Album: Pyromania (1983)
Charted: 66 12
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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, whose first work with the band was producing their previous album High 'n' Dry, was so integral to the band's sound that he got songwriter credits on every Pyromania track. Def Leppard's next album, Hysteria, was also produced by Lange after an attempt with Jim Steinman failed. It wasn't released until 1987, delayed because of Lange's schedule and a severed limb: drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in a car accident on New Year's Eve, 1984.
  • 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 2005, Nickelback had a huge hit with their own "Photograph."
  • The band would sometimes dedicate this song to Marilyn Monroe when they performed it live, and the video featured a Monroe look-a-like. This drew many listeners to the conclusion that the song is about the actress, but the Monroe association was constructed for the sake of a good story. The band didn't have a specific inspiration for the lyrics, but wanted to express their young lust in an anthemic song - what guy hasn't found himself so infatuated with a girl that every photograph he sees reminds him of her?
  • This was Def Leppard's first hit. The band formed in 1977 and released two major-label albums before issuing Pyromania. These first two albums sold well, with Def Leppard gaining appeal in the hard rock realm (they toured with both Blackfoot and Rainbow in 1981).

    "Photograph" was the first single from Pyromania, and it had all the makings of a crossover hit: slick production, lively background vocals, a passionate, lovelorn lyric. Impelled by this hit, the band set themselves apart from contemporary rockers like Judas Priest and Queensrÿche by appealing to a wide swath of women. It helped that the band was extremely photogenic and also very young: every member was in his early 20s when the song was released, except for drummer Rick Allen, who was 19.

    Pyromania went on to sell over 10 million copies in the US.
  • MTV, which launched in 1981, put the "Photograph" video in hot rotation, creating a feedback loop between the network and local radio stations. In our interview with Joe Elliott, he explained: "It went through the roof because of MTV. Once people started getting cable all over the States, this fledgling MTV thing took off. We got fantastic bounce-back from people watching it on MTV and then asking the radio stations to play it. The two started bouncing back from each other request-wise, and the song just went crazy."
  • 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.'"
  • 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.)
  • Along with Mutt Lange, the songwriter credits on this one go to guitarists Steve Clark and Pete Willis, bass player Rick Savage, and lead singer Joe Elliott. It was one of Willis' last contributions to the group; a founding member, he was replaced midway through the Pyromania sessions by Phil Collen. When he left, the group had already recorded the backing tracks for the album, which he played on. Collen added the guitar solo on this song and some other tracks, so both he and Willis are credited as guitarists on the album.
  • The group "whoa..." that you hear a few times in this song was inspired by a 1973 Mott the Hoople song called "The Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll," where they do some significant "whoa"ing. Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott is such a fan of Mott that in 2009 he formed a band called the Down 'n' Outz that plays covers of their songs.
  • When Phil Collen was brought in to play solos, he typically played them quickly, going for a spontaneous feel. Mutt Lange made him take his sweet time with this one though. In his Songfacts interview, Collen said: "With that one, I actually worked out the melodic thing and right at the end Mutt Lange said, 'Just vibe out on the end. Play solos and licks and go around the vocal.' Because it was such a melodic, amazing, beautiful melody it was so easy to weave in and out of Joe's vocals at the end. Then the chorus is so melodic that it was so easy just to play all those licks. It kind of played itself."
  • To the best of our knowledge, Joe Elliott performed the first flying spread-eagle on MTV when he does the leap about 1:40 into the video. This slow-motion display of limber exaltation was later seen in the Van Halen video for "Jump," where David Lee Roth performs the feat.
  • In 2011, Santana recorded a new version of this song with Chris Daughtry.

Comments: 32

  • Bruce from San Jose, Calif.De Leppard — One of my all-time fav rock bands...Photograph was an instant favorite with its great tune and vocals....who wouldn’t break out in song and sing along with it whenever you hear it?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 21st 1983, Def Leppard performed "Photograph" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #12 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, and that was also its peak position on the chart, it was #12 for one week...
