Def Leppard Auction Goes Inside Rick Allen’s Arm Loss
The former girlfriend of Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen has put a “very personal” collection of memorabilia up for auction, including early recordings of the band’s On Through the Night and Hysteria albums.
Miriam Barendsen met Allen in 1984 and was his passenger when he lost control of his car on Dec. 31, 1984, resulting in the amputation of his left arm. They remained together until 1991.
The Gotta Have Rock & Roll auction runs until April 23 with lots including cassettes of rough album mixes and studio sessions. Allen can be heard relearning to perform with the help of fellow drummer Jeff Rich ahead of Def Leppard’s return to the stage in England in 1986 and playing an intimate show with the band to 1,000 people in Holland the following year. Signed photos, personal notes, backstage passes, drum setup notes and clothing worn onstage are also among the items on offer.
One handwritten note from Allen to a fan reads: “Everyone encounters obstacles in their lives, some greater than others. Just believe in yourself and don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t do something. I hope that my playing music helps you believe that everything is possible. Take it from me – I know!” In a handwritten fax message to Allen, singer Joe Elliott said he’s in “vocal hell” during recording sessions, but the drummer should “spliff out” on holiday then be “on call for July / Aug time (sort of).”
“We were young and happy, very happy,” Barendsen tells UCR. “We had so much fun together, even after the accident.” She adds that she came to realize that laughter was “one of my ways to deal with the recovery and to deal with our new way of life." “When I started to sort the lots out, I felt proud – proud of us," she notes. "Going through all the tapes made me realize again how great drummer Rick was and is.
“The T-shirt Rick wore during the In the Round in Your Face Hysteria tour is just amazing – he put his picture on the back so people sitting behind him could see his face, too. There’s a note where you see the drawing Rick made into part of his signature for the first time. The faxes from Joe are so personal.”
She recalls the “big challenge” Allen faced as he worked out different ways to balance his body to perform. "He did not want to give up at any point once he understood he could play drums again," she recalls. "Of course, he had to deal with difficulties in normal life. I remember very clearly that he felt embarrassed when we went out or when we interacted with other people. He thought everybody was looking at him having one arm. I had to tell him not to care. I made it as being normal as much as possible. We would make jokes about the fact that when you lay together in bed, it's kind of handy having one arm – it fits even better!”
She says she had never thought of selling her mementos until a private collector made an offer. At that point, she realized she could do some good with the items. Her intention is to develop the Baladi Foundation, a nonprofit that provides for wild dogs in Egypt. “They are really good-natured dogs,” she explains, noting that she’s taken two of the dogs home with her to Holland over the 32 years she’s been visiting them. “I recognized their kind nature from the moment I met them.”
Finding herself locked down in South Sinai during the pandemic, Barendsen tried to assist the animals as they struggled to find food in the absence of tourists. “The dogs were so thankful to me," she says. "They showed their happiness every night by playing at my little hut on the beach. When I finally got back to Holland, it seemed to me there was only one way of helping them through these hard times - by starting the Baladi Foundation. My biggest goal is to set up an animal ambulance service, because there are so many dogs and cats in pain.” Barendsen proudly accepts her plans are “ambitious." “What I love most about the auction is is that the money will be spent on helping to ease the pain done to innocent souls.”
Dylan Kosinski of Gotta Have Rock & Roll tells UCR that Barendsen’s auction represents “the most important collection of Def Leppard items ever to come up for sale.” He emphasized that the buyer would have no rights to copy or distribute the cassettes. “What makes this collection so unique are the 15 tapes containing unreleased studio sessions from Hysteria and On Through the Night," he notes. "You get to hear the process of them creating their most famous albums like never before. These tapes contain ridiculous Def Leppard history. To know all the majority of the money spent will be going to an amazing charity is a bonus as well.”