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When news broke yesterday about the death of director John Hughes at age 59, I couldn't help thinking back on my brief encounter with the maker of iconic '80s teen flicks such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
The year was 1985, and I was living in Los Angeles to attend UCLA and working at the now sadly defunct Tower Records branch on the Sunset Strip, where celebrity visits were a daily occurrence. (The stars I waited on or at least saw there include Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Springsteen, Prince and more, more, more.) Hughes, instantly recognizable from the age-inappropriate mullet/shag haircut he wore at the time, came in with a friend or associate and spent what seemed like a good hour going through the racks of vinyl (those were the days). When he came to the counter, where I was waiting behind the register, he had a massive stack of wax, and while I can't recall the specific platters almost a quarter-century later, I remember watching 1986's Pretty in Pink, whose soundtrack featured cuts by the Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, INXS, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and the Rave-Ups, and thinking, "I sold him most of those records." I can also picture his unbridled enthusiasm as he and his buddy flipped through the records, jabbering about the artists like the sort of teenagers he managed to capture so well. He was no phony, which helps explain why the best of his movies remain so entertaining even though plenty about them was specific to a bygone era.
Click "Continue" to see a first-rate tribute to Hughes, compiled in 1991.