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Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith was in the running to join Def Leppard in 1991, says drummer Rick Allen

Adrian Smith
(Image credit: Dagmar Scherf/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Following the death of Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark in 1991, Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith was strongly considered to fill the slot, according to Rick Allen.

In a new interview with eonmusic (opens in new tab), the long-serving drummer reveals that he “really loved the idea” of Smith joining the band.

“I mean, there was a kid called Huwey Lucas that was a contender; there was [ex-Thin Lizzy/Blue Murder guitarist] John Sykes; there were all these people kind of lined up.”

“It's interesting,” he continues, “you put somebody in a slightly different situation and new things are revealed about them, and it was cool. It was a complement that he was so into it. But I think ultimately, Vivian [Campbell] was the absolutely perfect choice.”

Adrian Smith – who left Iron Maiden in 1990 before rejoining in 1999 – cautiously revealed in a 2020 interview (opens in new tab), also with eonmusic, that he was considered for the role.

“Yeah I was. I’m not sure… I want to write more books; that might be in my next one! [Laughing] There’s whole story about that.” 

Smith was referring to a potential followup to his 2020 fishing book, Monsters of River & Rock: My Life As Iron Maiden's Compulsive Angler.

Also in the eonmusic interview, Rick Allen remembers Steve Clark. “I found Steve to be a very deep person; a very deep thinker,” he says. “I miss him every day.”

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).