You don’t choose Carmel,” says Lauren Monroe, “Carmel chooses you.” Monroe, a healer and musician, moved to the area in 2017 with her husband, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen. The couple previously called Malibu home. “We started coming to Big Sur around 2002, a couple of times a year,” Allen recalls. “We were so sad every time we left.” It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Allen and Monroe came here to live a life of ease, playing golf and watching the world go by. Between their professional and philanthropic endeavors, they are perhaps as busy as they’ve ever been.
Allen is, of course, a rock star, but not only in the sense that he’s a member of one of the most successful rock bands of the late twentieth century. Yes, in that sense the term fits him to a tee, but in its other usage, to describe a person who exhibits great determination, ability and grit, to a perhaps daunting situation, that truly applies to this transplanted Briton. He joined Def Leppard in 1978 at the tender age of fifteen. Six years later, the band was headlining arenas around the world.
Fast cars always lure young men who find themselves in such situations. No exception, Allen purchased a Corvette, and was involved in a tragic accident which cost him his left arm. A lesser man would perhaps have thrown in the towel and wallowed in self-pity, but this drummer is cut from sterner cloth. During a difficult recovery, he created technology that enables him to play the drum kit with the signature virtuosity that made him a star, propelling his band to even greater success. At the band’s 2019 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, upon being introduced and credited for his comeback following the accident, Allen received an emotional standing ovation.
“It became a blessing,” Allen said in an ABC News “Nightline” interview, “and a responsibility to other people. It enabled me to grow in so many ways.” Twenty years ago, he met New York native Monroe in Los Angeles. A healing arts educator who uses alternative medicines, specializing in trauma recovery, PTSD, crisis care and suicide prevention. She helped her future husband overcome the “invisible injuries” that often occur to those who undergo great trauma. “I was so busy that I really didn’t realize that I had PTSD,” Allen says. She is also a musician, and the couple played music together as part of the healing process—a practice they continue to this day.
During a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Allen was deeply touched by the wounded warriors—some of them amputees—that he encountered there. He instantly recognized their invisible injuries and decided to do something to help them, and with Monroe, created the Raven Drum Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit that “serves, educates and empowers veterans, first responders and trauma survivors through innovative wellness-supported programs,” according to the organization’s web site. Since its inception 20 years ago, the foundation’s focus has expanded to trauma recovery and resiliency and suicide prevention for veterans in addition to at-risk youth, women’s shelters and victims of domestic violence. “This is a direct result of that visit to Walter Reed,” Allen says. “Music is a safe and universal way to bring people together.” Currently there are plans to bring the program to Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, with a focus on incarcerated veterans. To date, the Raven Drum Foundation has touched the lives of more than 50,000 individuals.
In addition to his obvious musical chops, Rick Allen is an exceptionally talented visual artist, working in acrylic paints, multi-media and photography. He is represented by the East Coast Wentworth Galleries (wentworthgallery.com/allen).
Monroe’s music career is in high gear. Her band consists of the cream of Monterey Bay Area musicians, including bassist Steve Uccello, Dylan Rose on guitar, vocalist Tami Brown and guitarist Brian Whelan from Los Angeles. She was a hit at last summer’s West End Celebration in Sand City. Her latest album “Under the Wolf Moon” was released in February of 2021. As for Allen, he is “cautiously optimistic” that a Def Leppard tour currently planned for June 2022 will go forward.
Rick Allen is living proof that with hard work, ingenuity and a positive attitude, virtually any obstacle can be not only overcome, but turned into an asset. He and his wife Lauren have also set a shining example of what can be achieved when people look beyond themselves and any adversities they might face and choose to direct their energies to helping others.
For more information, please visit rickallen.com and laurenmonroe.com.