With Def Leppard setting off on a cross country tour this summer, you’d better believe that some of the fans most looking forward to catching one of their shows are Iraq War veterans — who’ve found drummer Rick Allen to be a source of inspiration and a friend.
Allen’s story is well-known: he suffered the loss of his arm in an auto accident in 1984, then managed a remarkable comeback, remaining among the best rock drummers of all time by training himself to drum with one arm and foot pedals. Rick and his singer-songwriter-musician wife Lauren Monroe started their Raven Drum Foundation in 2001, aiming to help other amputees. In recent years, since he first went to visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital, they’ve focused their energies on veterans, “using the power of the drum as the center of the healing modality,” as Lauren puts it.
Partnering with Wounded Warrior Project and other nonprofits geared to helping injured vets, Raven Drum has worked with hundreds of returning Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers via their Resiliency Veteran Program. Rick and Lauren have established programs that incorporate drumming — drum circles — rhythm, movement, dance, Yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation. Their activities have included visiting amputee vets at locales such as the Center for the Intrepid rehab facility in San Antonio, TX. He’s demonstrated his drum technique and displayed his ingeniously adapted drum kit backstage at Def Leppard shows.
Rick recalls the time lead singer Joe Elliott “stopped talking mid-sentence because out in the audience he saw all these arms and legs going up in the air.”
“They were holding up their prosthetics,” says Lauren.
“It was fantastic to see them having such a great time, just being able to be themselves and really be happy with their new bodies,” he adds.
Rick certainly has learned to take good care of himself. Back when he first lost his arm and was suffering terrible inflammation, he learned a diet that was rich in herbs with anti-inflammatory properties. He recently talked about that with nutrition guru Catie Norris for her forthcoming “The Cure is in the Kitchen With Catie” TV show. “She’s been a huge help to myself and Lauren – to everyone she’s come in contact with,” says Rick. “It’s common sense, you know, that most illnesses can be helped through diet. Catie is an incredible woman – living proof of what she says.”
">Cure is in the Kitchen
MEANWHILE: Rick is heading off to the U.K. this week to rehearse for a string of concerts in Ireland and the U.K. — including a return to Castle Donington, where he played his first post-accident gig in 1986. “It was fantastic, the support I felt from the crowd. I had my family there, and obviously everybody in the band. I’m anticipating going back.” Rick and Lauren are also anticipating the release of “A Chant for Healing…the Oneness Chant” online in June. In addition to her website, “You’ll definitely be able to find it on iTunes,” she says.
Allen demonstrates drumming
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Nancy Travis reports that making “Safe Harbor,” the Hallmark Channel movie she has premiering Saturday (5/30), made her all the more appreciative of her regular series gig on “The Bill Engvall Show.”
The true story of a couple who planned to spend their retirement years exploring the world on their sailboat , but wound up helping troubled teenaged boys, “Safe Harbor” required long, arduous days of shooting and shivering. Though the story takes place in Florida, it was shot in L.A., with the cast in summer clothes pretending to be warm during cold January days.
“We’re going full throttle at ‘The Bill Engvall Show’ and I’m loving every minute of it. The whole sitcom life – going to work at 10, coming home at three – if you’re lucky enough that it comes to you, you have to grab onto it with both hands,” she notes.
Even so, she makes it clear she feels “Safe Harbor” was worth the trouble.
“I love the whole notion of a couple having a plan for their lives, then fate throws something in their path and completely re-routs them – but turns out to be just what they were looking for. A favor becomes their whole life’s journey,” she says of Doug and Robbie Smith, played by Treat Williams and herself, respectively. The Smiths agreed to take in some juvenile hall-bound kids for a few days – a favor that eventually led to their founding of Jacksonville, Florida’s Safe Harbor Boys Home some 25 years ago.
“I didn’t have an opportunity to meet with her before we started shooting, but I’m a mother myself and I saw in her such a mothering quality,” says Travis. “I thought about what it would be like if I didn’t have children, couldn’t have children, and believed that part of life had passed me by – but then get to be the mother to so many children.”
JUSTIN TIME: Justin Guarini, who has been busy covering “American Idol” all season on the TV Guide Channel, tells us it’s one of the things he looks forward to most when not busy making music. “I love it. It keeps me in tune with ‘Idol’ every single year. I’m really proud of the job we do week in and week out because I feel like it really does give people an inside perspective on a show that they really love,” says Guarini, who seems to have been born to be on camera. “My mother was one of the first 200 people to start up CNN. She was one of the first anchorwomen so I would go hang out with her on set. I’ve grown up around cameras my entire life.” Next up for the curly haired host now that the Fox singing competition won’t be back ’til January? “I’m in the studio right now putting together my own music.”
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster