Saturday, January 8, 2011

Def Leppard remembers Steve Clark, 20 years later

20 years ago today - January 8 – Def Leppard’s Steve Clark died due to a combination of alcohol and multiple prescription drugs; he was just 30 years old.

Before joining Def Leppard in 1978, Clark played cover songs with his band, Electric Chicken, in Sheffield. Around that time, he met Pete Willis (Def Leppard's original guitarist/founder). Clark asked for a spot in the band and joined the group in January of1978. According to Joe Elliott in Behind the Music, Clark auditioned for Def Leppard by playing all of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" without accompaniment.

Following the success of 1987’s "Hysteria," Clark’s battle with the bottle had become a real concern for the band, who convinced him to enter a rehab facility. Clark, on a 6-month leave of absence from the band at the time of death, was found dead on his couch by his girlfriend.

An autopsy revealed Clark had died from an overdose of codeine and had Valium, morphine and a blood alcohol level of .30, three times the British legal driving limit. There was no evidence of suicidal intent. Daniel Van Alphen, Clark's drinking companion the night before, testified that the two went to the local pub and returned to the guitarist's home at midnight to watch a video.

Leppard’s Joe Elliott posted a short video message about Steve’s anniversary, as well as a few other items….

Def Leppard – message from Joe Elliott
January 8, 2011

Def Leppard – Long, Long Way To Go (2002)
Fan-made video tribute to Steve Clark

See also:

New video: Joe Elliott’s Down ‘N’ Outz – “Overnight Angels”
Def Leppard: live album due in 2011
Bachman & Turner: Fred Turner follows the Def Leppard exercise plan