Def Leppard Drummer Helps Others Heal Through Music

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Rick Allen was in San Diego recently for a fundraising gala for Generate Hope, which helps survivors of sex trafficking heal from trauma

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Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Rick Allen told NBC 7 recently that he doesn’t like to see people suffer, which is why, when he’s not on tour, he’s dedicating his time and talents to trauma survivors.

Allen, who was in San Diego not long ago with his wife, Lauren Monroe, helping survivors of sex trafficking, shared his remarkable story of overcoming the amputation of his left arm, an act of resilience that also inspired his passion for helping others heal. He's been behind the kit drumming for Sheffield's own Def Leppard since 1978, but he might not always feel like a legend of rock.

"I don't think we always view ourselves the way others do," Allen said with a laugh.

Underneath Allen’s rock-star image, in fact, is a humble man with a tender heart.

“You know, when I first started playing, I never thought that I'd be, you know, doing what I'm doing now, especially at this level," Allen said.

The New Year’s Eve car crash in 1984 that cost him his arm was devastating: "I just wanted to disappear."

The New Year's Eve crash cost the drummer Allen his left arm.

An outpouring of support from around the world, however, turned hopelessness into a new awakening…

"I think it was to do with waking up the power of the human spirit, you know?" Allen said. "Instead of being or feeling defeated, I felt like I really wanted to … I wanted to go on."

And go on he did, eventually being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, a class that also boasted Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson and the Cure, among others.

"I think one of the things that really did help me was to stop comparing myself to how I used to be," Allen said.

Another self-discovery Allen made was a deep desire to help others.

"I really don't like to see people suffer," Allen said. "And I think the idea came from the amount of suffering that I went through myself, adding, later, "and then, of course, when I met Lauren, we just took it to a whole different level."

Together with his wife, Lauren Monroe — who is a therapist and a musician, as well — founded the Raven Drum Foundation.

"We started drumming together right away, and we knew it helped," Monroe said. "So we started reaching out and playing with other people who needed to take that journey through music."

Allen and Monroe were in San Diego last week at a Generate Hope fundraising gala to help survivors of sex trafficking heal from trauma, helping show survivors "how to guide their mind, how to stay in their body," Monroe said. "Oftentimes with trauma, it's the last place you want to be. You're just checked out, but it's the first place you need to go to heal."

“Well, I think that it’s one of many ways that they can really get back in touch with themselves," Susan Munsey, the founder of Generate Hope, said, referring to the Raven Drum program.

Munsey knows how meaningful the therapy can be, because she’s also a survivor.

"Just having someone else with their skills come in and teach some of those grounding and mindfulness skills — they're really excited about it," Munsey said.

While Allen may not consider himself a rock legend, over the past two decades, the couple has made a legendary investment in the lives of a fan base that now includes thousands of veterans, first-responders and trauma survivors.

"I think just being of service really," Allen said, asked to point out the most rewarding part of his involvement with the foundation.

Allen said his involvement with Raven Drum has given him a different perspective on the crash that changed his life.

"It does, yeah," Allen said. "And sometimes I don't always feel great, you know, but there are certain things I can do to lift myself out of that, and it normally involves helping other people."

"I think it's a call for all of us to hold the light up brightly for others," Monroe said. And when we have the strength, we do it, and then when we don't have the strength, there'll be someone there for us."

Allen and Monroe are working on a video that will be shown at VA hospitals across the country to inspire others on their road to recovery.

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