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Def Leppard dismiss split rumours ahead of Sheffield gig

SHEFFIELD superstars Def Leppard today dismissed rumours of a split as Joe Elliott and Rick Savage prepared for a special home-coming performance.

The Hysteria hitmakers caused just that among fans when they cancelled 23 tour dates last year, citing only "unforeseen personal matters". Frontman Joe fuelled gossips as he performed and recorded a forthcoming album with a new band, the Down 'n' Outz.

But in an exclusive video chat with The Star - watch it in full at thestar.co.uk/video - lead singer Joe and bass player Rick fleshed out their reasons for cancelling the USA tour and announced the five-piece will play on.

They are writing new material, plan to release live recordings, a box set and will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album with their music available for download on iTunes.

A 2011 tour will follow and a Sheffield date is always "a given" when they play in the UK, they say.

Joe and Rick set the record straight during a break in rehearsals for a star-studded Sheffield City Hall concert they headline tonight, to launch a new children's charity in memory of their late DJ pal and charity fundraiser, Dave Kilner.

It features local greats Dave championed, including Amarillo star Tony Christie, electro band Heaven 17, St Elmo's Fire rocker John Parr and funnyman singer-songwriter Steve Womack. Impersonator John Culshaw will introduce surprise guests with a video performance by Paul Carrack. Backing the Leppard duo, while Phil Collen, Rik Allen and Vivian Campbell continue their break, will be Joe's Down 'n' Outz, featuring members of The Quireboys.

It was originally intended as a one-night-only band, opening for Mott The Hoople at HMV Hammersmith Apollo last October.

Dublin-based Joe, aged 50, who recently became a dad for the first time, with the birth of a son to wife Kristine, said of the cancelled tour: "There wasn't any mystery to it really. My wife was pregnant and needed a bit of attention from me, which she wasn't getting.

"There was a lot of things in our private lives that needed attending to. We're not splitting. Not at all. We often joke, what else would we do? You just can't imagine doing anything else."

Tonight's all-star charity concert was originally planned by Radio Sheffield's Steve White to celebrate Dave's career, explained Rick, 49.

Now it's in his memory as widow Shirley, daughters Nicola and Rebecca launch a charity to help local disadvantaged children, called Help A Child Have A Chance.

Rick said: "He was massively supportive of us. We grew up together. He helped us out since the early years.

Joe feared he might miss the concert when the volcano eruption grounded flights while he was in the States. He got three separate flights back home to Ireland and then his ferry was cancelled.

He said: "I would have swum across if I had to. It's a privilege to be involved.

We weren't going to let a little thing like a volcano get in the way."

The gig has brought back early memories, including the time after a Sheffield rehearsal when they couldn't afford the bus fare home and ended up sharing a pint with three straws in it, said Joe.

He recalled: "We walked home past the City Hall - this was 1978. I picked up a piece of chalk, which I found on the floor and I wrote on the wall, 'We will play here in 1980'. And we did. We sold it out."

Tickets tonight are 25 and 30 from Sheffield City Hall box office, call 0114 2789789. For more information visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk

 
 
 

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