The Story Behind “Photograph” By Def Leppard
Def Leppard for the music video of "Photograph" - DEF LEPPARD / Youtube
Def Leppard’s 1983 hit, “Photograph”, is the lead single off their third album, Pyromania. Behind the acclaim of the song, how did it all come together? Read on to find out.
Mutt Lange is behind the album’s production, who also had vital input in the songs, “Photograph” included. Lange pitched in the line, “All I’ve got is a photograph”, which then gained momentum with the members and conceptualized around the theme of a guy who was crazy about a girl, but only had a photograph of her to keep for himself.
While the band would sometimes dedicate the song to Marilyn Monroe (and even had a look-alike star in the music video), there was never really any substantial evidence pointing to such allusion and was only used to create a good story for the track. Even the lyrics seem vague when looked closer, but the overall plan was to express extreme infatuation over a woman in the anthem rocker.
This was the last album that founding member and guitarist Pete Willis had contributions in, where he was replaced halfway in the recording process by Phil Collen, who filled in lead parts for the rest of the song. Collen typically played fast and spontaneously, but Lange had him slow down for the track and properly place his solos and licks. “With that one, I actually worked out the melodic thing and right at the end Mutt Lange said, ‘Just vibe out on the end. Play solos and licks and go around the vocal.’ Because it was such a melodic, amazing, beautiful melody it was so easy to weave in and out of Joe’s vocals at the end. Then the chorus is so melodic that it was so easy just to play all those licks. It kind of played itself,” Collen said.