Def Leppard’s Rick Allen Reveals There Was ‘Chance’ He Could Have Lost Right Arm in 1984 Accident
One of the great stories of perseverance in rock is the story of Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen who overcame losing his left arm in a 1984 car accident, but still remained behind the kit when the band returned with 1987's Hysteria album after reconfiguring his drum setup. But according to Allen, there was a period where he feared he might lose his right arm as well.
In an interview with Joe Rock (as seen below), Allen recounts the experience. "Not too many people know this, but I broke my right arm really badly, and during the healing process, the hospital, they said, 'There's a chance that you may lose your right arm as well.'"
The drummer's left arm was caught in the seat belt as he was thrown from his vehicle in the auto crash. While the arm was able to be reattached, doctors later had to amputate due to infection.
Allen continues, "When I was able to get through that horrible period in time and get all the infection out of there and then actually fix the bone and the arm, you can imagine I was so grateful."
In addition to returning to the kit for Def Leppard, Allen has furthered his artistic expression in recent years adding painting to his skills. Within the artwork, Allen has focused occasionally on his remaining arm to serve as an inspiration.
"The handprint is really, for me, a sign of gratitude, that I can still do what I do. And I put my hand through a lot — from drumming to the artwork and, obviously, everything that I do. So it's pretty symbolic. It's the only one I've got, but I'm really blessed to have it," he laughs.
"I think I came out of it stronger, and I think I grew a lot as a person," Allen says, reflecting on how his life changed after the accident. "I think the experience itself kind of came as a blessing which is kind of an odd thing to say, but the experience itself actually … I think it made me a better person."
During his downtime from the band, Allen has taken his artwork to galleries, showcasing pieces during exhibitions. You can see some of his works, as well as art items he's translated into jewelry at this location.