DEF LEPPARD singer Joe Elliott has told Billboard that he was pleased to learn that original guitarist Pete Willis, who was fired after the band's second album, was included in the list of members who have been nominated for Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction next year. "Pete is very important in the very early embryonic version of this band," Elliott said, adding that he is open to reconnecting with Willis if the group is inducted. "I really couldn't tell you how that's going to pan out," Elliott said. "Would we welcome his company? Well, why not? If he's nominated, he's rightly nominated. He does deserve to be on the list."
In addition to Willis, the current lineup of DEF LEPPARD is listed for Rock Hall nomination along with the late Steve Clark.
Willis was an integral member of DEF LEPPARD who co-wrote many songs on "On Through The Night" (1980), "High 'N' Dry" (1981) and several on the band's 1983 breakthrough album, "Pyromania" ("Photograph", "Too Late For Love", "Comin' Under Fire" and "Billy's Got A Gun").
Willis was fired for alcoholism during the sessions for "Pyromania". His drinking problem had become exacerbated to the point that, while tracking the song "Stagefright", he was incapable of playing. "It was holding us back," Elliott told The Guardian this past summer. "We all drank, don't get me wrong, but when we drank, we just told dirtier jokes a little louder. Pete caused problems. He was disruptive and negative. The band had to come first."
Elliott broke the news to Willis over the phone on July 10, 1982. "He was nice about it," Willis said of the singer's phone call in the 1987 band biography "Animal Instinct". "He said 'I'm really sorry, Pete, I didn't want to have to be the one to tell you this, but I got the job anyway.' After he said that, I knew what was coming next, I said I wanted to come down and talk about it. I didn't want to change their minds as much as to ask why — although deep down, I knew why."
Elliott recalled that Willis offered to get psychiatric help, but the singer responded that it was too late for that. "I had to be adamant, because I knew nobody else would stand up," Elliott explained. "I said, 'It's finished. There's nothing to discuss.' After that, he went, 'Well, to be honest with you, I'm slightly relieved about it.' And that was it."
A short time later, DEF LEPPARD brought in Phil Collen to complete the "Pyromania" sessions before naming him a permanent member of the band.
One of the top-selling rock acts of of all time, DEF LEPPARD has been eligible for the Rock Hall since 2004.
The top Rock Hall vote-getters will be announced in December and inducted on March 29 at a ceremony at Brooklyn, New York's Barclays Center. HBO will broadcast a truncated version of the ceremony later in the year.
To be eligible for this year's ballot, each nominee's first single or album had to be released in 1993 or earlier. For the seventh consecutive year, the public will have the opportunity to vote alongside the more than 800 artists, historians and music industry insiders of the Rock Hall voting body. Fans can vote on the Rock Hall's site for the nominees they'd like to see inducted. The top five acts will comprise a "fan's ballot" that will count as one of the ballots that determine the class of 2019.