It’s a nice day for a white… birthday!?
Billy Idol fanatic Michael Henrichsen will happily tell you that those are the incorrect lyrics, but considering that the iconic punk rocker eventually agreed to a two year campaign to play at Henrichsen’s birthday celebrations – maybe he’ll be willing to make an exception.
As News Ltd reports, the Seattle local manage to engineer every rock fan’s ultimate dream, defying expectations and getting the 56-year-old British musician to perform exclusively at his 26th birthday party after two years of clever marketing, charity planning, and a whole lot of wishful thinking.
Back in October 2010, the then-24-year-old Michael Henrichsen was down on his luck, working at one of his three jobs, to help pay off his college debts, when ‘White Wedding’ came on over the Mall’s speaker system. As Henrichsen recalls, the idea struck him like a bolt from the blue, he turned to his friend and asked: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we got Billy Idol to play at my birthday party?”
He thought that securing Idol’s performance would be a great PR stunt that could help him get a leg-up in the entertainment and media industry, a major coup from a small-time fan.
The Billy Idol fan realised that it wasn’t an entirely feasible plan at first, “I realised it would cost a lot of money, something I don’t have, so that’s where the creativity came into play. How do you network to convince Billy Idol that it would be a good idea for him to come play a show on a specific date in Seattle?”
First creating a website for his new hair brained scheme, www.playmybirthdaybillyidol.com, Henrichsen then began enlisting B grade stars to offer their celebrity endorsement, including Rick ‘Jessie’s Girl’ Springfield, porn star Ron Jeremy, and comedian Kevin Nealon.
Eventually Henrichsen’s project gained traction and mainstream media began to take notice, at which point the news made its way to Idol’s people.
“When we first became aware of Michael’s project we were inclined to see it as just another extreme idea from a well-meaning fan,” said Idol’s manager, Tony Dimitriades. “But as Michael’s campaign continued, his persistence and resourcefulness won Billy over.”
Idol’s manager set a tentative date for Michael’s birthday for October 2011. While Henrichsen passed the time working his multiple jobs, he began using his 80s cover band, Nite Wave to play a series of charity concerts – Billy Idol Aid – raising more than $US 10,000 in charity for organisations like the American Red Cross and Northwest Harvest, which operates food banks for the needy.
A major hiccup occurred when Idol didn’t show for his October commitment, sending a video apology that looked to undo Henrichsen’s efforts after a year or more of his wild campaigning was beginning to wear out the dedicated fan as much as his friends and family. But after persisting with his plans for a Billy Idol birthday bash, eventually Seattle venue The Showbox offered to host the event as well as more Billy Idol Aid concerts for Nite Wave.
Come August 2012, and Idol’s management called from tour in Japan, confirming that they’d make it to Henrichsen’s celebrations on October 22nd to perform, the same news that greeted the 900 plus punters of Billy Idol Aid IV, with a video statement confirmation at the charity event (which you can view in the banner).
Henrichsen’s party was, according to the birthday boy “pretty much the coolest night ever.” Including the punk icon arriving with a limo-load of women, before performing a number of his classics, including “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding” to an audience of 1,800 of Henrichsen’s nearest and dearest. Flush from succeeding in his two-year campaign, News Ltd reports the newly 26-year-old remarked, “this is surreal… this should not be happening.”
“This is surreal,” Henrichsen says. “It should not be happening.”