In a candid confession, Joe Elliott, the charismatic frontman of Def Leppard, recently admitted that the band’s 1981 album ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ bears a striking resemblance to AC/DC‘s iconic ‘Highway to Hell.’ Elliott opened up about the similarities between the two albums during his appearance on the Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show.
For rock lovers, ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ and ‘Highway to Hell’ are undoubtedly classic masterpieces. The two albums share more than just a memorable sound – they were both crafted under the watchful eye of legendary producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange. The collaboration between the bands and the producer seems to have played a significant role in creating the unmistakable sonic resemblance between the two albums.
Elliott revealed that during the recording of ‘High ‘n’ Dry,’ Mutt Lange went to great lengths to replicate the sound of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell.’ This included positioning drummer Rick Allen’s kit in the same spot as Phil Rudd’s, using the same microphones, and even employing the same amps and cabinets as Angus and Malcolm Young. This meticulous attention to detail resulted in an unmistakable AC/DC vibe on the Def Leppard album.
The frontman went on to share a personal anecdote about how his criticism of Bryan Adams’ ‘Waking up the Neighbors’ landed him in hot water. Elliott had previously expressed that the album sounded ‘a bit close to the bone,’ which understandably upset Adams. However, in retrospect, Elliott acknowledged that the similarities between ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ and ‘Highway to Hell’ were also striking. He expressed sincere regret for his past comments and stated that he has since apologized to Adams on numerous occasions.
When asked what he had thought of Bryan Adams’ ‘Waking up the Neighbours’ when it came out, the singer replied:
“I got into trouble with this one. I thought it sounded a bit close to the bone. Bryan was a bit pissed off with me – and fair play to him; he should have been. But what it is, it’s exactly the same as the ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ sound like AC/DC. What you’ve got is … the same producer, possibly using the same engineer, in the same studio. When we did High ‘n’ Dry, Mutt put Rick [Allen]’s drums exactly where Phil Rudd’s drums were, using the same mics to mic them up.
We probably used the same cabs and amps that Angus and Malcolm [Young] used and that Steve [Clark] and Pete [Willis] used. So there’s going to be a thing where somebody says High’ n’ Dry sounds like Highway to Hell. Well, touche — it does. So I mouthed off a little too much there, and I’ve apologized profusely to Bryan many times since.”
Joe Elliott’s honest admission about the sonic similarities between Def Leppard’s ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ and AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ sheds new light on the creative process behind these two rock classics. It’s a testament to the influential power of a great producer and the enduring impact that a distinctive sound can have on fans and musicians alike. So, rock on and let the good times roll!