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Music

Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott picks his favourite band of all time

1977 was an interesting period in music; punk was coming to the fore, glam rock was still in the air and people were still cogitating over which direction to steer Black Sabbath’s pioneering heavy metal debut from the start of the decade. Somewhere from that mix of music, Def Leppard crafted their own glam metal hybrid and have never looked back since.

The Sheffield bred youngsters would develop their style for three years before being signed and releasing their debut album On Through the Night in March of 1980. Despite being dubbed as part of the emerging British metal movement, it was clear that they were drawing on a lot of influences, most notably the softer rhythmic sounds of early glam. 

This notion is detectable in the music, but it is confirmed ever further when Joe Elliott was asked about his favourite band by Associated Press. “Well for me,” Elliott begins with no hint of hesitation, “It’s Mott the Hoople. I don’t know why, there’s just something about them that I love.”

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Mott the Hoople are a band forever associated with David Bowie owing to the fact that he took them under his wing and threw a few songs their way and Elliott reflected on this relationship too. Adding: “Of course, I’m a huge fan of David Bowie, but he’s not a band and T.Rex were essentially just a vehicle for Marc Bolan and I’m a huge fan of his early work, I didn’t like the latter stuff. Bowie barely ever put a foot wrong except maybe in the ‘80s, which was difficult for a lot of artists from the ‘70s.”

Continuing, he stated: “But Mott the Hoople for me were just…” once more lost for adjectives as we often are when trying to describe why it is we love something, Elliott can only trail off into implied oblivion. “I don’t know what it was, they caught me at the right time.” In fact, a fellow Sheffield scoundrel in the form of the Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner would also espouse something similar, stating: “There is always that one band that comes along when you are 14 or 15-years-old that manages to hit you in just the right way and changes your whole perception on things.”

“I just loved their early work on Island, I loved the stuff they did when they went commercial after Bowie gave them ‘All The Young Dudes’ and I’m still a huge fan of Ian Hunter,” Elliott concludes, proving that first musical love affair often proves enduring. Part of the reason for this is no doubt because they form such an important part of our identity-forming that we almost incorporate them into the fabric of our daily lives.

Not can Mott the Hoople be heard in the welter of Def Leppard’s sound, but no doubt Elliott’s life is scattered with a slew of memories spawned by the band, such is the evergreen relationship of a music fan and their first favourite band. So, you can just imagine what it was like for Elliott and co to perform ‘All The Young Dudes’ with Bowie, the Hoople and Queen in the clip below.

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