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Members include Garry Gary Beers, bass; Andrew Farris, keyboards; Jon Farris, drums; Tim Farris, guitar; Michael Hutchence (died November 22, 1997) vocals; and Kirk Pengilly, guitar/saxophone. Addresses: Record company--Mercury/Polygram Records, 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019.
Few rock bands have achieved the success and longevity that INXS has enjoyed. Fewer still can claim this without a single personnel change. All six members recorded and performed together for more over 20 years before the death of singer Michael Hutchence on November 22, 1997.
Beginning in Australia, INXS released several albums before making a splash in the United States in 1983. From then on, they shot up the charts with singles like "The One Thing," "Original Sin" and "What You Need," before launching into astounding worldwide sales and recognition with their 1988 release Kick. With this album, they swept the charts, received many awards, and completed a 16-month, worldwide tour.
"We seemed to be around the corner every month in America, it was hard to ignore us," singer Michael Hutchence told Glenn A. Baker in Billboard. Following Kick[s success, rumors of a breakup began to circulate.
Although the band did experience some difficulties as a result of their overwhelming success, they relied on their relationship as friends to keep them together. INXS was one of the few bands to emerge into rock stardom in the 1980s and survive into the late 1990s. They attributed their stability to a competitive air of democracy and the ability to keep each other grounded in reality.
Keyboard player Andrew Farris and singer Michael Hutchence met in high school in Sydney, Australia. Farris broke up a fight between Hutchence and a school bully, and the two budding musicians became fast friends. Hutchence, whose father was an Australian importer, grew up in Sydney, as well as Hong Kong, and Los Angeles, California. His mother had taken him to L.A. when his parents split up. "I spent most of my time in the States by myself, writing prose, poems, and stories," Hutchence told Edwin Morris in Seventeen. "I came back home with a large collection of things."
Andrew Farris had two brothers, Tim and Jon, who were also aspiring musicians. While the Farris brothers were growing up in Perth, Australia, Tim Farris began taking guitar lessons at the age of eight. When he was 13 years old, the family moved to Sydney. Tim and guitarist/saxophone player Kirk Pengilly met and played in a band together. At the time, they attended Forest High School, where they met bassist Garry Gary Beers. Hutchence, Andrew, and drummer Jon Farris attended Davidson High School.
By 1977 Tim Farris and Kirk Pengilly]s band had broken up. They decided to form a band with Andrew and Jon, Beers, and Hutchence called The Farris Brothers. According to INXS legend, the band formed on the night Elvis Presley died. "The day I left school was the day I left home was the day I joined the band," Hutchence recalled to Nina Malkin in Mademoiselle.
The following year, The Farris Brothers moved 7,000 kilometers away to Perth, where they wrote songs, rehearsed, and performed in local hotels and mining towns. After ten months, they returned to Sydney, where their performances grabbed the attention of Garry Morris, who managed the Australian band Midnight Oil. Morris began working with them and was the first to suggest that they change the name of the band.
Although Morris decided to devote the majority of his time to Midnight Oil, The Farris Brothers had also met booking agent C.M. Murphy. At the time, Murphy was in the process of starting up an independent record label called Deluxe Records, which had a distribution deal with RCA Records. Murphy agreed that the band[s name needed to be changed. "Our record company suggested 'In Excess,]" Tim Farris told Steve Dougherty in People magazine. The group liked the idea, but wanted the name to really stand out on their posters. So they shortened it to INXS. Jay Cocks later reinforced the same concept in Time magazine, "'In excess? would be phonetically correct, but it lacks the cool mystery of those four uppercase letters, which make the lads loom large, like something mythic: six electrified Druids with some new rhythmic spells to weave."
On September 1, 1979, INXS made its performing debut at the Oceanview Hotel in Toukley, Australia. The following May, the group released its first single, "Simple Simon/We Are the Vegetables" on Deluxe Records. In October of 1980, they released their self-titled debut album in Australia, which included the single "Just Keep Walking." The band embarked on a 300-show tour throughout Australia to promote the album. A year later, they released their second LP, Underneath the Colors, which climbed to the Top 15 on the Australian charts.
