michael hutchence smiles

12 Jan

A long time ago, in a galaxy about 45 minutes up the road, I was fortunate enough to see INXS play the O’Connell Center at the University of Florida from a coveted spot in the VIP Area.  And how did I, Nobody College Student from Palatka, Florida manage this amazing feat?

On pretext of looking for a bathroom in the right place at the right time.

A carload of us made the trek west on Highway 20 to the venue and arrived a good while before the show was to start; we arrived even before the band did.  We shuffled around for a while, smoking cigarettes and discussing which songs we hope they’ll play, singing a few bars of whatever moved us.  The doors to the venue weren’t open , so Keven, Linda and I set off in search of  Facilities Elsewhere.  We circled the entire building but not finding anything but an OMG AN OPEN OVERHEAD COILING DOOR LEADING RIGHT TO BACK STAGE WITH NO ONE GUARDING IT!!!! Keven and Linda aren’t interested in my mission so I carry on without them.

So, I casually stroll down to said coiling door, walk through, with a look on my face and a stride that says “I belong here, what’s up?”  I have no backstage pass so my cover line is, “I need a toilet!”  As I mill around, waiting for someone to say “Hey you! What are you doing here?”, I notice I’m about 30 feet from the stage entrance, and off to the left is a roped off area in which the Important People are meant to watch the show.

As I’m taking all this in, there’s commotion behind me.  I turn around and there’s INXS.  The entire fucking band.  They jumped off my wall and out of my tape deck, and here they are in front of me.  Holy shit.  Roadies, girlfriends and various hangers-on are moving about so I make myself as unobtrusive as possible – I don’t have a pass and definitely don’t want to get chucked out at this point.  As I’m trying to find a place to be, Michael Hutchence passes about 10 feet from me, looking like a cross between Jim Morrison and a Greek god.  He looked at me, smiled brightly, waved, then walked on.  I was awestruck, completely gobsmacked, and unable to think of a single intelligent thing to say.  So I waggled my fingers and mouthed, “Hey!”.  I watched him walk away to prepare for the show and thought, “I will live on this FOREVER.”

After this brief but incredible encounter, I’m milling around the VIP area for a while, taking it all in, when Kirk Pengilly saunters up and says breezily, “Hi! How are you? There’s food in the next room, want some?”  Um, what?  Evidently my brain was still reeling from the Power of Michael Hutchence because I smiled and made a polite refusal.  Bbecause, you know, I DIDN’T HAVE A BACKSTAGE PASS.  It never crossed my mind that if I’d been with the sax player for INXS, a little thing like a backstage pass could have been overcome.  Yes.  I was that stupid in 1985.   (NB:  Kirk Pengilly has the nicest manners of any sax player I’ve met, official)

Once the doors to the venue opened, my friends were among the first to get in.  They quickly spotted me in the VIP Section and freaked out but by this time, I’d been there long enough to become enamored of a young Rude Boy who’d been lurking around so my selfish young self only half-listened to their protests.   They’d forgiven me by the end of the show because INXS kick about forty kinds of rock and roll ass, and we all ended up having a fantastic time.  Alas, I never heard from Rude Boy again but such was the era.

In 1997, when I’d heard Michael Hutchence had died, this story came back to me in vivid color.  He really did have the most beautiful smile, you know.

By the way… I never found that bathroom.


2 Responses to “michael hutchence smiles”

  1. Marcia January 15, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Lucky you!!! I still miss Michael Hutchence! He was the most gorgeous, charming, charismatic and talented frontmen of pop rock I ever seen!!! And he deserves to be well remembered, always!
    RIP Michael!

    • tristamack January 16, 2011 at 11:06 am #

      I completely concur. Miss him all the time ♥

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