Say It's Your Birthday: Def Leppard's Steve Clark

Today is the birthday of Steve Clark, guitar player for Def Leppard.

This band's catchy, guitar-driven pop-oriented hard rock was one of

the most imitated styles of the '80s. Leppard's hit albums were

polished syntheses of heavy guitar riffs, memorable pop melodies and

simple teen-oriented lyrics. Originally the band was associated with

the new wave of British heavy metal bands, releasing two albums that

made a small impact in the US. Then Mutt Lange produced High 'n'

Dry which contained the seeds of the signature Leppard sound.

Their third album, Pyromania released in 1983 was a monster

success, selling over six and a half million copies in the United

States. The album showcased the refinement of Def Leppard's twin

guitar attack, where both parts worked together to create a huge sound

instead of merely repeating the riff. In 1984 the band made two

attempts to record a follow-up, one with the exhausted Lange and the

other with Jim Steinman, both ended up with the dismissal of the

producer. On New Years Eve, Rick Allen lost his left arm in an auto

accident. Despite this, the band wanted to keep him in the group and

he was equipped with a customized electronic drum kit to ease his

playing. On 1978 Hysteria was released, reaching number one.

Recording for the follow-up to Hysteria was underway, when

Clark was found dead in his apartment after a drinking binge in 1991.

Def Leppard continued the album with Phil Collen playing all the

guitar parts. Adrenalize shot to the top of the charts upon its

release in April 1992. Vivian Campbell, a former guitarist for

Whitesnake was announced as Clark's replacement in the spring of 1992.

It is also the birthday of Roy Orbison, Captain Sensible (Damned).