    And on March 13th, 1983 it reached #1 {for 6 weeks} on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show the British group also performed "Rock of Ages", and the following month on June 5th, 1983 it debut on the Top 100 at #75, nine weeks later on August 7th it peaked at #16 for one week...
    And just like "Photograph" it also reached #1 {for 1 week} on the Mainstream Rock chart, and that was on May 29th, 1983.
  • Gino from HoustonWow! Here we go again. I cowrote Photograph if not almost all the song. To sum it up the song is how we portray an image - especially in a photograph. Or maybe I could say it in a better way - how an image is portrayed in a photograph. This song took some time to write. I would say one year and half. I remember announcers and many people talking about Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio stormy affair/marriage. I never watched Marilyn Monroe in any movies and just looked her up on some photographs. I could not understand a baseball player marrying a model/actress. I met Paul Stanley when I was 14 at Schwartz park, and then Martha (vocal coach) at the same park when I was 17. I was out in a baseball field walking from home plate down the right field foul pole then to the left field foul pole and then back to home plate over and over. I was working on some songs but not Photograph. I walked through the park when returning to my car as a very peculiar lady of stature sat on a bench. She asked me about some songs I was singing, and I started to sing Disney songs. She said no, I mean the songs you were singing at the baseball field. I told her about the song Photograph I had been working on at home, and I wanted to develop some screams in the song. I sang some of the song for her, and she gave me some direction. I finally remembered the song I came up with in the outfield and it was GO which Asia placed on an album many years later. I had just took a job with Sears where modeling was popular at Memorial City and the term Super model started to take off. I attended Blinn JR College in '82, and there was a guy named Jay who had a massive collection of albums which included the first two Def Leppard albums. He was a drummer who helped me establish the beat and rhythm for Photograph where I also finished writing the song. About two weeks later Def Leppard visited Sears/Package pickup where a lounge was later built adjacent to package pickup. Robert Lange, Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) and a model came over to package pickup where all merchandise was taken out another entrance while they visited. Robert Lange handed the model a very small mic and then Robert Lange left to go outside to a van. I sang Photograph Acappella, and I let out a mighty scream near the end of the song where my face turned red, and I passed out briefly as I recall. I also sang Stagefright, and Joe Elliot and myself came up with the song Rock Ages that night. I also through out to name the album Pyromania. Yes, that most likely is my scream sampled/dubbed into the Photograph song mixed with Joe Elliott scream. Also, Mutt is the pseudonym Joe Elliott named me which was then placed in the name of Robert Lange. I am the Mutt in the Lange.
  • Anjali from Duluth, GaThis song reminds me that we may have a rough past, but somehow we all turn out to be good adults in the end.
  • David from Petaluma, Ca@jedd, Savannah, GA
    Same here, but Santa Cruz and her name was Dottie. Awesome time in my life.
  • Jedd from Savannah, GaThis song reminds me of being 20 years old,tons of sex,living in Los Angeles and of a girl named Janis L.,such awesome times
  • Claude from Kingston, Ma10th grade. Wow, I'm old. But where is "Bringing on the Heartbreak"???? Surely that was their first hit! I remember being stunned by the video for that one! Remember when the "M" in MTV actually meant something?
  • Stu from Philly, Pato Michelle in MN - Def Leppard's "Photograph" and Nickelback's "Photograph" are two separate songs, not two versions of the same song.
  • Roy from Dalton, Ga, GaA good song.Whenever I hear it I immediately think of My First True Love Teresa S.
    Roy B.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxSo when are the rest of Def Lepp's song going to make this site?
  • Nick from Covina, Caexcellent song not that big fan of def leppard but this song is awesome one of my favorites
  • Myra from Chicago, IlI heard this song on a classic rock radio station and immediately wanted it. This is an awesome song! My dad loves Def Leppard and so do I! Like father like daughter! LOL =-)
  • Mel from Mattoon, IlJoe Elliott said this song was about Marilyn Monroe when I saw them in Chapel Hill, NC in 1993. This song is almost 25 years old and is still on the radio.
