In rock history, drummer Rick Allen will always be known as Def Leppard’s one-armed Thunder God, the man who parlayed a devastating handicap into an actual asset.
But Allen also likes to present himself as something totally different. An artist.
Allen appeared at the Wentworth Gallery in Fort Lauderdale over the weekend to show a variety of pieces that went from small paintings of London scenes for a few hundred dollars to painted concert drums for $8,000 per.
Many of Allen’s colorful pop art-style paintings revolve around the theme of a hand.
“It’s really exciting to be able to present myself in a different way like this,” Allen told us. “I can hide behind a drum kit, but this is an opportunity for me to talk about things that inspire me, things that I love.”
Allen said started painting as a teen and recently rediscovered that side of him when he helped his 6-year-old daughter with her watercolors.
“She paints from her heart,” Allen said.
A portion of the weekend sales were donated to the Raven Drum Foundation, a charity the British-born Allen set up in California to help war veterans with nontraditional PTSD treatment like breathing, animal-assisted therapy and meditation.
Allen said PTSD is one of his interests because he can best put himself in the shoes of some stricken vets: Allen dealt with severe PTSD after the car accident near Sheffield, England that took his left arm in 1984 and nearly ended his career.
Through his use of specially made drums and encouragements from band members who decided they wouldn’t go on without him, Allen helped the singers of “Pour Some Sugar,” “Love Bites” and “Photograph” climb on top the rock heap through the 1980s and 1990s.
The band rose up again over the past decade when its material was prominently featured in the Broadway show Rock of Ages and the movie partly shot in Fort Lauderdale and starring Tom Cruise.