Monday, 5th August 2019
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40 Years Ago DEF LEPPARD Sign Their First Recording Contract

Def Leppard 1979. Sounds 1979

Def Leppard signed their first major recording contract with Phonogram in Dronfield, England on this day in 1979.

The band were signed to the label by 23 year old A&R man Dave Bates who had seen the band play two shows in July.

The Retford show on 26th July and again in Middlesborough on the 27th.

As Rick Allen was too young to sign himself the other band members signed the contract along with Rick's father Geoff at their family home in Green Lane, Dronfield.

Read a news article below and the story of this event as told by the band in the 1987 'Animal Instinct' biography book.

Def Leppard Give Up Days Jobs Shock (Sounds 11th August 1979)

Def Leppard, a young Sheffield heavy metal band and Sounds discoveries, have signed with Phonogram in a five figure deal.

The band's first tour dates as Phonogram artists will be as support to ex-Montrose man Sammy Hagar on his upcoming British gigs, dates for which were announced last week. Also in the pipeline is a Radio One 'In Concert' show and a one-off appearance at Newcastle Mayfair on August 10.

Their upcoming release is likely to be a single, the A-side to be either stage favourite 'Wasted' or a new number called 'Rock Brigade'.

Commenting on the signing, Def Leppard's lead singer Joe Elliott said: "All the band got very drunk when we heard. We're all very pleased. This is it, full-time work from now on. No more days jobs for us."

The Joe Elliott Show - 15th July 2017 Quote


"I saw that band open for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth on the 4th of August 1979. Now why do I remember that date so well?. Well, the very next day Def Leppard signed their record deal with Polygram Records and we had to sign it in Rick Allen's parents house because at the age of 15, he wasn't old enough to sign a contract. That folks is an absolute fact. The band we just heard from 1977. The album Ra, the band Utopia. The song Overture Mountaintop And Sunrise: Communion For The Sun."

Event Story - From Animal Instinct 1987

"I was stunned by their age," says Bates, who later became head of Phonogram A&R. "Rick was only fifteen. Everybody else was seventeen, eighteen. I couldn't get over the fact that these guys were so young, doing what they were doing. It was like coming to terms with the fact that people younger than yourself were doing something that you would have liked to have done at that age, and doing it so amazingly well."

Later, when he talked with the Leppards, he was struck by their intense study of the music they were playing. "They would talk about albums they'd heard, their favourite tracks, favourite guitar solos. They were true fans. And apart from being true fans, they were now getting actively involved in it. When they eventually went on tour with people like Judas Priest, they were very nervous. These people were their heroes. They were so in awe of what was going on around them. But when they went out on stage, they gave it their all.".

The contract eventually agreed upon provided Def Leppard with a healthy royalty on record sales. The band would receive ten percent during the first two-year period, with increments up to eleven and then twelve percent. The royalty was based on one hundred percent of sales, too. "Record companies usually allow ten percent for marketing purposes, but that's just a rip-off. We insisted on the full one hundred percent.".

Only two weeks passed between the Retford Porterhouse show and the signing of Def Leppard's contract with Phonogram. On Sunday, August 5th, 1979, the five members of Def Leppard assembled at Rick Allen's house to sign the deal. Because Rick was under age, his father Geoff signed an additional clause in the contract which basically said he was satisfied with the document.

Ironically, the day before, August 4, Joe Elliott treated himself to a trip to Knebworth to see the band that helped invent heavy metal, Led Zeppelin, perform at an open-air festival. Within a year, Led Zeppelin would break up and Def Leppard would be riding high with their first album, tearing up it up in the States. The torch was being passed.

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