In April of 1982, Andrew Farris, Hutchence, and Pengilly went on a "pilgrimage" to England and the United States. Armed with a tape of their music, they set out to spread the word on INXS. They signed a new contract with WEA Records in Australia in July of the same year. Their next release, Shabooh Shoobah reached the Top Five on the Australian charts. By the following January, they had signed a North American record contract with Atlantic Records.
They debuted in the United States with the single "The One Thing," which quickly climbed to the Top 30 on the Billboard charts. The video went into high rotation on MTV, and INXS had begun to make their mark in America. Atlantic re-released Shabooh Shoobah in the United States to wide acclaim. David Fricke wrote in Rolling Stone, "Most of Shabooh Shoobah, the group[s American debut, is both novel in approach and stirring in execution."
After the album]s release, INXS began a marathon U.S. tour. They played their first New York City headlining show at The Ritz in May of 1983. From there they went to the Us Festival in California, where they received two encore calls from over 300,000 attendees. Then, Atlantic released a mini-LP in August called Dekadance, with remixes of four songs from Shabooh Shoobah.
Meanwhile, the band continued to receive attention in their homeland. Their "Original Sin" single reached Number One on the Australian charts in January of 1984. The Swing was released in May of that year and included the singles "Burn for You" and "Melting in the Sun." It reached double-platinum sales in Australia and became one of the top five selling albums in Australian music history. INXS also received seven Countdown Awards (Australia[s version of the Grammy Awards), more than any other group had ever received.
The band's success also began to spread to the rest of the world. They performed their debut show in London, England at The Astoria. In the meantime, Atlantic re-released their earlier albums, INXS and Underneath the Colors in the United States. In September of 1984, INXS became the first international rock band to play in Guam. In July of 1985, the band]s Sydney performance for the Live Aid benefit concert was broadcast worldwide.
Despite the group[s growing popularity, they continued their intense recording and touring schedules. In October of 1985, they released their next album, Listen Like Thieves, and its first single, "This Time." By the end of the year, they had taken off on their first headlining tour in the United States. After the hit single "What You Need" was released the following January, Listen Like Thieves reached gold status in the America and eventually went platinum. In May of 1986, INXS performed their "If You Got It, Shake It" world tour.
They went on to headline the "Australian Made" tour of their home country with eight other Australian bands. Three days before the release of Kick, INXS returned to the States for the "Calling All Nations" tour. In January of 1988, Kick was certified gold and platinum at the same time. Eventually, it sold ten million copies worldwide.
The single "Need You Tonight" became the band]s first Number One song on the U.S. charts. The home video Kick--the Video Flick also had platinum sales. All three of the subsequent singles from Kick-- "Devil Inside," "New Sensation," and "Never Tear Us Apart"--reached Billboard[s Top 10. INXS swept the MTV Video Music Awards in September of 1988 with five awards for the "Need You Tonight/Mediate" video. In January, the group received its first Grammy nomination for "Best Rock Performance by a Group."
After 16 months of touring and overwhelming success, the members decided to take a break from each other. Hutchence recorded an album with Ollie Olsen called Max Q and acted in his second feature film called Frankenstein Unbound. (He had his film debut in Dogs in Space in 1986.)
Andrew Farris produced Jenny Morris] album Shiver. Tim Farris produced a documentary called Fish in Space, about big game fishing, for which Jon Farris and Kirk Pengilly performed the score. Beers co-produced the Here[s Looking Up Your Address album for the Australian band Absent Friends.
With all the side projects going on, rumors began to fly about the band]s demise. But in November of 1989, INXS began rehearsals for their next album X. Released in 1990, the LP was named for the band[s tenth anniversary of recording. The single "Suicide Blonde" hit the Top 10 on charts around the world, and X went double- platinum in both the United States and Australia. "We]ve had this Three Musketeers, or Six Musketeers, attitude for so long, and it[s still very strong," Hutchence said in Billboard. "There]s never any talk or any question of ever replacing anybody or changing anything."
In 1991 INXS received another Grammy nomination for "Best Rock Performance by a Group." USA Today reported that the band tied for second place in the list of musical artists with the most videos played on MTV. At the time, they had 37 different clips. On their tour, INXS became the first international rock band to play in Mexico since The Doors had performed there nearly 20 years before.
In March of 1991, INXS won BPI Awards in Britain for "Best International Band" and Hutchence was awarded "Best International Male." They also received the award for "Best International Band" at the first Australian Music Awards. Before the end of the year, INXS released a live album and video titled Live Baby Live.
