home > lep history >

def leppard / Rick Allen's Comeback At Donington

on this day - 16th August 1986

On this day in Def Leppard history the band played the Monsters Of Rock festival in Donington, England.
The first large scale concert played by Rick Allen following his 1984 car accident and a big turning point for the band's popularity in the UK.

Def Leppard 1986.

"That was the most incredible experience playing that show."

Def Leppard 1986.

This section looks at the Donington 1986 festival show where Rick Allen first played in his homeland after the 1984 car accident that robbed him of his left arm. The seventh show of a comeback tour that would also include festival shows in Sweden and Germany. An event regularly mentioned by band members as a major turning point n their career and in the making of the 'Hysteria' album.

"ricky allen on the drums!"

Def Leppard played the Monsters Of Rock festival at Donington Park in Derby, England for the first time on this day in 1986.

Following a successful six date Irish warm up tour this was to be Rick Allen's big comeback in front of almost 80,000 fans. The first "big" show back after the December 1984 car accident that had taken his left arm.

The low key Irish tour had prepared the band for a return at the largest UK rock festival in front of sceptical fans and the world's music press.

The band had originally intended for back up drummer Jeff Rich to play with them for the whole tour and possibly the main Hysteria world tour. However, Rick had other ideas and had played the last two Irish shows all on his own.

The band were now back to full strength and won over the crowd with a triumphant performance. Later referred to by Joe on the 1987/1988 tour as "The Return Of The Thundergod!". With renewed energy they went on to finish off the recording of the Hysteria album in early 1987.

Joe introduced Rick during the 11th and final song of the show - 'Travellin' Band'. The introduction of "Mr. Ricky Allen on the drums!" came during a drum break and can be heard below at the one minute mark.

Read the story of the show as told by the band in Animal Instinct and their own fan club newsletter.

Donington 1986 Photo Gallery - By dltourhistory

Show Story - From Animal Instinct 1987

Leppard didn't bother with a formal introduction. As Steve Clark explains, "We were playing in broad daylight. We didn't have any big lights or effects. We hadn't dressed up for it either. We just went out there and rock and rolled for each other. If anybody else liked it, great."

Joe went into his familiar repertoire of Mick Jagger-Gary Glitter poses while Phil and Steve turned on the guitar-heat Aerosmith style, jagged zig-zag riffs punctuated by fireball burst of feedback. At one point in the set, Steve slipped around the back line of amplifiers, snuck up behind Phil and gave him a wicked kick in the caboose.

The crowd's response was better than Leppard had ever expected. During the encore, while Rick was taking a brief drum break, Phil suggested to Joe that he give Rick a special introduction, something he hadn't done on any of the Irish shows. "So I went out after he was done and said 'Ladies and Gentlemen, Rick Allen on the drums.' You could have knocked me over with a feather. The cheering was so loud they practically blew us off stage. I mean, they were louder than we were. I could barely hear Rick because of the big waves of 'YEAH' which rolled over the stage.".

It was an especially poignant victory for Rick. Before the tour, Ozzy Osbourne had told Peter Mensch that putting Rick on display for fifty thousand headbangers amounted to nothing more than a freak show. At the end of the Monsters of Rock tour, Ozzy paid a visit to Rick's hotel room and took back every word he said.

Def Leppard 1986.

Def Leppard 1986.

Leppard Back - 1986 UK News Article

Def Leppard make their first live appearance in over two years at this year's Donington Festival on August 16, joining Ozzy Osbourne, The Scorpions and Warlock.

The band are currently in Ireland finishing off their next album with producer Mutt Lange.

They will be augmented by Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich, playing alongside Rick Allen who lost an arm in a car crash a year ago.

Singer Joe Elliott says: "We wanted to try out our two drummers in the friendly confines of Castle Donington...and we were bored!".

Leppard will be following Donington with a series of European festivals.

This was the article referenced in 'Animal Instinct' with the press and media surprised when Rick eventually turned up to this show and played on his own.

Rick Allen 1986. Show Poster

Rick Allen - Comeback Shows August 1986

Def Leppard 1986.

Rick Allen - Fighting Back August 1992 Interview Quotes

"We wanted to do a small warm up tour before the last tour, which was the Hysteria tour, and we ended up in a place on the sort of south west coast of Ireland called Ballybunion. I think the roller disco was on after us."

Back Up Drummer?

"Jeff Rich he now plays with Status Quo. The first few shows went really well and I'd play a couple of songs on my own and then Jeff would do the rest of the show with me. And then this one particular show we did in Ballybunion. That was where he couldn't make it. He had to go off and do something with Status Quo and then his taxi was late getting down to the show. So it meant that I ended up playing more than half of the show on my own. And Jeff came up to me afterwards and he said 'Well, I guess I'm going home tomorrow Rick. And that was really...."

What was the first time after that that you played in England?

