Melissa Galea was someone I only knew for a short while. During my 2nd Australia tour back in 2009 I was opening for Aussie troubadour Paul Greene on the east coast. It was our 3rd jaunt together following Aussie 2 years prior and the UK a year later.
However this time things were different. Paul had a tour manager.
Melsie had been tour managing Paul for at least 6 months by now and it was clear the hours spent driving around this enormous island had flourished into a strong friendship between the two. I could understand too as Mel was built for the road. She had a zest for life and adventure and worked only to ensure we made it to the gig in good time and that we both enjoyed the journey.
During touring it can become easy to clash with people just due to the intensity of the experience and the amount of time spend together. With Mel that was never the case. When Paul and I would lock horns from time to time one would expect the tour manager to side with her employer and close friend. But she never did. She was on no ones side other than the side of logic and progress. The chance was there to ostracise me or even add fuel to the fire but that was never her way. She simply wanted us to be the best and most professional we could be and for all issues to be resolved as quickly as possible. This for me was a life saver. I had come from a New Zealand tour of many months alone and to suddenly be sharing the road with others and to feel a little powerless and out of control of my destiny was a big culture shock. But thanks very much to Mel not only did the tour become easy and relaxed but also a total joy. Paul and I were able to clear up our differences and enjoyed the road.
After a couple of months on the road the tour wrapped itself up in Sydney and Mel, Paul and myself ventured out separate ways. I have many great memories of that trip. Jamming together in various places. Dancing like no one was watching at festivals and constant jokes and jibes at one another. I remember Mel laughing hysterically at me when a spider came into the tour van and dropped to the floor inside the van. I reacted like a little girl. We could not see it and despite spraying lots of bug killer it had vanished. For the whole rest of that days journey I refused to put my feet on the floor which gave Mel plenty of ammunition to take the piss.
I’m pleased to say that was not the final time I saw Mel. 2 years later I was back to play some concerts in New Zealand and was stopping over for a connecting flight at the Gold Coast airport and who should I bump into. We sat and had coffee for an hour or so. She was on her way to Thailand and was blissfully excited to be beginning the “adventure of a lifetime”. Her warmth of character was perfect against the cold backdrop of customs and security and after hours of time spent in planes and airports it was perfect to be reconnecting with someone so human.
Mel will be missed by so many. This news story is testament to the love and friendship Mel attracted with her honest, salt of the Earth character.
To quote my fellow troubadour Paul Greene:
“She’ll be the life of the party where ever she is…Safe onward journey Melsie”