By Sarah Rodman
December 14, 2018 at 08:52 PM EST
Def Leppard

Joe Elliott says he honestly didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether his band Def Leppard would be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“It was something that we never paid any attention to for the longest time because we never thought we’d fit in, I suppose,” the frontman tells EW.

Thirteen years after they first became eligible, the hard pop quintet behind diamond-selling albums (10 million copies-plus) Pyromania and Hysteria got in on their first nomination. Although the “fan vote” only counts as a fraction of one vote, it certainly didn’t hurt that the band won that contest handily, by more than 100,000 votes.

“It’s really hard to ignore that many people voting. [Getting in] for the fans is what we’re most happy about because they wanted it, probably even more than we did,” says Elliott with a laugh.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elliott was especially pleased to get the news in Sheffield, England, where he and his fellow mates launched their careers with nothing but youthful hope.  (The inductees will include Elliott, bassist Rick Savage, guitarist Phil Collen, drummer Rick Allen, and late guitarist Steve Clark. Founding guitarist Pete Willis will be inducted as will Clark’s long-time replacement Vivian Campbell.)

“It was just a coincidence that we were here,” says Elliott of their hometown, where they’re playing a sold-out arena show Friday.  “It’s going to be amazing to celebrate in the town where it all started.”

The group, who recently concluded a co-headlining tour with Journey, will take a short holiday break and then regroup to figure out who might induct them and, crucially, which three songs they’ll play at the induction ceremony March 29 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (An edited version of the show will air at a later date on HBO.) Our money is on “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Photograph,” and “Rock of Ages.”

“We need to find a place in our schedule to sit down,” and figure it all out, he says. But until then, Elliott, a voracious music fan who hosts a radio show in England, is savoring the moment, gobsmacked at the company Def Leppard will be keeping.

“It’s a great club to be in,” he says. “When you look at all the bands that we have always acknowledged,” he says, listing off everyone from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Queen and AC/DC, “we’ve never hid the fact that our music is a melting pot. Every band we’ve ever [loved] just about is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It’s just an amazing collection of artists who put their heart and soul into their work, which is something that we do.”

The 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class also includes Radiohead, Roxy Music, the Cure, Janet Jackson, the Zombies, and Stevie Nicks, who will be the first woman inducted twice thanks to her previous honor with Fleetwood Mac.

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