Home » Montrose: The Band Joe Elliott Believed Were Labeled as the ‘Poor Man’s Zeppelin

Montrose: The Band Joe Elliott Believed Were Labeled as the ‘Poor Man’s Zeppelin

While not every band seeks the global fame attained by iconic groups like The Beatles, some artists prioritize creating music on their terms, indifferent to commercial success. Despite the allure of massive fan followings, certain bands prioritize artistic integrity over mainstream popularity. Joe Elliott, for instance, believed that a particular rock act from the 1970s was unfairly pigeonholed by the music press.

From the beginning, Elliott prided himself on having a diverse range of influences. While Def Leppard was known as a prominent figure in hair metal, Elliott expressed admiration for various great songs, from ‘The Golden Age of Rock and Roll’ by Mott the Hoople to ‘Crazy Horses’ by the Osmonds.

As Elliott started forming his early bands, he remained indebted to the sounds of hard rock. Across albums like On Through the Night and High N’ Dry, Def Leppard’s classics drew inspiration from artists like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, albeit with a more melodic sheen behind the vocals.

In addition to the anthems by David Bowie and Marc Bolan, Elliott also appreciated the sounds of Montrose. Formed in California in the early 1970s, the band’s debut record remained an obscure highlight of the decade, featuring Ronnie Montrose’s signature blues-infused guitar tone on songs like ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ and ‘Rock Candy’.

The album marked the vocal debut of a young Sammy Hagar, who would later join Van Halen and launch a successful solo career. Despite rock fans’ admiration, Elliott felt Montrose didn’t receive the recognition they deserved, attributing it to unfair comparisons by the musical press.

In an interview with Louder, Elliott mentioned that the negativity around Montrose stemmed from comparisons to Led Zeppelin, stating, “The negativity around the band was probably the only thing that stopped them from going places, and because people thought they were poor man’s Zeppelin. The album was very reminiscent of Zeppelin, but its production was bigger. It’s just a really good slice of American rock.”

Despite their chart struggles, it was evident that Montrose had a promising future. As Sammy Hagar embarked on his solo career, and producer Ted Templeman worked on the first Van Halen record, the paths of success were clear. While Montrose may not have received their due recognition at the time, there’s a good chance that Joe Elliott’s sound would have been less gravelly without listening to Hagar’s pipes on this album first.

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