This section looks at the 'Pyromania' album reaching Number 2 in the USA. The third studio album almost peaked at Number One in May 1983.
"We kept the overdubs to a bare minimum."
Def Leppard's classic third studio album Pyromania reached Number Two on this day in 1983 in the USA.
The album had been released on 20th January 1983 after one year of recording work.
The third studio album released by the band.
It's success was helped by the 'Photograph' single which on this same day was at Number 13 following heavy radio airplay and for the video on MTV.
Stopping the band from achieving their first Number One album was Michael Jackson with 'Thriller'. He was also at Number One on the Hot 100 singles chart with 'Beat It'. 'Thriller' spent 22 weeks at Number 1 in 1983 and 15 more in 1984.
The album had entered the The 200 on 5th February at Number 69.
It entered the Top 10 on 12th March and stayed inside it for 35 straight weeks followed by another two - 37 in total. Much of its time in the Top 10 was spent at Number 4.
The album's initial chart run last for 92 weeks until November 1984. It would not re-enter until mid-September 1987, two weeks after 'Hysteria' had been released.
Six million copies had been sold by November 1984. It would reach 7 million in 1988 following it's second chart run.
The album's first awards came in March 1983 (Gold) and April 1983 (Platinum) just before the band started its first US headline tour. It eventually sold over 10 million copies by July 2004 earning a second Diamond award for the band.
On the same day the 1984 reissue was still at Number 95.
Thomas Dolby, who had played keyboards on the album as 'Booker T. Boffin', was at Number 36 with his biggest selling album 'Blinded By Science'.
Read some chart facts about the album below.
Six months at Number 2 Behind Michael Jackson's Thriller?
One of the myths about Def Leppard's success in 1983 is not strictly true. Billboard's chart archive has revealed that the album reached Number 2 on 14th May 1983.
Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' album, which had been released in December 1982, was at Number 1. 'Pyromania' spent just two weeks at Number 2 but did go on to spend a massive 37 weeks inside the Top 10. Ending in early December with most of those weeks lower than 'Thriller' but not in direct competition with it.
From the end of July to mid November The Police were at Number 1 with 'Synchronicity'.
Joe Elliott - September 2015 Interview Quotes
"But with Pyromania, when you're selling six million records in America and a tour that started off at the Marquee ends with the last gig in San Diego in front of 55,000 people, there's not much you can say about what went wrong."
'Mutt' asked us: 'What was the biggest pisser of the year for you guys?'. We said: 'Michael Jackson stopping us from getting to number one.' There are worse problems, you know?."
1987 Animal Instinct Biography Quotes
"With Pyromania, the Def Leppard Admiration Society increased its membership by the multi-millions. By September 1983, Pyromania had sold four million copies, becoming the biggest-selling non-soundtrack LP in their record companies history."
"Notably, cassette sales of the album were outstripping record sales three-to-two. Fans were obviously buying Pyromania tapes to play on their car stereos, confirming that the album was great teenage cruising music."
Billboard Top 200 - Top Five 14th May 1983
- 01 - Michael Jackson - Thriller
- 02 - Def Leppard - Pyromania - Peak Position Week 1 (of 2)
- 03 - Journey - Frontiers
- 04 - Men At Work - Cargo
- 05 - Styx - Kilroy Was Here
Def Leppard Pyromania - Weeks At Number 2 in USA
- 14th May 1983 - 2 - (After 15 weeks on chart)
- 21st May 1983 - 2 - (Second of only 2 weeks)
Def Leppard Pyromania - Billboard Chart Facts
- Total Weeks On Chart - 122
- First Chart Run - 92 weeks (1984/1984)
- Second Chart Run - 24 weeks (1987/1988/1989) - non-consecutive
- Third Chart Run - 6 weeks - (2014) - non-consecutive
- Weeks in Top Ten - 37 (35 and 2 additional)
- Weeks at Number Two - 2
Joe Elliott 1983 Interview Quotes
"On Pyromania, Mutt was able to give us his undivided attention. We did a lot of the songs live in the studio, and we kept the overdubs to a bare minimum. What you hear on the record is exactly what we played."
