Def Leppard superfan revels in band’s success

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

Joe Elliott and Fairchild-Meyer

When she first heard Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” album through a car’s cassette player as an eighth-grader, Karen Fairchild-Meyer was instantly hooked.

“I don’t even remember what song it was, but immediately, it was like the lights turned on,” she recalled in a recent phone interview. “It was like the most amazing thing ever.”

Decades later, Fairchild-Meyer — who graduated from Jasper High School in 1986 and now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona — has attended 90 of the band’s shows. She is a superfan with a passion for catching Def Leppard live in concert.

A week ahead of a trip to Brooklyn, New York, to watch the group’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction performance, Fairchild-Meyer reflected on her love for the band’s rocking sound, and how, over the years, she has formed bonds with the band’s members and fans from around the globe.

“Going to the show is like the cake, and meeting all these new people is like the icing on the cake for me,” she said.

Fairchild-Meyer attended her first Def Leppard concert at the now-demolished Roberts Municipal Stadium in Evansville in 1987. She and a friend skipped out of class at Ivy Tech Community College a little early to chase down a radio station van that was giving away free tickets. To this day, it’s still her all-time favorite performance.

Fairchild-Meyer and Def Leppard

“It was before ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ had hit,” Fairchild-Meyer explained. “I can remember Roberts Stadium being like empty. There were probably only like 4,000 people there. It was the weirdest thing, but to me, we were the only people in the building.”

Other memorable Def Leppard concerts she has seen include one in Atlanta where fans stayed and sang along despite pouring rains, and another show in Phoenix, during which lead singer Joe Elliott took a swig of a Def Leppard brand beer before handing it off to her prior to the set’s encore.

“The guys know us,” Fairchild-Meyer said of her and her fellow superfans’ relationship with the band. “They know we’re going to be sitting close, or [they] see us in town beforehand and they’ll be like, ‘We know you’re going to the show.’”

Fairchild-Meyer's signed license plate

If somebody would have told her when she was watching them shred on MTV that one day they’d know her name, she would’ve told them that they were nuts. But after bumping into each other enough, the members and the regular attendees have formed a unique bond that transcends the disconnection and hysteria that can be part of fandom.

Guitar player and backing vocalist Vivian Campbell has dubbed Fairchild-Meyer and her fellow superfans, “The Repeat Offenders.”

“It’s really cool knowing them, because they’re five ordinary guys,” Fairchild-Meyer said. “They’re just like me and you. They have kids, they do everyday stuff just like us.”

Fairchild-Meyer's Def Leppard purse

She recently launched a Facebook fan page titled “Def Leppard Die Hard Fans” that has since garnered more than 6,500 members, including the band’s official photographer. It’s a way for them to keep in touch and connect over their shared love of the band.

Some people wonder how she can still enjoy seeing the band perform after 90 concerts. (Last year, she saw the group perform 15 times.) While the songs may be the same, there’s something deeper that drives her to attend.

“They feed off the energy of the crowd,” Fairchild-Meyer said of the band. “And it’s not the same show for me because I’m a people person, and we always get together beforehand to meet new people. That’s part of the fun of it now.”

In addition to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame performance Friday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, she and about 30 members from her Facebook group plan to attend the filming of NBC’s “The Today Show” Friday morning with signs and handmade items supporting the band.




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