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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
30 Years Ago Def Leppard/Rick Allen In Triumphant Comeback At Donington

Tuesday, 16th August 2016

Rick Allen 1986.
Screenshot by dltourhistory

Def Leppard played the Monsters Of Rock festival at Donington Park in Derby, England for the first time 30 years ago 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. Rick 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. Donington 1986. Donington 1986. Donington 1986. Donington 1986.

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.

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."

Rick Allen 1986.

Show Story Quotes - From Fan Club Newsletter 1986

"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."

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."

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."

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