"That was the Donington festival. That was the most incredible experience. I don't know how many thousands of people - 80 thousand people out there. And when Joe introduced me it really, really moved me. I ended up, tears all over the place and that was the first time I thought that maybe I could electrocute myself 'cause I've got all these electronics all over the place - and I'm crying. It's like oh no, give me a bucket someone!. But that was the most incredible experience playing that show. Just every single person that was watching was applauding or cheering or doing whatever and it was all for me. So it was a really powerful sort of feeling."

Def Leppard 1986.

Rick Allen 1986. Screenshot

Media Review Quote - By Sounds

"The sound was pristine, at least to begin with, and clean cut razor-edged hooks which line their classy and almost sophisticated metal took the place by storm."

Show Story Quotes - From Fan Club Newsletter 1986

"Yes MTV didn't lie. We actually played 10 shows during the month of August. Pretty amazing stuff. I'll fill you in on what happened from start to finish: Every summer in Europe during the last two weeks of August, various countries have large outdoor festivals. Sometimes, it is a huge group performing like Springsteen in '85, Wham and Queen in 1986. Queen, by the way, are simply enormous in Europe (they played in front of 230,000 fans over three shows in the UK). Last summer in Europe, ZZ Top were meant to play all through Europe, England, Sweden, Germany, France etc., but their album "Afterburner" was late and they only played in England and southern Ireland. Originally, we were going to play with them. We thought the record would be finished and it would be good fun for us and it would show everybody that Rick Allen was back."

"With hindsight, we were lucky that ZZ didn't play, 'cause the record has taken another year and Rick's original homemade kit was not up to standard."

"Earlier this year, we got a phone call from the leading Electronic drum company in the world (which happens to be British, by the way), Simmons Electronics and they said:

"Well chaps, we can do anything Rick wants - no problem." And you know what Lep fans? They were 100% correct. By May, they had designed and built a special kit with special electronic foot pedals (made by an American company called Shark) which would allow Richard to play a full show."

"Actually, some of you, fans of new wave type songs would have seen these Simmons drums. They are those funny five sided ones. A lot of groups mix them in with their regular acoustic drums. Needless to say, Rick can't use acoustic drums anymore, but he can play as well as before except you hear a lot of sounds - some you would expect and others pretty different."

"Out of sheer boredom, Rick started to rehearse in our house in Ireland, first on his own and then with Phil or Steve playing along (or using tapes of High and Dry and Pyromania). His biggest problem was getting his left leg to do what his left hand had done. Richard Allen has absolutely amazing skill and coordination, cause he nailed it!!!"

"Back to the story. So, these summer gigs pop up again. This time it's the Scorpions who want to play outdoors as well as Ozzy Osbourne. Here it gets a little complicated. Ozzy has decided to headline this English show at Castle Donington: "The Monsters of Rock ": the Scorpions want to headline the same show in Sweden, Germany (two shows there), Spain, Italy, and Hungary."

"It takes a month or two to sort out the Scorpions will go under Ozzy in the UK and Ozzy will support the Scorpions in Sweden and Germany. Italy has bit the dust and only a small support act is needed for Spain and Hungary."

"So we propose that Def Leppard will be 3rd from top on each of the four shows (England, Sweden, and the two shows in Germany). So only the Scorps and Ozzy are on after us. Everybody is happy until a certain amount of self-doubt creeps into the minds of the Leppards."

"As it happens, it was only the English show they were worried about and only because it was the FIRST one. In the longest band meeting we've ever had (two hours), with much gnashing of teeth and the promise of sufficient Irish warm up shows, opposition to the proposed tour collapsed. We hurriedly signed contracts so that we would not back out and proceeded to set up the tour."

"Castle Donington was the one the band were unsure about; but they rose to the occasion."

"Rick was brilliant (although, he was concentrating so - hard he didn't crack a smile during the entire 1 hour set - and we spent all show making faces at him, to get him to show some facial expression.)"

"The funniest thing about the show was the number of people who went looking for Jeff and couldn't find him. We had let out a press story that said we would playing with two drummers etc. and hadn't had time to issue a new one, so people were looking high and low. It took our European booking agent, Rod MacSween and several other executives nearly half the show to figure out that Jeff had gone."

"After the gig, Joe went to Holland to continue recording the vocals. Oh yes, the set we played at these four shows was the same as the Irish one with "Run Riot", Heartbreak" and "Switch" missing. When you are playing in the middle of six acts, time is an important matter, so we cut our set down to 1 hour (or so, we're not that precise...)."

By Fan Club Magazine 1986.

Def Leppard 1986.

Media Review Quote - By Music Week

"Def Leppard came across heavier than anticipated and this was greatly appreciated. Also to everyone's surprise Rick Allen was the only drummer. Bravely choosing Donington to return to his full role of drummer in the band."

Vivian Campbell - August 2006 Interview Quote

"Rick's an absolute marvel. He may be a better drummer now than when he had two arms, in terms of his timekeeping. He's so locked into the groove. He's very, very inspirational to us and to a lot of people in the audience. We're very lucky to have him."

related pages/releases


share this page:

explore def leppard tour history
All News
Tour News
Album News
All Tours