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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"Pour Some Sugar on Me" (1987)

It was the last thing we did for Hysteria. And nobody wanted to do it because we felt we were done — we had been working on the thing for two years at that point. But we were in the studio, and everyone else had left for the weekend. Mutt and I were doing vocals for a different song on the album, and he went to take a pee break or whatever. So I picked up an acoustic and started playing the chorus. He walked in behind me and was staring at me. He said, "What the hell is that?" I honestly think to this day he probably thought I was playing some old Kinks song or something. I played it again and he said, "All right, new reel of tape!" And I told him, "The guys are going to fucking go mental because they thought we were finished." We worked on it for 12, 15 hours a day for two days. And when everybody came back we said, "You guys ... we've kind of got another song." And we saw the eyes start rolling. But by the time we were a minute and a half into it, they were all grinning, going, "Fuck, yeah!"

The interesting thing is, early on we tested it at rock radio, and it flopped magnificently. But then some guy requested it at a strip bar in Florida, and from there, it went to other strip bars, and then it spread like the walking dead all the way across America. It went from the strip bars to radio to MTV — boom! And we sold something like 4 million albums in three months. We always knew it was a good song, but to us it was no more and no less than any of the other songs on the record. Eventually, though, it did become the most important song on the album.

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