Joe Elliott Not a Fan of People Calling Def Leppard a Heavy Metal Band

Having sold over 100 million albums, Def Leppard is considered one of the world’s best-selling music artists. Given the fame that surrounded the band, they also received a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. When speaking about Def Leppard, VH1 ranked them on both the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock and the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time lists. While enjoying the fame that followed them over the decades, singer Joe Elliott, a founding member, has consistently taken issue with those who consider Def Leppard to be heavy metal. 

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Sitting down to talk all things music on The Rockonteurs podcast, Elliott explained his issue with the term and even called it “bad news.” “I have an issue with the term heavy metal, because everybody outside of rock always thinks if you’re in a heavy metal band, it’s like bad news.” While seeming like a small issue, Elliott added that when attached to the label of heavy metal, “You get this impression that everybody’s a moron.” 

Claiming that the label is often handed out to bands who don’t fit a certain genre, Elliott offered examples. “UFO, Thin Lizzy were not heavy metal. Were Motorhead? They had a blues influence to them… Queen were never a heavy metal band, but they had a couple of heavy metal songs, thanks to Brian May, and I think we were pretty much the same.”

[RELATED: Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott Explains How a Hole in the Wall Led to the Hit Song “Photograph”]

Joe Elliott Admits “If We’re Heavy Metal, Then So Are The Rolling Stones”

While not only criticizing the term, the singer suggested that Def Leppard has always been “heavy rock”. Although Elliott understood the band can sometimes step over into other genres, he declared, “It’s a silly, silly term. When you start pigeonholing [bands], it gets on my tits to be quite honest.”

Comparing Def Leppard to bands like the Rolling Stones, Elliott stated, “If we’re heavy metal, then so are the Rolling Stones, because it’s two guitars, bass, drums and a singer.”

Outside of Elliott defending the band, Def Leppard released their latest album Diamond Star Halos back in 2022. And while some might consider it heavy metal, the album gained high praise with Ultimate Classic Rock calling it the “most obvious callback to glam’s glory days.” So no matter which genre they fit in, there is one fact – Def Leppard knows how to rock.  

(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

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