Def Leppard‘s ‘Hysteria’ didn’t need much of a push to gain its well-deserved acclaim. However, one song from the album needed a little extra something to catch on. In a recent episode of Consequence’s The Story Behind the Song, Joe Elliott spilled the tea on how the dance floors of Florida’s strip clubs helped ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ to reach its peak.
Elliott candidly shared that ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me‘ initially didn’t cause much of a stir. He recalled that in the UK, it had moderate success, but in America, it barely made a ripple on the rock charts. People brushed it off as too pop-oriented. But then, something unexpected happened: strip clubs in Florida found a groove with the song’s tempo. Elliott recalled that they had intentionally designed it to be danceable. It seems the dancers picked up on this and incorporated the song into their routines.
‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ didn’t enjoy rock chart success even after six months of its release. However, Elliott claimed things started to change when patrons leaving those Florida strip clubs began requesting the song on the radio. This newfound popularity led to the band creating a fresh version of ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’s music video, which started getting heavy rotation on MTV. With a note of gratitude, Elliott credits the dancers in Florida for kickstarting the song’s popularity.
Here is what Joe Elliott said about ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’:
“Let’s not forget that song was a semi-hit in England. I think a top-20 hit, but not like number one for seven weeks. In America, it absolutely failed at Rock. It just came out, and they were like, ‘Yeah, too pop, not interested.’ Then, in Florida, God bless them; some of the ladies that dance on poles started dancing to this song because of the tempo. I remember saying when we wrote it, ‘It’s got to be danceable!’ So it wasn’t that we did it fast, we did it very mid-tempo, and it really worked.
Six months after, it was not a big hit on rock. It started getting requested because it’s getting danced to in strip clubs, and then the people leaving the strip clubs are requesting the song on the radio. We had already made a really crap video for it in Ireland, which is the demolition woman on a crane, but then it was suggested that we should do a live version of it so it looks a bit more MTV. So, we did a new video for it, and the song started getting requested on MTV. Then it starts getting requested more on the radio.”
“It literally spread from Florida all the way across to the West Coast like wildfire. We were away; we were on tour in Europe while this was happening. We came back in the summer of ’88 to this song being huge. Some songs just click for no reason. We, still to this day, are always thankful for the dancers in Florida for spreading the word, and then it just goes crazy across America, and then across the whole world, and remains a hit.”
Looking back, it’s clear that ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ climbed the charts in an unconventional way. Who knew that the vibrant nightlife of Florida strip clubs would play a significant role in pushing this song into the limelight? And as Elliott pointed out, if it wasn’t for those dancers, the song might never have received the attention it deserved.