Rick Allen (drummer)

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Rick Allen
Rick Allen live with Def Leppard on 13 August 2008 in Winnipeg
Background information
Birth name Richard John Cyril Allen
Also known as The Thunder God
Born (1963-11-01) 1 November 1963 (age 51)
Dronfield, Derbyshire, England
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal, glam metal
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums
Years active 1978–present
Labels Island, Mercury, Polygram
Associated acts Def Leppard
Website rickallen.com

Richard "Rick" John Cyril Allen (born 1 November 1963) is an English drummer, who has played for the hard rock band Def Leppard since 1978. He overcame the amputation of his left arm in 1985 and continued to play with the band, which subsequently went on to its most commercially successful phase. He is known as "The Thunder God" by fans.[1][2]

Def Leppard[edit]

When Allen was 14, his mother replied on his behalf to an ad placed by a band called Def Leppard looking for a drummer to replace Tony Kenning ("Leppard loses skins" was the ad's headline), and on 1 November 1978, his fifteenth birthday, Allen joined the band. In 1979, he dropped out of school (other band members quit their jobs around the same time) to concentrate on a career in music. In September of that year, they opened for Sammy Hagar at London's Hammersmith Odeon and in October and November played shows as a support act for AC/DC. Allen celebrated his 16th birthday with a performance at the Hammersmith Odeon. On 14 March 1980, the band released their first album, On Through the Night. Since their first album, Allen still continues to record and tour with the band.

Accident and recovery[edit]

"What I've experienced through losing my arm, I wouldn't change. The human spirit is so strong."

Rick Allen[3]

On 31 December 1984, Allen (21 years old) was involved in a driving accident. He was driving with his girlfriend Miriam Barendsen around Sheffield to show her the beauty of the hills of Sheffield. It was on a sunny morning when they left. While trying to pass another car at high speeds, he lost control of his Corvette C4, which hit a brick wall and entered a field. He was thrown from the car, with his left arm severed because the seat belt was not properly fastened. His girlfriend was lucky enough to just have some bruising, but was in a state of shock. Doctors initially reattached Allen's arm but, because of infection, it had to be removed. His right shoulder was also severely broken in the accident. His girlfriend was also hurt while in the car.[4] [5]

Allen thought that he could not continue drumming for Def Leppard, but was encouraged by the band to continue. Allen met with some engineers and started to design a drum set to assist Allen's drumming.[6] He could still play some drum rhythms with one hand and used his left leg (typically for hi-hat pedals in common drum kits), to play the snare drum. Then-Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich helped and encouraged Allen during his convalescence, and they designed an electronic kit Allen could play using only one arm. (The Ludwig acoustic drum kit he used on earlier albums High 'n' Dry and Pyromania was later given away by Def Leppard's one-time management.) Electronic drum manufacturer Simmons created a kit to their specifications, and Allen made his post-accident debut in 1986 with a well-received set at the "Monsters of Rock" festival at Castle Donington.

Allen's drum sets and gear[edit]


Allen used Pearl Drums from 1979–1980. From 1980–1984, he used a Ludwig drum kit and Paiste's RUDE and 2002 cymbal lines during the High 'N' Dry and Pyromania recording and touring sessions. It was this that allowed Allen to add the iconic "doof-doof-doof" ending to the original Eastenders theme tune[citation needed].

His setup for 1980–1982 consisted of nine pieces: Black Beauty Super Sensitive snare (6-1/2" x 14"), bass (16" x 22"), four rack toms, (as seen of the videos from the album High & Dry), (12" x 13", 13" x 14", 14" x 15", and 15" x 16"), two floor toms (16" x 16" and 16" x 18") which were suspended by a Ludwig cymbal stand, and a gong drum (18" x 20"). In early 1983, he removed the gong tom and two of the rack toms from his kit. The reason when asked at a Meet & Greet was that the 14" x 15" tom broke and so Rick replaced that with the "gong" drum. Also, when asked why he removed the rest of the drums from the kit, Rick replied, "I got tired of lugging them around on tour".


The customized kit built by Simmons for Allen included drum pads (placed primarily in front of Allen and to his right) triggering the sound of the snare drum and toms to be played with his surviving arm, combined with multiple pedals (mainly placed on the floor to his left), duplicating many of the same sounds. This allowed Allen (after much practice) to play patterns using his right hand and left foot that two-armed drummers would typically play with their right and left hands. Allen subsequently experimented with hardware from other electronic percussion companies, such as Clavia's drum system, Forat's F/16 system, and the Hart Dynamics Acupad system.

In more recent years, as the artificial drum sound popular in the 1980s has largely disappeared, Allen has favoured a sound more like that of an acoustic drum kit, using the electronic pads to trigger samples made from recordings of Allen's acoustic drums.

Allen has used DW acoustic drums, Zildjian acoustic cymbals, Hart Dynamics Acupad electronic pads, Akai samplers, and custom-manufactured cable routing by Whirlwind. He uses four electronic pedals for his left foot to play the pieces he used to play with his left arm, which from left to right trigger sounds of a closing hi-hat, bass drum, snare drum, and a tom drum.[7] He is ranked No. 7 on the UK website Gigwise in the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time list.[8]

On 14 June 2009, Allen headlined Download Festival with the rest of Def Leppard. Towards the end of the set, vocalist Joe Elliott dedicated the set to Allen in scenes reminiscent of their 1986 Monsters of Rock performance. What followed was well over five minutes of ovation from the crowd and Allen being taken aback with tears. In February 2011, it was confirmed that Def Leppard would once again headline the Download festival.

