On a global
level, INXS are the most successful music act Australia has ever
sent out into the world, all the more important because they were
also a product of Australian music, rather than an Australian version
of what the rest of the world had to offer.
The INXS story
begins as a tale in two parts, first of a tight-knit family which
encourages its children to do whatever they want - even joining
rock and roll bands - and welcomes their friends into the Farriss
family. The second part of the story is of a child born into a family
constantly pulling apart, emotionally and physically.
parents separated when he was young, but old enough to feel it hard.
He was sent bouncing between his parents. His father's import business
meant that he was sent bouncing from country to country. Michael
first encountered the Farriss family when Andrew rescued Michael
from being picked on and roughed up as the new boy in high school.
The two became instant friends and although his own family situation
sent him away to Hong Kong for a while, when Michael came back to
Sydney that friendship remained. After high school Michael virtually
moved in with the Farriss family as he, the three Farriss brothers
and two of the other brothers' friends formed a band together in
1977. When the Farriss family
moved to Perth the whole band moved.
You Tonight (#3)
Original Sin (#1)
Good Times (with Jimmy Barnes) (#1)
Burn For You (#3)
What You Need (#1)
Suicide Blonde (#2)
I Send A Message (#2)
New Sensation (#6)
Never Tear Us Apart (#8)
Devil Inside (#5)
every godawful place there was to play, from mining towns to inner
suburban pubs; writing songs, rehearsing, and becoming a musical
unit as tight as their personal bond. Ten months later they returned
to Sydney as The Farriss Brothers. Midnight Oil's manager spotted
them and thought they should make themselves in-access-able, with
Michael singing from behind bars. The concept only lived long enough
to give the group a new name - INXS - and, they found a manager
of their own - Chris Murphy - whose father ran an old school talent
agency worlds away from rock and roll.
That same year,
1980, INXS was signed to Deluxe
Records, an independent label set up by Michael Browning with the
money he received when AC/DC took on American management. INXS'
memory of recording the first album was producer Duncan McGuire
(of Ayers Rock fame) slumped exhausted over the mixing panel. Producer
and band were fitting the album sessions in between gigs. The self-titled
album generated the first significant INXS landmark, 'Just
Keep Walking'. (YouTube) Before releasing the next album they
recorded their first version of 'The Loved One' as a single - another
landmark, but only another modest hit.
It was their
fellow musicians who were paying most attention. The second album,
'Underneath The Colours', and its single standout single 'Stay Young'
were produced by singer songwriter Richard Clapton. A step forward.
But the band and their manager felt that they couldn't realize their
full potential at Deluxe and signed with a major, Warners.
All the while
INXS were doing what they became noted for, working their butts
off. They had an insatiable thirst for playing live, and Australians
were developing a thirst for seeing them live. INXS had become the
quintessential "pub rock" band, pushing out a solid rock and roll
while their singer pranced and danced at the microphone.
bringing Cold Chisel into shape on record, Mark Opitz now did the
same for INXS. For their part INXS delivered an album stacked with
strong songs, and in 1982 the resulting 'Shabooh Shoobah' bringing
INXS to stardom. It's with this record that INXS launched themselves
onto the world stage.
They did this,
just as they had in Australia, just working and working and working;
on 1984's 'The Swing' album introducing the dance and funk rhythms
which would characterize their work from now on. On record, and
in reputation they grew from strength to strength. 'Listen Like
Thieves' - an admission to their methodology? - delivered the American
breakthrough. 1987's 'Kick' sold
9 million worldwide as England finally came on board. Their UK record
company had decided they knew better and released singles with jackets
which completely misled the band's potential audience. How sweet
it was then to record 1991's 'Live Baby Live' album in front of
a packed Wembley Stadium.
The Swing (#1)
Listen Like Thieves (#1)
Shabooh Shoobah (#6)
On the way
INXS had forged a strong, creative relationship with the regular
creator of their inventive video clips, Richard Lowenstein. His
role in INXS' success allowed Richard to create his first full length
feature film, 'Dogs In Space', which starred Michael Hutchence and
gave Michael the excuse to record without INXS for the first time.
From the moment the group became international superstars INXS again
became a tale in two parts. While the rest of the band did their
best to live ordinary lives between tours and albums, Michael Hutchence
continued his rock star life, rubbing shoulders with his peers,
experimenting and experiencing, a citizen of the world. When it
was time to record another INXS album Michael arrived with a bunch
of ideas and experiences he'd accumulated, and lyrics he'd collected
on scraps of paper in his laundry bag. At the start of each INXS
session there was always a period of tug of war while the two INXS
worlds collided and found common ground again.
proved tough for INXS. They'd been around more than ten years, and
music is constantly changing. Survival is always tough at the top,
as well as the bottom, but INXS seemed to have the strength and
talent to see the struggle through.
It all came
to a sad and abrupt end of course in November 1997
when Michael Hutchence was found dead in his Sydney hotel room.
The band was rehearsing for an upcoming tour when Michael didn't
arrive. The band sent hotel management to Michael's room. There
was no indication what they would find. Hutchence had his personal
problems with companion Paula Yates and her ex-husband Bob Geldof,
but his other 'family', INXS was celebrating its twentieth anniversary
together. At the time they were heading for the next chapter of
their story, under new management and with a new record company.
a year after Michael's death INXS appeared in concert for the first
time, backing Jimmy Barnes at Mushroom Records' Concert Of the Century
at the MCG. In June 1999 they celebrated the opening of Sydney's
Stadium Australia with England's Terence Trent D'Arby at the microphone.
In May 2000 they gave the first of their occasional performances
with Jon Stevens of Noiseworks as singer. The rest of INXS were
still struggling with having their career so cruelly interrupted,
wondering if and how they should continue.
2002 they re-entered the studio with Stevens to finally start recording
new material, but in October 2003 Stevens revealed in a television
interview he was leaving, comfirmed by the group with an announcement
the following day. Stevens contract with INXS was due to expire
at the end of the year. In the end INXS were never happy with the
results in the studio and Stevens became frustrated by the paralysis
and the failure to commit to the songs he was trying to contribute.
In 2005 entered
a novel method of finding a new singer, via an internally screened
reality television series. In September 31 year old Canadian J.D.
Fortune was announced as winner and rushed into the studio to record
the band's first album in eight years.