FOR the first time, rock giants Def Leppard and Motley Crue are touring the UK together, with special guests Steel Panther.

It’s been three years since the Lepps have toured the UK, but they headlined the Download Festivals in June.

Formed in 1977, the band have sold more than 65 million albums and have two Diamond Awards — one of only five rock bands to have had two consecutive 10-million selling albums in the US, the others being The Beatles, Lad Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Van Halen.

The current line-up has been together since 1992 when Vivian Campbell joined as guitarist to form a two-guitar frontline with founder member Rick Savage.

Bassist Phil Collen joined in 1982 and drummer Rick Allen joined as a 15-year-old in 1978.

Lead singer Joe Elliott is also a founder, who attributes the band’s longevity to several factors.

He says: “We like each other and that helps; we’re all on the same page in doing what we do and we all allow each other space to do what we want.

“We’re one of the few bands that aren’t contracted to each other so we are together for all the right reasons.”

Their debut album, On Through The Night, was released in 1980, but it was the follow-up High ’n’ Dry which was produced by Robert “Mutt” Lange, that really caught the attention of rock fans.

This, combined with a growing fanbase, meant the band was beginning to take off and the third album, Pyromania, cemented this growing success.

But disaster struck on December 31, 1984, when drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a road accident.

The band went on hiatus while he recovered.

A specially designed drum kit allowed Rick to play the snare drum using a pedal and he returned to live performance at the 1986 Donington Monsters of Rock Festival.

The band’s next two albums, Hysteria and Adrenalize, topped the UK charts, with Hysteria spawning no fewer than seven hit singles in America.

More hit albums followed, Slang, Euphoria and X among them, and this year they released a live album called Mirrorball.

In 1995, the band also entered the Guinness Book of Records when they performed three concerts on three continents (Africa, Europe and North America) in one day.

Def Leppard has never toured with Motley Crue, but Joe says they are really looking forward to it.

“We’ve known them for ages and we’ve done festivals together and there’s good history between us and I’ve been on Nicki Sixx’s radio show a couple of times.”

Of all the band’s output, Joe singles out Hysteria as a “stand out” album.

“You can’t argue with it. It’s the biggest album we did,” he says.

“We set about to do a task by trying to top Pyromania, and we outdid ourselves with Hysteria.”

He adds: “There were difficult circumstances with Rick losing his arm, but we had great encouragement from Mutt Lange.”

The show promises to be spectacular — probably more so than the tour they did in 2008 with Whitesnake and Black Stone Cherry — but Joe is being cagey about what they will play, and for how long.

“It all depends on curfews at the venues,” he says.

“Steel Panther will probably do about 40 minutes and Crue about one hour and 25 minutes; we hope to do just over an hour-and-a-half.”

As to what will be played….

“Good question,” he says. “There are certain songs we have to play or we’d never get out of the building alive, and we have to keep an eye on how things are going on the internet to see what the fans want.

“The thing is, we’re not playing in front of the same people every night, so we have to play something they’re familiar with.

“If an established artist plays a new song there’s always a bit of luck involved as to whether it’ll be accepted or not.”

“We always go on stage to please ourselves and hope the audience will follow.”

The response to the tour has been fantastic so far.

Joe says.

“The tickets are flying, and the atmosphere should be amazing as it’s just before Christmas, and it won’t be just the music — it’ll be great visually as well.”

Def Leppard, along with Motley Crue and Steel Panther, will be appearing at the MEN Arena on Sunday, December 11. Tickets, priced £45 (subject to a booking fee), are available from the usual agencies.