The First Time: Joe Elliott – Rolling Stone
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The First Time: Joe Elliott

Def Leppard frontman remembers meeting Bowie, convincing John Peel to play his band on the radio

Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott was sick of drawing fruit, flowers and vases in art class when he asked his teacher if he could draw posters for rock shows instead. He got the ok and began creating posters for his favorite groups — the Beatles, the Stones and Thin Lizzy — but soon started making up new band names as well.

“Def Leppard was one of them,” he recalls in the latest installment of Rolling Stone‘s “The First Time.” “It just sounded good — it was spelled correctly when I did it. It was only changed to the misspelling that we use these days after the band formed.”

In the video, Elliott also remembers miming Elvis Presley’s “Wonder of You” in a school play, the origins of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and how Mariah Carey came to cover “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak.” He also recalls jumping on stage to urge John Peel to play a song off Def Leppard’s debut EP while the legendary BBC host was in the middle of a live DJ session. Peel demurred at the time because he hadn’t actually heard the record, but a few days later Elliott got a call from Peel who said he was going to give “Ride Into the Sun” its radio debut.

Throughout the video, Elliott also discusses his life-long love of David Bowie and the happenstance connections to the musician that kept popping up throughout Def Leppard’s career. The band recorded their debut EP at a studio in Hull, England that had been frequented by Mick Ronson, one of Elliott’s guitar heroes and a member of Bowie’s Spiders From Mars. Years later, Def Leppard’s first show in the U.S. was at the Santa Monica Civic Center — a legendary space in Elliott’s mind thanks to a well-worn live Bowie bootleg recorded at the same venue. Finally, Elliott got the chance to meet Bowie at, of all places, Bono’s house in Dublin, Ireland.

“Bono said to me, ‘Come with me, I want to introduce you to someone,'” Elliott said. “He took me upstairs to his snooker room and there was Bowie sat on the snooker table. Thanks for the warning, Bono.”

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