This section looks at the first show of the 'On Through The Night' North American tour in 1980. The first time the band had played in the USA and outside of the UK.
"I heard somebody shout, "Wasted!" I couldn't believe it."
Def Leppard played their first ever North American show in Santa Monica, CA, USA on this day in 1980.
The band's first show on US soil took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium opening for Pat Travers.
The first of nine shows supporting Pat and his band who were touring for the 'Crash And Burn' album.
This first American tour ran from the end of May until early August and would see them play large arenas for the first time supporting the likes of Judas Priest, Ted Nugent and the Scorpions.
Following its UK release onthe 'On Through The Night' album had come out on 26th March in the USA.
The band had already played well over 50 shows all around Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) from late January until the end of April. Playing everywhere from Aberdeen in the North of Scotland to Exeter in the South of England.
Pat Travers had played a UK tour in March 1980 with Girl as openers featuring Phil Collen and Simon Laffy. The backing band featured future Whitesnake drummer Tommy Aldridge and guitarist Pat Thrall.
Some live photos shown below are taken from the Fresno show which took place on 21st May 1980.
Shown below are various band member quotes about this show and a story from the 1987 'Animal Instinct' biography.
Pat Travers Band - Crash And Burn Tour
Pat Travers Band had release his new album 'Crash And Burn' on 1980 and started to tour it in the UK.
Phil Collen's band Girl were the opening act for 8 shows starting on 21st March 1980 in Cardiff, Wales and ending on 31st March in Glasgow, Scotland.
Pat then started his US tour in Cleveland, OH on 11th April 1980 and played up to 24 shows ending in San Diego, CA on 17th May before Def Leppard joined as the new support act.
Hello America - 1987 Animal Instinct Biography Quotes
In order to conquer America, Leppard had to get their bearings straight - fast. When the band arrived in Los Angeles, they checked into the Chateau Mormont hotel in Hollywood. The day before the first show at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with Pat Travers, road manager Robert Allen called Cliff. "He said to me "What time do we have to leave the hotel to make the gig?". How many hours should we allot?' I asked him what time the soundcheck was and he said 5pm. I told him if he left by 4:30, he'd be there in plenty of time. He didn't understand. You see, the itinerary he had didn't say Los Angeles. It said Santa Monica. He thought Santa Monica was in another part of the State, when it's just part of L.A. I explained it to him and he was a little embarrassed."
Fortunately, Cliff and Peter Mensch hired Rob Cooksey, an experienced English road manager whose clients included Deep Purple, and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, to travel with Leppard for the first few weeks and show Robert the ropes.
Animal Instinct 1987 Biography Quotes
1980 USA Tour
Shopping was a lesson in itself. "Pete and Sav went out to buy cameras and these guys didn't know anything." Cliff chuckles. "They got ripped off right away. They overpaid, they got no receipts and they had faulty merchandise." But the success of Leppard's first visit to the Rainbow, where they were treated like rock royalty, was a good omen. Opening night with Pat Travers was another.
"I was shitting myself," Rick Allen admits. "I had a brand new drum kit, never seen it before, and it was all out of tune. It had been specially ordered and arrived the day of the show."
Travers' drummer Tommy Aldridge, one of Rick's idols, helped him set it up right and tune it in time for Leppard's curtain call.
"Within two songs, there were kids shouting for Wasted," Joe marvels. "Only four or five of them, of course. But there were 2500 other people there that had never heard of us and they accepted us as well. Nobody booed. There was always a reaction and it was ninety-nine percent positive."
The band opened with "Hello America". "Surprise, Surprise," laughs Sav. "But we could not believe the reaction. Sure we'd come from England where we were very popular and you couldn't pick up a music paper without reading something about us. But this was America, where we thought nobody would know anything about us, And these people not only knew the songs, they were going mad for them. We thought 'Hey, this is it, this is fantastic.' It was better than England, and we were known in England."
"We started noticing that there was a growing number of females hanging around at the gigs," Sav explains. "It wasn't something we noticed on stage. But it became very apparent when we came off stage. It was amazing how many females there were, not just backstage, but around the hub of the concert itself. Easily fifty-fifty, whereas in England our shows were always ninety percent male."
"At the beginning, it was just something we'd remark on. Then after a while, it became amazing, that there were actually teenage females who liked heavy rock music."
