Sunday, 8th January 2017
Prev   |   Next

Def Leppard Guitarist Steve Clark Died 26 Years Ago Today In London

Steve Clark 1989. Steve Clark 1989

Def Leppard guitarist Steve Steamin' Clark passed away 26 years ago on this day in 1991 in London, England.

He was on a six month leave of absence from the band's 'Adrenalize' recording sessions as he battled with alcohol addiction.

Stephen Maynard Clark joined Def Leppard in January 1978 and played alongside fellow original guitarist Pete Willis until summer 1982.

Steve was then joined by his soon-to-be best friend Phil Collen and until his death in January 1991 they would become known as the Terror Twins.

Below are some of the band statements made at the time including one about how his death was discovered (before the exact cause was known).

Also included are some band interview quotes from various sources and photos.

Plus links to some Steve related news stories over the past year or so.

Steve Clark Tribute Photos

Joe Elliott Press Statement - 8th January 1991

"Steve joined me, and bassist Rick Savage, to form Def Leppard in January 1978. He was a really quiet, shy, humble, nice, gentle sort of bloke. On stage he was the business, he was very visual and he was very energetic - a great person to be alongside.

"Steve was a very creative person - he was the master of riffs; he wrote some of the best things we've ever done. We'll definitely miss his creative input. We were due to continue recording our new LP today, but obviously that isn't going to happen. But the band will carry on eventually. It was a pleasure to know him for thirteen years and I'll miss him like a brother."

Band Statements - Fan Club 1991

"It is our sad duty to confirm to you that Def Leppard lead guitarist Steve "Steamin" Clark died on the morning of Tuesday 8th January 1991. Aged only 30 Steve was born on April 23rd 1960 and was a founder member of Def Leppard. He was not only a superbly talented guitarist but a magnificent songwriter. Steve's name can be found on the credits for many of Def Leppard's most famous songs 'Photograph', 'Rock Of Ages', 'Foolin'', 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak' and the famous Clark classic 'Switch 625' to name a few."

"On the morning of the 8th January 1991, Steve was at his London home with his American girlfriend Janey. Janey came down to the lounge to where Steve was thought to be sleeping on the sofa. It was only then that it was first realised that Steve had sadly and tragically died in his sleep. A very sad, sad moment."

Vivian Campbell - Facebook Quote 8th January 2016

"Raising a glass tonight to the memory of the late and great Steve Clark. Although I briefly met him on a couple of occasions, I never knew Steve. But over the last 24 years I've gotten to intimately know his music, and thus his spirit. I very much wish he were still with us... Only the good die young."

Steve Clark - 1989 or 1990

"I consider it a gift every time I get up on stage and play. I think that's when I'm at my happiest."

Norway March 1988 - TV Appearance

Phil Collen - December 2015 Interview Quote

"He was just such a wonderful soul. He was just like, you know, really funny and just like really intelligent."

Joe Elliott Show 8th January 2011 Quote

"Now, I mentioned obviously all the way through the show that it's been very reflective this week and no more so than today, because today Steve Clark is 20 years dead. We miss him. We miss him everyday. We think of him everyday. And this is quite probably the most memorable thing that Steve ever did. From the High 'n' Dry album this is Switch 625.

Steve Clark 1987 Interview Quote

"The ultimate thing is to be in a live rock band. We're just happy to carry on playing. It won't bother me if I don't see another studio for a couple of years."

Steve Clark Sheffield. Steve's Grave Site 2014

Rick Savage 2001 Interview Quote

"From the minute that Steve was in the band his contribution to the music was immense. Absolutely immense. He's one of these rare breed of people that I don't know whether you'd call him a genius or just a complete idiot. It's a fine line because some of his ideas on writing guitar parts were not normal but they were just fantastic."

Rick Allen 2001 Interview Quotes

"I think he hated being in the studio but he did bring in a lot of ideas that will just live on you know. Wonderful, wonderful person (but) certain family situations just led him into a place that was just really dark. I think a part of him didn't wanna be here."

"But he brought something very special to this band. Something that will never really be revisited but will always be part of the foundation of Def Leppard."

Steve Clark Grave - 24th December 2016

Reaction To Steve's Death - 1992 MTV Interview Quotes

Joe Elliott

"I got home and there was a message on my answering machine from Cliff Burnstein, one of our two managers. Phone me, it's pretty important. So I rang him up, I hadn't got a clue what it was gonna be about and he says have you heard?. And I said no I haven't heard anything. And he said Steve's dead."

