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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
The Making Of Def Leppard's Hysteria Album (Released 29 Years Ago)

Wednesday, 3rd August 2016

Hysteria 1987.

Def Leppard released their classic Hysteria album on 3rd August 1987 and this special feature charts the making of their most successful release.

The band's biggest selling album started out life in February 1984 after the year long Pyromania tour had ended in Thailand.

They relocated to a house in Dublin, Ireland by the coast and set about writing the songs for their fourth album. Which they planned to start recording in June 1984 with producer Mutt Lange.

As everyone now knows the making of the band's most successful album didn't quite go according to plan.

It cost almost one million pounds to make, spawned 7 hit singles around the world and has sold over 20 million copies. An entire encyclopedia would be needed to explain what went on between February 1984 and its eventual release in August 1987.

Read some quotes below that have not been posted before - giving a slightly different perspective on the making of the album. Arranged in chronological order.

Def Leppard 1987.
UK Advert

Dublin, Ireland February-August 1984 - Writing The Album

Mutt spent 10 weeks with the band writing and arranging songs and during that time said he could not commit to producing the album itself.

Band Quote Early 1984 - "After Bangkok, we will retire to Ireland to begin writing the fourth Def Leppard album. Sometime in June, we then begin to record the album with our trusty producer, "Mutt" Lange, somewhere in Europe or the Caribbean. Hopefully, it will be out in January 1985 and then we'll do it again."

Joe Elliott 2012 - "We were just enjoying the fruits of our labour. We had a bit of money coming in. Everybody was buying a car and you know we were just drinking way too much. It was like 'Oh I can't be bothered to write a song today, let's go to the pub'. But eventually the riffs started coming."

Joe Elliott 1987 - "It was the first time in the five years that we'd been together that we had time to think. And it's only when you've had time to realise that things do go wrong now and again. When everything's up like it was in 1983 you don't really care - you don't notice it. But then a few things happened to us."

"While we were in Dublin, the first difficulty was that Mutt Lange, our old producer, wasn't available. But we settled on Jim Steinman and moved to the recording studio in Holland. But Jim was no good for us and we parted company, so the next problem was 'what the f**k do we do now?'."

Def Leppard 1985.
Band 1985

Hanging Out With Other Bands

Joe Elliott 1987 - "We used to share a table down the Pink Elephant, a club in Dublin, with Spandau Ballet when we were both living there. We played soccer with them as well. It was a charity thing and we won it and there were 700 kids there screaming for Spandau because they didn't know who we were. It was brilliant!. We were a wonderful soccer team. We also used to go round their house and listen to records and stuff. And the same with Frankie Goes To Hollywood - they were over there or five months. It's a good nice little scene over there. We drunk The Frankies under the table. Ooooh yeeeeeees!."

"This sounds as though we were doing it every night, but it was only every third or fourth Friday. You'd finish work at about 11 o'clock, go straight down the Pink Elephant, and what do you know?. They're already there."

Rick Savage 1987 - "We thought they'd be obnoxious bastards because of what you read in the papers, but when you meet them they're really nice people."

Holland August 1984 - Album Recording Started

At Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum, Holland. A few miles south east of Amsterdam. A studio situtated in a woodland area surrounded by many lakes. The region is known as "Het Gooi" (Het Roy in English) and known in Holland as being "the home of the rich and famous". The band stayed on the shore of a lake in nearby Oud-Loosdrecht at the Princess Hotel.

November 1984 - Producer Jim Steinman Fired

Joe Elliott 1988 - "The main problem with 'Hysteria' was us dicking around with people like Jim Steinman. That's what really took the time. Once Mutt got involved it went pretty quick."

Joe Elliott 1988 - "His work ethic was all wrong. We'd turn up at the studio at 11, and after the coffee we'd want to get started. He would come in at half-past-two, then tell Phil to play something more 'oily'. Phil was saying: 'What the hell do you mean?'. Then when he finished with us at 11 he went away and started writing Bat Out Of Hell II. We were trying to be very focused, and he was sleeping in because he was thinking about Meatloaf's next album. We were paying him just to turn up. Then when he tried to have the carpet changed because he didn't like the colour, that was the end of it. It was always going to happen."

