Does Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen mind talking about life without a left arm? Apparently not, since he's the one who brings up his absent appendage, which he lost following a New Year's Eve car crash in 1984. Moreover, he refers to it frequently when describing how he went from being a hard-rock hooligan to that most contradictory of figures, a deeply sensitive metalhead.

"When I had my accident, it opened up parts of me that I'd never dreamed were there," he says — and he means feelings, not flesh.

Despite the changes he's gone through, Allen, who keeps time using a custom-made kit, remains devoted to Def Leppard, which is enjoying a revival. Rock of Ages, a two-CD hits collection larded with '80s smashes such as "Pour Some Sugar on Me," debuted on the Billboard album chart's top ten last May, and a companion DVD will be issued November 8. In addition, the band's forthcoming covers disc is already in the can, with an early 2006 release likely. "People have heard our music, but they might not know where it came from," he notes. "But now they'll be able to go, 'Oh, that was T. Rex, that was Slade.'"

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