Richard John Cyril Allen started out playing drums on his mum's kitchen countertops, he used a tambourine for percussion until he successfully pestered his parents for a drum kit when he was 10. He had to make a deal to get it: he had to take lessons first, and save up for half the cost.
Rick's first neighborhood band was Smokey Blue. But after tiring of the local band scene, he joined Def Leppard after responding to an article titled, "Leppard Loses Skins." He met with Joe and Steve "and we hit it off right away." And he was only fifteen years old.
Then Rick lost his left arm in a car accident on December 31, 1984. His Corvette took a curve too fast while trying to pass a car, on a rural road outside his native Sheffield, England, and slammed into a wall. Surgeons attempted to reattach the arm, but unfortunately, the infection spread and the arm had to be removed once again. This didn't stop Rick. While in the hospital, Rick began tapping his feet and realized that he could find a way to play the drums again. This lead to the creation of his electronic drum kit. This drum kit would allow him to use his left foot to play the beats his left hand would usually create. And from then on, he became known as the Thunder God. His return to the drums was the greatest come back ever in the history of rock 'n' roll.
After relying on an electronic drum kit for 11 years, he has moved up to playing an acoustic kit on Slang! As Phil put it, "When we heard Rick playing a real drum kit (after using electronic drums for 11 years) it kind of set the tone [for the album]. He sounded like someone released from solitary confinement and given total freedom. We said 'Play like Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols on their first album.' So he beat the crap out of his drum kit and it was perfect for ["Gift of Flesh"] and others to follow."
The uniqueness of Rick Allen's drumkit has been well documented over the years; foot pedals trigger the sounds that most drummers make with their left arm - the one Rick lost in 1984. Using all kinds of "technology stunts" like DDrum and Acupads, next to regular acoustic units (snare drum, bass drum and cymbals), Rick's kit can sound like a regular acoustic drum kit (using samples which were recorded with an actual acoustic drum kit), while it is also able to create the more "less natural" futuristic sounds and entire loops, triggered by one hit.
One of the latest additions to the kit is a new triggering interface, designed and built by Jim Kelsey and J-P Cirre of Whirlwind, along with Rick's drum tech Jerry Johnson.