Every year the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame (RNRHOF) seems to look for that one dramatic situation they can capitalize on. What band’s can they put back together, and say look what we did? Who is Black Sabbath? Will Ronnie James Dio be included? Who are them members of Kiss? What about Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick? Why are 80 people going in for Deep Purple, but AC/DC can’t include Mark Evans who plays on four albums big albums by the band? And we can get into my theory that they’re the biggest trolls around, drawing attention to themselves by not including bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Motley Crue, Megadeth, Anthrax or Slayer (just to name a few), just so they can rile people up, and garner more attention to themselves.
But on to the task at hand, Def Leppard is up for the fan’s vote to possibly get them into the RNRHOF. But what current or former members go in? The current lineup has been around since 1992, so 26 years, as a result, I don’t think anyone can dispute Vivian Campbell’s place in the RNRHOF. The man he replaced, Steve Clark, has to be in there also, cause as much as I love the band, and enjoy music they’ve released after his passing, they haven’t been the same since his passing. He co-wrote 46 of 54 of the songs released on On Through The Night, High ‘N’ Dry, Pyromania, Hysteria, and Adrenalize. What? He died before that last album came out? Yes, and 6 of the 10 tracks that appear on that album were still co-written by Steamin’ Steve. That’s 85% of everything the band released, up to that point, without factoring in B-sides.
But what about Pete Willis? If you’re only familiar with the videos that made it to the main rotation on MTV, you’d think that he was gone before Pyromania. Hell, due to that album’s popularity, they reissued High ‘N’ Dry in 1984 with a remix of “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, and “Me & My Wine”, and made videos for both that featured Phil Collen instead of Willis. So for the MTV generation, unless you remember the video for “High ‘N’ Dry (Saturday Night)”, you probably don’t even remember seeing Pete Willis in a video, and that’s a shame.
Pete Willis deserves to be in the RNRHOF, without him helping lay the foundation for the band, pre-Hysteria, the band wouldn’t have reached the heights they did on that album. He co-wrote three of the band’s biggest hits, the aforementioned “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, “Too Late For Love” and “Photograph”. You could argue that outside of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, “Photograph” is probably the band’s biggest song, one of their most known. Without the success of “Bringin’ On A Heartbreak” and “Too Late For Love” the band doesn’t try and make a “Love Bites”, “Hysteria” or all of the other ballads they’ve released over the years.
This is how his input into the band breaks down:
On Through The Night: 7 co-writes and 8 solos including the solo for “Rock Brigade” and co-write on “Rocks Off”
High ‘N’ Dry: 4 co-writes, two became singles, “Let It Go” and “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak” plus 6 solos, including for the title track and “Another Hit And Run”
Pyromania: co-wrote all four singles released off of the album, the two mentioned above, “Too Late For Love” and “Photograph”, plus “Comin’ Under Fire” and “Billy’s Got A Gun”
So in total, those are 15 co-writes and 14 solos on tracks that most Def Leppard fans know, regardless if they choose to play the majority of these tracks anymore or not. If you’ve listed to rock radio the last 35 years, you’ve been hearing Pete Willis’ playing on a daily basis. As a result, I think he more than deserves to get in. Now let’s see if the hall actually let’s the band in!