Steinman was then bought out of his contract by Q Prime.

December 1984 - Co-Producing With Nigel Green/Rick Allen's Car Accident

Joe Elliott 1987 - "We'd literally been in the studio for two weeks when Rick had his accident."

Cliff Burnstein 1985 - "Rick and a female friend were driving shortly before one o'clock in the afternoon in his Corvette Stingray. The 'vette hit a wall, and unfortunately, Rick was thrown from the car. His left arm was cleanly sliced off at the shoulder while his friend was trapped in the Corvette. Rick was in surgery for more than ten hours, and for a day or two we thought we would have a miracle. But it was not to be. The doctors knew it was useless so they amputated. It killed us, it really did. But making sure Rick survived was the most important thing. Thank god he'll make it."

Joe Elliott 1987 - "We all tried very hard to save face, we were all smiling and laughing at each other, trying to work. But it was very difficult to concentrate on what we were doing. We ended up going through nine of 10 months of lethargic nowhereness."

Joe Elliott 2012 - "There's no rulebook for "your drummer just lost his arm". You don't know how to react to it 'cause you've never heard the phrase. There's a little bit of recognition like 'well, that's his career over and done with.' So we went back to Holland where we had to fend off half a dozen phone calls going 'Dude, I hear your drummer's lost his arm. Er I'm available'. Just two words is all they got. The second one was off."

Def Leppard 1985.
Miriam/Rick/Sav at Wisseloord 1985

February 1985 - Rick Allen Back In The Studio

Phil Collen Summer 1985 - "Rick came in one day and played 'When The Levee Breaks' all the way through. The guy had done it!. From then on it was like a massive weight had been lifted from our shoulders."

Joe Elliott 2012 - "He came in one day and said I want you guys to come and listen to something. So we all toddled off into this little room. Kinda thinking oh what's gonna happen here. And he started playing When The Levee Breaks by Zeppelin. And it was tear jerking. It was an absolutely outstanding moment. I mean just something I'll never forget. It helped change the sound of the record because truth is he's actually a better drummer now than he was before."

"I think he just needed to be around his mates. He just needed that more than he needed a doctor and he could of either seen shrinks or just jumped back in and got on his kit. Which is where his love was."

Mutt Lange 1989.
Mutt Lange 1989

Spring 1985 - Mutt Lange Back As Producer

Band Newsletter Quote 1985 - "Well, Mutt agreed to be Executive Producer, which means that once we finish recording drums, bass, guitars and Joe finishes singing. Mutt will add any final touches and mix the record. His return has given us new energy and we are convinced that the album will be TOTALLY AWESOME!!!."

This led to Mutt coming back on board as the main producer and another 18 months or recording/mixing before the album was done.

At this time they had 10 songs for the 'Animal Instincts' album. Two of which were dropped by Mutt - Fractured Love and Ring Of Fire. PSSOM, Love And Affection, Rocket and Hysteria were not yet written as of Spring 1985. The last three were written by summer 1986 with PSSOM as the last song in late 1986.

Joe Elliott 1987 - "We kept doing it again and again. We didn't like this and we didn't like that. The album we were putting together wasn't as good as the last, so we just didn't release it. The decision cost us a lot of money, but we don't care. It's the final product that counts. I'd rather go down in the history books than the profit and loss columns."

The band moved to Paris in the summer of 1985 with Joe recording vocals as the rest of the band rehearsed for a tour that was to start in late 1985 after an album release.

Rick Savage 1988 (on Mutt Lange's influence) - "It's difficult to answer really, cause apart from one other producer (who did the first album) we've never really worked with anyone else. No disrespect to Jim Steinman, who we spent a few months with. He basically was just there in body. He wasn't doing anything for us, and so, we never really knew what producers do with other bands. You never really know how much input they have with that band, so it's difficult for us to compare. Mutt does get himself involved with the band quite a lot, and his production techniques...some people will hate him while he puts you through it, but they always sound good at the end of the line. He has an influence on us to a certain extent because he'll turn around and say, "That's crap," or, "that's good, we should use that," and we respect his judgement."

