Atomic Mass (band)

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Atomic Mass
Origin Sheffield, England
Genres Heavy metal
Hard rock
Years active 1977
Associated acts Def Leppard
Past members Rick Savage
Nicholas "Nick" Mackley
Tony "Reuben" Kenning
Peter "Pete" Doubleday
Andy Nicholas
Paul Holland
Paul Hampshire
Pete Willis
Joe Elliott
Frank Noon

Atomic Mass was an English hard rock/heavy metal band from Sheffield, who formed in 1977 as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. The group's core members along with newly recruited singer Joe Elliott would go on to become Def Leppard, who would eventually become one of the UK's top-selling hard rock bands.



Rick Savage, Nick Mackley, Tony Kenning, and Pete Doubleday, all students in the same year at Tapton School in Sheffield, formed Atomic Mass in 1977. Pete Willis, a year ahead of the members of the band at Tapton and who played guitar, heard of the band and asked to audition. He brought along a friend of his, Paul Hampshire, who also played the guitar. They performed a few songs with Rick and Tony and earned their places in the band, Pete replacing Doubleday, who had been on holiday in France at the time. Paul Holland briefly replaced Mackley, who had departed shortly after Doubleday was replaced. During this time, Atomic Mass played their only public show in Tapton's gymnasium. Their setlist included songs such as Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love and The Who's Boris The Spider. Holland and Nicholas were soon gone and the band found itself without a singer or bass player. Following a chance meeting with Willis after missing a bus, 18-year-old Joe Elliott, who had been in attendance at Atomic Mass's show at Tapton, auditioned for the band as a guitarist. During his audition, however, it was decided that he was better suited to be lead vocalist. Rick Savage also switched to bass as it was deemed that Pete Willis was a more solid guitarist.

Def Leppard[edit]

In November 1977, Atomic Mass became Deaf Leopard, a name Joe had come up with while designing posters for a fictional band for an art class. According to Joe, Tony Kenning suggested changing the spelling to Def Leppard, resembling the spelling of Led Zeppelin, though the band insists that was coincidental. The band went on to achieve international fame and success, selling in excess of sixty million albums worldwide.


In February 2003, Atomic Mass reunited for a photograph onstage during a Def Leppard concert at the Hallam FM Arena. The lineup for that event was Rick Savage, Pete Willis, Joe Elliott, and Frank Noon.