Def Leppard's Joe Elliott: My Life in 15 Songs

U.K. hitmakers' singer on "Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Photograph" and other glammy gems

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"Bringin' on the Heartbreak" (1981)

We treat every song the same — we couldn't distinguish the ugly from the beautiful. But Mutt [producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange] being more of a passive observer, if you like, he was the one who realized if we had a shot at radio it was with this song. So when we were recording the album [High 'n' Dry], it was the one that got the most attention. I'd say for every hour we spent working on another song, we spent three or four on this one. And Mutt put me through the fucking mill singing the thing, because he wanted me to be accepted in the same league as a Paul Rodgers or a Lou Gramm or whoever. Meanwhile, I was just a young kid who was happy enough to be Ian Hunter!

The funny thing is, Mutt kept saying to us, "This is the one." And as it happens, it wasn't the one! Not at radio, at least. But we had the foresight to shoot a kind of a video for it, which was just a live performance. And the fledging MTV, having nothing to play, liked the idea of this young U.K. rock band, so they picked it up. So six months, maybe a year after High 'n' Dry came out, we were making Pyromania and we started getting these telexes from the States saying, "Your album is selling 6,000, 7,000, 8,000 copies a week." Then it was 10, 15, 20,000 copies a week. It was heading toward platinum by the time we had Pyromania in the bag. Because of MTV, by 1982 the whole country was playing "Heartbreak."

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