Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliot has revealed why the band never fired guitarist Steve Clark. The band gave Clark time off in 1982 to deal with alcohol issues. In an interview with Guardian, Elliot said, “By coincidence or torture, I often got the room next to Steve. I could hear through the walls the pain he was in. I remember the night before one tour started, he was trying to smash his knuckles on the sink so he wouldn’t have to play, because he was scared to death of getting up on stage. And then we did the gig and he was like: ‘I’m fine.’ With bruises everywhere.”
Elliot continued, “It was f*cking hard work to have to room next to him. We would never have kicked him out of the band because he was always apologising for being the way he was. He wasn’t an a**hole by any means. He wasn’t angry or throwing things. He was always subdued or insular. So you always felt sorry for him.”
On the other hand, Pete Willis — who was replaced by Phil Collen, said, “It was holding us back. We all drank, don’t get me wrong, but when we drank we just told dirtier jokes a little louder. Pete caused problems. He was disruptive and negative. The band had to come first.”
Elliott also praised Vivian Campbell — who replaced Clark, saying, “With Vivian, you got the impression he wasn’t going to wake up dead the next morning.”
Steve Clark died in 1991.