Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith Was “in Contention” to Join Def Leppard


Sure, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard are both, technically, NWOBHM bands, but that seems more because of historical circumstance than sonic similarities. Can you imagine Maiden touring with Mötley Crüe, or Def Leppard touring with Ghost? What about Maiden playing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” or Def Lep doing “The Number of the Beast”? It’d be weird, right?

And yet, it seems, the two bands nearly overlapped. During a recent interview with EonMusic to promote his memoir, Monsters of River and Rock, Smith was asked if he was “in contention for Def Leppard, when Steve Clark died.” To which Smith replied:

“Well, emmm… [long pause] I was, yeah. Yeah I was. I’m not sure… I want to write more books; that might be in my next one! [laughing] There’s whole story about that, there’s a whole story about that.”

Smith had left Iron Maiden a few years prior; Def Leppard, you’re likely aware, ultimately went with former Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell. (Which also seems like a weird choice, but we’ve all had thirty years to get used to it.)

ANYWAY, to give you some idea of how odd this would have been, here are some Def Leppard songs from the post-Clarke era. Just try to imagine Smith playing these.

Obviously we have no way of knowing what this would have meant for Maiden. Would Smith have still returned to the fold in 1999? If we pretend that he would not have, well… there are a number of notable Maiden songs on which he Smith a writing credit that might’ve never been produced, or would have at least sounded radically different.

So I’d argue the way things ended up was for the best. But perhaps you disagree! As always, we invite you to head to the comments section for some lively debate that I personally will never read. Have fun!


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