Def Leppard was the final band to be presented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony tonight (March 29) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Brian May of Queen did the honors of presenting the Sheffield, England band and appropriately asked, “I would guess from tonight, 65 years after Bill Haley and the Comets’ ‘Rock Around The Clock,’ rock and roll is alive and well, am I right?”
In May’s speech, he explained how Def Leppard came into his life. In 1981, Queen was in the studio, and he went to see Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Def Leppard opened, but he missed them. However, he visited their dressing room, thus, beginning their friendship.
May described hearing “Photograph” for the first time and being blown away by it. He said that when he finally saw Def Leppard live that he, “…never seen anything like it, I have never seen an audience like that. Def Leppard killed that night.” He then recalled joining them on stage and how it almost ended his life.
“The album was Pyromania, and there was pyro everywhere!” said May. He would then describe how he almost got hit by the band’s on-stage pyro, but singer Joe Elliott ended up saving him.
May made a point to recognize Def Leppard’s lengthy career saying, “They endured being very fashionable and very unfashionable. They got attacked for making hit records!” But those hits, May pointed out are why they will be remembered for a long time: “After all of us are gone.”
“These guys are a magnificent rock group,” May simply stated.
When it was time for the band to speak, Elliott spoke movingly about the band’s original guitarist Pete Willis and emphasized his importance to the band in the early days. (Willis was not present at the event). He also remembered the band’s other original guitarist, the late Steve Clark.
“We love him and we miss him every day,” said Elliott. “We’re solid, we’re appreciative of who we are and what we stand for.”
Elliott added, laughing, “If alcoholism, car crashes and cancer couldn’t kill us, the ’90s had no f—ing chance!” He also thanked drummer Rick Allen, who got a standing ovation and visibly teared up. He thanked the rest of the band and said, “We’re not brothers, but we’re the closest thing to blood that this only child has ever known.”
No one else from the band spoke; instead, they grabbed their instruments to perform a mini-set of “Hysteria,” “Rock Of Ages,” “Photograph” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” After that, they were joined by May, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent of The Zombies, Susanna Hoffs, Steven Van Zandt and Ian Hunter for “All The Young Dudes.”
An edited version of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air on HBO on Saturday, April 27 at 8 PM ET.