Even though some remember the 1980s for the hair bands, the decade also brought some great music that people still love singing along to now.
Plenty of those familiar favorites will be part of the Friday show featuring Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.
"It's just getting more and more difficult to get new music to people but, on the other hand, people do want to be entertained," Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell recently said via phone.
"We still make new records and slip one or two new songs into our sets. People want to hear the songs," he said, referring to Def Leppard's catalog of countless hits such as "Rock of Ages," "Foolin' " and "C'mon C'mon."
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You might expect a member of Def Leppard – a rock band that topped the charts back in the 1980s – to have a hard time saying goodbye to the old methods of selling music.
But not Vivian Campbell, 46-year-old guitarist for the English band whose hits include high-decibel favorites such as "Photograph," "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Love Bites."
Campbell is welcoming the brave new world of digital downloads and format freedom with open arms.
"My personal feeling … is that the album is dead," said Campbell, whose band plays Saturday at Virginia Beach Amphitheater. "As a physical format, it's dead, but also as a concept of a group of songs. I really kind of see it as being an archaic format. I really believe we're back to a point where it's all about the song."
Despite an enviable string of chart-topping albums, Def Leppard once was the unluckiest band in rock 'n' roll.
Drummer Rick Allen suffered a near-fatal car crash in 1984, resulting in the loss of his left arm. Determined to continue performing with Def Leppard, he spent the next two years learning to drum with one limb.
Meanwhile, guitarist Steve Clark struggled with alcoholism throughout the decade. His condition had considerably worsened by 1990, prompting his band mates to grant him a six-month absence from the group. While on leave in January 1991, he ingested a fatal mix of alcohol and prescription pills.
Def Leppard was halfway through the recording of "Adrenalize," the band's fifth album, when Mr. Clark died.
You're in Def Leppard. Your band has written some of the most popular rock songs of all time–tunes like "Photograph," "Rock of Ages," "Foolin'" and "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," to name just a few.
Your album sales–including "Hysteria" and "Pyromania"–are among the best-selling rock albums of all time, with more than 65 million copies sold.
And then the market changes. Grunge and then hip-hop start to dominate the charts, and the rise of file-sharing means that it's all the more difficult for any artist, in any genre, to sell in the numbers of previous eras.
What do you do? If you're in Def Leppard, you respect the music and keep on rockin'.
Def Leppard and Poison provided some good Internet entertainment in the summer of 2008 with an old-school war of words that began with Elliott's blunt comments at a Swedish rock festival.
After that, the last thing we expected was Def Leppard and Poison as traveling buddies, with Cheap Trick, just a year later.
"Yeah, I was actually sitting next to [Joe] at that press conference in Sweden," says Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, "just talking about substance of bands, and where bands come from, and I think he mentioned we come from a songwriting/producing thing and that Poison was based on an image thing, as was Motley Crue and a lot of other things. It wasn't insulting by any shot, but obviously someone twisted it around. But, it's all fine. Everyone loves each other now and kissing each other, and away we go."
The pop-metal tour of the summer hits the Post-Gazette Pavilion Friday, with Def Leppard, part of the late '70s New Wave of British Metal; Poison, late '80s glam metal; and Cheap Trick, a quirky late '70s power-pop band.
Def Leppard's music is a steady-enough presence on the radio that the band members never have been too far removed from hearing the songs the way they recorded them.
Old live performances, though, are a different story. A recently released expanded deluxe edition of the band's 1983 album "Pyromania," for example, includes a bonus disc of music from a show that year at the Forum in Los Angeles.
"We played 'Photograph' probably twice as fast as we play it now," guitarist Phil Collen says by phone from outside a Starbucks in Cleveland. "It was all excitement, piss-and-vinegar. It was our first headline tour."
You don't need to be bonked in the head by a massive piece of Broadway scenery to figure out that something is going on.
As AC/DC's surprise double-platinum No. 1 "Black Ice" album and the success of the Broadway musical (and future motion picture) " Rock of Ages" would suggest, '80s hard rockers of all sorts are once again at the peak of pop culture.
And Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott says he knows why.
"I think the '90s let everybody down," says Elliott, calling from Philadelphia, where the band's summer tour, which stops at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater Wednesday, launched. "The '90s generation can look back with complete disdain that the only band that's still around is Pearl Jam.
In December 1977, Def Leppard played its first gig. Six friends gathered to hear covers of David Bowie and Thin Lizzy tunes, as well as the band's first original song, "Misty Dreamer."
Fast forward to June 2009, and Def Leppard is still performing, but now the band plays its own hits in front of thousands of fans at each stop.
