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Def Leppard's Rick Allen: The Art of Possibility

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I wrote a previous post about the really cool Art of Drums collection that SceneFour is doing (earlier collaborations have been with Matt Sorum of Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver and Stephen Perkins of Jane's Addiction), where the rhythm of the drumsticks literally creates a piece of art on canvas... and their most recent release has moved me very deeply, and perfectly embodies just what the power of art and music can do. It transcends time, space, and motion... it really is more than a piece of art to hang on the wall... it really is, well, an energy of inspiration.

All I knew about Rick Allen was that he is the one-armed drummer of Def Leppard. And then I saw the 11 pieces from his drum art collection Electric Hand: Rhythm + Change, and wanted to know more. There is something ethereal in what came out of his sessions... almost otherworldly. He taps into something deep, and with names like Shape Shifter, Angel Holding Sun, Warrior Heart, and Journey, you get a sense of Allen's spirituality. His pieces inspired me to learn more about this man who has been able to, with one arm, sustain a successful career as a drummer since the '80s with one of the world's best selling musical groups ever. How? How did he do it? Not just how did he do it physically, but how was he able to mentally overcome his own doubts and fears and not give in to all the naysayers and cynics? How was he able to just believe? I got some answers from looking at his art. From his art you can tell there is something deep inside him, guiding him on his journey, and guiding him to empower others facing similar disabilities, letting them know that their lives are not over, but rather, are just beginning.

What I feel, what I get, from Rick Allen's drum art pieces is that we must never close ourselves off to possibility. After Allen lost his arm, his band mates made it clear he wasn't going anywhere, no matter how much he himself doubted. Not for one second did they believe that just because he has one arm, he couldn't be their drummer anymore. They believed in possibility...they believed in Rick Allen. And when Allen thought his life as a musician was over, he was dead wrong, because it was actually only just beginning. Def Leppard's first album after Allen's accident, Hysteria, sold over 20 million copies worldwide, proving that a loss of anything -- be it a limb, a job, a relationship, money, and so on -- doesn't mean the end. It simply means we have to open ourselves up to possibility... and to a little imagination. It reminds me of a saying I love: "Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it became a butterfly."

Allen always has a sunflower on his drums when he plays. He says it represents new beginnings. No matter what life has thrown at us, we always have a choice: we can either look at it as a victim, as a door that's closed to us forever OR we can look at it as an opportunity to walk through a new door that we never knew was there before... a door leading to a new life. A life filled with unlimited possibilities.

To view or purchase any of Rick Allen's Art of Drums collection, visit www.rickallenart.com.