Rick Allen joined Def Leppard when he was a teenager, and since then a great amount of his life has been focused on the band. However, his career looked at risk in the 1980s when he lost his arm in a horrific accident. The story behind Allen’s injury is shocking but ends with him rising above his circumstances and continuing to pursue his dream.
Rick Allen was the band’s second drummer, joining Def Leppard in 1978.
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 band.
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 were set to change when a terrible accident saw his life completely change.
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 which saw the car crash through a stone wall and flip car 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, he also hopes to try and help those who are suffering in similar ways to him.
Speaking to ABC News in 2012, he added: “I didn’t know what my life would be like after that terrible day. It was the darkest time in my life…
“My desire is to encourage a support system for warriors, de-stigmatize PTSD, share their stories and offers alternative ways to pave the road to resiliency and health.”