Relevant Secures Parade.com For Rick Allen Of Def Leppard’s North American Art Tour
Reprinted from Parade
Def Leppard’s Rick Allen Talks Music, Art and Discovering the Power of the Human Spirit
Legendary drummer Rick Allen has lived a rocker’s life since he was a teenager. Joining Def Leppard at 15, Allen and his bandmates quickly found themselves sharing the stage with music’s biggest acts and becoming rock powerhouses themselves. Needless to say, the moments weren’t typical for a teen.
“In fact, I remember having my sixteenth birthday at the Hammersmith Odeon in London opening up for AC/DC on Highway to Hell, and it was just a dream,” explains Allen, now 54 and a seasoned musician, artist, photographer and advocate. “It couldn’t have gotten any better.”
Allen’s rise in the rock world truly was a family affair. When he was 10 years old and asked for a drum kit, his parents denied the request because of the cost, later suggesting he could help earn some of the cash to fund the purchase by working around the house and the neighborhood. The only condition? If he got a drum set, he had to take lessons. The rest may be history, but the journey remains fascinating.
When Allen considered tossing the sticks at “the ripe old age of 14” his parents saw a local newspaper headline that changed the course of his life—Leppard Loses Skins. Def Leppard was looking for a drummer.
Thanks to parental attention, love and hard work, Allen got the gig. “My folks were really encouraging. They went through a lot, but I was just one of those really, really lucky kids that was in the right place at the right time. We didn’t have a huge amount of money as a family, but we made it work. And here I am today. I’m doing really, really well and I count those blessings.”
Allen would again realize the power of family support in 1984 when he lost his left arm due to complications from a car crash. The drummer would continue to master his music, but he notes that it wasn’t without physical and emotional challenges.
To what does he attribute his perseverance? Allen doesn’t hesitate: “Discovering the human spirit. And that really came—I think that’s an inside job, but it needs outside sort of influence. And the outside influence was the loyalty of the guys in the band, my family, of course, who were just incredible, there was never any pressure. They always left the decision up to me as to whether I wanted to move forward or not. And then, of course, thousands and thousands of letters from all over the world that came in. I think we closed down the sorting office a couple of times at the local post office. Really, it was really intense. And, of course, it was horrible. I mean the experience was awful, but in many ways it has come full circle to be what I would consider a huge blessing. Because these days I show up, share my experience. It becomes this wonderful two-way street where I can inspire others. But I also see potential and I see the growth in other people especially when I’m working with Wounded Warriors and…I realized my passion really lives there because they speak the same language as me.”
Life seems to have had more than a few full circle moments for Allen, who with his wife Lauren Monroe co-founded Project Resilency, a nonprofit focused on helping those battling emotional and physical pain from traumatic events.
Allen re-connected with his love of art while painting with his younger daughter. “I recognized in her what I realized in myself all those years earlier. And it was that sort of mindless place where she’s just in the moment.” He’s been painting and working in mixed media ever since.
His art has led to a different type of show for the drummer, whose latest collection “Rick Allen: Drums for Peace” is being shown at Wentworth Gallery locations with proceeds benefiting veterans organizations. He’ll be meeting art lovers and fans January 13-14, with appearances in Short Hills, New Jersey, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
These days, Rick Allen is busy making art and music, counting his blessings and connecting with people. He believes that celebrating your own uniqueness, including physical differences, plays a factor in gaining positive momentum in your life.
“I’d love to see more people come to that realization that just because you don’t do it just like somebody else—it doesn’t mean to say it’s wrong. It’s just different.”