"Hysteria: How Def Leppard drove the world to madness

"It exceeded our expectations. The point of 'Hysteria' was to hook not only rock fans, but also fans of other genres. And I think we achieved that. For me, it's the pinnacle of our career..."

History of the album "Hysteria" - the cult classic of Def Leppard

Plate "Hysteria.", filled with hits, is still considered a defining moment in the career of Def Leppard and remains as relevant among listeners as it was in the distant '80s. This is one of those rare records that feels particularly strong and fully describes who the band has always been. And while at first glance it's a serious hard rock album, its inherent melodicism and killer leads still appeal to admirers of all genres and ages.

The weight of the album is backed up by awards and global circulation worldwide, which has long since passed the 25 million. Yes, the statistics don't lie. But it doesn't tell the whole story either... "Hysteria." made its creators international stars, but the very creation of this masterpiece was initially riddled with failures... Looking back, it seems surprising that the album was finished at all.

Catastrophic series of failures

Def Leppard
Def Leppard

With his breakthrough "Pyromania" 1983 in the arsenal, Leppard set to work a future masterpiece by being at the peak of popularity! But problems hindered them from the very beginning. For example, the producer Matt Lang "washed his hands of moral exhaustion. So, the rockers spent a long and relatively unproductive eight months in the studio with his replacement, songwriter and producer Jim Steinman.

Then, on December 31, 1984, there was a car accident when the drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm. Understandably, the Leppards were devastated, but Allen was determined to keep playing.

Rick Allen
Rick Allen

In many ways, his comrades supported him, and were not even in a hurry to look for Rick's replacement. And for good reason. Encouraged, their drummer worked with the company Simmons on the creation of a custom rig with which Rick could play with his feet! By the way: it was on this setup that he first played Hysteria.

"I had to stop comparing myself to who I used to be. But I also realized that I could do some things that I could never do before. Suddenly I realized I could use my legs!" recalled Allen. And he was right about that.

This tragedy inadvertently gave the team a completely new dimension

The Return of Lang

Matt Lang
Matt Lang

Along with the fact that Allen was on the mend and training his legs, the group returned to Matt Lang! When he took his producer's chair, he stated (from the guitarist's recollection Phil Collen):

"Matt wanted to make 'Hysteria' a hard-rock version of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'! That idea really appealed to Matt and to us.

Given the success of the aforementioned "Pyromania," needless to say, Def Leppard was familiar with Lang's delicate studio technique firsthand. This man had proven himself, proving that he could get amazing results if everyone worked as one big friendly team. So when he decided he wanted to record the drums last, and to record most of the Collen and Steve Clark guitar parts through headphone amps rather than traditional Marshall stacks, the band happily indulged him.

Also, when they began to accumulate obvious hymns, such as "Rocket," "Animal." and incendiary "Armageddon It.", all concerned began to realize that they were creating something exceptional...

Fans' expectations justified

Def Leppard
Def Leppard

Fans were understandably concerned that a sequel to Pyromania was being prepared for the entire four years! But that sense of unease quickly evaporated as soon as they heard the super-confident, hit-filled "Hysteria. Indeed: the record quickly lived up to its name when it topped the British chart and eventually remained in the top 40 for an entire 105 weeks in a row!

Tracks from the album also showed a brilliant result in USAThe compositions "Animal", "Pour Some Sugar on Me", the title and emotional ballad "Love Bites", which topped the Billboard Hot 100. Over the next few years Def Leppard became one of the most popular bands on the planet.

"It exceeded our expectations. The point of 'Hysteria' was to hook not only rock fans, but also fans of other genres. And I think we accomplished that. For me, it's the pinnacle of our career," Phil Collen once said, reflecting on a defining moment for the band.

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