Today marks an incredible 20 years since the death of Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark.
Def Leppard is sometimes, rather unfairly, known simply as ‘the band with the one-armed drummer’. Back in the late ’70s and for well over a decade, Def Leppard was one of the biggest rock bands in the world, selling albums by the millions and playing sold-out stadium tours across the world. As a part of the NWOBHM* its influence on rock and metal bands since has been immense. A big part of this was down to wildly talented guitarist Steve Clark.
Born in Sheffield, England, in 1960 he played guitar from a young age and joined Def Leppard in 1978. One of my favourite stories about Clark came from his Def Leppard audition: he played Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” in its entirety with no backing. He quickly became a key part of the band’s songwriting process, contributing both lyrics and music, and was known within the band as ‘The Riffmaster’.
Sadly Steve Clark battled addictions to alcohol and drugs for many years. He died of an overdose on January 8, 1991 at only 30 years of age.
Def Leppard is one of my earliest music memories. When I was very young one of my favourite videos was Historia, a compilation of the band’s music videos and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” quickly became my favourite song. In the video, the house the band is playing in is demolished around them by people hammering the walls with mallets and a wrecking ball. To my 4-year-old eyes that was one of the greatest things in the world ever! Watch the UK version of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” below.