It's no wonder Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen was in a bad way after losing his arm in a New Year's Eve car accident in 1984. What's infinitely more fascinating, however, is the drummer's resolve to keep playing music.
Allen's return to Def Leppard didn't happen on its own; he needed a lot of support to get through one of the darkest times in his life. Fortunately, he got it.
"I remember coming around in the hospital and then realizing what had happened to me after the accident, and honestly, I wanted to disappear. I didn't wanna do this anymore," Allen told Modern Drummer in a recent conversation. "And then I started getting these letters from all over the world."
Def Leppard was beginning to establish itself as a major player in pop music following 1983's Pyromania when Allen lost his arm. He eventually relearned his instrument with the help of a custom-built kit that allowed him to trigger sounds with his left foot.
"I don't know what happened, but I discovered the power of the human spirit and just said, 'You know what? I can do this," Allen continued. "It was really a collective thing. It was all this encouragement I was getting from other people, and then it just manifested in wanting to succeed. And that's exactly where it came from."
After rehabbing his injury and devising a number of techniques at the drumkit, Allen returned to the stage in August of 1986, about a year before Def Leppard exploded in popularity with its Hysteria album.
"When Rick lost his arm, the way that we'd become by then — only five years as a band — we were so tight that we were like, 'You don't kick your brother out of your family if he has an accident,'" Elliott continued. "'If he can't do this, it's up to him to tell us.' That gave him the confidence to give it a go."
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