DEF LEPPARD drummer Rick Allen went on "Side Jams With Bryan Reesman" to talk about his painting and photography work. He also addressed what his life has been like under the pandemic, including reconnecting with an old friend who became a famous golfer.
Allen is known for his charity work with people suffering from PTSD, notably military veterans, through his Raven Drum Foundation. He recently made appearances at various Wentworth Gallery locations in May and June to sell paintings, raise funds, and meet fans. Having coped with PTSD during his adult life, he understands that quarantine has been difficult for many people like him.
"Isolation is a terrible thing," said Allen. "The thing that we talk about when I'm together with wounded warriors is isolation. Use technology. You've got it all at your fingertips. Reach out to somebody that you feel is worse off than you, and then reach up to somebody that you feel is further along than you. The thing about the whole COVID thing is veterans would start to isolate again, and that's dangerous. I felt that early on in the pandemic. And then [my wife] Lauren came up with this idea of 'Big Love' benefit concerts. That really helped me because it gave me a focus, and that just kind of carried through to where I was like, just be of service and just whatever you can help do it. It doesn't cost me anything to make people feel happy or inspired. So, that's been a huge topic. Mental health awareness and suicide prevention — those two months are back to back. It should be every day. It shouldn't be just one month is dedicated to this or another month dedicated to this. The whole year should be dedicated to that because I've seen so much suffering during this time. I just opened my little way I can help. And that's one of the things that music, particularly the artwork, during COVID has really helped me with. It's kept me focused."
There have been bright spots too. Allen found himself reconnecting with an old friend during lockdown, a successful golfer named Mark Roe. "He's played some of the some of the most famous golf courses on the planet," said Allen. "He became a TV presenter, and I just spoke to him recently and remembered that he was actually the first person that introduced me to the first VAN HALEN album [back in 1978]. I was just blown away [by it]. It was incredible. Hopefully, we're gonna stay in touch. It was lovely to hear him. And he basically said to me, 'As I get older, I started to think about people that were significant in my life, and you came up.' He knew me before I was a rock star or any of that, so it meant a lot to me that he reached out."
Rick also talked about his love for photography. "Sometimes I'll go back through the archives and go back through old photographs — things that I didn't think were very, very impressive at the time," he said. "Just conjure up that moment in time where I go back and it conjures up so many other memories of what was going on in my life at that particular moment in time. So I find photography very useful. I love video, I love cinematography. But there's something really unique about still images and trying to instill some sort of movement, something that brings up an emotional response in people. And that carried through to my artwork."
Allen became the drummer for DEF LEPPARD at age 15. At the height of worldwide fame in 1984, he had a car accident that changed his life. Rick lost an arm, but turned personal tragedy into spiritual transformation and continued his musical career. While he was already a hero to millions of young people, he soon added millions of new admirers. Since then, Rick has been reaching out and giving support to others all over the globe by sharing his personal experiences and his love of drumming. Over the past 17 years, Rick has reached out to teenage cancer patients, children with special needs, at risk youth in crisis, families of domestic violence and veterans who have served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded the Humanitarian Award by Maria Shriver's Best Buddies in 2002 and in 2012, was also awarded the prestigious Wounded Warrior Project's Carry It Forward Award. Rick continues his work helping wounded warriors through Project Resiliency's Warrior Resiliency Program sponsored by his charity foundation the Raven Drum Foundation.
An integral part of Rick's creative life went public in 2012. After years of personal photographic work, Allen ventured into the fine art world with a blockbuster debut collection of abstract artwork built from rhythm. Allen has become a pioneer in the new medium, utilizing drumsticks and rhythm to dictate abstract visuals on canvas.