  • Evan from Otway, OhBack when I first heard this song on Headbanger's Ball (the older HB), this song was stuck in my head for at least two days; ALL of Def Leppard's songs are very catchy, which is basically what makes them so great. Still, great song, but my all-time favorite is High 'N' Dry. =)
  • Joni from New York, NyI love this song. It is meaningful and has a great sound. I love Joe Elliot's voice there.
  • Greg from Fairmount, InUh, steve, the solo Pete Willis was trying to nail was for a song called stagefright, not photograph. Ronnie, Bringin' on the heartbreak was NOT off of On Through The Night it was off of their sophmore follow up High N Dry. Yes this song is about Marylin Monroe, Joe Elliot (vocalist) is a huge fan of hers. I ought to know these things I practically worship these guys. Rick Allen is like a God to me because of his influence on me as a drummer. Undoubtedly the greatest rock band in the world, Photograph is just ONE of the MANY MANY songs in their back catalogue that proves it.
  • Michelle from Minesota, Mni have always been a big def leppard fan but the song photograph is better than nickle backs version cause this one is the origional version
  • Sean from Phoenix, AzThis was my favorite song when I was four years old, and I still love it now. Just great memories and really good lyrics.
  • Duane from Wheatfield, InMutt Lange was a genius at getting hits. He later built up Bryan Adams and his wife's, Shania Twain, career. I wish he would have just stuck with Def Leppard : )
  • Michael from San Diego, CaClassic song! Definitely included on the soundtrack of my life!
  • Rachel from Waynesville , Oh"Bringin' On The Heartbreak" was actually on their second album, High n Dry.
  • Anonnymous from Nashville, TxThis wasn't Def Leppard's first hit. The song "Bringing on the Heartbreak" got them big in the USA.
  • Sean from Brockton, MaAnyone remember the cover of the album "Pyromania". Remind anyone of anything? Think 9-11. Creeped me out when I realized this.
  • Pete from Ny, NyI'm no fan of Def Leppard, but this a classic hit, an all-time great. The best pop metal song ever. Great harmonies.
  • Kevin from Sandy, Utthis song was covered by a bluegrass trio in 2004, the video was shown a few times on C.M.T.
  • Kyle from Anna, OhA leftover from High'n'Dry, a really Thin Lizzy-ish thing. Mutt suggested we give it another try-a great example of never throwing away an idea because it broke us in the States. We were trying to think of a subject. We knew it was about a photograph, but because I had a big poster of Marilyn Monroe covering a hole in the wall of the toilet of my Isleworth apartment-and because she was dead- it ended up being about the ultimate example of something you can't possibly have."-Joe Elliot in the Rock of Ages: Definitive Collection pamphlet on the song.
  • Jeff Penman from Rawlins, WyI don't know if this song really is about Marilyn Monroe, but at the Pyromania concert in Casper Wyoming in 1983. Joe Elliot said it was, and they had a laser show that display her face.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InProbably the song that really makes Def Leppard the band they our along with "Rock of Ages". These two songs are timeless and will never get old. I realize "Bringin' on a Heartbreak" came first and I like it as well, but Pyromania just rocked. I'd love to go back to those more care free rockin' days of my youth.
  • Todd from Denver, CoI had heard that Pete Willis was let go because he was too drunk (ironic). And "Bringing On The Heartbreak" was on the album after On Through The Night, called "High And Dry."
  • Ronnie from Ft. Meyers, FlAs far as the comment above, this actually was not Def Leppards first hit. Their first hit was "Bringing on the Heartbreak" from their On Through the Night album. That song actually got a decent amount of radio airplay before this album was released and was actually the song that put Def Leppard on the map.
  • Eroc from Anniston, AlExcellent song!!! And band! I read somewhere directly from Def Leppard that the song WAS IN FACT ABOUT MARILYN MONROE
  • Steve from Chino Hills, CaThe original band guitarist was fired after trying to work the right solo for the song. He spent weeks working on it, and it sounded horrible. His replacement had the solo down in a half an hour.
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