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Rick Allen lost his left arm as his band Def Leppard was reaching new heights of fame, but the drummer persevered, discovering a way to continue making music with his feet.
Speaking at an In Conversation event in London last month, the drummer and his bandmates Joe Elliot, Phil Collen, Rick Savage and Vivian Campbell shared some candid moments from their 46-year-long career as rock legends.
The drummer recalled returning to the stage in 1986, declaring he was “on cloud nine for a while”.
Singer Joe added that it was a “very emotional time for all of us”, as “there’s no rulebook for one-armed drummers”.
He continued: “That 1986 gig was uncharted territory physically, emotionally.”
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The 63-year-old revealed that the band had done a run of far smaller “warm-up shows” across Ireland to help get Rick re-situated in the drummer’s seat.
Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich had also temporarily joined the five-piece band as a second drummer to support Rick.
However, at one show Joe admitted the “stage was so small” to fit two drumkits and so Jeff stood off to the side, telling Rick: “Do the gig on your own, I’ll watch from the front and let you know how it goes.”
Joe recalled: “And when we finished, I’ll never forget this, Jeff came back and said; ‘Well guess I’ll go home!’.”
The 1986 Dublin gig landed Rick in the history books as the world’s first one-armed drummer, and the musician admitted he was “feeling pretty good”.
However, the moment didn’t last as he recalled: “It wasn’t until I got wind that Ozzy said something derogatory, that kind of burst my bubble.”
In a passing comment, Ozzy Osbourne reportedly called Rick a “freakshow” and said he wouldn’t be letting him on stage.
The drummer quickly added that the Black Sabbath star more than made up for the comment, leaving Rick completely starstruck at the moment.
Rick gushed: “He was amazing. After the show he really redeemed himself, in the genius of Ozzy he said, ‘I was wrong’.
“I was like ‘Woah that’s happened!’.”
Almost four decades after losing his arm Rick still graces the stage with his band, barefoot to better manipulate his custom drumkit.
He also candidly revealed that he still gets the occasional phantom limb sensation, believing he can feel and move the arm that is no longer there.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers show no signs of slowing down as not only are they currently on a sold-out world tour with Motley Crue, the five-piece have also released their new book, Definitely: The Official Story of Def Leppard, and dropped a new album in May, Drastic Symphonies.