"This album really shows what we're capable of doing. It's a very solid rock and roll LP, but we've been able to incorporate a lot of melody into each song...a little melody isn't going to hurt anybody."
US MTV started playing the High 'n' Dry music videos including 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak' which resulted in extra sales for the album and it re-entered the Billboard Top 200 chart on 25th September 1982. The album was certified Gold on 17th December and the money helped to fund the Pyromania album.
1987 Animal Instinct Biography Quotes
Cliff Burnstein - "The High 'n' Dry album was already history on the charts, But then MTV started playing Bringin' On The Heartbreak. Slowly but surely, we started getting sales reports on the record and it started selling about 5,000 copies a week, which was enough to get it back on the charts. This was a whole new ball game. Before Pyromania came out, High 'n' Dry had gone gold."
Co-managers Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch managed Def Leppard from late 1979 to early 1982 whilst working for Leber-Krebs management. Following a legal dispute Cliff was fired and Peter quit.
"Burnstein declared war, threatening to sue Leber-Krebs if the company did not cure its breach of contract. Krebs replied by firing Burnstein on April Fool's Day. Mensch resigned immediately. The unemployed duo then went to Leppard, (Michael) Schenker and Scorpions and gave them a choice - work for us or stay with Leber-Krebs. Schenker and Scorpions elected to stay with the company. Leppard, without hesitation, told Cliff and Peter "Right, where do we sign?."
"Unfortunately, Mensch and Burnstein now managed a band with essentially no income. The pair also had a major lawsuit on their hands. As the band's bank balance plunged into the red - to the tune of nearly $700,000 - Mensch borrowed money from his father and from Burnstein to keep the band fed during the recording of Pyromania. The band's merchandising firm, Brockum in New York, also fronted Def Leppard $100,000 to keep fiscal disaster at bay."
"Thus is was crucial for Mutt and the band to get a quality record, at least three tracks deep in hit singles, out as soon as reasonably possible. Of course, they did nothing of the sort. Pyromania was loaded with hits. It became the model by which future hard-rock chart bands would be judged. But recording it seemed to take forever."
"Forever started in January '82 in the Sheffield paper factory where Leppard had previously cooked up the for High 'n' Dry. This time, however, instead of writing songs that Mutt Lange would dismantle anyway, the band concentrated on developing parts of songs - knockout riffs, drop-dead choruses and soaring bridges which Mutt and Leppard could stitch together into song form later on. Mutt subsequently received co-writing credits of all ten Pyromania tracks."
"We gave Mutt songwriting credits because this time he actually helped us structure the songs, says Joe. "They weren't written songs that he changed. He sat down with us as a sixth member of the band and participated in the whole thing."
Pete Willis Fired - July 1982
The last straw came the morning Pete stumbled into the studio to record his solo for Stagefright. He was, in Mutt's words. "pissed as a skunk, I could smell it when he walked in. But he was trying not to act like he was drunk. I thought it was funny at first. When he tried to play his solo, I said 'Okay, Pete, here we go' and it was just plink-dah-plink-da-da-plink. He'd try it again - same vibe. He could hardly hit the string right. Finally, for his sake, more than mine, I just chewed him out. I told him 'Go home and don't even show your face in the studio again until you really know your stuff'."
Pete Willis never showed his face in a studio - or on stage - with Def Leppard again.
Phil Collen Joins Band - July 1982
Phil received tapes of a few unfinished Pyromania tracks and was asked to cook up some solo ideas for them One of the songs, ironically, was Stagefright, which had already been Pete Willis' undoing. The day after his first meeting with Def Leppard, Phil arrived at Battery Studios and told producer Mutt Lange that he'd worked up a little something for Stagefright. Phil played the solo for Mutt, cut it in one take and dropped in a couple of extra notes on another go-round. That was it; Phil Collen was a member of Def Leppard. By the time Pyromania was released, it included four other Phil Collen solos on Rock Of Ages, Photograph, Foolin' and Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop). He also added rhythm tracks and a few feedback wails on every track except Too Late For Love to which he also contributed backing vocals.
