How ‘For Some Sugar on Me’ Saved Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’
Joe Elliott likes to call “For Some Sugar on Me” “the most important song” from Def Leppard’s fourth album, Hysteriaand “perhaps the most important song of our entire career”.
It’s not just hysterical hyperbole either.
“For Some Sugar on Me”, which was first released as a single on September 8, 1987, in the UK only, was indeed the song that saved Hysteria — and probably the proverbial Def Leppard bacon. It’s hard to remember, after the album’s 12-time platinum success, that Hysteria was, a few weeks after its release, “pretty finished”, as Elliott told this writer a few years later. The follow-up to the similar 1983 multiplatinum Pyromania had cost the band a huge amount of time and money, to the point that it had to sell around 5 million copies just to break even.
It didn’t happen out of the box. Hysteria debuted at No. 1 in the UK, but American audiences were less receptive – perhaps because of the band’s long absence and the fact that, as guitarist Phil Collen pointed out, “everyone world and their mother were putting out records that sounded like Pyromania.” The first American singles, “Animal” and “Women”, reached the Top 10 of Billboardbut fared less well on the Hot 100, while “For Some Sugar on Me” stalled at No. 18 in the UK By the end of the year, it looked like Hysteria was a bust.
That changed when Def Leppard released the sex-infused single “Sugar” in the United States – a stronger market for the band in general – in April 1988. It was a nice hit, reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100 (just under Richard Marx’s “Hold On to the Night”), their highest position to date. The video also became an MTV staple, ranking #1 on the network’s “Top 300 Videos of All Time” countdown in 1991 and #2 on the “100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s” survey. VH1 in 2006.
“The song became a hit because strippers in Florida started asking for it on the local radio station,” Collen said. classic rock in 2016. “He had a second life. Hysteria was everywhere but the screams, and then all of a sudden this song became popular, and then the album went to number one. It’s really funny how it suddenly became cool because it was such a cutting song.”
Watch the video “For Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard
The irony, of course, is that “For Some Sugar on Me” was the very last Hysteria12 tracks to appear on the album.
According to the story, Elliott and producer Mutt Lange were at the studio in Holland one weekend in December 1986 working on “Armageddon It” while the rest of the band was away. ‘We took a break,’ Elliott recalls in Def Leppard’s online series The story so far. “Mutt went for coffee or whatever the producers do, and I took this acoustic guitar that was sitting in the corner of the room and I just started playing this riff-chorus thing, a three-chord turnaround and singing the chorus.
“And Mutt came back and he said, ‘What is this? ‘,” the singer continued. “I said, ‘It’s just this idea I had,’ but we were 11 songs deep on this record that we’d taken the best part of two years to record, so I didn’t dare suggest it to anyone. But he took it back and said, ‘No, that’s the best hook I’ve heard in years, many years. We should do it.'”
Elliott recalls “eyes rolling a bit from some of the band members” when he and Lange showed them the song, but “within a minute of that demo playing, everyone was thinking, “Oh, yeah, we’re in! ‘”
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“We heard it and [bassist Rick Savage] emailed: “OMG, ‘Sugar,’ anyone?” Elliott said. “He wasn’t comparing this song to [‘Sugar’]. He compared the situation. … It was the same kind of feeling, “This could be a very important song for us, and it just comes to the end when we weren’t expecting it”, which is always a nice gift. You’re lucky to have one in a career, let alone two.”
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