Richard John Cyril Allen (born November 1, 1963, Dronfield, Derbyshire, England) is the drummer for the British rock band Def Leppard. He is famous for being a prominent professional drummer who continued his musical career despite the amputation of his left arm.
Accident and recovery
On December 31, 1984, while driving under the influence near Sheffield, UK, he endured an off-road accident. He was thrown from the Corvette, which had flown off the road and over a stone fence into a field. His left arm was severed due to his seatbelt not being completely engaged. Despite attempts by doctors to reattach it, infection set in, and the arm had to be reamputated. Through perseverance, the support of his band mates, and a custom drum kit, he remained with the band to enjoy continued success. Much to the dismay of Rick, the Ludwig drumkit he used on High & Dry and Pyromania has since been given away by Def Leppard's former management.
Rick Allen on his drumset
Former Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich was an invaluable source of help and encouragement during Rick's convalescence, and after many hours of discussion they decided to try and develop Rick's famous multi-pad electronic kit. After many attempts and with much determination they came up with what was to become a revolution in drum technology. A unique pedal trigger system was successfully utilised and Rick was now able to play more or less as he could before, even delivering a successful and well received set at the "Monsters of Rock" festival at Castle Donington in 1986. In August 1987, the band released their fourth album, Hysteria, which was highly successful, selling over 15,000,000 copies. He has released so far six more albums with the band, the latest being Yeah!, a 2006 collection of covers reinterpreted by the band.
Post-accident drum sets
After Allen's accident, some unique thinking came into play in order to keep him behind the drum set. Simmons, a company noted for making electronic drum sets, designed a custom kit for Allen. Since electronic drums are little more than "triggers" which sense a hit from a drumstick or the motion of a pedal, Allen's kit was primarily pads in front of him and to his right (to play with his remaining arm), and primarily pedals on his left, which triggered the sound of snare drums and tom-toms. Allen would learn how to play patterns with his right hand and left foot that complete drummers would ordinarily play with their right and left hands. Allen has also experimented with what he calls "technology stunts" using hardware from companies such as ddrum and Acupad.
In more recent years, as the "80s sound" has all but disappeared, Allen's sound would change to a more "acoustic," natural sound, still through the use of samplers. In this case, the samplers were loaded with actual recordings of Allen's acoustic kit, so that in the final mix, it is difficult to tell between the drum sounds in the samplers and the drums actually struck during the performance.
Allen's current setup is custom-manufactured by Whirlwind and Hart Dynamics.
Photo to from http://esfericamenteelegantes.blogspot.com/2006_08_01_archive.html
Def Leppard website