[Note: Def Leppard was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.]
Some genre acts don’t seem to get any respect. Among those genre acts is Def Leppard, a band that came out of the British metal scene in the late 1970’s and rose to popularity in the 1980’s and managed to keep that popularity into the 1990’s. Overcoming some genuine adversity, including the loss of an arm by their drummer, the band managed to make some essential albums in their genre and serve as an inspiration to other like-minded bands. Even those without a great deal of fondness for 80’s rock surely have a fondness for at least a few of the band’s song, and in an era where many rock acts have been snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame , they represent what some have said to be a divisive choice for enshrinement . Nonetheless, they are a band it is easy to love. They made some great songs that remain played in classic rock catalogs, had some monstrously successful albums, and managed to elevate their whole genre in the process. What’s not to like or approve of in that?
The Influence Of Def Leppard
There is no question about the influence of Def Leppard as a band, both on the positive side as well as the negative side. Their immense success spurred those who wanted to rock harder than they did to play grunge music in response to them, while inspiring legions of imitators who wanted to copy their looks but not their musical chops. The range of artists who have been willing to admit being influenced by them in a positive way includes such rock acts as Pantera, Metallica, and Slayer as well as mainstream acts like Taylor Swift (!) and Matt Nathanson . Whether or not an act has been influenced against what they perceive as a focus of good looks in music videos or to appreciate the melodic hard rock sound of the band that has allowed their songs to gain massive radio play over the past three decades, this is a band that has influenced a lot of artists over the course of a long and productive and immensely successful career.
Why Def Leppard Deserves To Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Overall, the band has sold more than 100 million albums, putting them in elite company as far as bands are concerned. Two of their studio albums (Pyromania and Hysteria) sold over 10 million copies, making them only one of five acts to have done so, the other of which are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Van Halen). Any band in that company clearly deserves a great deal of respect. As far as the rest of their body of work goes, they have three other multi-platinum albums (two studio albums and a compilation) as well as three other platinum albums and two other gold albums, an impressive haul for any band of any generation. They had 1 #1 pop hit (“Love Bites”) and 5 #1 rock hits (“Photograph”, “Rock of Ages”, “Let’s Get Rocked”, “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)”, and “Promises.” They had four top ten pop hits and an impressive 17 top ten hits on the rock charts, as well as a total of 15 top 40 pop hits, a solid haul for any act, much less a rock one . Not only do they have a quantity of hits, though, but rather quality hits that remain enjoyable today as part of the general feeling of nostalgia that many have about 80’s rock, music that sounds classic without being dated.
Why Aren’t Def Leppard In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Throughout their career, Def Leppard was never a critical darling and that remains true today. Since critics are the ones who tend to enshrine acts in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, their lack of critical appeal despite their massive commercial success is definitely a hindrance for them. If it were not enough that they were not a critical favorite, the fact that they were considered a hair metal band with popularity at least somewhat based on their looks and attitude (although their musical abilities should not be ignored) and the fact that their greatest success was in the 1980’s, which has been extremely underrepresented in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, give further reasons why their music has not been given the respect it deserves. The band still continues to tour and release music and expand their influence by working with more artists to this day, including Tim McGraw of all people (who appeared on one of their more recent singles). Whatever their haters may say, this is a band whose massive popular appeal over time is its own verdict in the band’s favor. When will the critics catch up?
Verdict: Put them in. Few acts have the appeal that this one does among artists that have yet to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and they can still play.
 See, for example: