Rick Allen on his favourite drummers of all time

rick allen

What Rick Allen accomplished with Def Leppard is the kind of comeback story that most musicians can only fantasise about. After losing one of his arms in a horrific car accident, he managed to get back up and perform. Bouncing back earned him a highly esteemed reputation, a goal for any percussionist in the group’s career. Although Allen has made waves as one of the most influential drummers today, he owes much to those who came before him.

When you look at Def Leppard’s pedigree, it’s easy to see where they got the majority of their musical cues. The riffs on their first few albums seemed to be reminiscent of artists like Led Zeppelin and Humble Pie. It took the core ethos of rock and roll and taking it to even heavier places. In terms of melody, the band was still indebted to 1970s British pop, whether it was T. Rex or David Bowie.

However, by the time Rick Allen rose to prominence as a drummer, the likes of Keith Moon and John Bonham had already laid the groundwork for rock percussion. Both drummers knew the perfect way to serve the song outside of the usual formula. They took bits and pieces from other genres to create a cacophony of noise whenever they took a drum solo.

When considering Allen’s role in Def Leppard’s music, his tastes leaned towards AC/DC. Despite the fact that the band has one of the most solid rhythmic foundations in rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, Allen was more interested in what Phil Rudd was doing behind the kit. Looking back on his time with the band, Allen credits Rudd as one of his biggest influences. He said, “Def Leppard opened for AC/DC on the Highway To Hell tour in 1979.” Phil Rudd is a quiet man with a powerful drumming style. AC/DC’s live shows were unrivalled.”

While Rudd taught Allen how to lay down a thick backbeat behind punishing riffs, Tommy Aldridge taught him how to use power behind the kit. With Pat Travers Band, Aldridge, a beast behind the kit, infused his beats with a healthy amount of swing. He also hit with the might of Thor when the occasion demanded.

Even though Aldridge would later work with Whitesnake, Allen’s clearest memory was of Aldridge assisting him during his formative years. He explained, “It’s only a few hours before Def Leppard are s’posed to go on stage.” To say the least, I’m extremely nervous. It’s our first time performing on American soil, opening for Pat Travers. Tommy Aldridge appears to save the day. He assists me in unboxing, setting up, and tuning the drums just in time for Def Leppard to take the stage.”

While Aldridge was known for his power behind the kit, Allen prefers to learn from the assistance he received from the drumming legend. Allen could see the natural person hidden behind those drums, teaching him to be down-to-earth while living a life with one’s head in the clouds, rather than a formidable character.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like