Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith was in contention to join Def Leppard in 1991, Rick Allen confirms

A Smith
(Image credit: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen has confirmed that Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith was a serious contender to join the Sheffield hard rock superstars as they sought to replace guitarist Steve Clark following their friend’s death in 1991. 

Allen confirmed the mutual interest between the two parties while speaking to the eonmusic site about his upcoming in-person art shows at Wentworth Gallery, Atlantic City and at the King of Prussia mall in Philadelphia on July 10/11.

“I actually really loved the idea,” says Allen, referring to the possibility that Smith, who quit Iron Maiden in 1990, before returning to the fold, along with Bruce Dickinson, in 1999, might have joined rival NWOBHM legends Leppard. “I mean, there was a kid called Huwey Lucas that was a contender; there was [Ex-Thin Lizzy/Blue Murder guitarist] John Sykes; there were all these people kind of lined up.”

“It’s interesting,” says Allen, “you put somebody in a slightly different situation and new things are revealed about them, and it was cool. It was a complement that he was so into it. But I think ultimately, Vivian [Campbell] was the absolutely perfect choice.”

Leppard haven’t forgotten Lucas either, as Joe Elliott has previously played songs from the Birmingham singer/songwriter on his Planet Rock radio show. 

Adrian Smith cautiously revealed that he had been in contention for the Def Leppard role during a 2020 interview with the eonmusic site, conducted while he was promoting his book Monsters of River & Rock.

“I was, yeah,” said Smith. “Yeah I was. I’m not sure… I want to write more books; that might be in my next one! [Laughing] There’s whole story about that.”

Speaking to eonmusic about the late Steve Clark, who passed away on January 8, 1991, Rick Allen adds, “I found Steve to be a very deep person; a very deep thinker, a big heart, and I miss him every day.”

For the full interview with Def Leppard’s drummer, visit the eonmusic site. 

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