"Well initially I just sat there and I went, wow because it was a shock but it wasn't a shock you know. It wasn't a shock like Rick losing his arm. When Rick lost his arm, that was a shock. That's something that you don't expect. But when somebody tells you that your guitarist of 14 years, that's been an alcoholic for longer is dead. Then it's not really as - well not a surprise. It's a shock maybe but you can't say you weren't expecting it. You know it's almost like when your Granny dies. She's 99, she's had a good innings. You're upset but you're not necessarily shocked you know."

And it took a long time for it to sink in. It was weeks and weeks before I really got into the proper mourning mode as it were. You know I didn't - I don't know. I just accepted it, it was really strange. I think that with what happened to Rick happening over a Christmas period again like seven years previously or six years previously. Maybe that prepared me for it or something I don't know but it was. I actually handled it very well. I was surprised at myself to be quite honest. I just - I got on with what I had to do. We had to talk to a few - we had to prepare a press release, visit his parents. You know all that kind of thing. We got together as a band to decide what we were gonna do. Just general things. We just threw ourselves into work to try and get over it. That's basically what we did. We didn't sit around moping about it. But it was a great shock and it was a very upsetting thing."

Steve Clark 1960-1991.

"To be quite honest with you the thing that annoys me most about you - on my 30th birthday I started to think Jesus I'm getting old you know. And then when Steve died and he was only just 30 years old it made me realise how young 30 is. And it woke me up a little bit and it made me realise that there's a long way to go before I can consider myself old. And I was upset for him just in the sense that I know there was so much going off in his head. In a negative way, because of all his drinking problems. But alongside that there were so many good positive things that are now never gonna see the light of day. Whether it be a song or a painting or whatever because the guy had talent and it's just a real shame that for the people that are interested. They are never gonna see what never came. You know because there was a lot of unfulfilled promises in Steve Clark."

"He was a guy that had a great sense of humour. He could be the most depressing person in the world. He could be the most up person in the world. All within the space of fifteen minutes. He was impossible to put a handle on. He was the most unpredictable member of the band. He was probably the most glamorous member of the band. He was a very shy guy which sometimes came across as arrogance to a lot of people that didn't know him because he really was just so shy that he couldn't handle talking to people he didn't know very well. He was great on stage. He was the most amazing person on stage. However a skinny little guy like him could hold that guitar above his head for five or six minutes at a time and keep playing the bloody thing, is just mind blowing to me. And we miss him terribly."

6th September 1989 - Last ever appearance w/ Steve

Rick Allen

"My initial reaction was one of not really being that, that shocked because he'd been ill for so long and we knew he was having problems - personal problems. I think I got more upset about the whole situation when we actually saw each other. You know as a band again. It was strange that one person was missing and that he was never really coming back."

Rick Savage

"There's such a feeling of desperation about the whole thing you know. A little bit of helplessness because throughout the years. It wasn't - it was one of the best kept secrets basically. Steve had a problem for a long time. But was managing to cope with it most of the time. And the last couple of years were really hard on the band and really hard on Steve. You know I'm talking about going to AA meetings with him, family days. Stuff like that - interventions, the whole thing. We now have an insight of what it's like for a person that's maybe married to an alcoholic. It's a hard life and to a certain extent the band as a whole suffered, because it does, it drains you having to put so much attention and looking after one particular person."

Phil Collen

"Obviously a great friend and all that stuff and it was horrible to see what happened to him. You know and nothing anyone could do. Him included because he tried very hard. And yeah - we missed him before he died because you know he was just having such an awful time."

Steve's Last Home

Shown below is the location of Steve's final home on Old Church Street in the Chelsea area of London, England. Steve's town house is on the right. Across the small road on the left is The Pig's Ear pub. Known at the time as The Front Page. This is the road Steve walked across only to be found in the early hours of 8th January 1991 by his then girlfriend Janie Dean (who has since passed away herself).


Related News - Def Leppard Guitarist Steve Clark (New Sheffield Grave Site Photos)

Related News - How Def Leppard Formed 39 Years Ago This Month In Sheffield

Related News - 38 Years Ago Def Leppard Record Their First EP At Fairview Studios

Related News - 28 Years Ago Def Leppard End Hysteria Tour/Steve Clark's Last Show

Related News - 23rd April 2016 Remembering Def Leppard Guitarist Steve Steamin' Clark


share this story:





get def leppard news

Stay in touch with the latest updates.


explore def leppard tour history
Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar