Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott cites boredom in art class as the origin of the iconic band’s name. As he tells the Rolling Stone for “The First Time”, the would-be rock god was sick of drawing fruit, flowers and vases, so asked his teacher if he could instead draw posters for rock shows. We’re all grateful that the teacher said yes.
Watch: Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott chats to Rolling Stone
Retelling the story, Elliot recalls creating posters for his favourite groups, from the Beatles to Thin Lizzy. It soon led to him making up his own new band names. “Def Leppard was one of them,” he says. “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 interview, Elliott also remembers miming Elvis Presley’s “Wonder of You” in a school play, traces the origins of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, and tells the story of how one Mariah Carey ended up covering “Bringing’ 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 refused at the time because he hadn’t actually heard the record, but just a few days later it must have inspired him to give “Ride Into the Sun” its radio debut.
Notably, Elliott also discusses his life-long love of David Bowie and recalls the tangential connections to the late artist that would occasionally pop up throughout Def Leppard’s career.
This includes finally getting to meet Bowie at Bono’s house in Dublin. “Bono said to me, ‘Come with me, I want to introduce you to someone,’” Elliott says. “He took me upstairs to his snooker room and there was Bowie, [seated] on the snooker label. Thanks for the warning, Bono.”