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Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen gets emotional while rehashing accident that cost him his left arm

By the time the year 1984 was winding down, Def Leppard had established themselves as one of the biggest rock bands in the world, following the enormous success of their album Pyromania (1983), which sold a hefty 10 million copies.

But then tragedy struck in an instant when drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a vicious car accident, which has since been documented numerous times over the proceeding 37 years.

But in a new interview with ABC News, Allen got emotional when he told the story one more time; only this time tears fell when he shared about the most important thing to get him where he is today: his heart. 

Triumph over tragedy: Rick Allen, 57, got emotional when he talked out the heart it took for him to survive losing his left arm in a car accident on New Year’s Eve 1984, and relearn the drums to remain as a the drummer of Def Leppard

It was during the afternoon hours of New Year’s Eve 1984 when Allen crashed his Corvette while cruising the countryside streets just outside of Sheffield, England.

While trying to pass a red Alfa Romeo at a high speed, he lost control of his car, smashed into a stone wall and flipped over into a field.

During the chat with ABC News’ Phil Lipof, the Dronfield, Derbyshire, England native revealed he was thrown through the sunroof, and that his left arm got caught in the seatbelt when it came undone during the crash. 

As a result, the arm was severed from his body. Initially, doctors reattached the arm but they would eventually have to amputate because of an infection.

Rock gods: The band, which formed in 1977, were among the biggest rock band in the world following the release of their third studio album, Pyromania, in August 1983

Rock gods: The band, which formed in 1977, were among the biggest rock band in the world following the release of their third studio album, Pyromania, in August 1983

Special kit: But after losing his arm in a car accident Allen would relearn to play drums with one hand on a specially designed electronic drum kit that incorporated foot pedals to do some of the work his left arm would have done

Special kit: But after losing his arm in a car accident Allen would relearn to play drums with one hand on a specially designed electronic drum kit that incorporated foot pedals to do some of the work his left arm would have done

Despite losing his arm, Allen was determined to find a way to remain with Def Leppard, which meant finding an entirely new approach to playing drums.

With the support of his bandmates – singer Joe Elliot, bassist Rick Savage, and guitarists Phil Collen and the late Steve Clark, who died from alcohol poisoning in 1991 – Allen would relearn to play with one hand on a specially designed electronic drum kit that incorporated foot pedals to do some of the work his left arm would have done.

Allen would have to use a mix of patience, persistence, hard work, and thinking outside the box to rejoin the band for their first post-accident gig during the Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington on August 16, 1986.

The band would go on to finish work on their follow-up album, Hysteria. It would be released the following August in 1987, and go on to top the charts Billboard 200 and UK Albums Chart.

With the help of seven hit songs, including Pour Some Sugar On Me, Love Bites, Rocket, and Animal, Hysteria has since sold 20 million copies worldwide.

Massive success: Following Allen's accident, the band would enjoy the greatest success of their career, with their fourth studio album, Hysteria (1987), selling more than 20 million copies

Massive success: Following Allen’s accident, the band would enjoy the greatest success of their career, with their fourth studio album, Hysteria (1987), selling more than 20 million copies

Poison into a positive: Allen confessed the car accident, and losing his arm, enabled him to 'grow in so many ways'

Poison into a positive: Allen confessed the car accident, and losing his arm, enabled him to ‘grow in so many ways’

During the new interview, Allen was asked what he would tell himself if he could go back to the days when he laid in the hospital bed wondering what his life would look like without his arm. 

He answered the hypothetical question by simply pointing to his heart, in a reference to the heart it took to make it back behind the drums, and enjoy life to the fullest.

Allen started to cry when Lipof noted that everyone he spoke with in preparation for their interview commented on his impressive heart.  

When Lipof asked if he would go back in time and prevent the accident from happening, Allen had mixed emotions. 

‘In many ways, I think it enabled me to grow in so many ways,” he explained, adding, ‘It became a blessing, a responsibility, a responsibility to, you know, to other people. To myself… I think that has become a huge gift.’  

Emotional: Allen confessed the car accident, and losing his arm, enabled him to 'grow in so many ways'; he would started to cry when ABC News' Phil Lipof noted that everyone he spoke with in preparation for their interview commented on his impressive heart

Emotional: Allen confessed the car accident, and losing his arm, enabled him to ‘grow in so many ways’; he would started to cry when ABC News’ Phil Lipof noted that everyone he spoke with in preparation for their interview commented on his impressive heart

Along with his passion for music, the Rock Of Ages star also expresses himself through painting. In fact, some of his pieces have sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

One of the main themes of his artwork is actually his right arm. 

‘I nearly lost this one as well,” he said, in another reference to the horrible car accident. ‘So, for me, it’s just a reminder of everything that I went through and everything that I put this poor old hand through on a daily basis.’   

By the late afternoon on Thursday, Allen posted a photo from the interview with ABC on his Instagram page.           

‘@laurenmonroelive and I had the pleasure of speaking to @plipof from @abcnews on @abcnewslive’ he wrote in the caption, in a mention of his wife Lauren Monroe, before adding, ‘Thank you for sharing a glimpse of my journey and art. So emotional for me. So grateful for all of my fans who support me. I couldn’t do this without you.’ 

Artsy: The drummer also has a passion for painting, which he's out promoting right now

Artsy: The drummer also has a passion for painting, which he’s out promoting right now

Touring: Allen has been sharing his art with the world at gallery exhibits

Touring: Allen has been sharing his art with the world at gallery exhibits


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