Elliott only toured because inspirational father told him to – then band did one last show as his condition weakened
Def Leppard’s tour manager has told how Joe Elliott only agreed to play the band’s current tour because his dying father told him to – and the band knew Joe Senior was close to the end when they performed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last Tuesday.
The singer had wanted to postpone the band’s upcoming US tour dates after his dad suffered a heart attack in April. But the man who had funded Def Lep’s first recording session told him to get back to work.
Elliott and his mum were with Joe Senior when he died in a UK hospital last week.
Long-time chief roadie and friend Malvin Mortimer says: “Joe’s father, Joe Senior to all who knew him, suffered a significant heart attack in April. While he was in intensive care he had two more attacks. He was very low for a week or so.
“I wasn’t surprised to hear a few days later he was making a recovery. I know him to be made of old-style bricks and mortar – upright, forthright and as tough as nails.
“Joe discussed the upcoming tour. Joe Senior insisted his son go ahead and do what had always made him proud.”
Mortimer explains the band and their crew had already done all the hard work to play the show in Milwaukee when Elliott was told his dad’s condition had worsened.
“Joe decided to go home to support his parents. But he insisted on doing the show that night in honour of his father.”
The band were fully supportive – but Elliott came close to breaking down after performing the track Love Bites.
Mortimer says: “He appeared to be tearful coming off stage for a change of shirt at the end of the song. He explained it was his dad’s favourite tune.
“The next day I took him to the airport and he flew to his father’s bedside. Joe Senior succumbed to his illness and passed away in hospital, with Joe and his mother with him.”
The crewman continues: “At the age of 18 Joe had the opportunity to join a band. They met regularly in his bedroom with the full support of his parents. That band came to be known as Def Leppard.
“In 1978 Joe asked his dad for help to finance the recording and release of the first few songs they’d written. He put up £150. The recording cost £148.50 and with the change they shared fish and chips on the way home.
“Joe Senior was a gadget maker. He showed Joe how he devised home-made radios, model aeroplanes and air rifles, among other projects.
“He will be sadly missed by all of us who knew him.”