Joe Elliott On Stealing The Title Of A Christian Hymn For A Def Leppard Hit

In a new video posted on Def Leppard’s official Instagram, Joe Elliott revealed the story behind the band’s hit song ‘Rock of Ages.’

The singer started his words by explaining how hard it was for them to create the song:

“When we wrote ‘Rock of Ages,’ for weeks, we sought any lyrics and melodies. It was just a backing track. We did have an idea of what we would have on chorus. We had a meter. We couldn’t think of any lyrics or anything, really. One day, we were asked if he could give the studio for one day to a Church. They sing hymns. We called them, and we said, ‘Fine.’ We came back the next day, and they left a book behind. One of them opened the hymn with ‘Rock of Ages.’ And I started singing it over the chorus. So it finished.”

‘Rock of Ages’ was the second single from the band’s 1983 record ‘Pyromania.’ Humor was a big part in making the song. The band’s producer, Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange, included some hidden phrases during the guitar solo. When played forward, Elliott can be heard saying things like ‘Forget the Russians!’ and ‘Brezhnev’s got herpes!’ poking fun at Leonid Brezhnev, who was a Soviet leader.

The Band Had Some Challenges With The Song

The band got help from Thomas Dolby, but when Dolby’s keyboards replaced guitars in the verses of ‘Rock of Ages,’  it created a challenge for the band. Phil Collen previously told Metal Edge:

“There’s hardly any guitars in the verses. And the big deal with that was when the vocals and guitar come in on the chorus, you get that ‘super-rock’ sound, you know? Instead of just being a bunch of guys playing the same old riff and everything and losing the dynamic, you have no guitars on the verse or very little — mainly keyboards — and then it just goes bang! It blows up in the chorus. Then you have all these vocals — the whole thing just turns into an orchestra.”

In 2012, Def Leppard made new versions of ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ titled ‘Rock of Ages 2012.’ They both arrived digitally on June 4, 2012.

You can watch Elliott’s words on the track here.