Throughout 2013, we’re celebrating classic albums that are reaching their 50th, 40th and 30th anniversaries. Over the weekend, Def Leppard’s classic Pyromania turned 30. Here, we take a look at the album and its story. 

The Story: Pyromania was the follow-up to 1981’s High ‘n’ Dry, which yielded a big hit with “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak.”  For Pyromania, stuck with producer Robert “Mutt” Lange (who had produced AC/DC’s Back In Black, another hard rock album that transcended the genre to become a mainstream hit). The album also saw a lineup change: Guitarist Pete Willis was fired during the making of the album, and replaced by Phil Collen. Pyromania sold over ten million copies in America and yielded a number of classic videos that MTV played in high rotation (opening the doors for other hard rock/pop crossovers in subsequent years, including Bon Jovi and Poison). And, it could be argued, Pyromania introduced the mainstream to the band’s signature “gang vocals.” Singer Joe Elliott told that on “Rock Of Ages,” there were 280 voices singing the chorus, giving it a huge sound.

The Hits: “Photograph,” “Rock Of Ages,” “Foolin’,” “Too Late For Love” 

The Other Tracks: “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop),” “Die Hard The Hunter,” “Billy’s Got A Gun”   

The Players: Singer Joe Elliott, guitarist Steve Clark, bassist Rick Savage, drummer Rick Allen, original guitarist Pete Willis and his replacement Phil Collen 

What Happened Next: Success didn’t make life easier for the band: In 1984, drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash and had to re-learn drumming on an electronic kit. Less dramatically, “Mutt” Lange bowed out from working with the band on their next album.  However, Hysteria went on to get a diamond certification (for sales in excess of ten million) just as Pyromania did, making Def Leppard one of the most commercially successful acts of the ’80s. 

Fun Fact: The album’s “Rock Of Ages” inspired the musical which celebrated big radio hits of the ’80s, and was later adapted into a film starring Tom Cruise. MORE: Def Leppard On Tom Cruise In “Rock Of Ages”: “Wow!”

— Brian Ives, 


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