Allen, Rick

  • Birth name: Richard John Cyril Allen
  • AKA: The Thunder God
  • Born: November 1, 1963 Dronfield, Derbyshire, England
  • Genres: Hard rock, heavy metal, glam metal
  • Occupation: Musician
  • Instruments: Drums
  • Years Active: 1978-present
  • Labels: Island, Mercury, Polygram
  • Associated Acts: Def Leppard


Rick started playing drums at the age of 9 but when he 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. On November 1, 1978, Rick’s 15th birthday, he joined the band.

In 1979, Rick dropped out of school while the other band members left their jobs to concentrate on a music career. In September 1979, Def Leppard opened for Sammy Hagar at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Following that, they opened for AC/DC during October and November 1979.

Rick celebrated his 16th birthday with a performance at the Hammersmith Odeon. On March, 14 1980 the band released their first album, On Through the Night. Since their first album, Rick has continued to record and tour with the band.

The Accident

On December 31, 1984, Rick was in a car accident with his girlfriend Miriam Barendsen in the countryside a few kilometres west of Sheffield. He lost control of his Corvette C4 while attempting to pass another car at high speed and hit a dry stone wall. Rick was thrown from the car because his seatbelt wasn’t fastened correctly. While his girlfriend suffered only some bruising, Rick’s left arm was severed. Doctors reattached his arm but it became infected and had to be amputated. His right shoulder was also severely broken in the accident.

Rick had initial doubts as to whether he would ever be able to play with band again but with encouragement from the band, Rick got some engineers together to design a drum set that would enable Rick to play again. Initially, Rick learned to play some drum rhythms with his one hand and use his left leg to play snare drum. But then-Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich designed an electronic kit Rick could play with only one arm. Electronic drum manufacturer Simmons created a kit to their specifications, and Rick made his post-accident debut in 1986 playing at the “Monsters of Rock” festival at Castle Donington. Fans loved it!

The New Gear

Rick 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 the sounds of a closing hi-hat, bass drum, snare drum, and a tom drum. Even with this restriction, Rick is ranked No. 7 on the UK website Gigwise in the The Greatest Drummers of All Time list.

In 2009, Yamaha announced the addition of Rick Allen to their artist roster. Rick plays Yamaha Oak Custom drums with a matching subkick. He also uses Remo drumheads, Zildjian cymbals, his own Easton Ahead signature drumsticks, and a LP rock cowbell for Rock of Ages.

Raven Drum Foundation

Rick and his wife Lauren Monroe are the co-founders of The Raven Drum Foundation, a charity in Malibu, California, with a mission to serve, educate, and empower veterans and people in crisis. The Raven Drum Foundation works to help individuals and communities in crisis through healing arts programs, drum circle events, and collaborative partnerships. Rick described the foundations involvement with Camp Kilpatrick in 2009 in an article from Ability Magazine:  “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.”

 One Hand Drum company

Rick created his One Hand Drum Company to help provide awareness and funding for his Raven Drum Foundation. Currently, the primary focus of the One Hand Drum Company is to promote 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.

 Inspiration Plus!

Rick, not only through the charity he has founded but through his visibility in the Def Leppard drum chair for the past four decades, provides inspiration to countless drummers around the world… and not only those who are dealing with physical challenges.