2013.02.06 Who wants to entertain at my birthday party?

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I seem to have another birthday bearing down on me, which means the lie I tell when people ask my age will soon increase by an additional year. But if I could pull off the trick a Seattle man did to celebrate his own birthday last October, it might actually be worth telling the truth.

Michael Henrichsen did the nearly impossible in convincing rock star Billy Idol to come to Seattle and play for his birthday. The singer’s appearance was the final result of two years of planning, scheming and  fund-raising. 

Henrichsen, whose three jobs at the beginning of his quest included being an employee at a shopping mall clothing store, got his inspiration the day the store’s stereo played Idol’s hit “White Wedding.” Henrichsen immediately turned to a coworker and asked, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we got Billy Idol to play at my birthday party”

The more Henrichsen thought about it, the better the idea sounded to him. A friend designed a website to promote the idea. To drive traffic to the website, Henrichsen posted a video online of him dancing in an empty shopping mall while carrying a boom box playing Idol hit “Mony Mony.” He and some of his friends held banners over local Interstate overpasses. Then he started getting celebrity endorsements.

First, comedian Kevin Nealon let Henrichsen shoot a short video in which he tells Idol he should come to Seattle to play for Henrichsen’s birthday. Other semi-celebs followed, including singer Rick Springfield, retired Seattle Mariner Jay Buhner and adult film actor Ron Jeremy.

I can’t help but wonder how Springfield felt when Henrichsen asked him for help in attracting another singer to town. Sure, Rick hasn’t done much lately, but most people would happily settle for him as birthday entertainment.

Eventually, news of Henrichsen’s dream made it to Idol’s management. They called him and said while they liked his campaign, they weren’t making any promises.

Henrichsen kicked things up another notch and formed his own 80s cover band, which began playing for charity in a string of concerts he called Billy Idol Aid. Eventually, he raised over $10,000 for local food banks and the American Red Cross.

When Henrichsen’s birthday rolled around in 2011, Idol sent a video apologizing for his absence, but holding out hope for 2012. Some of Henrichsen’s friends and family were getting tired of all the hoopla, but he decided to press on.

He stayed in touch with Idol’s people and last August, they called him during Billy’s tour of Japan to announce that Idol and his band would make it to Henrichsen’s 2012 birthday celebration. Idol’s manager said Henrichsen’s “persistence and resourcefulness” had won Billy over. 

When the big night finally arrived, Idol allowed Henrichsen’s band to be his opening act. Once Idol and his own band took the stage, guitar player Steve Stevens played Henrichsen “Happy Birthday” in the middle of a guitar solo. Later, Idol called Henrichsen on stage to sing him the song.

That sounds like a pretty memorable birthday celebration. I wouldn’t mind having one like that, but I suspect Billy Idol won’t be doing any more free concerts for fans anytime soon. Of course, there are a lot of singers out there to choose from, especially since I’ve got a year to plan for my next birthday.

Unfortunately, Warren Zevon and Waylon Jennings passed away years ago, so two of my all-time favorites are out. I’ve joked about bringing The Knack to Fayette before, but lead singer Doug Fieger’s passing eliminates that idea. After all, would anyone want to hear me sing lead on “My Sharona?”

Joe Ely is still with us, but his birthday is the same day as mine and I wouldn’t ask him to leave Texas and freeze in Ohio when he could party at home. But another Texan might be a possibility.

Readers of this column know that Meat Loaf is another of my favorite singers and he could even stop by my apartment for a Meat Loaf VHS film festival before the concert. I’ve got tapes of several of Meat’s finest film appearances including Black Dog, Crazy in Alabama and Roadie.

In fact I even happen to have a set of Shiner Beer glasses in case he’d like a beverage. In his starring role in Roadie, he was a Shiner Beer truck driver. He almost has to like that.

How about it, Meat? Add Fayette, Ohio, to your schedule on February 9, 2014. Don’t make me call Rick Springfield.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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