Phil Collen Names Def Leppard’s ‘Full-On Spinal Tap’ Moment
That's right — the musician equated a rock-bottom moment at the lowest point of their career to the hilarious scene in the 1984 rock mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, wherein the rock group Spinal Tap are billed underneath a puppet show at an outdoor theater.
For Def Leppard, the mirroring moment happened in the summer of 2005 at a state fair on the banks of the Mississippi River, somewhere in the Deep South of the United States. Far away from Def Leppard's original stomping grounds of Sheffield, England.
"It was like a carnival," Collen recalled to Classic Rock. "If you can imagine doing a gig at a carnival. They put fucking deck chairs out! It was full-on Spinal Tap. Like, 'Are we going on before the puppet show?' I was so pissed off. I thought, I don't want to do this any more."
The guitarist ultimately concluded, however, "Fuck it! We're better than this." And as fans have clearly seen from the group since, that rock-bottom moment didn't last long. Still, looking back on the time, the band members certainly felt the sting.
Def Leppard's Joe Elliott added, "In one sense, state fairs are like every other gig — big stage, big audience. But there's a stigma that comes with it."
The lead singer continued, "It's the difference between an '80s artist like Madonna doing six nights at Wembley and an eighties package tour featuring Marc Almond and the Thompson Twins at Butlin's. And at a state fair you're just one of the attractions, along with a big wheel and firework display, and a juggling pig or whatever. It's not exactly Madison Square Garden."
In May, Def Leppard released the album Diamond Star Halos, their first studio effort since 2015. In the weeks that followed, the influential hard-rockers rolled out both a Leppard-themed tile-matching mobile game and their own brand of signature spirits.
And there's no puppet shows on the road for Def Leppard right now. Their 2022 North American "Stadium Tour" alongside Motley Crue kicked off last month at Atlanta's Truist Park after being postponed twice in the last two years because of the pandemic. The trek also features Poison and Joan Jett. Get tickets here. See the tour dates under the video.
This Is Spinal Tap "Puppet Show" Scene
Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison + Joan Jett Summer 2022 U.S. Tour Dates
July 12 – Hershey, Pa. @ Hersheypark Stadium
July 14 – Cleveland, Ohio @ FirstEnergy Stadium
July 15 – Cincinnati, Ohio @ Great American Park
July 17 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ American Family Field
July 19 – Kansas City, Mo. @ Kauffman Stadium
July 21 – Denver, Colo. @ Coors Field
Aug. 5 – Boston, Mass. @ Fenway Park
Aug. 6 – Boston, Mass. @ Fenway Park
Aug. 8 – Toronto, Ontario @ Rogers Centre
Aug. 10 – Orchard Park, N.Y. @ Highmark Stadium
Aug. 12 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ PNC Park
Aug. 14 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ U.S. Bank Stadium
Aug. 16 – Indianapolis, Ind. @ Lucas Oil Stadium
Aug. 19 – Houston, Texas @ Minute Maid Park
Aug. 21 – San Antonio, Texas @ Alamodome
Aug. 22 – Arlington, Texas @ Globe Life Field
Aug. 25 – Glendale, Ariz. @ State Farm Stadium
Aug. 27 – Inglewood, Calif. @ SoFi Stadium
Aug. 28 – San Diego, Calif. @ Petco Park
Aug. 31 – Seattle, Wash. @ T-Mobile Park
Sept. 2 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ BC Place
Sept. 4 – Edmonton, Alberta @ Commonwealth Stad.
Sept. 7 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Oracle Park
Sept. 9 – Las Vegas, Nev. @ Allegiant Stadium