DEF Leppard drummer Rick Allen has teamed up with a former US marine to raise awareness of a problem they have in common post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rick and John Roberts suffered ordeals which both left them with serious injuries, but of very different kinds.
Rick, a founder member of the Sheffield band which played its early gigs in Crookes, was in a car accident in 1984 which cost him his left arm.
Eight years later John was on a military operation in Somalia when he and his unit were in a helicopter, about 200 feet in the air.
The rear engine blew out mid-flight and three Marines around John were killed in the blast but he survived, severely burned.
Since then the pair have been drawn together by their experiences of PTSD.
John now dedicates his time to injured veterans as the executive director of the Wounded Warriors Project, which helps veterans whio have suffered injuries make the transition from active duty to civilian life.
Rick founded the Raven Drum Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides free music therapy.
More than two decades later, the rocker still remembers his seat belt coming undone and being thrown from the car through the sun roof.
“Everything’s in slow motion,” he said. “I must have been going a good 65, 70 miles per hour.
“I landed in a field several hundred yards away, and I remember standing up and saying, ‘I’m a drummer, I’ve lost my arm.’ It was very surreal.”
To deal with the issues of PTSD, the pair started meeting with families and the injured at Def Leppard concerts about an hour before the show.
The sessions are called Warrior Gatherings.
“One of the main issues is that the warriors won’t ask for help,” Rick said. “And we are really here to highlight the fact that you’re not a coward if you ask for help.”
In the sessions, the two men share their stories, which John said encouraged others to open up about their suffering.