Joe Elliott (on Mutt Lange) - "The one thing that Mutt is good for is that he's a very positive thinker, he won't let the word "can't" exist. He's rubbed off on us a lot. Nowadays, especially with what Rick's gone through and managed to do, the word "can't" definitely isn't in our vocabulary. Mutt will say, "this song could be potentially the best song ever written. It just needs a bit more work on it. Yes, the verse is good, the lyrics are good, but the chorus sucks"."

Def Leppard 1987. Def Leppard 1987.
Joe/Sav 1987

HYSTERIA - Album Title

Joke Title - "Paranoia". Working Title - "Animal Instincts" - later used for the official biography book "Animal Instinct" which was made during the second half of the album recording in 1985, 1986 and early 1987.

Article Quote 1987 - "Ironically, it was Allen who thought up Hysteria. Collen says the diminutive drummer came up with it while the title track, which was at that stage without a name, was being written. "Steve figured out a musical bit for the chorus, then Rick Allen said 'good words in the newspaper - Hysteria'. So we thought we'd call the album that, and it also fits the song, fills the gaps."

July 1985 Studio Des Dames, Paris, France - Animal/Rehearsals

Joe Elliott 2014 (on Animal) - "I did the vocal for it in Paris. We went to work in Paris. I remember we were there when Live Aid was on. We were there for Bastille Day. And we worked in this little studio and I did the vocal. We spent a couple of days just experimenting with it and then nailing it down. And then when we took the tapes back to Holland. Where we went to finish the album off. Between Holland and Dublin."

June/July 1986 Recording In Dublin

Joe recorded vocals for the album through June and July in Dublin at Windmill Lane Studio 2. He continued recording vocals in between live shows in August 1986 back in Wisseloord Studios in Holland. Rick also recorded drums in Holland in the run up to the August Irish warm-up/Monsters Of Rock tour which the band rehearsed for in June/July.

November/December 1986 - Joe Get's the Mumps/Mutt Lange Car Crash

Joe Elliott 1987 - "Then I got the mumps. I lost two stone, but got much bigger because you swell with mumps. The day I got back to the studio, our new producer (Mutt Lange) was in a car crash and had to stay in hospital for three weeks with critical leg injuries. It was like the bad luck was never going to stop. Eventually, we said" 'No! We're going to finish the thing.' So we went straight back to the studio and got the whole thing nailed by February (1987)."

Joe Elliott 1987 (on Him/Mutt coming back) - "We came back with a completely different frame of mind. We had a lot fresher attitude, the way it should be when making a new album. We didn't have a problem creating a flow because we were used to taking songs apart and putting them back together again. Every song created is credited to everybody in the band - we all did our bit for every song."

January 1987 - Finishing The Album/PSSOM

Joe Elliott 2012 (Armageddon It) - "As far as we were concerned, that was the final track. So we were having a coffee break. Mutt disappeared, and I went into the control room and started playing this thing. Mutt comes back and asks what it was. I said it was just this idea I'd got - no big deal. He said: 'That's the best hook I've heard in five or 10 years. We should absolutely do this song.' And, of course, I was thinking there was no way the guys were gonna go for it."

Phil Collen 2012 - "We'd finished the record and we were just winding down. And we'd already spent so long on the album that it was a bit like: 'Oh, f**k. Not another song that's going to take six months.' It didn't of course,. It actually took about 10 days because we were getting the hang of it."

Joe Elliott 2002 - "Armageddon It was the last one. Mutt and I were only ones in the studio. And as soon as I finished doing the last bit of that song, it wasn't so much a feeling of anti-climax as it was an inner sense of being totally relieved. I didn't jump up and down. We didn't hug each other and drink tons of champagne. It was more like 'Oh we're finished, man. This is great.' We shook hands, sat down, looked at each other and we both let out a big sigh."

