Def Leppard’s Rick Allen Shares How He Found The Proper Way Of Playing Drums After Losing His Arm

Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen had joined The Eddie Trunk Podcast and talked about his accident, drumming, and music. Throughout the podcast, Allen mentioned how the accident and losing his left arm affected his drumming and revealed the way that enabled him to play drums again.

As many of you may know that the British drummer had to have his left arm amputated from his shoulder after a terrible car accident on 1984 New Year’s Eve. While many people were considering that Allen’s musical career was over, he managed to continue playing drums.

During the podcast, he shared that he is able to play drums with one arm and his legs thanks to a custom-manufactured set. He is now playing drums through a cable routing which enables him to use four pedals with his left leg playing the pieces he used to play with his left arm.

While talking about playing drums after losing his arm, he said:

“I used to be really right-footed as a kid, but then after my accident, it was really weird what happened. A little bit of my left arm went to my right hand, it went to my right leg, it went to my left leg, so it’s almost like the information was in my head, and it naturally just, it was able to go to my other limbs.

And now, it feels natural, it’s almost like it was a natural response. There was something missing, so somewhere in my head, it was able to re-direct that information. Going between the two kits, it’s not really a big thing, it’s just kind of natural.

When I meet people that can play multiple instruments, just to be able to go from the guitar, to mandolin, to a piano or sing, or play drums or whatever, it amazes me that they can do that. But it’s not far-fetched when I compare the acoustic set to the electronic set.”

He also stated, in the podcast, that transition from acoustic drums to electronic ones was a bit of a challenge as he was used to playing acoustic drums since he was a kid. When he talked further about the accident, he mentioned that he used to be right-footed. Once he lost his left arm, all its work was distributed to his other limbs, he said.

Here is what Rick Allen said about the transition from acoustic to the electronic kit:

“As a kid, like nine or 10 years old, the thing that really inspired me was just being able to sit behind an acoustic drum set, and it’d be immediate gratification. I didn’t have to plug anything in, I didn’t have to switch anything on, I didn’t have to put anything in my ears other than maybe some earplugs.

So the acoustic kit is basically in my DNA in a way where I just sit behind the thing, and it just feels natural – it feels like I’m a kid again. Whereas the Ferrari, as I call it, is basically designed to compete with very loud guitars in Def Leppard world, and that was a bit more of a learning curve.”

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