Formed in 1977 as the Farris Brothers, this group changed its name to INXS (pronounced "in excess") in 1979 at the suggestion of Midnight Oil's manager Garry Morris. Hutchence had been a high school friend of Andrew and Jon Farris, while Tim Farris went to school with Beers and Pengilly. They played the rough-and-tumble Australian pub scene for several years, averaging 250 gigs annually and building a huge fan base in their native land.
Michael Hutchence - vocals (b. 1960, Sydney, Australia)
Andrew Farris - keyboards & guitars (b. 1959, Perth, Australia)
Tim Farris - guitar (b. 1958, Perth, Australia)
Jon Farris - drums & keyboards (b. 1961, Perth, Australia)
Garry Gary Beers - bass (b. 1957, Sydney, Australia)
Kirk Pengilly - guitar, saxophone, vocals (b. 1959, Sydney, Australia)
INXS sees its debut album released on the Deluxe label, and their first hit, "Just Keep Walking" makes it onto the Australian charts.
RCA Records signs the group, and the second Australia-only INXS album, Underneath the Colours, is released. It will produce two hits, "Stay Young" and "Loved One."
A third album, Shabooh Shoobah, is released.
The band makes its first American tour, appearing with The Kinks and Adam & the Ants. Atlantic Records signs them up. Shabooh Shoobah reaches #46 on the US charts two months later, when the group's first US single, "The One Thing," reaches #30, thanks to heavy rotation on MTV.
"Original Sin" is recorded at the Power Station Studio (New York), with Daryl Hall providing guest vocals and Nile Rodgers producing. The single will reach US#58 nine months later.
INXS performs its first live show in the UK at London's Astoria Theatre; their album The Swing peaks at #52 on the US charts the following month.
While working on their Listen Like Thieves album, INXS appears in the Live Aid benefit concert. The following month the band kicks off their 1985 world tour.
INXS wins seven trophies at the Australian Countdown Awards. By the end of the year they will have performed 1,500 live shows in six years.
The single "What You Need" reaches US#5, while Michael Hutchence makes his acting debut in the film Dogs In Space. A month later the band embarks on yet another world tour.
"Listen Like Thieves" makes it to US#54, while the album of the same name peaks at US#11. It will sell 3.5 million copies worldwide.
INXS headlines the multi-band Australian-Made tour.
"Need You Tonight" climbs to #58 on the UK charts, and the band launches its Kick world tour in Lansing, Michigan.
"Need You Tonight" becomes the band's first Number One hit in the US. The Kick album will peak at US#3, remaining on the charts for 103 weeks and eventually selling eight million copies.
"Devil Inside" climbs to US#2, but only reaches #47 on the UK charts.
"Never Tear Us Apart" climbs to US#7 and UK#24. The Kick world tour continues despite injuries sustained by Jon Farris in a skateboarding accident.
The fourth release from the Kick album, "New Sensation," heads up the US charts, and will peak at #3. A video compilation is released and sells well.
At the MTV Video Music Awards, "Need You Tonight" wins five trophies, including Best Video. The following month, INXS will begin the final leg of the monumental Kick tour in Australia, after which the band takes a much-needed break.
Underneath the Colours (Deluxe, 1981)
Big Go Go
Underneath the Colours
Fair Weather Ahead
Night of Rebellion
What Would You Do
Just To Learn Again
"Underneath the Colours has much better audio quality [than the 1980 debut album INXS] and shifts the focus among keyboards, sax and guitar in a vain attempt to vitalize the underwhelming songs."
"A nearly identical continuation of the new wave pop of their debut, yet the record featured better arrangements and songs."
All Music Guide
Shabooh Shoobah (Atco, 1982)
To Look At You
Spy of Love
Black and White
Old World New World
"This Australian band debuts in the U.S. with a classy, sleek pop sound reminiscent at times of the Cars or a more commercial Peter Gabriel. Vocalist Michael Hutchence's swaggering vocals give INXS' music an edge which is missing from a lot of what is being pushed out under the banner of 'new music.'"
""Despite major strides in several areas, on the whole it's still not a happening record. A few outstanding numbers do display growth in personality and style."
The Swing (Atco, 1984)
Melting in the Sun
I Send A Message
Dancing on the Jetty
Love Is (What I Say)
Face the Change
Burn For You
All the Voices
"Consolidating the strengths of Shabooh Shoobah, The Swing is the first consistently impressive INXS album. . . . [It] retains the new wave pop sense and rock attack of their earlier albums, while adding a stronger emphasis on dance rhythms."
All Music Guide
"The Australian sextet's dance-oriented rock is burnished to an even tougher but no less inviting finish for this second U.S. release, which spotlights the band's mix of electronics and rock song form with more dramatic production."
Listen Like Thieves (Atlantic, 1985)
What You Need
Listen Like Thieves
Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)
Shine Like It Does
Good & Bad Times
One X One
Red Red Sun
"Their least mannered, most muscular album finds the Australian sextet tapping a tougher, Stones-hard rock stance burnished to an AOR sheen."
"Crisp, lively rock, with as little vocal posturing as Michael Hutchence seems capable of, and substantial aggressive guitar work where required. 'What You Need' and 'This Time' have solid melodies, strong rhythms and decisive hooks. 'Shine Like It Does' attempts to generate a folk-rock sensibility with moderate success."
Kick (Atlantic, 1987)
Guns in the Sky
Need You Tonight
Never Tear Us Apart
Calling All Nations
"The band's mix of Stonesy rock & roll, melodic pop, and dance-oriented beats has never sounded fresher -- even the album tracks are fully developed songs that never seem like filler. It's easily their best album."
All Music Guide
"[INXS has] a hard-driving, irresistibly danceable sound and a sexy, live-for-the-moment attitude -- tempered with just a dash of social consciousness."
Cathleen McGuigan, Newsweek
After Michael Hutchence failed to appear for an INXS performance, a maid at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Sydney's Double Bay suburb discovered his body at 11:55 AM, hanging from a leather belt attached to a door hinge in the singer's suite. He had last been seen alive by friends at 4:45 AM, and though rumors to the contrary abounded, his death was ruled a suicide. It was said that he seemed despondent. "He was lonely guy," said a close friend of Hutchence's. "And he was an incredibly sensitive character. He got very hurt very easily by what was going on around him."
The funeral, held November 27 at Sydney's St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral, was attended by the singer's girlfriend Paula Yates and their 16-month-old daughter Heavenly, as well as the other members of INXS and celebrity friends Diana Ross, Tom Jones and Nick Cave. While the service was being conducted, a man attempted to jump from a balcony screaming "He's dead!"
In a 1998 article for Juice magazine, Toby Creswell wrote: "Fortune smiled on Michael Hutchence. In his 37 years he was one of the few Australians to become an international superstar. He played in a rock & roll band with whom he made ten albums and toured the world; he acted in films, recorded other music, loved clever women, had a daughter and won lots of friends. . . . So what would make Michael Hutchence, a man who had everything, take his own life -- a mistake in a sexual game or a moment of depression, a suicidal impulse brought on by a raft of . . .emotional crises? As much as Hutchence appeared to the world as the eternal optimist on his way to the next party, he was also vulnerable and often emotionally raw."