Joe Elliott of Def Leppard recently spoke with Yahoo Entertainment about his singing voice, which is inherently more pop-oriented. He also acknowledged that he isn’t exactly the rock force that Brian Johnson of AC/DC is.
Joe Elliott was influenced as a child by a wide range of musicians who each had a distinctive edge to their sound. Singers like David Essex, Brian Ferry, and David Bowie served as influences for him. Despite having a rock aspect in their music, these musicians tended to favor pop and glam rock.
Joe’s natural singing voice, which he acknowledges tends more toward pop than rock, was influenced by these instances. A tune like “Diamond Star Halos” is more of him with the melodies and fills; yet, most of the time, he gets advice from others for his voice to match stronger tracks. He struggled to find his footing as a rock singer when making heavier music with Def Leppard.
Regarding his natural rock voice, Joe Elliott said: “I actually don’t have a great rock voice; I have a pop voice. I think I honestly think I sing a David Essex song, like ‘Rock On’ better than I sing my own, because I grew up on people that were just edgy. David Essex had a couple of hits that were pretty edgy for a pop singer, and then there was, like, you know Brian Ferry? I don’t sound anything like him, but he was a voice that was unique, and definitely, they were a rock band but a glam rock band.”
“It wasn’t Ponzi pop music; he was just, you know, [David] Bowie, the same thing. It was unique, and I was kind of led down the path of the rock singer when we were producing the hard stuff with Mo, but it was difficult for me to do. I’m not naturally Brian Johnson. I can do it, but if I’m left to my own devices, you listen to ‘Diamond Star Halos,’ and that’s the real me.”
Elliott was able to have a great career with Def Leppard despite not having a natural rock voice like Brian Johnson. Joe provided fans a glimpse into the work that goes into making Def Leppard songs by recognizing his natural pop voice and the different distinctive influences that formed him.