Joe Elliott: Def Leppard didn’t make any cash until Hysteria

(Image credit: Roy Rochlin - Getty)

Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott says it took the band until 1988 to start making money.

The vocalist reports that despite the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees forming in 1977, debts with their record label prevented them from bringing in cash until after the release of their smash hit album Hysteria.

Elliott tells This Is Money: “Once the band became successful, there was a lot of money going through the system. It was never like winning the lottery though. It was fair and reasonable for what we, as a band, put in.

“We didn’t see a great deal of money until the autumn of 1983 when we got a cheque for the Pyromania album and tour. By then, even though we had sold six million records, we had a seven-year debt with the record label to clear.

“Of course, when we did get that cheque, it was the biggest I had ever seen. I can’t remember exactly how much it was for but it was more than £20,000. But because of our debts, we didn’t see any real money until 1988 when Hysteria shifted 12 million copies worldwide.”

Elliott also recalls starting a pension when he was 18 years old – just as the band signed their first record deal.

He adds: “We had a lawyer who made sure we started a pension that same day. We had our feet up on the boardroom table, drinking whisky, smoking cigars and I remember saying, ‘What, a pension? Hang on, we are not even 20 years old.’”

Meanwhile, Def Leppard are teasing an announcement which is due to be revealed this coming Wednesday (January 9).

A tour? A new single? A new album? Watch this space.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.