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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
36 Years Ago Def Leppard Say Hello America With First Ever US Concert

Friday, 20th May 2016

Def Leppard 1980.
Def Leppard Fresno 1980

Def Leppard played their first ever US show in Santa Monica, CA 36 years ago today on 20th May 1980.

The band's first show on US soil took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium opening for Pat Travers.

The first of nine shows supporting Pat and his band who were touring for the 'Crash And Burn' album.

This first American tour ran from the end of May until early August and would see them play large arenas for the first time supporting the likes of Judas Priest, Ted Nugent and the Scorpions.

Following its UK release on 14th March 1980 the 'On Through The Night' album had come out on 26th March in the USA.

The band had already played well over 50 shows all around Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) from late January until the end of April. Playing everywhere from Aberdeen in the North of Scotland to Exeter in the South of England.

Pat Travers had played a UK tour in March 1980 with Girl as openers featuring Phil Collen and Simon Laffy. The backing band featured future Whitesnake drummer Tommy Aldridge and guitarist Pat Thrall.

Joe later revealed that singer/bassist Glenn Hughes attended this show due to his friendship with Pat. They later formed the Hughes/Thrall band in 1982.

The live photo shown above is from the Fresno show which took place on 21st May 1980.

Shown below are various band member quotes about this show and a story from the 1987 'Animal Instinct' biography.

Hello America - 1987 Animal Instinct Biography Quotes

In order to conquer America, Leppard had to get their bearings straight - fast. When the band arrived in Los Angeles, they checked into the Chateau Mormont hotel in Hollywood. The day before the first show at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with Pat Travers, road manager Robert Allen called Cliff. "He said to me "What time do we have to leave the hotel to make the gig?". How many hours should we allot?' I asked him what time the soundcheck was and he said 5pm. I told him if he left by 4:30, he'd be there in plenty of time. He didn't understand. You see, the itinerary he had didn't say Los Angeles. It said Santa Monica. He thought Santa Monica was in another part of the State, when it's just part of L.A. I explained it to him and he was a little embarrassed."

Fortunately, Cliff and Peter Mensch hired Rob Cooksey, an experienced English road manager whose clients included Deep Purple, and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, to travel with Leppard for the first few weeks and show Robert the ropes.

Def Leppard 1980.
Def Leppard 1980

Shopping was a lesson in itself. "Pete and Sav went out to buy cameras and these guys didn't know anything." Cliff chuckles. "They got ripped off right away. They overpaid, they got no receipts and they had faulty merchandise." But the success of Leppard's first visit to the Rainbow, where they were treated like rock royalty, was a good omen. Opening night with Pat Travers was another.

"I was shitting myself," Rick Allen admits. "I had a brand new drum kit, never seen it before, and it was all out of tune. It had been specially ordered and arrived the day of the show."

Travers' drummer Tommy Aldridge, one of Rick's idols, helped him set it up right and tune it in time for Leppard's curtain call.

"Within two songs, there were kids shouting for Wasted," Joe marvels. "Only four or five of them, of course. But there were 2500 other people there that had never heard of us and they accepted us as well. Nobody booed. There was always a reaction and it was ninety-nine percent positive."

The band opened with "Hello America". "Surprise, Surprise," laughs Sav. "But we could not believe the reaction. Sure we'd come from England where we were very popular and you couldn't pick up a music paper without reading something about us. But this was America, where we thought nobody would know anything about us, And these people not only knew the songs, they were going mad for them. We thought 'Hey, this is it, this is fantastic.' It was better than England, and we were known in England."

"We started noticing that there was a growing number of females hanging around at the gigs," Sav explains. "It wasn't something we noticed on stage. But it became very apparent when we came off stage. It was amazing how many females there were, not just backstage, but around the hub of the concert itself. Easily fifty-fifty, whereas in England our shows were always ninety percent male."

"At the beginning, it was just something we'd remark on. Then after a while, it became amazing, that there were actually teenage females who liked heavy rock music."

1999 - Joe Elliott Interview Quote

"Yeah it was, it was the 20th of May at the Santa Monica Civic - I remember when we first went out on stage we were opening up for Pat Travers in the Civic and the lights went down and we went on and there was this polite applause. But I remember one person about seven or eight rows back screaming out "Wasted!", which was one of the songs off the first album. I remember turning round to somebody and going "Holy shit! they've heard of us, you know cause I didn't expect that they had."

2000 - Joe Elliott Interview Quote

"When we opened up for Pat Travers - the first gig we did was in Santa Monica, CA - the lights went down, we walked out onstage, and I heard somebody shout, "Wasted!" I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that somebody in America actually had heard one of our records."

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