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Def Lep's Rick recalls comeback crossroads

Fans powered drummer Allen through emotional Donington comeback after losing arm in car crash

Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen has recalled how fans' support powered him through his emotional return to the stage at Donington after the car crash that left him without a left arm.

The sticksman's return took place at Monsters Of Rock in 1986, a year and a half after the near-fatal accident he was convinced had ended his career.

Allen tells MusicRadar: “Donington is a crossroads in my life. That was where it all changed for me. It was really scary; I didn’t think I could pull it off. But to feel the warmth of a crowd like that – just feeling the sense that they wanted me to succeed and feeling that encouragement – was just incredible. What a moment.”

The 1984 crash pushed Def Leppard to breaking point, forcing a long delay before the launch of career-defining album Hysteria. Allen was only able to play again after a period of intense recovery sessions and the building of a unique drumkit on which foot pedals replaced the parts he used to play with his arm.

He remembers: “It took years and years to make the damned thing. Then me going through my trials and tribulations set the whole thing back even further. It felt like a huge task at that moment in time. I guess I felt somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of having to do all of these songs."

But he reflects: "In a way it was fortunate that the record took so long to make – it gave me the time to integrate everything that had happened. It was nice that I had a good year before I had to go out and play.”

Def Leppard are currently touring the US with Kiss before continuing work on what will be their 10th studio album. Allen's bandmate Viv Campbell is continuing a battle with cancer after his first all-clear report turned out to be "premature."

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