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“KiIler” Ray Appleton: Once Upon a Time in the Midwest

Following a tragic accident, learning to drum again

"Killer" Ray Appleton

“I had to learn how to play drums all over again,” says Ray Appleton, 71, sitting in his East Harlem apartment on Valentine’s Day. He’s referring to the aftermath of a car accident, on Germany’s Autobahn, that he survived in 1991. Appleton’s left leg was crushed; in 1997, exacerbated by diabetes, part of that leg required amputation. “I had to learn how to play differently, because of all the stuff I used to do on my left side. Before, I could do more things on the drums.

“But I’ve always been able to swing. The power of my drumming is in my right hand and in my cymbal ride.”

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