Rick Allen’s career looked like it could be over when he had a horrific accident in the 1980s. The story behind Allen’s injury is shocking, but ends with him rising above his circumstances and continuing to pursue his dream. However, a trauma such as this would have been heartbreaking for anyone, especially a young man with a promising future to look forward to.
Rick Allen was the band’s second drummer, joining Def Leppard in 1978 as a young boy.
When Allen was 14, his mother replied to an advert to replace the band’s former drummer, Tony Kenning, and by November 1, 1978, he had joined the group.
Allen was just 15-years-old at the time, and in 1979, he dropped out of school to concentrate on a career in music full time, which saw him performing on stage, opening for AC/DC on his 16th birthday.
However, these glory days changed after a terrible accident saw his life completely altered when the drummer was only just 21-years-old.
On December 31, 1984, Allen and his then-girlfriend Miriam Barendsen were driving on the A57 just outside Sheffield, from which the band hails.
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Allen misjudged a curve, leading the car to crash through a stone wall and flip several times.
Allen’s seatbelt was not fully fastened, therefore he was ejected from the vehicle.
He told the BBC: “I think my arm was left in the car,” though someone who lived nearby packed his arm in ice, in the hope of reattaching it.
“At first even walking was a trial, but I locked myself away in a room at my parents’ house in Dronfield and just played and played.
“There were times when I thought I just couldn’t do it and wanted to curl up into a ball and give up. But I persevered.
Allen continued to practise on a specially designed electric kit, often in a separate studio to his bandmates, who at no point sought a full-time replacement for him.
Jeff Rich, another drummer, acted as a stand-in for Allen, playing alongside him at gigs and in rehearsals.
According to Allen, Rich missed a flight to join them for a gig in Ireland, so Allen played alone, showing his bandmates what he could do.
From then on, he performed as their only drummer, making a triumphant return at Monsters of Rock, a festival in 1986.
While Allen has openly spoken about the darker side of his recovering, which included self-medicating and PTSD.
Now, the drummer hopes to try and help those who are suffering in similar ways to him through charity work.