The idea of filling this barren wall above the kitchen counter with sheets of Angora Herringbone mesh-mounted mosaic tile is intimidating, but if Rick Allen can have his left arm ripped off his body in a horrific car accident and still go on to carry the pounding rhythms of hits like “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” I can definitely do this.

All the experts recommend using a licensed professional because a poorly installed backsplash could actually DECREASE the value of my home, but did Rick Allen hire some “licensed professional” to do all the left arm stuff while he was drumming? No. He said he didn’t NEED a left arm, just like I don’t NEED someone trained in tilework masonry to make my wife stop complaining about how “uninspiring” our kitchen is.

I’ve got all my supplies, and even though I’ve never used a notched trowel before, I take comfort in the fact that Rick Allen had never used a drum kit augmented with foot-triggered percussion samples before either—and look what HE did with it.

I’m thinking I’ll play it safe and start laying the tile in an inconspicuous corner just in case I mess up. But then I remember that Rick Allen didn’t “play it safe” with years of small gigs to get used to the gaping stares that all one-armed drummers face. No, he leapt right into the fray at the Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington in 1986 in front of 80,000 fans.

So in the spirit of Rick Allen, I start by slapping a full slab of this polished marble mosaic tile right in the middle of the wall. Rock and roll!

Okay, that was a pretty big mistake. I guess you’ve really gotta plan your pattern out before you start throwing tile up. I’ll have to take this piece down, but I’m not discouraged because I remember that doctors had initially re-attached Rick Allen’s left arm, but then it got infected, so they had to RE-AMPUTATE it before Rick even came out of his coma. We all make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes turn into juggernauts like “Armageddon It,” and other times they turn into country-modern kitchens that make your wife finally feel like baking again.

As I hand-mix a new batch of thinset mortar, I start to understand why Rick Allen kept a real cowbell as part of his restructured kit. He could have just programmed an electronic cowbell clank into one of his foot triggers, but he RESPECTED the authenticity of a true iron cowbell clank and knew that without it, every performance of “Rock of Ages” would be a lie. THAT’S the kind of adherence to authenticity I need to espouse as I tackle this backsplash.

I’ve just got to picture myself being successful with it. Look for small victories and silver linings, like when Rick Allen realized that his drumstick expenses would be cut in half after the accident. Everything has a bright side. You just need enough Rick Allen in you to see it.

Okay, so the backsplash is looking pretty good, but I’m not about to get cocky because I remember that just when I thought he could do no wrong, Rick Allen was a party to “Let’s Get Rocked”—-a song so bad my mom liked it. We can’t let ALL the blame for that misstep fall on his shoulder (it was definitely the brainchild of adequate guitarist Phil Collen—the oft-shirtless two-armed hack), but we CAN let it serve as a caution against trying to place tiles freehand without using spacers.

Finally, I sponge away the excess grout and stand back to examine the final product. Miraculously, the tilework is as seamless as the transition of Rick Allen’s signature drumming style from the Pyromania album (two arms) to the Hysteria album (one arm).

I’d like to think Rick would be proud of me, because while my backsplash may not go on to sell 25 million copies worldwide, at least it’s a triumph of the human spirit that’s not plagued by the presence of “Love Bites.” One arm or two arms, there’s really no excuse for that song.


And now a quick joke...

“Climb ev’ry mountain. Ford every stream. Do it with REI.” -Maria Von Trapp, Instagram influencer