Today I have been very very sad. Paul Hester (drummer for Split Enz, Crowded House) died. The last time I was that guy who handed you an album and said, “here… take this you are going to love it” was when Crowded House’s 1st album came out. I bought about a dozen copies and gave them away. I had left my last band and had decided to never be in a band again. “Crowded House” came to town. I saw them. The next day I got on the ferry to Victoria BC and saw them again. In the encore Neil Finn started playing “Message to My Girl” (Split Enz) on Eddie Raynor’s piano and then the notes fell off and he fell to the floor laughing as a stark naked figure appeared centre stage. It was Paul Hester. He waved slowly to the crowd in a blaze of spotlights and walked slowly off stage right. It was pandemonium. The band attracted a lot of girls. As the song wheezed back to life he scrambled back to the drum kit from stage left buttoning his shirt and doing up his belt. When the song finished he grabbed the mic and said, “easiest fifty bucks I ever made”.
It must have been the same week I had gone over to Doug Elliott’s basement with my friend Paul Brennan to “jam” with a new band they were forming with Steven Drake. In that jam we actually wrote a couple of good songs and I left feeling pretty excited about the experience. Even though I had sworn I would never be in a band the experience of seeing Crowded House had made me feel that being in a band was part of who I was and that it was possible that it could be a great thing…an organism greater than the sum of its parts. The other “Odds” were fun, witty, and a little darkly strange. The chemistry seemed right. The next day they asked me to join and, after futile hesitation, I said, “yes”. I honestly wouldn’t have done it without Paul Hester and Crowded House. I’m not comparing the two entities. I’m saying that I have a very soft spot for those people even though I have only been the briefest of a real life acquaintance.
Paul Hester was a very bright light. I am stunned and so sorry that he is gone so soon. My thoughts go to his family.