On this date in 1983, Def Leppard released their third studio album Pyromania. With its melodic hooks and heavy MTV exposure, Pyromania became a massive success, and was the catalyst for the 1980s hair-metal movement.
Pyromania was the follow-up to 1981’s High ‘n’ Dry, which yielded a big hit with “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak.” For Pyromania, stuck with producer Robert “Mutt” Lange (who had produced AC/DC’s Back In Black, another hard rock album that transcended the genre to become a mainstream hit). The album also saw a lineup change: Guitarist Pete Willis was fired during the making of the album, and replaced by Phil Collen. Pyromania sold over ten million copies in America and yielded a number of classic videos that MTV played in high rotation (opening the doors for other hard rock/pop crossovers in subsequent years, including Bon Jovi and Poison). And, it could be argued, Pyromania introduced the mainstream to the band’s signature “gang vocals.” Singer Joe Elliott told Radio.com that on “Rock Of Ages,” there were 280 voices singing the chorus, giving it a huge sound.
Success didn’t make life easier for the band: In 1984, drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash and had to re-learn drumming on an electronic kit. Less dramatically, “Mutt” Lange bowed out from working with the band on their next album. However, Hysteria went on to get a diamond certification (for sales in excess of ten million) just as Pyromania did, making Def Leppard one of the most commercially successful acts of the ’80s.