The Def Leppard song inspired by Joan Jett

Songs about rock and roll were all the rage in the 1980s. The genre itself was celebrating its fourth decade of existence, having come a long way from the Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley-led origins of the genre. From John Mellencamp’s ‘R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.’ to Twisted Sister’s ‘I Wanna Rock’, rock music was being sung about all over the place. Def Leppard just happened to be one of the many bands who took to it as well.

By 1983, Def Leppard had fully embraced their slight power rock sound on that year’s Pyromania. Pairing up with producer Mutt Lange, the British pop-rockers set out to make a record full of anthems like ‘Photograph’ and ‘Foolin’. But the album’s ode to the power of rock, ‘Rock of Ages’, was initially inspired by another famous ode to rock music.

“We’d have never written ‘Rock Of Ages’ if we hadn’t have heard ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ by Joan Jett,” lead singer Joe Elliott later told Koas 2000. “But we didn’t steal her entire sound. We took that one song and thought, ‘This is very anthemic. We could get away with writing songs of this standard and style.’ And that’s what we did. It doesn’t particularly sound that much like her, the chorus a bit. The actual structure of the song is nothing alike.”

Leading off with the nonsense countdown of “Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen”, ‘Rock of Ages’ immediately set itself apart as a seismic entry point to rock music. It was actually the second song on Pyromania dedicated to the power of rock, after the album’s leadoff track ‘Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)’.

Eventually, ‘Rock of Ages’ became the name of a Broadway musical, and later a 2012 film featuring a number of hit singles from the 1980s. Def Leppard’s music was obviously included in both, with guitarist Phil Collen later expressing appreciation that the band’s music could be canonised by another form of media.

“I think the play and the movie, all of that, helps cement a band and gives them iconic status, especially if you’re still out there on tour,” Collen told SongFacts. “And I think the longer you are around, especially if you’ve got songs that are really cool and everything, something like that happens and it makes you worth more as a band, more important. And the fact that it’s not even a song at that point, it’s a play based on a song that we did, and then it’s a movie based on that, it’s like, Wow, it’s really cool.”

Check out ‘Rock of Ages’ down below.

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