Who Inspired The Def Leppard Song Photograph?

When people think of the song "Photograph" by Def Leppard, many recall the Marilyn Monroe look-alike in the video. It only makes sense that it would be dedicated to the late model and actress, who died far too young. After all, Monroe is timeless, and she evokes a sense of mystery due to the weird circumstances around her death. It was the opening salvo of  "Pyromania," the album that catapulted them into the stratosphere, reaching No. 13 on the 1983 Billboard charts, according to Best Albums Ever. The song was about her, right? 

Sort of. While they did have someone who looked like her in the video, and they would sometimes dedicate it to her when they played it live, there is another part of the making of the song. It involves the band's legendary producer. The history of how the song, which peaked at No. 12 on the 1983 Billboard charts, per Def Leppard UK, came together is also fascinating to learn about.

One person behind the song

The genesis of the song, according to I Love Classic Rock, was when Mutt Lange, who was producing the album, gave the band a suggestion for the song. It was to be built around the phrase, "All I've got is a photograph." They then crafted the song around the story of a guy who was obsessed with a woman, but he only had a photograph of her. 

There were also things going on behind the scenes with the band itself. Guitarist Phil Collen replaced Pete Willis, who was one of the founders of the band. Collen's style initially didn't mesh — he preferred to be spontaneous when he played certain riffs. Lange didn't want that. He told Collen to be more focused and construct his guitar work around the song, and it all fell into place. 

Def Leppard continued their upward trajectory with their follow-up album, "Hysteria," weathering a tragic accident that cost drummer Rick Allen one of his arms, per Loudwire. They are still together performing — Allen got a drum set that allowed him to drum with one arm, per Forbes. Fans still love "Photograph" — it still endures like, well, a photograph.