IT was one of the most iconic moments in Australian music history. July 13, 1991. London's Wembley Stadium is jam-packed with a sold-out crowd of 73,000 crazed fans, clamouring for INXS.
Michael Hutchence stands, arms outstretched, like Jesus Christ before his fanatical congregation.
Just to the side of stage that night, as INXS delivered an electric performance that would be immortalised on their Live Baby Live album and concert film, was Ross "Fergy" Ferguson.
The Newcastle man was in the middle of his 10-year stint as the band's guitar technician and stage manager.
"The funny thing about the Wembley show, it wasn't the biggest show we'd ever done," Ferguson recalls this week.
"We'd done Rock In Rio and that was even bigger. But Wembley was very magical.
"We'd been told just before that Wembley show that they were cancelling the tour, so the crew were in dire straits wondering what we were gonna do."
What would be a life-affirming moment for most people was merely another day at the office for Ferguson.
Through more than 40 years in the music industry he's toured with Tina Turner, Elton John, Crowded House, Jimmy Barnes, Little River Band, The Beastie Boys, Sherbet, Diana Ross and Kylie Minogue, and worked at concerts at the Kremlin, Super Bowl, the Academy Awards and on the David Letterman Show.
He's witnessed icons at their best and worst and infiltrated their carefully stage-managed personas to connect with them as real people. But it wouldn't be rock'n'roll without the tragedy.
Ferguson has battled mental illness, addiction to heroin and speed and, later, prescription pills - and most of all loneliness - as long tours carried him overseas for months away from his five children.
For the first time the 67-year-old from Beresfield is preparing to share his life among music's elite with his talk "Behind The Curtain: A Lazy Lunch with Fergy" on Sunday at Lizotte's.
"I'm not saying I was the greatest ever, but I was a bit different from most," Ferguson says. "I was married at 17 and I don't drink alcohol, so I have a good memory of a lot of it.
"There's so many people with books out there that talk about who f--ked the most women, who did the most drugs. I'm not into that shit.
"These people were my friends and I've got some interesting and heartbreaking stories."
ROSS Ferguson's life in music began in the '70s when he helped transport a friend's drum kit to Cessnock for a battle of the bands.
After serving as a roadie for several local bands, Ferguson's big break came when Mark Tinson invited him on Newcastle band Rabbit's national tour. That led to full-time work with Australian acts the Ted Mulry Gang, Sherbet and eventually the Little River Band, who introduced Ferguson to the world of international touring.
"Mark Tinson is responsible for where I got in my career because he was such a great influence on me," Ferguson says. "I'd be dead if it wasn't for him. In my battles with drugs, Mark has never left my side."
From there Ferguson's reliability and work ethic led to a decade with INXS, a seven-year stint with Elton John and five years working for Tina Turner.
He describes Michael Hutchence as "like a brother" and INXS "as a family", and Elton John "a mate" with a wicked sense of humour and prodigious talent.
"I went to a rehearsal with Elton and he'd been to New York for some record label do and Keith Richards had made some remark about him only being good for writing songs about dead blondes," he says.
"He came back to rehearsal and sat down at the piano and wrote this song about the 'arthritic cockroach'. It was just made up as he went and it was hysterical. Very clever and that's how Elton was."
While John would chat to stage crew in catering, Ferguson says Tina Turner was more aloof, but also wicked fun.
"Myself and her French bodyguard would mimic her dancing," he says. "We had it down to a tee.
"She pulled me into the band room one night and said, 'Fergy you're a really good dancer and take me off really well. But if you take me off tonight, you'll be on a plane going home tomorrow'."
You're riding with them and it's a feeling you cannot describe. It's better than the best shot of heroin I ever had.Ross Ferguson
Often Ferguson was asked about transitioning into production, but he never wanted to leave the thrill of being on stage with the band in the heat of the performance.
"When you're working with them on stage you can feel everything they can feel," he says.
"It has the other side too. You cop every bad mood they have, but you're riding with them and it's a feeling you cannot describe. It's better than the best shot of heroin I ever had."
ROSS Ferguson never drank alcohol, despite being constantly surrounded by it on the road. It was the result of his father's influence about not succumbing to peer pressure.
However, the pressures of the whirlwind travel and long hours of soundchecks did lead to Ferguson becoming reliant on speed and heroin to cope as he descended into the "rock'n'roll life and death merry-go-round".
The impending birth of his daughter inspired Ferguson to kick his heroin habit within three weeks, but prescription pills like Serepax and Rohypnol became the crutch.
"I used to call it my loneliness remedy because when you finish a gig and go back to your room, it's terribly lonely," he says.
"You've had all this euphoria of the gig and all these people around you and suddenly you go back and look in the mirror and all you wanna see is your children and you know you've got another two months to go."
In 2002 Ferguson moved back to Newcastle after finishing a tour with The Beastie Boys. The transition was difficult.
"I went through a period of depression and almost became suicidal because I missed the road so much," he says. "It's a very addictive lifestyle and you make good money.
"You don't deal with shit on the road. As long as you make soundcheck and gig time, there's this little cocoon."
He continued working on tours for Delta Goodrem and Australian Idol, before finishing up as the Bluesfest main stage manager in 2018.
These days the retired Ferguson is passionate about kayaking, his 11 grandchildren and finishing a book about his life in music.
"I've had an incredible life, but I never became complacent," he says. "I always thought, what's a boy from Newcastle doing here?
"Every night when Elton would play Daniel, I'd remember listening to that in my panel van in Newcastle and here I am.
"I'm an ordinary bloke who lived an extraordinary life with extraordinary people."
Behind The Curtain: A Lazy Lunch with Fergy is at Lizotte's on Sunday at 2pm. Proceeds from the show will be donated to charity CrewCare.