Drummer Rick Allen of Def Leppard once shared a memorable encounter from his 16th birthday, when he met the iconic Bon Scott of AC/DC. This remarkable drummer, who has overcome incredible challenges, sheds light on a fundamental difference between drummers and guitarists.
Rick Allen, now 59 years old, has an inspiring journey. He faced a life-changing accident during Def Leppard’s initial surge to fame, losing his arm. However, he reinvented himself as a musician and became a force for good in the world.
Apart from his role as Def Leppard’s drummer, he co-founded the “Raven Drum Foundation” with his wife, Lauren Monroe. This foundation brings together a diverse group of drummers, decorated military personnel, and wellness experts, all with a focus on healing trauma survivors like veterans and first responders.
One of the foundation’s notable activities is the drum circle, where participants engage in collective drumming as a form of catharsis. In a recent interview with Forbes, Rick Allen was asked why it seems easier to synchronize a group of drummers compared to guitarists. His response was insightful:
“Most drummers I know are exceptional listeners. They understand their role in binding the entire musical experience and serving as its backbone. It involves carefully listening to where they fit in the rhythm. Are they complementing the vocals or drowning them out? Are they creating a rhythm that harmonizes with other instruments or overpowering them?”
“In a drum circle, everyone contributes while simultaneously receiving input. It’s a space where everyone truly listens to one another.”
In another part of the interview, Rick Allen, who has left alcohol behind in favor of tea, shared a heartwarming memory of having tea with one of his heroes, the late Bon Scott from AC/DC. Allen reminisced:
“I recall sharing a cup of tea with Bon Scott. We were the opening act for AC/DC during their ‘Highway To Hell’ tour at several venues. It so happened that on my 16th birthday at the Hammersmith Odeon, Bon Scott approached me, handed me a bowl of Smarties, and wished me a ‘Happy Birthday.’ We sat down and had a cup of tea together.”
When asked about Bon Scott’s personality, the drummer added:
“He was delightful and unpretentious. He didn’t strike me as the wild man stereotype. His loss was immense. I remember witnessing the opening night of that tour. They stormed the stage with ‘Live Wire,’ and they were one of the most electrifying bands I had ever seen at that point. Their hard rock and roll, impeccably executed and well-crafted songs, outstanding musicianship, and powerful vocals embodied everything a rock band should be in my eyes.”