Phil proved to be invaluable in another way. As Joe put it "He totally brought Steve out of his shell. He was always a very shy guy. And he still is on his own to a certain extent. But he's a lot more lively now that Phil's around. He's definitely brought Steve on by leaps and bounds."
Huge Debt/Finishing And Mixing The Album
Recruiting Phil solved only one of Leppard's three big headaches. There was still the problem of the band's increasing debt, thanks to mounting recording costs and the Burnstein-Mensch suit against Leber-Krebs. There was also the small matter of Pyromania itself, which was still months from completion. According to Cliff's arithmetic, Def Leppard were £750,000 in the hole. The band would have to sell over a million copies of Pyromania just to break even. Joe and the boys frequently arrived at Peter's house in London after recording sessions for grilled-cheese and peanut butter sandwich dinners because there was no money for anything more extravagant.
Fortunately, in September, Cliff and Peter settled with Leber Krebs out of court. Leber-Krebs paid Peter £300,000 for his work with AC/DC, a welcome windfall for the financially strapped Leppard. Cliff and Peter also swapped their interest in the Scorpions to Leber-Krebs for complete control of Def Leppard's affairs. "We swapped a current, Peter says, "for a future."
In the meantime, Mutt Lange, slaved away over a hot console on overdubbing and mixing for Pyromania. Young keyboard wiz Thomas Dolby provided discreet but effective synthesizer parts on several tracks, although he was actually credited as Booker T. Boffin on the album jacket. While using a pseudonym was Dolby's idea, the end result was a Mutt Lange-Peter Mensch collaboration.
"Mutt used to call Dolby 'Book-A-Boffin,' a in rent-a-boffin'." explains Peter. "So I took to calling him Booker T. Boffin, as in Booker T. and the MGs. And that's how he got credited on the album."
In classic Leppard fashion, Mutt mixed the album right down to the wire. The original plan was for the album to be released in time for the Christmas rush. The day before deadline, Mutt still had two tracks to go. Stagefright and Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop).
"I was really tired and pissed off," Mutt admits. "I was told we had to send those tracks off on the Concorde to New York the next day. So I worked right through the night with Nigel Green, because Mike Shipley had passed out again."
But while they were mixing Rock! Rock!, Mutt and Nigel discovered that because of edits on the master tape, some of the handclaps were out of sync. They had to bring everything back into proper rhythm using digital delays. That took all night. With an hour and a half left to go. Mutt and Nigel quickly mixed Stagefright. At one point, Mutt had to wake up Nigel, who had dozed off at the board. They had just finished when the phone rang. it was Cliff Burnstein: "Don't worry, guys, the album's been pushed back to January. At least they got us to finish the thing, though."
There were a few grumbles in the Leppard camp about some of the mixes on Pyromania. Joe was unhappy about the way Photograph and Stagefright had turned out, considering the whole year the band had spent making the album.
Burnstein, however, was so sure of Pyromania's musical and commercial merits that he started the promotional buzz going before Mutt had even finished mixing. He hit the phones with a vengeance, spreading the word among key record company personnel and radio contacts in the US. He also took a few of Mutt's rough mixes back to New York with him after a brief visit to London in the fall.
"I was not supposed to do this, but a Mutt Lange rough mix is beyond what everybody else does with a final mix anyway. What I'd do is got out to dinner with someone from the record company and say 'I got a tape I'd like to play for you.' We'd go back to that person's house and I'd play a few tracks from the album. They'd go crazy - and I'd take it away. But A didn't know I was playing to for B, who didn't know I was playing it for C. Meanwhile, people would go back to their offices, get on the phones and say 'I tell ya, I have it on the highest authority that this Def Leppard album is incredible.' I started this whole buzz going with everybody talking to everybody and nobody knowing where it came from."
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