First time I heard a Def Leppard song was in 1980. Our local Rock radio station (94 Rock) played "Wasted" oif their debut album 'On Through The Night'. Holy shit! Love at first listen. And the first time I saw Def Leppard perform live was April 12, 1983 in Albuquerque, NM. They opened for Billy Squier in support of "Pyromania". The "Photograph" and "Rock Of Ages" videos were all over MTV every thirty minutes. Needless to say, the audience was there to see Def Leppard. And as expected, Def Lep blew ol' Billy out of the water. Then three quarters of the audience exited the venue soon after their set ended. Gee, surprise....surprise.
I had witnessed greatness in the form of Steve Clark that evening. He was better 'live' than anything I ever heard him play on their first two releases ('On Through The Night' and 'High n' Dry'....hands down, my favorites). The songs had so much more punch and he just plain played his fuckin' ass off. I would never hear "Wasted" or "Lady Strange" played the way I heard them that night ever again. Etched in my memory forever.
I saw Steve one more time on the Hysteria tour (Feb 14, 1988) where they set up the stage "in-the-round" and both Tesla and Great White opened. I was a fan of 'Hysteria' but it was way too over-produced for my taste. The tune "Gods Of War" was (still is) my favorite track by far. I was just excited to see Steve perform again. I wasn't disappointed by his performance, but there was way too many other things going on by way of pre-recorded synth sounds, and Rick Allen's electronic drum kit had every bell and whistle on it since this was his first tour after losing an arm to a car accident. Steve wasn't flashy like the others running around hamming it up. But he had his moments where he killed it and stole the spotlight from the others.
I was equally touched in 1991 when Tesla's released the 'Psychotic Supper' album and it included the track, "Song and Emotion" written about their ex-tourmate, Steve. Then in 1992, Def Leppard released their first album without Steve entitled, 'Adrenalize' which included a tribute to Steve by way of "White Lightning". Amazing songs.
There's always a smile on my face when one of his tunes hits the radio or my iPod. Whether it's, "Bringin' On The Heartbreak/Switch 625", "Rocket", "Photograph"....or whatever, I stop in my tracks and just thankful his music lives on.
I checked out Def Leppard last Summer (Sept 25, 2015) and they had a ton of photos of Steve flashing up on the screens and onstage celebrating him on a number of songs. Now THAT wasn't something I was expecting and it made that concert even more memorable.
Long live Steamin' Steve Clark.