Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott wants to set the record straight about his Brit band's hedonistic mythology. All those tales about wanton groupies under the stage and nonstop nookie on the road are greatly exaggerated by a randy media.
"Look," says the 50-year-old singer, with great comic pause: "I never slept with more than 300 or 400 hookers."
Ah yes, it's safe to say that Elliott — whose band joins Poison and Cheap Trick on a killer triple-bill today at Ford Amphitheatre — is now a personal hero to our Stuck in the '80s boys.
During a recent chat with their fave rocker, Sean Daly and Steve Spears were drop-jawed as Elliott talked about the power of Pyromania producer Mutt Lange and the awkwardness of duetting with teen star Taylor Swift on Pour Some Sugar on Me. "I didn't want to come across as some sort of perv!" Elliott says.
Here are some other choice bits from the chat. To hear the whole Elliott interview, go to blogs.tampabay.com/80s.
Entertainment Weekly just called your tour one of the best of the summer. Still a god after 20 years!
Yes, impressive! These last five years, we've done our best to make this an eventful tour. We've gone the extra mile to get acts on the bill with us and turn it into an evening that's hard to forget.
We're especially stoked about Cheap Trick joining you. Robin Zander lives in Safety Harbor, so he's our boy.
He's been singing his a-- off on this tour. It's a joy every night to hear him. … If you took Lennon and McCartney and dropped them into a boiling vat of oil, you'd pull Robin Zander out. I think he's a bit of both.
You recently reissued 1983's Pyromania album with all sorts of bonus cuts and live stuff. How influential was that album's producer, Mutt Lange, on your career?
We were fans of his before we worked with him. We were like just young kids, like rock 'n' roll students, so we were more willing to listen to him than seasoned musicians would be. He'd had the success [AC/DC's Back in Black for starters] that we hadn't had. By the time we got to working with him in '83, he said, "Look, we can go out and make another High 'N' Dry or we can try to make a record that nobody else has ever made before." … It just sounded like an adventure to me, like doing Sgt. Pepper or something.
Okay, we have to rib you about something. People are still talking about the heat generated between you and Taylor Swift singing on CMT's Crossroads. Joe, Joe, Joe, what is she, 15 years old?!?
She's 18 or 19 now! And I was only 49 at the time! We did discuss this in rehearsals. I told her, "Look, this is going to be a little weird on certain songs, especially on things like 'I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet' when we're doing Pour Some Sugar on Me. I'm not going to make eye contact!"
Despite the warning, she was going crazy, writhing around in that minidress. That's quite a performance.
She's such a sweetheart. We were actually very protective of her. We became like Super Dad. She'd been such a big fan, like all her life. The opportunity to work with her was just too good to pass up.