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29 October 2014
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INXS
Grab a Sheila and a tinny as we trace the rise of Oz rockers INXS.


no 1A tinny mate?
MichaelINXS rose through the ranks of pub rock and hoardes of drunken Aussies hurling empty 'tinnies' to become Australia's biggest export since Fosters lager. Formed in 1977 in Perth by brothers Andrew, Tim and Jon Farriss, the band were originally called The Farriss Brothers (see what they did there?) and were augmented by bassist Garry Beers (no, really), saxophonist Kirk Pengilly and charistmatic frontman Michael Hutchence. The band's formative years were spent polishing their act, travelling across Australia and playing dodgy pubs and tough North Western mining towns where a lump of flying coal would often serve as encouragement. Hutchence was earning $150 a week but said the drunken requests for Waltzing Mathilda by 6ft 8" burly miners were a career shaping experience. When the band hit Sydney and had changed their name to INXS, the media hype was so strong that they were rewarded with a record contract, resulting in a self-titled album in 1980. A fair reward for entertaining marauding drunken Aussies eh?

Michaelno 2Strewth mate - We're huge!

After a series of well received early '80s albums, ('Underneath The Colours', 'Listen Like Thieves' and hit singles including 'Original Sin', (banned by Australian radio because of its theme of love between an interracial couple), the band came to the attention of the MTV generation with their first cross over hit, 'What You Need'. The single established what would become the band's trademark musical style - staccato guitar funk rhythms, funky saxophone accompaniment, lush rhythms and Hutch's seductive vocals. The sound culminated in the band's massive crossover album, 'Kick' in 1987. US No. 1 singles 'Need You Tonight' and 'Devil Inside' and UK Top 10 hits 'New Sensation' and 'Never Tear Us Apart' catapulted the band into the superstar stratosphere making a rock icon of Michael Hutchence. Critics hailed him as the bastard lovechild of Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger. He was witty, intelligent and one of the few men of the modern age not to look ridiculous in leather trousers.

no 3MichaelBring on the Sheilas mate!
Global success also brought Hutchence a series of tangled personal relationships. In 1988 Hutchence surprised friends and fans alike by dating dimunitive Oz popstrel Kylie Minogue, who, back then was barely out of shocking Top Shop frilly frocks and Pete Waterman approved manufactured pop. The cool diva reincarnation of today looked both impossible and laughable. What was rock's latest icon of cool doing dating a naff pop star? "People don't realise how sharp and intelligent Kylie is and how cool she is," Hutchence told bandmates and friends. Kylie still claims that Hutchence was the first real love of her life and introduced her to many "life changing" experiences.

Michaelno 4Success brings turmoil
INXS continued their assault on global domination with follow up albums, 'X' (spawning the hit singles 'Disappear' and 'Suicide Blonde') and Welcome To 'Wherever You Are' in 1992. Hutch soon dumped Kylie for supermodel Helena Christiansen and then dumped Helena for TV presenter Paula Yates in 1994 after a particularly flirtatious 'footsie' interview on the bed on Channel 4's Big Breakfast. Yates divorced her husband Bob Geldof and moved in with Hutchence. The couple had a daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily. Not quite happy families then, more a case of dysfunctional, but reasonably content.

no 5MichaelTragedy
In 1997 INXS released what was to be their last with Hutchence - 'Elegantly Wasted'. The album received poor reviews with critics claiming the band were retreading old ground. Rolling Stone called the album "irrelevant" and "an exercise in nostalgia." Perhaps depressed by critical reviews coupled with the turmoil of his personal life - Hutchence was caught in the middle of a divorce settlement between Paula Yates and former husband Geldof and the custody of their children, Fifi Trixibelle and Peaches - the singer apparently took his own life under mysterious circumstances in a Sydney hotel room in 1997. Hutchence was 37-years-old. U2's Bono, a friend, said at the time of the death: "I don't know if I feel angry or guilty because I had a conversation with him not that long ago where we talked about something like this, and we both agreed how dumb and selfish it would be." More tragedy followed in 2000 with the death of Paula Yates from a drugs overdose. The band continue to record today and have just released a Greatest Hits set, 'Definitive INXS'. They tour the UK in December with Blondie.

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