1999 - Joe Elliott Interview Quote
"Yeah it was, it was the 20th of May at the Santa Monica Civic - I remember when we first went out on stage we were opening up for Pat Travers in the Civic and the lights went down and we went on and there was this polite applause."
"But I remember one person about seven or eight rows back screaming out "Wasted!", which was one of the songs off the first album."
"I remember turning round to somebody and going "Holy shit! they've heard of us, you know cause I didn't expect that they had."
2000 - Joe Elliott Interview Quote
"When we opened up for Pat Travers - the first gig we did was in Santa Monica, CA - the lights went down, we walked out onstage, and I heard somebody shout, "Wasted!" I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that somebody in America actually had heard one of our records."
1999 Show Story By Joe Elliott/Rick Allen
"When that album came out none of us had even been to America, I'd never been on an aeroplane, you know. I wrote the lyrics to 'Hello America' in the basement of this factory I was telling you about earlier (Osbourne-Mushet Tools). And that was just a kid dreaming, I mean I had to look up on a map for rhymes for cities, I didn't know anything, all I knew about America was Starsky an' Hutch and Kojack!. First time we went to the States was May 1980, first gig was on the 20th at Santa Monica Civic."
(Rick Allen) - "Actually he just called me recently and said it's 19 years ago to the day on the 20th."
"Yeah it was, it was the 20th of May at the Santa Monica Civic which was to me, was just like, it was astonishing cause I was - because I'd got this prized vinyl Bowie bootleg from the Santa Monica Civic in 1972 and the thoughts of standing on the same stage as Bowie, in a foreign country! was very cool. You know, to me, that's what I was like, I was just a fan. That's all I was, was a fan that was wearing a rock stars pair of boots and they didn't quite fit me properly at the time."
"I remember when we first went out on stage we were opening up for Pat Travers in the Civic and the lights went down and we went on and there was this polite applause. But I remember one person about seven or eight rows back screaming out "Wasted!", which was one of the songs off the first album. I remember turning round to somebody and going "Holy shit! they've heard of us, you know cause I didn't expect that they had. But they'd been playing that and 'Rock Brigade' on the radio."
2010 - Joe Elliott Interview Quote
"We didn't do what most English bands did and break into the U.S. playing clubs."
"The first place we played was the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium opening for Pat Travers."
"Then arenas with Ted Nugent and Judas Priest."
"It was a full-on apprenticeship."
"And back in those days, we had artist development."
"You were allowed to f*ck up your first two records without anyone taking notice, which is why bands like us and U2 and Bon Jovi all went bang on our third."
Def Leppard Press Biography April 1980
Def Leppard Biography
Def Leppard are:
Joe Elliott - Vocals.
Pete Willis - Guitar.
Steve Clark - Guitar
Rick Savage - Bass.
Rick Allen - Drums.
Andy Peebles (Radio 1 DJ) - "It was interesting to hear a rock band whose material managed to sound fresh within the confines of heavy rock."
Geoff Barton (Sounds) - "High powered heavy rock played to a degree of tightness usually achieved after a half-dozen gruelling American tours".
Def Leppard is a five piece heavy rock band from Sheffield and have already gained much interest and support around the UK from their first maxi single which was self-financed and distributed.
They are a new and young outfit but despite their tender years, have shown themselves capable of a competent degree of musicianship.
The average age of the band is 18 and most of the boys have been playing since they were kids. Rick Allen (drummer) has been trained by Kenny Slade (Joe Cocker's drummer in the Grease Band) since the age of 10.
Pete Willis started playing bass at six years of age and Steve has been classically trained since 16.
They write collectively, though Joe Elliott is responsible for the lyrics. Their individual musical influences safe-guard the end product from repetition, but they do admire other bands such as Rush, UFO, Styx and Thin Lizzy.
Def Leppard were voted in Melody Maker's Christmas Poll as No. 4 "Brightest Hope For The 80's", and New Musical Express' poll at No. 6 under "Best Act" category.
Def Leppard look set to head up the new wave of British Heavy Metal.
In the UK, Def Leppard's first maxi single was 'Getcha Rocks Off' / 'Ride Into The Sun', B/W 'The Overture'.
They followed this with their 'Wasted' single, a British tour as support to AC/DC and a spell in the studio recording their debut album with producer Tom Allom.
Their rip roaring rocking album is now released and is entitled 'On Through The Night'.
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