, who are more of a traditional Irish band, if you like. Its fun to do, and it takes you off the beaten track. So working with people, whether it be Taylor or the Flowers, it just gets you out of your homogenized bubble, and expands your brain, expands your musical horizons, and it makes you appreciate what you do when you come back to the day job, if you like."

Elliott and Def Leppard launch a summer tour with Poison and Cheap Trick Tuesday in Camden, New Jersey.

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