Tim, Andy and Jon Farriss formed The Farriss Brothers with school friends Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly and Garry Beers in Australia in 1977. A year later they renamed themselves INXS.
The band moved to Perth, Western Australia to develop their own distinctive rock sound, which incorporated both black dance music and white soul influences.
INXS began their recording career in 1980 with the single Simple Simon on the independent Deluxe label, set up by their manager Chris Murphy and former AC/DC manager Michael Browning.
Their debut album also appeared in 1980, containing their Aussie hit Just Keep Walking.
Over the next three years, half a dozen singles reached the lower Top 40 in Australia, but the second album, Underneath The Colours, sold well, and the next Shabooh Shoobah reached the Top 5.
It was with the Original Sin single of early 1985 and its accompanying album, The Swing, that the band finally hit the top of the charts in Australia.
The album and single generated interest in the band from the USA, Europe and South America, and the follow-up album Listen Like Thieves, consolidated their worldwide success, except in the UK where critics savaged the band, but it would not be long before sales finally took off there as well.
Had it not been for the photogenic presence of Michael Hutchence, INXS would have struggled to graduate from Australia’s pub-rock circuit. While they aspired to fuse funk rhythms with rock abandonment, more often than not – even on the million-selling Kick – they sounded like the kind of band who rolled their jacket sleeves up to expose their no-nonsense, unpretentious origins.
In 1986, Hutchence made his acting debut in the movie Dogs In Space. One song from the film, Rooms For The Memory, earned him a solo Australian Top 10 single. The band toured the USA and Europe constantly, and MTV aired their videos.
As a result, Kick achieved over 1 million sales on advance orders in the USA alone and the band finally gained a #1 US hit with Need You Tonight in January 1988. At best they went proficiently where others had gone before, echoing Prince in hobnailed boots on the sprightly New Sensation, but elsewhere they epitomised the ponderous mid-80s.
After Kick and before the release of X, all the members of INXS had a 12-month break and became involved with other projects – Hutchence with Max Q, Andrew Farriss in production work with Jenny Morris, and Garry Beers joining a loose collection of friends for a tour and recording as Absent Friends.
Hutchence’s much publicised, fleeting romance with Kylie Minogue brought the band’s name to the attention of a whole new generation of potential fans. INXS’ 1993 set, Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, included a duet with Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) on Kill The Pain, and the single The Gift. The video of the latter was banned by MTV, formerly INXS’ greatest ally, due to its use of Holocaust and Gulf War footage.
Hutchence embarked on a highly publicised relationship with Paula Yates, being cited in her divorce from Bob Geldof.
Over the next few years, until his untimely suicide in 1997, Hutchence and Geldof were at loggerheads over the custody of the latter’s children with Yates.
Hutchence was found hanged in his hotel room in Sydney, Australia, on 22 November 1997. Yates died almost three years later, completing the tragic cycle.
The band recovered from the shock of their lead singer dying in a bizarre sexual ritual by replacing Hutchence with Terence Trent D’Arby – before coming to their senses and recruiting a replacement via a Pop Idol-style karaoke lottery.
Garry Gary Beers