Even with the ever-changing music scene, the band's popularity has not waned. And they don't fit the traditional "hair band" mold, having hung on through the '80s and '90s while many of the era disappeared.
The band's songs have spanned the radio dial over the years, prompting millions to sing along to such as hits as "Rock of Ages" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me."
When you're in Def Leppard and you've been playing festival concerts for 30 years, you notice some changes.
"I played the Reading Festival in England with my old band, Girl, in 1980," Def Lep guitarist Phil Collen said by phone during a break from rehearsal in Nashville, Tenn. "Back then, everyone had these Party Seven cans of beer in the crowd, and people would empty them out and fill them with (pee), then throw them at the stage no matter who was up there. It was horrible, really."
Def Leppard can expect a far more courteous welcome Tuesday at the Comcast Center, where the British band performs with current tour mates Poison and Cheap Trick.
In his cheerfully erudite London accent, Collen, 52, noted that life on the road today is not quite so rowdy for those veteran rockers who survived the '80s and '90s.
Earlier this month, Def Leppard found itself in one of the most unlikely settings one could have ever considered for a group that came out of England in the late 1970s with a sound influenced by early '70s glammy rockers like T. Rex, David Essex and Thin Lizzy.
The band was at the CMT Music Awards performing alongside the likes of country stars Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland. The group was there because of its CMT Crossroads special with country sensation Taylor Swift, an event that earned Def Leppard and Swift nominations for two awards. Their performance of the Def Leppard song "Photograph" was nominated for CMT Performance Of The Year and for Wide Open Country Video Of The Year.
To say the least, Def Leppard was caught off guard by its nominations, according to guitarist Phil Collen.
"I think it's outrageous. I actually thought they had made a mistake," he said in interview about a week before the awards. "It's a really lovely, lovely surprise, actually."
If you're in your thirties and watched as much music television as the next kid in the '80s, it shouldn't take long to settle into a time when music was fun and Def Leppard set the standard for cool.
Who cared how creepy it was that in the band's music video "Foolin,' " lead singer Joe Elliott was strapped to a neon triangle atop skyscrapers crowned with skulls? And who honestly knew what the band was getting at with the lyrics from "Pour Some Sugar On Me"?
What mattered was it was different, a new approach to the art of rock that would help steer the direction of music for years to come.
After collaborating with country stars, Def Leppard brings its hard-rocking repertoire to Blossom Music Center for June 25 concertSaturday, June 20th, 2009
Think Def Leppard and y'all think country music, right?
OK, not so much. Yet it didn't stop the arena-rocking British group from collaborating recently with the likes of Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift.
McGraw sang on "Nine Lives," the first single off Def Leppard latest album, 2008's "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge." And Swift hooked up with the band for a "CMT Crossroads" special last year (out now on DVD), yielding fresh takes on "Photograph" and other Def Leppard hits.
So how much have these chaps been influenced by country?
"In all honesty, not very much, but it doesn't mean we don't appreciate the good side of any kind of music," lead singer Joe Elliott said, reached by phone at home in Dublin.
Local Def Leppard fans were crestfallen when lead singer Joe Elliot's illness caused the rockers to cancel their April 18 show in Van Andel Arena. Guitarist Vivian Campbell was among those who were disappointed.
"Joe got a sniffle," he quipped in a phone interview from Nashville, Tenn., as he dressed for the band's show there. "Bloody singers."
Seriously, though, Campbell said the British band doesn't pull this kind of seemingly capricious, rock-star behavior.
"We've had to reschedule a few shows for the weather and things, but we've never had anything like this happen."
This is an old article from April 2008.
Def Leppard may be writing a new formula for rock bands trying to reach an elusive fan base.
Unlike in decades past, when all a successful band had to do was release an album and watch it grow, it takes more than a catchy single to sell CDs these days. You need an aggressive marketing strategy, said Vivian Campbell, the band's guitar player for the past 16 years.
"The audience is fractured. It's very difficult to market your record," he said Wednesday in a phone interview. "Bands are always trying to find new ways to reach their audience and to grow their audience. It's one thing to reach your core audience, but you always want to be moving forward and trying to reach new people."
This is an old article from April 2008.
On Tuesday night, just under 10,000 fans will storm through the Idaho Center doors for a concert headlined by a hair band that hasn't put out a song anyone remembers since 1992.
Def Leppard – accompanied by county fair staples Styx and REO Speedwagon – is going to sell out. There are, like, 200 tickets left.
So why the hysteria surrounding a middle-aged British pop-metal act rocking Nampa?
It's a shocking, if not fascinating, question.