On 16 October 2009, Yamaha announced the addition of Rick Allen to their artist roster.[9] Allen plays Yamaha Oak Custom drums with a matching subkick.[10]

1984 Pyromania kit:

Drums: Ludwig

Heads: Remo

Sticks: Unknown, most likely Vic Firths.

Paiste cymbals:

14" Sound Creation dark heavy hi-hat

16" RUDE crash/ride

18" RUDE crash/ride

20" 2002 crash

20" RUDE ride/crash

22" 2002 power ride

22" 2002 china

Current setup:

Drums: Yamaha

Heads: Remo, electric heads

Sticks: Easton Aheads

Zildjian cymbals:

13" A new beat hi-hats

13" A custom mastersound hi-hats

14" K hi-hats

10" A custom splash

18" A custom crash

19" A custom crash

20" K heavy ride

Raven Drum Foundation[edit]

Rick Allen and his wife Lauren Monroe are the co-founders of The Raven Drum Foundation, a charity located in Malibu, California, with a mission to serve, educate, and empower veterans and people in crisis.[11] The Raven Drum Foundation commonly works to help individuals and communities in crisis through healing arts programs, drum circle events, and collaborative partnerships. Allen described the foundations involvement with Camp Kilpatrick in 2009:

"Rhythm is such a big part of their culture and their own way of communicating, so we were able to go in there and design a program around them. It developed into drum council, which is an ongoing program that we provided for the camp. We had tremendous success."[12]

Since 2007 RDF has been focusing outreach to veterans of war and created "Project Resiliency" that provides educational workshops and retreats in holistic health techniques for veterans and their families. Rick and Lauren also host "Resiliency Radio", an interactive radio show intended to help empower, educate, and inspire during difficult times.[13]

One Hand Drum Company[edit]

The One Hand Drum Company was created by Allen to assist in providing awareness and funding for his Raven Drum Foundation. Currently, the primary focus of the One Hand Drum Company is promoting StikRick, a drawing by Rick of a one-armed drummer that he sometimes uses with his autograph. The StikRick site sells, t-shirts, hats, and other items with the StikRick drawing along with a "Life Is Great!! Be A Rockstar!!" slogan. Proceeds from the One Hand Drum Company go to support the Raven Drum Foundation charity.[14]

Side projects[edit]

  • Even though he was not credited, Allen co-wrote the soundtrack to a 1998 Disney TV-movie called Brink!.
  • In May and June 2000, he played two shows with the Mark Mason Project, featuring guitarist Mark Englert previously of Dramarama.
  • Allen has written music with his wife Lauren as well as played on her albums.[15]
  • In November 2004, Allen collaborated with Krishna Das in the recording of a CD entitled All One.

Personal life[edit]

Allen was married to his first wife Stacey from 1991 to 2000; they had a daughter, Lauren Shane (born 20 May 1997). In 1995, Allen was arrested for spousal abuse. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced on 6 August 1996 to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, sought counseling, and serve 30 days on a graffiti-removal work crew.[16] They remained together after this incident, but eventually divorced in 2000.

Allen was married on 10 October 2003 to Lauren Monroe. On 1 December 2010, Monroe gave birth to a daughter Josefine ("Josie").


  1. ^ Gold, Adam (7 August 2009). "Def Leppard's Rick Allen: The Cream Interview [Updated]". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Rick Allen – Bio – About Rick Allen". MTV Artists. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Jeffrey, Laura (2010). Def Leppard: Arena Rock Band. Enslow. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-766-03234-7. 
  4. ^ Fricke, D., and M. Selinger. "To Hell & Back. (Cover Story)." Rolling Stone 629 (1992): 38. Retrieved 2015-2-20.
  5. ^ Stevens, Christine. "Reclaiming the Rhythm: An Interview with Rick Allen." Percussive Notes 08 2002: 54, 56. Retrieved 2015-2-20.
  6. ^ MacDonald, Les (2010). The Day the Music Died. Xlibris. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-469-11356-2. 
  7. ^ Whirlwind / Def Leppard[dead link]
  8. ^ 100 Greatest Drummers Of All Time. Gigwise. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.[dead link]
  9. ^ Yamaha Welcomes Legendary Rick Allen to its Drum Roster | Yamaha Artists. Yamaha.com (16 October 2009). Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  10. ^ Solid as Oak: Def Leppard Drummer Plays Yamaha – Drums – News & Events – Yamaha United States. Usa.yamaha.com (9 October 2009). Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  11. ^ Mission and Vision. Raven Drum Foundation. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  12. ^ "Ability Magazine: Def Leppard's Rick Allen" (2009)". Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  13. ^ Resiliency Radio. Raven Drum Foundation. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  14. ^ One Hand Drum Company – About Us. Noflash.stikrick.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  15. ^ Lauren Monroe Music Store – Freedom Sessions. Laurenmonroe.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  16. ^ Helligar, Jeremy (19 August 1996). "Passages". People. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tony Kenning
Def Leppard Drummer