Joe Elliott & Phil Collen on How Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” Became a Hit Single: These girls in some strip clubs in Florida kept requesting the song – 2022 – Apple – 35th Anniversary
Def Leppard: Joe & Phil recently chatted with Apple Music talking all things Hysteria album.
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The last song on the album was “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” We had finished the record and the label; everyone was up our asses: “When is it coming out? Do you know what much money it cost?” Mutt (Lange) sees Joe playing acoustic guitar in the corridor. Joe’s lightly singing, “Pour some sugar on me,” and Mutt goes, “What’s that?” Joe goes, “I don’t know.” Mutt says, “Do that again,” and it’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Mutt goes, “We need to record this song.”
I dare suggest (a song) because we were done. We’ve been on this record for 2 1/2 years. I don’t know how good it is anyways. Mutt goes, “That’s the best song I’ve heard in five years.”
Initially, I had this riff for the verse that was kind of like Grand Master Flash’s “White Lines.” It was more of a constant where it went all the way through, and Mutt said: “Put gaps in it. We need holes in it so we can hear the snare drum.”
We hadn’t got any lyrics, so we were just making garbage noises, just phonetic sounds into these machines. Mutt got one and went to record in the corner of the studio, and I went into the other corner. We just literally garbled rubbish into the tape. Then we swapped tapes and tried to translate each other’s nonsense. The first thing he said sounded like, love is like a bomb, and I said, “That sounds like, love is like a bomb.” We both went, “That’s the first line.”
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” reached #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on July 23, 1988, behind “Hold On to the Nights” by Richard Marx. The song was certified gold in the US for selling over 500,000 copies and certified gold in the UK for selling over 400,000 copies.
When “Pour Some Sugar On Me” went to rock radio, it didn’t do a thing at first.
These girls in some strip clubs in Florida kept requesting the song on local radio. They’re dancing to it because it has got this sexy groove. It has got this rock thing, rap thing. Anyway, they’re requesting it like crazy. It starts catching on fire. It’s on all the stations down in Florida.
We had spent so much time and money on ‘Hysteria,’ and it came out and it was disappointing.
By the spring of 1988, Hysteria had sold 3 million copies, which was not enough to cover the album’s $5 million production costs. Thus, the band edited footage from an upcoming concert film to make a new promo clip for “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and finally released it as the fourth single in North America. The somewhat delayed success of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” helped send Hysteria to #1 on the Top Pop Albums chart (now the Billboard 200) a year after its release, selling 4 million copies during the single’s run.
It only did 3 million, which was a massive failure compared to ‘Pyromania.’
Yeah, we thought that was as well as it was going to do. And we were playing kind of half-empty arenas. It wasn’t going great, but I remember thinking if it didn’t sell any more copies at all that we’d be totally satisfied because it was the best album we had ever heard. Until “Pour Some Sugar On Me” came out and it just kicked it off into another stratosphere.
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