February 1987 - Mixing/B-Sides

Mutt Lange begins mixing the album which takes four months. At Wisseloord Studio 2 the band recorded up to 7 songs/Some used as B-Sides.

Steve Clark 1988 - "When Mutt Lange phoned and said 'I've finished the last mix, boys'. We were thinking then, 'If we ever get this together, is anybody gonna care?' After all the stuff we went through, it was amazing there were any fans left."

Phil Collen 1988 - "But we got over feeling nervous about it after the first year. We'd blown our momentum, so we were gonna have to do a good album."

Steve Clark 1988 - "We decided, we won't settle for second best. And if it does all fall apart, so what?. Here's a guy who lost his arm and he's still playing. So who are we to complain?. As a band, we're so much better, so much more professional. We were laughing about this the other day. We used to take everything for granted."

Def Leppard 1987.
Band 1987


Joe Elliott 1987 - "Now, after three years...12 songs, 63 minutes. We could have put out a dummy double record and made a lot more money, or we could have left off four tracks and had a 45 minute album, but so what! We're not businessmen, we're just concentrating on being a band."

"The one thing we can never be accused of is flooding the market. I want to be in this band as long as we're not boring old farts. It we're gonna be at it for a long time we're not gonna put a lot of records out. We'll be the only band that's been together 25 years and put out only 8 albums."

Steve Clark 1989 - "For any positive thing there has to be a negative. If people say it's over-produced, f**k 'em. We just made the album that we wanted to make. It took a lot longer than we thought, but we've now sold eight and a half million records in the States."

Joe Elliott 2012 - "When you've spent that long making a record. Whatever got done at the beginning, you tend to forget you've done it!. And you're hearing it as though it's somebody else which was actually quite exciting and very unusual. We weren't that close to it. So we were listening to the album as though it was actually - as fans!. We were listening to it thinking, that's actually us!. Listen to it, that's us."

Phil Collen 2012 - "Love Bites. I remember hearing Love Bites, the finished mix. And I thought this is our biggest shot at a Number One single. And then it came out and it didn't do well initially."

Joe Elliott 2012 - "It opened at three million didn't it?. Which was a massive failure compared to Pyromania."

Phil Collen 2012 - "Yeah, we thought that was as well as it was gonna do. And we was playing kind of half empty arenas. It wasn't great you know. But I remember thinking if it didn't sell any copies at all that we'd be totally satisfied with it because it was the best album I'd ever heard. Until PSSOM came out and then it just kicked it into another stratosphere."

September 1987 - Plans For The Next Album

Rick Savage 1987 - "As for the next album...that's one of the reasons we see the band as a long-term project. 'Hysteria' is only the fourth album, and we've been seven years with the record company ."

Joe Elliott 1987 - "We've talked about the next album already, but obviously we won't be doing anything for a while as we'll be touring for the next 15 months or so. It's gonna be a case of wait and see what happens. We have a plan, but we're not telling you yet!."

The 'Hysteria' Singles

Made up with 5 UK 12" singles/4 12" card flats that came with the Love Bites 12" collector's edition. Two of which were used in the US for 'Women' and 'Rocket'.

Hysteria Album Singles.

Cover Art - Sleeve Design Origin by Andie Airfix (Satori)

Andie Airfix - "It was a typical Def Leppard brief, I was given virtually no information. The album was originally going to be called Animal Instinct, so I created a sleeve based around that. I was into the idea of having something turning around to look at you, so that illustration had an eagle, a lion and a shark which all blended into each other. Then they changed the title to Hysteria, so we had to literally rework things."

Def Leppard 1985.
Band 1985

"The triangle was a recognisable image for Def Leppard fans, so that seemed a good starting point. Then it was just a case of creating something that was frightening in some respects. The full-on face we used is almost human, but the side view isn't, retaining the animal aspect. The idea was that this thing turning around to face you made it scarier."

"They trusted me; their input was basically limited to saying if they liked an idea or not. Maybe there were a couple of people who didn't like it quite as much as the Pyromania artwork, but in the end they all recognised it was a strong cover, and really suited what the band were trying to achieve musically."