On Def Ears

Really? Us? Tour with Def Leppard? That’s what Tommy Shaw of Styx said to himself when he first heard the offer. “Mr. Roboto” aside, it seemed like a mismatch. Worse, he discovered that Foreigner was also on the proposed bill. But then he realized that he’d been humming “Pour Some Sugar On Me” for roughly a week, and he decided to sign on.

Now, with the tour starting in a couple of days, the guys from Def Leppard wanted a conference call to go over a few last-minute particulars.

Tommy wasn’t surprised. Clearly the band that made Hysteria —the Sgt. Pepper of ’80s arena rock — was a band that paid attention to detail.

YouTube: “Rock of Ages” by Def Leppard:

He picked up the phone and dialed.

Operator: Radar Phone Teleconferencing. How may I direct your call?

Tommy Shaw: Rock of Ages meeting, please.

Operator: Password?

Shaw: Love is like a bomb, baby. C’mon, get it on.

Operator: Tommy Shaw has joined the call.

Shaw: Hello.

Joe Elliot: Tommy, glad you could make it. I was filling in Foreigner’s Mick Jones on some of the specifics.

Mick Jones: ‘Sup?

Elliot: And I’ve got Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen here with me as well.

Phil Collen: I’m not wearing a shirt.

Elliot: Right. So now that we’re all here, let’s get, let’s get, let’s get, let’s get down to business. First, I would like to tell you two that we picked Foreigner and Styx to tour with us because we’re big fans.

Shaw: Hey, thanks. You know, I’ve really been digging Hysteria lately and …

Elliot: However, I would be lying. The real reason is because we’re fairly certain we can blow you off the stage. Man, did we ever learn a lesson with Journey last year. I mean, who knew?

Collen: Entirely too close a call. They didn’t even have that guy who sounds just like Steve Perry with them. They were using some other guy who sounds just like the guy who sounds just like Steve Perry.

Elliot: That’s why this time we’re not taking any chances. There will be one simple rule on this tour: Whenever you suspect that you’re approaching Def Leppard proportions of rock, you will say, “Gunter glieben glauchen globen — to outrock the Lep is strictly verboten.” Say it now.

Shaw: You know, I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable —

Elliot: Bollocks! Look, we’ve got both Europe and White Lion on standby. And I can assure you, they’d love to have your spot on the tour. So say it, Tommy.

Shaw: [Halfheartedly mumbling] Gunter glieben glauchen globen — to outrock the Lep is strictly verboten.

Elliot: All right then. Not so bad, was it? See you on the road, suckers [click].

Shaw: Mick, are you still there?

Jones: What? Yeah, sure.

Shaw: Did you not hear that? Those guys were real jackasses. Couldn’t you have helped me out a little?

Jones: My bad. To be honest, I was only half-listening. I’ve got Hysteria on. Seriously, it’s ruling me. It’s like the Sgt. Pepper of ’80s arena rock or something.

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