Song: “Love Bites” by Def Leppard
Reached #1: October 8, 1988 (their first, 1 week)
If you asked a roomful of random music fans which Def Leppard song was their only Billboard #1, how many people would say “Love Bites” first?
Wouldn’t you think that “Pour Some Sugar On Me” would be their #1? It’s their most identifiable song, after all.
Well, as we’ve seen all year, the songs we remember later aren’t always the biggest hits at the time. What’s odd is that there wasn’t one big #1 song keeping “Pour Some Sugar On Me” from the top – through the spring of ‘88, there was a string of 1- and 2-week #1 songs. So it was just bad luck and timing that kept Def Leppard from having two #1 hits.
Of course, you can’t talk about Def Leppard without talking about Rick Allen.
Allen joined Def Leppard just after the band formed, becoming their full-time drummer at age 15 in 1979. 5 years later, in a road-rage incident, Allen’s car flew off the road in Sheffield, England – throwing Allen from the car, which caused his left arm to be severed. Reattachment failed. Allen was looking at the end of his music career at age 21.
Except that Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott wasn’t going to let it end that easily. He pushed Allen to figure out a way to drum one-handed – and Allen, over time, worked with engineers to come up with a drum kit that let him drum with his right hand and left foot. Of course, he does use sampled drum sounds to assist him, but they’re samples of his own work, not synthesizers, so it sounds more realistic. Basically, you’d never know he was one-armed from the band’s sound. The band briefly used a second drummer on tour in 1986, but let him go when they realized Allen could do the job un-aided.
This isn’t to say that Def Leppard is the same band today as it was in 1988. Guitarist Steve Clark died of drug and alcohol misadventure in 1991. Vivian Campbell joined in 1992 to replace Clark – and that lineup has remained together for the last 20 years. The band just wrapped up a US tour in September and shows no signs of slowing down.
Tomorrow, a legendary song from a legend of a singer…
Other songs that reached #1 on October 8:
1955 – “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” by the Four Aces feat. Al Alberts (their first, 8 weeks, Best Seller chart)