News of Def Leppard’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on Thursday (Dec. 13) found Joe Elliott drinking a specially made smoothie the day before a concert in the group’s home town of Sheffield, England. “We’ll save the champagne ’til March,” he told Billboard.
But rest assured that Elliott and his bandmates were happy to get the word.
“We didn’t get too excited about it before because we weren’t in; Being nominated is all well and good, but we weren’t inducted,” Elliott explains. “Now that we know we will be we can go, ‘Oh! Alright! We are in a very elitist club right now, aren’t we, with the Stones and the Beatles and the Who and Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen all that stuff.’
“We got the news in Glasgow on the way to last night’s show in Manchester, so when we all got on the bus there was a lot of, ‘Hey, hall of famer, how you doing?’ and we were high-fiving and hugging and stuff like that — the best you can at 10 o’clock in the morning, when you’ve just woke up. It wasn’t like a movie situation where there was champagne and balloons and stuff. We took it in our stride because it’s mid-tour and we’re a working band and it was just another bit of information coming towards us that day, one of many things we were dealing with.
“But it was like, ‘Yeah! We’re in! Great! The very thing we’ve spent 10 years saying we don’t care about, we care now…'”
Elliott was also quick to give all credit to Def Leppard’s fans, who drove the group to the top of this year’s fan vote with 547,600 — 120,000 more than second-place Stevie Nicks. Elliott said that throughout the process fans sent Def Leppard photos of the digital standings at the Rock Hall museum in Cleveland, while some previous inductees who are friends sent him selfies of their ballots with Def Leppard’s box checked off.
“The important thing is this really has been swung by our fans more than anybody else,” Elliott said, “not some committee of people we don’t know that decide whether we’re valid or not. The fans pretty much told them that we are, and God bless them for that. We have always been one of the odd ones out because we’ve been portrayed for the last however many decades as, ‘Yeah, they sell a lot of records,’ but we’re not cool. This says otherwise, doesn’t it.”
Elliott says the group’s Rock Hall agenda — reaching out to original guitarist Pete Willis, choosing an inductor, inviting guests — won’t be a focus until after its current British tour wraps up on Dec. 19. The group will be touring Europe and Canada and playing a Las Vegas residency during 2019, but the March 29 induction in Brooklyn will come before all that and essentially kick off Def Leppard’s year.
“It’s a very eclectic mix,” Elliott said of the inductee class, which includes fellow Brits the Zombies, Radiohead and the Cure along with American singers Stevie Nicks (already inducted as part of Fleetwood Mac) and Janet Jackson. “I’m thrilled for the Zombies; I think we’ll really jell with them on the night. It’s going to be an interesting dynamic…the Cure and Radiohead, I don’t know those people. I don’t know how it’s going to be. They’re two bands that we have absolutely nothing in common with, but I’m hoping that they would be as open to a handshake and a congratulatory clinking of glasses as we would be.”
Meanwhile, Elliott said that 2018 inductee Jon Bon Jovi promised it will be a great experience for Def Leppard. “He said, ‘You’re gonna f***in’ love it!’ I said, ‘Really? Why?’ he said, ‘It’s great. It’s really nice. It’ll all come to you when you’re standing there. It’ll all make sense.’ Well, OK…I’ll have that to look forward to.”