Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott: Don’t Get Too Excited About Rock Hall
More than 3 million votes have been cast since fan voting for the class of 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees opened in October. Def Leppard and Stevie Nicks have consistently been in the lead, with the Sheffield hard rockers logging more than 500,000 votes.
Still, singer Joe Elliott is cautiously reserved about all of it. “Let's not get too excited,” he tells UCR. “The nomination is one thing, being inducted is another.”
As he notes, the fan vote is only one small part of the process, even if it has become an influential one over the years: The winner of every past fan vote has been inducted. “Essentially, it's worth one-thousandth of the entire vote, so it's not worth a great deal numerically speaking,” Elliott points out. “But I think the difference with the fan vote is the fact that everyday somebody's reported back who's top of the chart.”
The way he sees it, the results make it hard for the main voters to ignore. “The other 999 have got no option but to take notice of it," he says.
"Their management, their secretaries, their good selves are looking at this. Or they're getting involved in it in some form of social media every day that Def Leppard is at, they're No. 1 or if somebody else is catching 'em up on the outside. It's like a horse race. Well, they have to take notice of the vote, one way or another. They can either vote against it, out of principle, or they can say, ‘Well, okay, I get it. I think I have to say yes on this one.’”
It means a lot to Elliott that fans now have a say in the process. “The people we always tried to get to from day one [are] the audience,” he says. “[Because] they’re actually involved in it, in one form or another, makes it more valid to us.” Still, he says it always comes down to the music for him.
“I've never been one that's like, 'I have to have these Grammys on my shelf,' and all this kind of business, that's not why I did this,” he explains. “I wanted to try and write decent songs and sing them as well as I could, end of story. And come out and play them live in front of people. When we first got together as a band, it was because we'd been watching bands on Top of The Pops or The Old Grey Whistle Test or watching them live. It was what they did, it was their reaction with an audience.”
Elliott says when he was growing up, it was a “fantastic” feeling to be in the crowd, “screaming for your favorite band,” and the idea of being on the other side of that and onstage, had an appeal that was impossible to escape.
“It's such a cool thing to want to do, and that's all we really wanted,” he says. “The whole business side of it is something that we learned along the way, and this is part of it. You do these merry dances to get nominated for something, and we were like, ‘We don't want to do any merry dance, we either get nominated or we don't, but I'm not gonna get on my knees for it.' It's nice, and who wouldn't want to be in the same club as the Beatles and the [Rolling] Stones, and all that kind of stuff? But if we are, great. If we're not, then we're not.”
But he doesn’t want his words and thoughts to be misconstrued. “It sometimes will come across reading that I'm negative toward it,” Elliott points out. “I'm not negative toward it. I'm just ambivalent. I'm neutral. I'm not gonna get excited about it, 'cause we're not in. We’re waiting to see.”
One thing you can count on is if Def Leppard get inducted into the Hall of Fame, there'll be one more voice banging the drum for Ian Hunter to get some long overdue recognition. Elliott says "it's a crime" the Mott the Hoople frontman hasn't been inducted.
“It's still amazing output, better than Bob Dylan, for my taste," he says. "The fact that it took 13 years to get us nominated is all well and good, the fact that it took Roxy Music 21 and Todd Rundgren probably 30 is ridiculous.
"The whole thing is just subjective in the first place," he continues. "It's like, Who decides this? And that's why we've always been like, This is not public taste dictating how it should be. It's some invisible, Marvel Comics baddies or something. It's like some secret committee, and we don't know who they are. Mostly with bands like that, people like that, it just by nature, becomes elitist.”
That's one of the reasons Elliott prefers to stay away from that scene. “All of a sudden, you get invited into the smoking lounge at some gentleman's club, and all of a sudden you feel like, 'Oh, I don't want to go back to sitting in McDonald's anymore. I want to be in this thing,'" he says. “I think there's a lot of people probably think that's what it's like. We don't really think that way, never did. It's great if we get in for the fans -- that's what it would be for. I suppose my mom would think it was cool.”
For the moment, he’s looking forward to getting a small break after a year in which his band played to more than a million fans during a summer tour of stadiums and arenas with Journey. That run was just one part of the group’s busy recent schedule.
“I think by the time Christmas comes, we’re going to want to put our feet up a little bit, because it’s been a hell of a run," Elliott concludes. "And for me personally, I’ve been promoting this thing since at least January, so it will be a full year of talking the walk and then performing it. So I’m going to want a bit of time with the kids and the wife and the mom and my friends and my record collection and my two cats and my bike.”