Rick Allen (drummer)

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Rick Allen
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 53)
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 John Cyril "Rick" 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]

Early life[edit]

Allen started playing drums at the age of 9. He performed in bands called Grad, Smokey Blue, Rampant, and the Johnny Kalendar Band.[3] 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). Later, on 1 November 1978, his fifteenth birthday, Allen joined the band. In 1979, he dropped out of school (other band members left their jobs around the same time) to concentrate on a career in music. In September 1979, they opened for Sammy Hagar at London's Hammersmith Odeon. Subsequently, Def Leppard played shows as a support act for AC/DC during October and November 1979. 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[4]

On an unseasonably warm afternoon of 31 December 1984, Allen was involved in a car accident with his Dutch girlfriend Miriam Barendsen in the countryside a few kilometres west of Sheffield.[5] While trying to pass another car at a high speed, he lost control of his Corvette C4, which hit a dry stone wall and entered a field. He was thrown from the car because his seatbelt had been improperly fastened, causing his left arm to be severed, while his girlfriend only suffered some bruising. Doctors initially reattached Allen's arm, but because of an infection, it had to be re-amputated. His right shoulder was also severely broken in the accident.[6][7]

Allen initially had doubts about continuing his performances with the band, but was encouraged by the band to continue. Allen, along with a few engineers, later started to design a drum set to assist Allen's drumming.[8] At the time, he was still able to play some drum rhythms with one hand and use 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 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 has used 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.[9] He is ranked No. 7 on the UK website Gigwise in The Greatest Drummers of All Time list.[10]

On 16 October 2009, Yamaha announced the addition of Rick Allen to their artist roster.[11] Allen plays Yamaha Oak Custom drums with a matching subkick.[12]

Along with Yamaha Oak Custom drums, Allen also uses Remo drumheads (usually he has coated ambassadors on his drums and a clear powerstroke 3 on his bass drum), Zildjian cymbals (mostly K customs and A customs), his own Easton Ahead signature drumsticks, and a LP rock cowbell for Rock of Ages.

Raven Drum Foundation[edit]

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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15]

Side projects[edit]

In May and June 2000, Allen 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.[16] 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 in 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 counselling, and served 30 days on a graffiti-removal work crew.[17] They divorced in 2000.

Allen got married on 10 October 2003 to Lauren Monroe. On 1 December 2010, Monroe gave birth to a daughter.


  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. ^ "Artist Biography". Zildjian. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Jeffrey, Laura (2010). Def Leppard: Arena Rock Band. Enslow. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-766-03234-7. 
  5. ^ page of a Def Leppard web site with details about Rick Allen's car accident
  6. ^ Fricke, D., and M. Selinger. "To Hell & Back. (Cover Story)." Rolling Stone 629 (1992): 38. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  7. ^ Stevens, Christine. "Reclaiming the Rhythm: An Interview with Rick Allen." Percussive Notes 08 2002: 54, 56. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  8. ^ MacDonald, Les (2010). The Day the Music Died. Xlibris. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-469-11356-2. 
  9. ^ Whirlwind / Def Leppard Archived 19 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "The Greatest Drummers Of All Time!". gigwise.com. Gigwise. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Yamaha Welcomes Legendary Rick Allen to its Drum Roster | Yamaha Artists. Yamaha.com (16 October 2009). Retrieved on 15 September 2011.
  12. ^ Solid as Oak: Def Leppard Drummer Plays Yamaha – Drums – News & Events – Yamaha United States. Usa.yamaha.com (9 October 2009). Retrieved on 15 September 2011.
  13. ^ Mission and Vision. Raven Drum Foundation. Retrieved on 15 September 2011.
  14. ^ "Ability Magazine: Def Leppard's Rick Allen" (2009)". Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  15. ^ One Hand Drum Company – About Us. Noflash.stikrick.com. Retrieved on 15 September 2011.
  16. ^ Lauren Monroe Music Store – Freedom Sessions. Laurenmonroe.com. Retrieved on 15 September 2011.
  17. ^ Helligar, Jeremy (19 August 1996). "Passages". People. Retrieved 18 December 2009. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tony Kenning
Def Leppard Drummer