Def Leppard’s Rick Allen On Re-Learning How To Play Drums

Rick Allen has been rocking the stage with Def Leppard since 1978. He had an unfortunate accident when their band was in its early stages and lost his arm. But he didn’t quit. Def Leppard took a hiatus during the recovery period, and Rick Allen came out of this recovery with a signature style of playing drums. In his last interview with the SDR Show, he shared that this was not about relearning the drum and that knowledge was always with him.

“No, I mean, acoustic drums were the thing that inspired me to play in the first place,” he replied when the interviewer mentioned his specific drum kit. “And, you know, after my accident, coming back into Def Leppard, it was easier for me to compete with loud guitars and all the different drum sounds I had to deal with just using the electronic drums.”

He continued, “But in reality, I didn’t have to relearn how to play with one arm. There was a realization that the information was in my head, and then I experienced a little bit, my left hand coming out in my right hand, my left leg out of my right leg. It was almost like an ancient response.”

Rick Allen had a tragic car accident in 1984 that cost him his left arm. Doctors were able to reattach his arm in the first place but amputated it later due to an infection. While this was a nightmare for many drummers, this unfortunate event did not stifle Allen’s passion for the drum.

During the recovery process, he thought about what he could do to continue playing. As he said in this interview, his tacit knowledge about drums was always there, and he designed a drum that he could use with his right arm and would load the duty of his left hand to his left foot. He replaced the traditional parts and combined different types of drums to make a half-acoustic and half-electronic hybrid drum. And it worked.

Thus, this unfortunate event wasn’t the end of him; in fact, it allowed him to think ‘outside the box,’ using his own words. With his unique drums and playing style, he always played at a pro level that pushed the boundaries, establishing himself as one of the greatest in rock history.