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Formed Sydney, Australia, 1979

Helped in no small part by Hutchence’s feline looks, INXS gained heavy MTV rotation with the single “The One Thing,” which reached the U.S. Top 30.

As a Sydney high school boy, Michael Hutchence (vocals) was prone to getting into fights, one of which was broken up by Andrew Farriss (guitar/keyboards).

Thereafter, the two were united, and finding a shared love of music they formed a band: The Farriss Brothers, with Jon (drums) and Tim Farriss (lead guitar), Kirk Pengilly (saxophone/guitar) and Garry Beer (bass).

Extensive touring of the pub-rock circuit followed before they became INXS in 1979. In May 1980 their debut single, “Simple Simon (We Are The Vegetables),” was released. Heavily influenced by ska and punk, it was notable mainly for its title, but their first Australian hit, the standard rock tune ”Just Keep Walking”, followed soon afterwards, and won a legion of hard rock fans for the debut LP, INXS (1980).

A second hit album, Underneath The Colours (1981) previewed by the single, “Stay Young.” Throughout this time, INXS continued to tour, often playing seven nights a week, sweating their way through every Australian hellhole, gaining fans as they went. But it was the third LP, Sharooh Shoobah (1982), that introduced INXS’s ‘dance rock’ element, and supported by a world tour it became a worldwide hit.

Then in 1983 they signed to Atlantic in America, and—helped in no small part by Hutchence’s feline looks—gained heavy MTV rotation with the single “The One Thing”, which reached the US Top 30. Produced by Nile Rodgers, the sultry, whispering “Original Sin” (1984) went #1 in several countries and became their first minor hit in the , to be followed by the album The Swing (1984).

Stadium-sized success was not far away by July 1985, when the band played at the Sydney leg of Live Aid, but it was the release of Listen Like Thieves (1985) that catapulted INXS into the super league. By this time, Hutchence had become the preening, posturing front man, a perpetual party goer, with one model after another on his arm.

He also found time to make a surprisingly effective acting debut in the movie Dogs In Space. The rest of the band, private family men, faded in the dazzle of Michael’s glory, and the front man’s fame was underlined by their release of Kick (1987), an album that secured global success. Boosted by a world tour, it went on to sell ten million copies world wide, while in September 1988 the band swept the board at the MTV Awards. INXS took a sabbatical at the end of 1988, enabling Hutchence to join forces with Ian ‘Ollie’ Olsen in the duo, Max Q. An album of the same name appeared in late 1989, before INXS returned in 1990 with the “Suicide Blonde” single and album X. Hutchence had now discovered his own ‘suicide blonde’ in the form of the previously squeaky-clean pop singer, Kylie Minogue.

Another year-long tour spawned the live LP, Live Baby Live (1991), but Welcome To Wherever You Are (1992) was a clear attempt by the band at something different, including a sixty-piece orchestra on The Beatles sound alike hit, “Baby Don’t Cry.”

Trying to return to their rock roots, INXS began a tour of the dives they were forced to play in their early days, from which background emerged the raw, stripped-down rocking album, Full Moon, Dirty Hearts (1993). It was not a critical or commercial success, and prompted the release of INXS: The Greatest Hits (1994), which contained the new song, “The Strangest Party.”

As the band took a break from the studio and the stadium, Hutchence was once again a subject of tabloid gossip columns. His relationship with Danish supermodel Helena Christiensen ended, as he became known as the man who broke up the marriage of Bob Geldof and TV presenter Paula Yates—which produced a child, Heavenly Hiraani Tigerlily Hutchence—but ultimately led to both of them suiciding, Michael first, while on tour alone in Sydney, Paula some months later, of a heroin overdose.

Backstage with INXS INXS


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