Def Leppard’s ‘Pyromania’ Turns 30
The 1980s were well under way by January 1983 â even mathematical geniuses like us can figure that out â but when it came to defining the look, the sound and the vibe of the ’80s, there’s no arguing Def Leppardâs third album, âPyromania,â released 30 years ago today (Jan. 20), played a major role.
In a year that would see Quiet Riotâs No. 1 album, âMetal Health,â signal hard rockâs unlikely emergence as one of the decadeâs most commercially dominant music genres, Def Leppardâs success would reach epic proportions.
Now, Leppardâs talent and drive to succeed notwithstanding, few would dispute the claim that the true architect behind âPyromaniaâsâ inevitable triumph was producer Robert John âMuttâ Lang, whose studio wizardry had allowed him to deliver hit album after hit album in recent years, most notably AC/DCâs seismic âBack in Black.â
In 1981, Lang had taken Def Leppard under his wing by producing their equally stupendous, but significantly rawer âHigh ânâ Dryâ album; but he truly pulled out all the stops for âPyromania,â demanding nothing less than perfection from the band and even taking matters into his own hands when necessary â including a few co-songwriting credits and using a drum machine in place of drummer Rick Allen.
Controversial as these decisions might seem today, they worked, and beginning with the February release of âPyromaniaâsâ first single, âPhotograph,’ the hard-touring Brits would gradually conquer America.
Three additional singles and music videos (âRock of Ages,â âFoolinâ,â and âToo Late for Loveâ) assaulted the charts before yearâs end; their slick, sonically manicured pop metal anthems combining with Leppardâs photogenic good looks to drive a remarkable 6 million copies of âPyromaniaâ into American households. The album has since been certified Diamond for 10 million units shipped.
More importantly in the grand scheme of all things hard rock, this irresistible audio-visual combination became a blueprint quickly adopted by gaggles of up-and-coming bands (not to mention the savvy music industry executives who signed them), all aspiring to concoct the next âPyromania.â
Thatâs why, beginning in January 1983, ’80s hard rock would almost always be created in Def Leppardâs image, as heard and seen on âPyromania.â
Watch Def Leppard’s ‘Rock of Ages’ Video