Wednesday, 11th July 2018
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36 Years Ago Original DEF LEPPARD Guitarist PETE WILLIS Was Fired

Pete Willis 2002. Def Leppard 1987

Original Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis was fired from the band in London, England on this day in 1982.

Pete had been drinking way too much during the making of the Pyromania album. One incident where he could barely play on a recording session for 'Stagefright' led the band to finally ask him to leave.

They fired him at then manager Peter Mensch's home near Earls Court in London, England on the same day as the 1982 FIFA football World Cup Final.

He was replaced by Phil Collen the following day who would go on to complete the recordings for the 'Pyromania' album.

Shown below are various quotes from Pete and extracts from the official 1987 Animal Instinct biography.

As of 2002 (when the above photo was shot) Pete was running a property management company in Sheffield with his wife.

The photo shown below was from either 2001 or 2002 when he filmed his scenes for the 'Ultimate Albums Pyromania' special. Broadcast on VH1 TV in the USA for the first time on 10th March 2002.

Classic Rock 2002 - Pete Willis Interview Quotes

"Things were going too fast for me." he now admits. "I was still enjoying it, but I was using drink as a crutch. It wasn't nice to go that way, but it was something that needed to happen for them and the best thing to happen health-wise for me. If I'd stayed, there was a good chance that I'd have ended up going the same way as Steve Clark."

Pete Willis Sheffield 2002. Pete Willis 2002

1987 Animal Instinct - Biography Excerpts

Sunday July 11 1982 is a day Rick Savage will never forget, It was the day of the final World Cup soccer championship game. He missed the game on television, though, because that was also the day Pete Willis met the rest of the band face to face at Peter Mensch's house in London and, was bluntly told that he was no longer a member of Def Leppard.

The day before, Joe Elliott had called Pete in Sheffield, where Pete was trying to dry out and recharge his batteries after the Stagefright incident, to inform him that his services were no longer required. Originally, the band wanted Peter Mensch to call Pete. He refused. "I said 'No, it's your band. You're big boys'."

Joe was then chosen to be the bad news bearer because of his previous experience handing out pink slips to Tony Kenning, Pete Martin and Frank Stuart-Brown. It was a nasty job, but somebody had to do it. Joe at least had practice.

The conversation basically consisted of Joe telling Pete that he'd been warned repeatedly over the past two years about his drinking and his attitude and that he'd finally run out of last chances.

"He was nice about it," Pete says of Joe's phone call. "He said 'I'm really sorry, Pete, I didn't want to have to be the one to tell you this, but I got the job anyway.' After he said that, I knew what was coming next, I said I wanted to come down and talk about it. I didn't want to change their minds as much as to ask why - although deep down, I knew why."

Joe recalls that during the meeting Pete offered to seek psychiatric help. Joe responded that it was too late for that. "I had to be adamant because I knew nobody else would stand up. I said 'It's finished, there's nothing to discuss.' After that, he went 'Well, to be honest with you, I'm slightly relieved about it.' And that was it."


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Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar