Forty three years ago this week (May 16th, 1978) Black Sabbath performed a concert at Sheffield City Hall in England. In the audience that night was the future drummer of Def Leppard Rick Allen. While Allen remembers Black Sabbath, it was the opening act Van Halen and the band’s wildly innovative lead guitarist he’ll never forget.
“Eddie [Van Halen], in particular, it was a new way of playing guitar – nobody had really seen or heard that before,” Allen told Ultimate Classic Rock. “I believe they had to sort of rethink how they wrote music for guitar because of that. Because of all of the hammer-ons that he did and all of the intricate work that he did with his right hand – tapping on the fretboard and the combination of right and left hands – nobody had heard that before. I think it was a real shock to the music industry [and] the system.”
When Allen is not drumming for Def Leppard he’s pursuing his other passion – painting. He will make an appearance this week at three Wentworth Galleries in South Florida to showcase his latest work as a visual artist. The work includes a wide-ranging mix of originals and limited editions. Allen also has a series titled Legends, which is built around musicians who inspired him as he was growing up. One of those musicians is Eddie Van Halen.
“He was totally immersed in what he was doing – that in itself was so infectious,” said Allen, who added that it was Eddie’s smile that was every bit as infectious as his playing. “I think it was that that I really wanted to capture. He just struck me as being this really dedicated father. He obviously loved his family dearly. But when he really shone was when he was onstage and just to see him in his element.”
Below is the EVH painting Allen posted to his Instagram page:
Allen told UCR he also had the chance to meet Eddie through Toto’s Steve Lukather, who was Allen’s neighbor in the 90s.
“I’d looked up to [Eddie] for all of those years and finally I was going to get to meet him,” Allen said. “I wasn’t disappointed. It was really good. He was so unassuming and so humble. Especially when you realize what he actually does. And that between him and Hendrix, they probably changed the face of guitar playing forever.”
Fans can see the Van Halen Legends piece, as well as Allen’s other art, starting tomorrow (May 20th) at the Ft. Lauderdale location of Wentworth Gallery. More appearances in Hollywood, Fla., and Boca Raton, Fla., will take place this weekend. Complete event information can be found on the Wentworth website HERE.
A portion of the proceeds from each sale of artwork will benefit Project Resiliency, the organization Allen and his wife, Lauren, formed more than a decade ago to help veterans from the Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.