PMRC's 'Filthy 15': Where Are They Now?

Three decades after W.A.S.P., Vanity, Judas Priest, Prince, Madonna and others shocked Tipper Gore and her committee, Rolling Stone takes a critical look at 1985's worst of the worst

Load Previous
Def Leppard,
15
Def Leppard, circa mid-Eighties. Mark "Weissguy" Weiss8/15

Def Leppard, "High 'n' Dry (Saturday Night)"

Proposed PMRC Rating: Drugs and alcohol

Explicit Lyrics: "Saturday, I feel right/I've been drinking all day ... /I got my whiskey/I got my wine/I got my woman/And this time, the lights are going out"

Def Leppard Then: After emerging from the fabled New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene with a hard-edged sound in the late Seventies, Def Leppard refocused their sound for a little more commercial appeal and scored their first hit album in the States with 1981's High 'n' Dry. The record contained two hits that still get classic-rock airplay, "Let It Go" and the unstoppable "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," but it was the AC/DC-like drinking ode "High 'n' Dry (Saturday Night)" that earned them notoriety on the Filthy 15. By the time the PMRC had homed in on the song, though, Def Leppard were megastars, having recently seen High 'n' Dry's 1983 follow-up, Pyromania, certified six-times platinum.

What They Said Then: "[Party songs were] part of the entertainment," frontman Joe Elliott once said. "The kids like us to do that. We like to do it as well, but we don't write about it all the time. And a lot of people seem to think that's it, that we don't have opinions on anything else."

After the PMRC: The group went on to even more success. Their 1987 album, Hysteria, was certified 12 times platinum, and — after guitarist Steve Clark died of an alcohol and drug overdose in 1991 — their 1992 offering, Adrenalize, even withstood grunge's displacement of metal on radio, selling more than three million copies. In late October of this year, Def Leppard will release their 11th album, Def Leppard, for which they're already touring. The group still continues to perform "High 'n' Dry" in concert.

What They Say Now: "Dee Snider basically stood up for our rights as artists," Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen said in 2012. "He is an extremely intelligent and cool guy. This obviously upset those people with closed minds who in their ignorance expected him to turn up in his stage attire expecting him not to be able to tell the difference between entertainment and real life. His inclusion in this period of our history is momentous and really means a lot to all of us as artists."

Back to Top