Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott Reveals One of ‘Best Three or Four Minutes of My Life Onstage’
Def Leppard have played to massive audiences and played alongside a number of huge names during their career, but during a recent chat with Matt Pinfield of KLOS 95.5's New And Approved (see below), Joe Elliott revealed his that one of his favorite moments of his career came when he shared the stage to perform Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes" at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992.
Joining the living members of Queen onstage were Elliott, Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter, David Bowie, Mick Ronson and Def Leppard's Phil Collen, playing to a packed Wembley Stadium in a show that was broadcast live to TV and radio stations around the world.
Elliott, who also played Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down" with Slash during the Mercury tribute, told Pinfield, "With the greatest of respect to everything that this band has done, it has to be one of the best three or four minutes of my life onstage — was getting up to do that number, for various different reasons. We were celebrating the life and times of Freddie Mercury, bringing AIDS awareness to the world. We were No. 1 all over the world with Adrenalize and 'Let's Get Rocked' at the time of that concert. And so many of our musical heroes were there."
He continued, "Obviously, the remaining members of Queen [were there]. Tony Iommi played rhythm guitar with Brian [May] nearly the entire set — Tony from Black Sabbath. And you're looking at all the different singers that were there — Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant. And the bands that performed — like GN'R [and] ourselves — it was an incredible moment. But to see everybody that meant anything to us as a collective band or us as individuals, being onstage doing the anthem of our generation, as far as I'm concerned, was just unbelievable."
Elliott recalls, "You're looking at, as I said, the remaining members of Queen, with Mick Ronson on guitar, David Bowie playing the sax and Ian Hunter singing. It was one of those moments where Brian said, 'You're gonna get up and do the backing vocals?' And I said, 'You try stopping me.' And I remember I grabbed Phil. Phil was a little reluctant at first. I said, 'If you don't do this, you're gonna regret this for the rest of your life.' And I almost kind of kidnapped him, dragged him on with me. So the two of us were shadowing on either side of Brian May and singing with this guy that had become a lifelong friend of ours a decade earlier anyway. And it was a just a magical moment; it can't be replicated."
Beaming about the experience, Elliott says, "I can do some amazing things from now till the day that we don't do this anymore, and we have done some amazing things starting back in 1979. But that four minutes was the cherry on top of an immense cake. It was just phenomenal. Even now thinking about it, the hairs on my arms are getting all weird. It's just a fantastic thing that we were in the right place at the right time. It's nothing to do with us. That song was, obviously, chosen by, I would imagine, Brian and Roger [Taylor], who would have been the two who had more say than anybody else."
Showing his depth of his fandom, Elliott recalled, "The only band Queen ever opened for was Mott. So there's a connection there with Mott. They said that they learned a lot of their craft watching Mott every night. So there's a love and a respect between Queen and Mott the Hoople. So when they were doing their thing, to break ranks and actually do a non-Queen song, the only two people they did that with, I think, was Bowie and Ian. It was a magnificent thing. And when we got wind of the fact that they were gonna do that, it was, like, 'Wow! Bowie, Hunter, Ronson and Queen doing 'Dudes' for a billion and a half people on TV and 90 thousand people in the stadium. I gotta be a part of this. It's history in the making.' It was coattail riding to the greatest extent. But I'm glad I did."