Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott to Rock Hall: ‘I don’t give a flying rat’s…’

After a long campaign waged by their fans, Kiss will finally be inducted into the Rock & Roll of Fame this spring.

While Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott is happy for Kiss, with whom his group will tour this summer, don”t expect for him to care one iota whether he and his band mates ever make it into the hallowed halls.

My colleague, Liane Bonin Starr, and I taped our CulturePop podcast with Elliott this week and he was so expansive on so many topics that we”re breaking the podcast into two parts: Part 1 will be posted next week and Part 2, the week after, but we couldn”t wait to put up his thoughts on the Cleveland-based Rock Hall.

First off, like a lot of us, he”s wondering exactly which acts get in and why, but he knows for sure it”s not the fans (although the fans” total votes are tallied and count as one of the 600 votes cast by industry insiders and journalists).

“I see, comically trying to make a movie in your mind, this board room of faceless tuxedo-wearing morons. Mr. Roboto times six or whatever,” he says, “leafing through (pretends he”ll playing with a stack of papers) ‘Def Leppard, nah. Tom Waits, absolutely. Bon Jovi, no. Nick Cave, absolutely. Leonard Cohen, yes. Kiss, no. Sabbath, no. Springsteen, yes. Mellencamp, yes. Tom Petty, yes.” That”s the way I look at it. “UFO, Thin Lizzy, no, no.”  Because they aren”t cool,  they”re just not cool, man. And that”s how I see it. I don”t care about people like that.”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has woefully neglected hard rock and metal bands: Despite what Elliott says above, Black Sabbath is in, but they are among the few metal bands. There”s no Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Motorhead, Rainbow or Judas Priest. And the list of hard rock bands that have been ignored is even longer.

Other than a nice ego stroke, Elliott”s not sure he gets the point in getting inducted: “Is it going to pay my mortgage off? Is it going to put my kid through schools? Am I going to sleep better at night?,” he asks? “What am I going to do? Wear a sheriff”s badge with “I”m a member” on it? It was cool to have an Old Grey Whistle Test badge and wear that. I don”t give a flying rat”s ass about the R&R Hall of Fame.”

The same can”t necessarily be said of his bandmates, who he says, “Now, truth be known, the other four guys would say, ‘We”ve gotta do it.”  And I go ‘Why? The Sex Pistols told them to shove it.” They say, ‘We should, it”s going to be good for our…” I couldn”t care less. I don”t see where we”re going to sell one ticket more, sell one more record.The cool factor? There”s nothing cool about being inducted into something that I don”t think is very cool.”

He somewhat begrudgingly admits that if Def Leppard, which has been eligible since 2006 but never made the ballot, were to, inexplicably, be voted in, he would likely attend.  “If I happen to be in Cleveland, fine. A free dinner, free drinks. I am not wearing a tuxedo, I will not join the Mr. Robotos.”

But all things considered, like a true representative of a populist band, he adds, “I”d rather do a show for people who care.”   

Look for lots more from Joe Elliott in our upcoming CulturePop podcast