Rolling Stone Australia


Def Leppard's Joe Elliott on Bowie, Jimmy Barnes and Mistaken Identity


Def Leppard's Joe Elliott on Bowie, Jimmy Barnes and Mistaken Identity

We recently sat down with Def Leppard frontman, Joe Elliott to find out about the last fight he was in and what happens when he encounters drunk fans.

The last time I was mistaken for someone else
Never. It happened to [bassist] Sav back in the Eighties at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, someone thought he was Joey Tempest from Europe. I must admit they did look a bit alike. Sav said, "I'm not Joey, I'm not, I'm just not him", and this guy wouldn't take no for an answer, he wanted Sav to sign something. So Sav went, all right, fine. He just wrote, "Fuck off, Joey Tempest". [Laughs]

The last time I was starstruck
I met Bowie at Bono's house years ago at a BBQ. That was kind of scary, 'cause Bono knew I was a huge fan and he kinda put Bowie to one side in what was then his snooker room, and he was just sat on the table. And I was like, oh my god, I've got a one on one with David Bowie. And he was really cool. I was starstruck for a little while but I didn't want to be the deer in the headlights, so you've gotta up your game a little bit without being aloof. You just open up and you talk.

The last time I was thrown out of a hotel
Me and Jimmy Barnes got thrown out of a hotel in Dublin! [Laughs] I'd been to see Jimmy play the Olympia Theatre that night and we'd had a few [drinks] back in his dressing room. He said, "Come back to the hotel and we'll have a drink in the bar." But they didn't want to let in non-residents, and there was this one dickweed who put his foot against the revolving door and wouldn't let us in. And Jimmy went ballistic, it was brilliant. It was exactly what you'd want Jimmy Barnes of about 1990 to do. He was like, fuck this lot, and he checked his entire entourage out of the hotel and went to another hotel and we had a drink in that bar instead! [Laughs]

The last time someone quoted my lyrics back to me
All the time! Embarrassingly, we were in Jacksonville, Florida, on the last night of the U.S. tour, and we were going back to the hotel and it just so happened to be the only hotel in Jacksonville worth staying in, and half the audience was staying there as well. So as you're checking in they're following you around and they've got cell phones in your face. [Some rode] in the elevator singing "Pour Some Sugar" in my face, and they're all drunk. You're like, oh, man, really? That's when you're going, I wish we had security, just this once!

The last fight I had
There was an incident outside a hotel in Copenhagen about eight years ago – it was 6 in the morning, we were up early to get a flight, and some kids that had been at some rave walked past and one of them pulled my hair and carried on walking, and I called him out. I said, "Oi! Dickweed!" And he and his mates came back and I just palm hit his forehead so that his head would shoot back, and I think that stunned him into thinking, I'd better leave. I'm not a violent man, but I'm not having someone just pull my hair. So he got a whack.

The last record I bought
The Struts, Everybody Wants. It's absolutely brilliant, [it] could have been the next Queen album had Fred [Mercury] lived. They've got all the melody and Fred's persona mixed in, just really memorable tunes. Honestly, the singer [Luke Spiller] sounds so much like Freddie Mercury it makes your eyes pop.

The last thing I'd do if the world was ending
Depends where I was. If I was with the wife I don't really need to say anymore. If I was with the wife and kids it'd just be a big family hug. If I was with the band I'd say, "I know you stopped drinking 30 years ago but we're going to drink this bottle." And go out singing some sea shanties or something [laughs].

Original article from issue #771 (February, 2016), available now. Def Leppard's self-titled album is out now via iTunes.


Topics: Def Leppard   Joe Elliott


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