Rick Allen Says 1984 Car Crash Prepared Him for Florida Assault
The 59-year-old drummer was ambushed by 19-year-old Max Edward Hartley in Fort Lauderdale on the evening of March 13, one day after Def Leppard performed in the nearby Hollywood. Allen hit his head on the ground and sustained injuries, and Hartley was charged with two counts of battery, four counts of criminal mischief and abusing an elderly or disabled adult. He has pleaded not guilty.
Allen said the attack happened quickly, and he's still unsure of Hartley's motive. "I heard a couple of steps, and then I just saw this dark sort of flash, and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. I landed on my backside and then continued on, hit my head on the pavement," he told Good Morning America in his first interview since the incident. "I reached my hand up into the air as I thought I was gonna get attacked again. And I just said, 'I am no threat to you.' I don't think he knew who I was, but he must have seen that I wasn't a threat because I've only got one arm."
The rocker lost his left arm in a New Year's Eve 1984 car crash, soldiering on in Def Leppard with a custom drum kit that incorporates multiple pedals to compensate for the loss of his arm. Allen said the previous brush with tragedy made him "absolutely, 100%" better prepared for the assault than the car accident.
"I immediately just went to that place of just feeling grateful for the fact that I have an amazing wife and an incredible family," Allen said. "I just started thanking a higher power for the fact that I'm still here."
Shortly after the attack, Allen issued a statement thanking everyone for their "overwhelming support" and said he and his wife, Lauren Monroe, were "working on recovering in a safe space." He added that he was "focusing on healing for everyone involved" and strived to "move from confusion and shock to compassion and empathy." He thanked "fans, veterans and first responders in our global community" and concluded, "Together with love, we can all get through these difficult times."
Allen and his bandmates returned to the stage on May 19 for their first live performance since the attack, playing an intimate pre-tour gig at the Leadmill nightclub in their hometown of Sheffield, England. Def Leppard will resume their co-headlining world tour with Motley Crue on Monday at Sheffield's Bramall Lane.
For Allen, getting back behind the kit has been instrumental in his recovery. "I know that I'm not gonna be playing music in a band forever — but while I am, I plan on making as many people happy as I possibly can," he said. "This is my opportunity. If only we could view other things in that way. You know, we're only here for a limited time."