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The Pyromania album was produced by Mutt Lange, who came up with the line, "All I've got is a photograph." This gave them the idea to write a song about a guy who's crazy about a girl, but all he has of her is a photograph. Lange was so integral to the band's work that he got songwriter credit on the songs he produced. Def Leppard's next album, Hysteria, was also produced by Lange, and it wasn't released until 1987 because they waited until Lange could do it (that and their drummer lost an arm).
Ringo Starr had a #1 hit in 1973 with a song called "Photograph" that contained similar subject matter. The band was worried they were too similar, but Lange thought no one would notice.
In the video, there are photos of Marilyn Monroe, which made a lot of people believe the song was about her. The video got a lot of play on MTV, which was relatively new at the time and didn't have a lot of videos to run.
This was Def Leppard's first hit. The band formed in 1977 and released 2 major-label albums before this. Pyromania benefited from improved songwriting and slick production from Lange. It sold over 7 million copies.
For commentary of the shooting of this epic video, we turn to lead singer Joe Elliot's memoirs as captured in the book MTV Ruled the World - The Early Years of Music Video: "We'd turned up at this soundstage someplace in Battersea, in London, and there was David Mallet. Now, I didn't know who David Mallet was really, but I knew he had worked with Queen. That was good enough for me. We walked into this pre-built stage. We had nothing to do with it. We can take absolutely no credit for it. But Mallet had put this thing together - mesh flooring with lights coming up through it and these cages with all these girls in it with torn stockings and ripped tops and stuff. Hilarious now, but back in the time, it was like 'Wow, this is cool!'"
As for the scene near the end with the heel going through Joe Elliot's Polaroid, Elliot adds: "I remember where there's this one bit where the 'Marilyn character' stabs her heel through a Polaroid of me screaming. The first thing I had to do when I walked in at 8:00 in the morning - before I even had a chance to have a cup of coffee - David comes in, and he calls everybody 'dear boy' or 'darling.' 'Dear boy, I need you to scream into my Polaroid.' So I did this kind of scream thing, and he goes 'OK, done.' You got pulled along. You got directed, because we didn't know what we were doing. He just said, 'Be yourselves. Leave it all to me.'"
In 2011, Santana recorded a new version of this song with Chris Daughtry.
Shortly after recording his hit "She Blinded Me With Science
," Thomas Dolby worked on the Pyromania
album with Mutt Lange, who gave Dolby an unusual credit. Said Dolby: "By that time my name was known as a solo artist and I felt it might be a bit confusing to people to see my name on a rock record like that. And so it was actually Mutt that picked up a new moniker for me, which was Booker T. Boffin." (See our full interview with Thomas Dolby
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