On 22 November 1997, the rock world lost another hero to an untimely demise. No-one really knows how Michael Hutchence came to die – there’s been a lot of speculation – but one thing’s certain, the genius behind Australia’s INXS can now only live on in its twenty year history.
Formed in Sydney in 1977 as ‘The Farriss Brothers’ by Tim, Andrew and Jon Farriss, Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly and Garry Beers. The band briefly moved to Perth but in 1978 retuned to Sydney as INXS, gigging extensively and eventually landing a deal with ‘Deluxe’, a subsidiary of ‘RCA’. Their second single, ‘Just keep walking’ was a domestic hit in 1980 and, after a couple of off-the-shelf rock efforts, the band were picked up by the American-based Atlantic-affiliated ‘Atco’ label.
Their major label debut ‘Shabooh Shabooh’ in 1982 eventually reached the lower fringes of the US top 40 on the strength of single ‘The One Thing’ which MTV had latched onto. And the band’s new-groove rock sound combined with Hutchence’s classic rock-god looks made them hot property in the emerging video generation.
The band’s big break though came with 1985’s ‘Listen like Thieves’, a top 20 album in Britain with the single ‘What you need’ reaching the UK top 5. Following this with ‘Kick’ in 1987, the band moved into the mega-stardom league with the album spawning no less than five international hit singles – ‘New Sensation’, ‘Devil Inside’, ‘Need you tonight’, ‘Never tear us apart’ and (of course) ‘Kick’
‘X’ in 1990 trod the same path as ‘Kick’ albeit without quite as big an impact. It still spawned two reasonable singles – ‘Suicide Blonde’ and ‘Disappear’ though. However, having packed out London’s Wembley Stadium in 1991, the band attempted a different path with the experimental ‘Welcome to wherever you are’ in 1992. The album contained the lovely ‘Beautiful Girl’ single, as good as anything the band had recorded to that point.The album idea was a reasonable one but the band saw the wood through the trees again the following year ‘Full Moon, Dirty Hearts’, an attempted return to their earlier rock roots. It was, however, something of a flop, failing completely in the UK.
Despite the ‘Full Moon, Dirty Hearts’ flop, the band continued to release some remix singles followed by a very successful ‘Greatest Hits’ album in 1994. But the last album before Michael Hutchence’s death/suicide came with the release of ‘Elegantly Wasted’ in April 1997. Here’s the title track, typically INXS, typically Hutchence, typically brilliant.