INXS[s following release Welcome to Wherever You Are began to mark the group]s downward slope from the success of Kick. Its sales fell just short of the platinum mark--a huge success for some bands, but nowhere near the popularity previously achieved by the band. Yet the group was not discouraged. They released Full Moon, Dirty Hearts in 1993, which included two duets with Hutchence: "Please (You[ve Got That...)" with veteran singer Ray Charles and "Full Moon, Dirty Hearts" with Chrissy Hynde of the rock band the Pretenders.
INXS also made a video album to accompany Full Moon, Dirty Hearts with videos for every song. Nine film directors contributed to the project for the 12 songs on the album. It was showcased on MTV, Australia]s Channel Nine, and selected movie theaters. Some of the videos were designed in traditional fashion, while others were produced like mini-movies.
By 1994, INXS had switched record labels from Atlantic to Mercury/Polygram. They released a greatest hits album simply titled INXS: The Greatest Hits, with the addition of two new songs. The band took another long break before releasing their next effort, Elegantly Wasted in 1997. The release received some criticism for continuing in the band[s same 1980s style. In the band]s record company biography, Andrew Farris admitted that their musical style had not progressed: "Some of it could be us 12, 13 years ago!" But added that, "To keep changing just because you think you have to is not necessarily a good thing."
Some critics commented that they never fit into the musical fashion of their time. They called them "ahead of their time" and "dated" all in the same few paragraphs. "I don[t think we]ve ever fit in," Hutchence said in the band[s bio. "Maybe it]s a generational thing. Or maybe it[s because there]s always been the six of us, pulling in six different directions."
On November 22, 1997, INXS received an unexpected shock. Singer Hutchence had committed suicide in a hotel room in Sydney, Australia. The band had gathered in their hometown to begin rehearsals for their twentieth anniversary tour. "Michael was the consummate rock star," Australian rock historian Glenn A. Baker told Associated Press. "He took upon the role of a rock star comfortably; he floated above the pressures. Why he would choose this moment to throw in the towel I think will always remain a mystery."
INXS plowed through records and tours for 20 years, cemented by the relationships of its six members. With the loss of Hutchence, the band came to a tragic end. However, the longevity and legendary success of INXS will survive in the history of rock n? roll.
by Sonya Shelton
Band formed in Sydney, Australia, 1977; signed with Australian label Deluxe Records, 1979; released self-titled debut in Australia, 1980; signed with WEA Records in Australia and released Shabooh Shoobah, 1982; signed North American recording contract with Atlantic Records, 1983; released multi-platinum album Kick, 1988; released four more albums on Atlantic, 1990-93; signed with Mercury/Polygram Records, 1993; released two more albums, 1994- 1997.
- Selective Works
- INXS, Deluxe Records, 1980; reissued, Atlantic Records, 1984.
- Underneath the Colors, Deluxe Records, 1981; reissued, Atlantic Records, 1984.
- Shabooh Shoobah, WEA Records, 1982; reissued, Atlantic Records, 1983.
- Dekadance, Atlantic Records, 1983.
- The Swing, Atlantic Records, 1984.
- Listen Like Thieves, Atlantic Records, 1985.
- Kick, Atlantic Records, 1987.
- X, Atlantic Records, 1990.
- Live Baby Live, Atlantic Records, 1991.
- Welcome to Wherever You Are, Atlantic Records, 1992.
- Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, Atlantic Records, 1993.
- INXS: The Greatest Hits, Atlantic Records, 1994.
- Elegantly Wasted, Mercury/Polygram, 1997.
- Billboard, November 26, 1988; October 13, 1990; May 9, 1992; November 13, 1993.
- Entertainment Weekly, July 24, 1992; November 5, 1993; April 18, 1997.
- Guitar Player, March 1991.
- Los Angeles Times, August 11, 1997.
- Mademoiselle, April 1990.
- People Weekly, February 1, 1988; July 11, 1988; October 22, 1990; August 17, 1992; May 12, 1997.
- Rolling Stone, April 28, 1983; January 14, 1988; June 16, 1988; April 4, 1991; December 9, 1993; February 24, 1994; May 1, 1997.
- Seventeen, August 1986.
- Time, December 17, 1990.
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