Phil Collen Says Def Leppard’s Britishness Helped Break America
When “Photograph” – the lead single from their 1983 album Pyromania – hit No. 1 for six weeks on Billboard's rock chart, it marked the first time a heavy rock band from the U.K. had made such an impact in the States since Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple in the previous decade.
“It was a rock hybrid,” Collen told MusicRadar of “Photograph” in a recent interview. “It was so melodic but the backing vocals and the vibe of it was still a rock band. It was still a British rock band. ... There is a difference – I remember hearing, like, Journey, Styx, REO [Speedwagon], and their vocals are wonderful, but they were very sweet and sounded very American. … There’s another part to British music and it’s the Sex Pistols, and it's like that 'No future!' It’s just got this kind of vibe that that we still had [as] part of our vibe, if you like, even going into America.”
He added that producer Mutt Lange displayed his “genius” by being able to “make this hybrid work,” noting, “It’s got these beautiful melodies with a rock band, an AC/DC-style rock band, doing all this stuff, with a bit of Queen in there, but unmistakably Def Leppard.”
Another element that helped, Collen said, was how the band looked. “MTV was exploding as well and we didn’t look like other rock bands,” he argued. “It was like Duran Duran-ish … because we were really young. And it had all these elements at the same time. So that song and that video definitely did the trick.”