Bothell man's rebel yell: Play my birthday party, Billy Idol
By ANDY NYSTROM
Bothell Reporter Reporter
January 27, 2011 · Updated 12:54 PM
Michael Henrichsen doesn't want to be dancing with himself on his next birthday.
The Bothell resident would rather have bleach-blonde, spiky-haired singer Billy Idol in the room, rocking the party Oct. 22. And that's why the 24-year-old Bothell High graduate who digs 1980s new-wave music has started www.playmybirthdaybillyidol.com.
Henrichsen launched the site with a friend's help in late November and has the backing — via video clips he shot himself during recent Seattle-area appearances — of such celebrities as comedian Kevin Nealon, Seahawk Marcus Trufant and rocker Rick Springfield.
However, the wiry local man with long sideburns and an Idol-esque hairdo has yet to hear a word — or trademark yell — from the rebel rocker or anyone in his camp. Henrichsen did connect with Idol's ex-manager, who gave him the singer's current manager's e-mail address.
"I e-mailed him multiple times, and he's either not gotten the e-mail or he thinks maybe this is kind of a cute project and just hasn't responded to me yet," said Henrichsen, noting that he also received a message from a guy who takes professional Idol photos when he plays in Seattle and claims to know the singer's guitarist, Steve Stevens, whom he'd touch base with about the project. "I'm hopeful, I'm putting a lot of work into this. Six-degrees of separation ... maybe he'll find out about it. You don't know if you don't try."
Henrichsen notes that he's not stalking the singer at all: "I'm not in front of his house for five hours, going 'Billy, Billy, Billy.' If anything, it's publicity for him."
Members of Henrichsen's tight circle of friends put the Idol idea into his head. But the first chord was struck when he was working at the Billabong retail store at Bellevue Square, when "Dancing with Myself" starting blaring from the sound system. At that moment, he joked to a co-worker that it would be cool to have Idol play his birthday party; later his buddies asked what he wanted to do for his next birthday — and so it goes.
"When I found out he was doing this, I said, 'Oh my god, this is so Mike,'" said friend and fellow Bothell High grad Christine Pitawanich, admitting that she thought it was a bit crazy at first. "I'm supportive of him because he's my good friend. Out of everyone I know, he's the mostly likely to get something like this done."
And the Idol project couldn't have come at a better time in his somewhat idle life.
"I'm neck deep in student loans. It's so routine to go to work, do my internship, do my other internship, cook food, sleep ... I was just so bored I needed something to strive for, push me to my potential," Henrichsen said. "It's the only thing I'm really excited about in life, so it makes it easy to do, I guess."
If it happens, ideal venues might be Seattle's Showbox or even the Paramount, a place Henrichsen saw Idol in 2005 and 2008 (he also attended Idol's concert last summer at the Tulalip Casino). Safeco Field would be another dream spot, Henrichsen added, but that would be an even larger undertaking.
"The one thing about this project is that I don't want people who find out about it to get the impression that I'm just trying to have him play in my back yard or in my basement or something," he said. "It'd be cool to make some good out of this and maybe have him do a charity event.
"Safeco in late October, bill it the real Billy Idol Aid, donate proceeds to the charity of his liking and Billy Idol takes some profits for travel," he added. "You're exposing his music to a whole generation of people who don't even know about him, you're doing some good for charity and who just doesn't want to see a Billy Idol concert?"
To help raise awareness for his project, Henrichsen is holding a Billy Idol Aid '80s dance party to benefit the Northwest Harvest hunger-relief agency at 9 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St. in Fremont.
The idea for Billy Idol Aid stemmed from Henrichsen and his friends watching a showing of 1985's Live Aid on VH1 Classic. When Queen vocalist Freddy Mercury hit the stage belting out "Radio Ga Ga," the friends began discussing their own event: "Let's just call this Billy Idol Aid — it's so stupid, it works," Henrichsen said.
Henrichsen may unleash bits of self-deprecating humor, but he's serious about his passion for '80s tunes. Born Michael Jon Henrichsen, the guitarist/bassist, who hopes to start an '80s-music cover band soon, credits mom Doreen for getting him into the music. She even named him after the band INXS' now-deceased singer Michael Hutchence and drummer Jon Farriss.
"I've always been a big music person and I worked in radio when he was young, so that's probably where he got it from," said Doreen, noting that Michael's outgoing personality and drive have him on the right track to accomplish his goals — Idol and beyond. "The word 'no' just never even enters his mind, and in that way, he has a likeness to Billy Idol."
A former nu-metal fan, Henrichsen switched music gears in high school and veered toward bands like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and, of course, Mr. Idol himself.
"(Idol) kind of stuck out like a sore thumb in a positive way. He just has such attitude and he's instantly recognizable as soon as you hear his voice, as soon as you see him," said Henrichsen, who lists "Eyes Without a Face" as his favorite tune at press time. "It's bizarre, at his age he looks pretty much the same as he did in the '80s. He's in pretty great shape for 55 years old, and the dude can still move. He still sounds the same. He just puts on an amazing show, he's super energetic and he knows how to play to the crowd — just the ultimate showman."
So with Idol's songs in his brain and the birthday project in the works, Henrichsen's life can be summed up in the words Idol sang with his old punk band Generation X: "Ready, Steady, Go."Contact Bothell Reporter Reporter Andy Nystrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).