Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen says he hit his head on the pavement after being attacked following a show in Florida last March, but is now feeling “grateful” for his loved ones amid his recovery.
The musician sat down for his first and so far only interview about the incident with Good Morning America, revealing details of the attack that happened in Fort Lauderdale on March 13. In the city to perform at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, he was assaulted while taking a smoke break outside a hotel.
“I heard a couple of steps, and then I just saw this dark sort of flash. And the next thing I knew, I was on the ground,” he said. “I landed on my backside, and then continued on and hit my head on the pavement.”
“I reached my hand into the air as I thought I was going to get attacked again,” he continued on.
The drummer said he didn’t think his assailant “knew who I was, but he must have seen that I wasn’t a threat because I’ve only got one arm.” Allen lost his left arm at the age of 21 after a near-fatal driving accident in 1984 in England.
According to the Associated Press, Allen’s attacker was hiding behind a pillar outside the same hotel Allen was at. He ran at the drummer before knocking him to the ground and attacking a woman who tried to help Allen. (She was not seriously injured.)
A 19-year-old man was arrested and charged in the attack against Allen. He has pleaded not guilty.
The Def Leppard member says he was “100 percent” prepared for the attack and the trauma that came with it because of what he’d already experienced with his 1984 crash.
“I immediately just went to that place of feeling grateful for the fact that I have an amazing wife and an incredible family. I just started thanking a higher power for the fact that I’m still here,” he said.
Since the attack, he has been focused on his recovery, he and his wife, Lauren Monroe, said. “My heart just completely sank into me. I know the journey of trauma. Everything stopped in our house and focused on him,” Monroe said.
Allen first publicly spoke about the attack on his Instagram in a lengthy March 19 message that saw him give thanks to those showing their “overwhelming support.”
“My wife Lauren was thankfully not with me at the time of the incident. We are together now, and working on recovering in a safe space. We are focusing on healing for everyone involved. We ask you to join us in our effort to move from confusion and shock to compassion and empathy,” he wrote at the time. “We understand this act of violence can be triggering for so many people.”
“To all of the fans, veterans, and first responders in our global community, we are thinking of you all,” he continued. “Together with love, we can all get through these difficult times.”
He followed that post with another around a month ago, noting that he was “getting my mind and body ready for the upcoming Def Leppard tour.”
While speaking to GMA, Allen spoke about his music career and goals following the attack. “I know that I’m not going to be playing music in a band forever,” said Allen. “But while I am, I plan on making as many people happy as I possibly can. And this is my time. This is my opportunity.”