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In the News:
Rocker Chills To Krishna Das


Posted September 13, 2005

It turns out that Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen is "one with everything." He's been dabbling in the philosophies of Hare Krishna for quite some time - but don't expect him to turn up at the airport dancing in saffron robes and banging a tambourine.

"No, but I'll talk to those guys," he says. "They're just doing their thing, you know? It's very noble. If there were more people like Hare Krisha in this world, we certainly wouldn't be at war."

It's hard to argue. But it's also surreal to hear this kind of thing from the wild and crazy rocker whose former excesses are well-documented. There are the drugs, the booze, the spousal battery charge and the terrible car accident on New Year's Eve 1984 that resulted in the loss of his left arm. Now, at the ripe old age of 41, he comes across like a mellow English gentleman - one who still curses like a rock musician, mind you - as he talks about his spiritual awakening. Def Leppard plays Tuesday at Rexall Place. Expect to hear such hits as Pour Some Sugar on Me and Love Bites - a bit of a contrast to the music Allen listens to in his off time. It would have to include the devotional yogic chanting of Krishna Das, who invited Allen to play percussion on his latest record.

"That was incredible," Allen says in a recent phone interview. "I really couldn't say no."

The drummer says he's been interested in eastern spiritualism ever since he can remember. He says there was always a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita next to his bed in the place where the Gideon bible might've been.

The mind interest became extreme when he had his accident. "When you're traumatized to that degree, your normal senses really shut down and you go to a place within yourself that is seldom visited," he says. "But when you get there, you realize it's an extremely powerful place. I think some people call it a near-death experience."

Producer Mutt Lange arranged for a Krishna couple to come stay near the hospital near Sheffield and cook vegetarian meals for the musician every day. The whole ward smelled of an Indian restaurant, Allen recalls, and a projected six- month hospital stay was over in less than a month.

He goes on: "So I started to ask (the couple) about their beliefs and they told me about the intention that they put into their food. It really struck a chord in me. After that, I remained interested, involved. I was in Boulder in 2000 and me and my wife walked into this store called Tibet and there was this music playing. We both had tears rolling down our cheeks and went, 'Wow, what is this music?' We found out it was Krishna Das."

Now, of course, he has to play Pour Some Sugar on Me - and he's happy to do it. With the recent release of Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection - at least the second collection of hits from the band - Def Leppard was able to take a bit of time off. It wasn't meant to "recharge their batteries," Allen stresses.

"That was already in place. After we lost Steve (guitarist Steve Clark, of a drug overdose) and ultimately what happened to me, you look each other in the eyes and say, wow, it's f--- all to do with the music. It's about friendship. That never goes away. And that's something that's grown so strong over the years. We're basically a family. So there's never any doubt about moving forward with Def Leppard. That's just a given."

That said, he says the band sounds and looks better than ever. There's also the matter of the '80s revival that has supposedly yielded a spike in interest in Def Leppard, though the band was formed in 1977.

Allen says, "We're thought of as an '80s band because that's when the success happened. Interestingly enough, we have a covers album coming out (the release date has been pushed back to the new year) and the criteria was music that inspired us prior to getting signed. We're already playing a couple of them. We're doing No Matter What by Badfinger and then Rock On, the David Essex classic. They're '70s songs. Technically, we're a '70s band."

Yes, Def Leppard is in a strange place, existing in the shadowy netherworld between the '70s and the '80s - too young to be considered classic rock, too old and too established in their slick, hard-rocking craft to get in on the explosion of alternative music.

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