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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"White Lightning" (1992)

It's about Steve [Clark, who passed away in 1991 from an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs], but not in the same as, say, "Hurricane" by Dylan, which literally walks you through a guy's life. Ours is a lot more shadowy. We wanted it to be about Steve, but we also wanted anybody who was listening to it and had been in a similar situation to be able to relate to it. So we never mention him by name. But the situations he found himself in, and the situations he put us in, are all kind of referenced, without getting overly specific.

As for the title, I've seen it written down since then that Steve's nickname was "White Lightning." The truth is, I can't remember! I can't answer that with any accuracy. It's quite possible. To be honest, it's just become a blur. It's 25 years gone since Steve died. Twenty-seven years since I shared a stage with him. That's more than most people's lifetimes as musicians. And it's all gone. But the name "White Lightning" could have something to do with the fact that he used to zoom across the stage wearing these white outfits. Or is it just one of these biblical stories — like, you know, did 5,000 people really get fed from one piece of fish?

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