This begins with a voice that says something like "Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen." It doesn't mean anything. Producer Mutt Lange got tired of counting the band in with "1, 2, 3, 4...," so he started saying this. The band would sometimes make up stuff when asked what it means.
This song references Neil Young in the opening lines: I've got something to say...
It's better to burn out
Than fade away!
This is part of the refrain of Young's "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
" target="_blank">My My, Hey Hey," released in 1979 on Rust Never Sleeps
Def Leppard, more so than most bands, paid a steep price for their fast living. In 1984 their drummer Rick Allen lost an arm after losing control after racing his Corvette on a dangerous stretch of road near Sheffield, England. Lead singer Joe Elliott and guitarist Phil Collen stayed sober from this point forward, but their other guitarist, Steve Clark, couldn't shake his additions and died from an overdose of prescription drugs in 1991. (thanks, Ekristheh - Halath)
The band had the music written for this song, but were having trouble coming up with lyrics. One night, there was a bible study group in the studio and the next day, lead singer Joe Elliott found a bible open to the hymn "Rock Of Ages." He started singing the phrase and Lange thought it would be perfect for the chorus. They used it as the title and wrote the rest of the lyrics from there.
There are no guitars on the verses, but they come in strong in the chorus.
Written to excite stadium-sized crowds, in our interview with lead singer Joe Elliott
, he called this song a "call to arms." It was released as the second single from the Pyromania
album, following "Photograph
," which was also a big, rousing anthem.
Note the prominent cowbell in this song. One of producer Mutt Lange's talents was incorporating the latest technology into a band's sound while retaining an organic sound. The glossy production on this track is offset by the pastoral sound of the cowbell, an instrument that evokes classic rock songs like "Mississippi Queen
" by Mountain and "Honky Tonk Women
" by The Rolling Stones.
In an interview with the magazine Kaos 2000
, lead singer Joe Elliott talked about what influenced this song. Said Elliott: "We'd have never written 'Rock Of Ages' if we hadn't have heard 'I Love Rock And Roll
' by Joan Jett. 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."
In the book MTV Ruled the World - The Early Years of Music Video, Joe Elliott, lead singer for Def Leppard, reminisces with a grin about the making of the "Rock of Ages" video: "It was the ridiculousness of it, which is exactly what the video needed to be. [Director David Mallet] was like, 'I want you to walk down this drawbridge holding this sword.' It's like, 'Oh, f--k off. Don't make me do that!' Of course, like an idiot, I submitted to his blinked eyes, looking at me like some long-lost dog. David Mallet's got a great way of manipulating people like that. I was young and dumb and went 'OK.' I look at that now, and I think 'What the hell was I thinking?'"
The band's manager Peter Mensch got some screen time in the video. He's the druid mouthing the opening words and playing chess.
Listen to the verses, and you'll notice that guitars are missing, which emphasizes the vocals but presents a problem: What should the guitarist do in the video? Joe Elliott explained in the aforementioned book: "There's a couple of shots where [guitarist] Phil [Collen] was clapping along on the verse - because there's no guitars - and he's standing directly behind me, so I look like I have these clapping antlers coming out of my head."In the same book, guitarist Phil Collen adds: "Pretty funny when you look back. The robe thing took about 30 seconds to film. You kind of forget about that."
"She Blinded Me With Science
" singer Thomas Dolby worked on the Pyromania
album with Mutt Lange, credited as "Booker T. Boffin." Dolby told us: "It was terrific. I was working only with Mutt. I barely saw the band. I think I saw Joe Elliott very briefly. But I was primarily working with Mutt and Mike Shipley, the engineer. And it was a very manicured sound for a rock record. A lot of what Mutt wanted me to do was sort of double the guitars and make them creamier and thicker."
Ever wonder why there's an owl in the video? According to Joe Elliott, the director David Mallet thought it would be funny to put the bird in the clip where he says the line, "all right," because it sounds like "owl-right."
Back in the CD-ROM days, There was a "Ages Of Rock" computer program that detailed important dates in Def Leppard history.
In 1998, The Offspring used the open on their song "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)."
A musical called Rock of Ages
opened on Broadway in 2009. Featuring popular music from the '80s, the play takes its name from this song, but no Def Leppard songs appear in the production. When the musical was made into a feature film in 2012, the Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me
" was included, performed by Tom Cruise. That same year, the band embarked on the "Rock of Ages" tour with Lita Ford