The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Entertainment

October 23, 2012

Seattle man gets Billy Idol to play his birthday



SEATTLE (AP) — Michael Henrichsen has ideas about how he might celebrate his 26th birthday this week.

First, Billy Idol rolls up in a limo and tells him to hop in. There are women everywhere. And later, when the British rock icon takes the stage and rips into "Rebel Yell," bras start flying and 1,800 of his closest friends go wild.

Far-fetched? Maybe not. After a two-year campaign that was part resume stunt, part charity drive and part heartfelt effort to get his far-flung friends together for a great time, the irrepressible Seattle man has actually persuaded Idol to play his birthday party Friday night.

"This is surreal," Henrichsen says. "It should not be happening."

So why is it? In his bedroom, surrounded by Cyndi Lauper and Madonna records, a drumstick he picked up at an Idol show two years ago, and rock posters, Henrichsen explains:

In October 2010, he had just turned 24 and was having an early life crisis. Friends were getting married and moving away. He was working three jobs and making little progress paying off $40,000 in college loans.

Salvation came over the stereo at the Bellevue Square Mall's Billabong clothing store, where he worked. It was "White Wedding." Henrichsen turned to a coworker: "Wouldn't it be cool if we got Billy Idol to play at my birthday party?"

She laughed. He laughed. No way, right?

But he went home and thought about it. He loved the way Idol blended pop and rock. Idol seemed like a fun guy. Henrichsen loves other music from the '80s, but he couldn't see Prince or Duran Duran agreeing. Idol, who lives in Los Angeles, wouldn't even have to leave his time zone.

Scoring Idol could also be a major coup for his resume. Henrichsen isn't sure what he wants to do for a career — something in entertainment or event planning or PR, maybe — but he thought this could get it started.

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