|Years active 1977–2012|
Origin Sydney, Australia (1977)
|Labels Atlantic, Epic, 101 Distribution, Mercury, DeLuxe, WEA, Eastwest, Polydor, Atco, Petrol Electric, Truism|
Associated acts AC/DC, Jimmy Barnes, Max Q, Midnight Oil
Past members Garry Gary Beers Andrew Farriss Jon Farriss Tim Farriss Kirk Pengilly Michael Hutchence Jon Stevens J.D. Fortune Ciaran Gribbin
Members Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss, J.D. Fortune
Genres Rock music, New wave, Alternative rock, Post-punk, Dance-rock
Albums Kick, Shabooh Shoobah, The Swing, Welcome to Wherever, Live Baby Live
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INXS (/ˈɪnɛksˈɛs/ IN-ekss-ESS) were an Australian rock band, formed as The Farriss Brothers in 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales. They began playing covers in Western Australian pubs and clubs, occasionally playing some of their original music. Mainstays were main composer and keyboardist Andrew Farriss, drummer Jon Farriss, guitarists Tim Farriss and Kirk Pengilly, bassist Garry Gary Beers and main lyricist and vocalist Michael Hutchence. For twenty years, INXS was fronted by Hutchence, whose "sultry good looks" and magnetic stage presence made him the focal point of the band. Initially known for their new wave/pop style, the band later developed a harder pub rock style that included funk and dance elements.
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- Early years
- From Simple Simon to Shabooh Shoobah
- From Original Sin to Listen Like Thieves
- From Good Times to Kick
- 1990 to 1997 from X to Elegantly Wasted
- 1997 to 2003 transitional years
- 2004 to 2005 Rock Star INXS
- 2005 to 2010 J D Fortune era
- 2011 to 2012 A Group In Flux
- Television mini series
- Influence and recognition
- Awards and nominations
- ARIA Awards
- Countdown Awards
- Grammy Awards
- MTV Video Music Awards
In 1980, INXS first charted in their native Australia with their debut self-titled album, but later garnered moderate success in other countries with Shabooh Shoobah and a single, "The One Thing". Though The Swing brought more success from around the world, its single "Original Sin" was even greater commercially, becoming their first number-one single. They would later achieve international success with a series of hit recordings through later in the 1980s and the 1990s, including the albums Listen Like Thieves, Kick, and X, and the singles "What You Need", "Need You Tonight", "Devil Inside", "Never Tear Us Apart", and "Suicide Blonde".
In the 1990s, INXS achieved a greater fan following through Hutchence's romance with fellow Australian singer Kylie Minogue, and achieved greater acclaim in the United Kingdom. However, starting with Welcome to Wherever You Are, in 1992, they achieved less success in the United States. After Hutchence was found dead in his hotel suite in Sydney in November 1997, the band did not perform publicly for a year. They made appearances with several guest singers, including Jimmy Barnes, Terence Trent D'Arby and Jon Stevens; Stevens formally joined the band for a tour and recording session in 2002. In 2005, members of INXS participated in Rock Star: INXS, a reality television series broadcast worldwide, culminating in the selection of their new lead singer, Canadian J.D. Fortune. With Fortune, the band released "Pretty Vegas" and "Afterglow" as singles, and the album Switch.
In late 2010, the band recorded and released Original Sin, a tribute album, featuring guest artists such as Kavyen Temperley (of Eskimo Joe) and Ben Harper. In September 2011, the band announced that Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Gribbin had replaced Fortune as their lead vocalist ahead of a planned tour of South America, Australia and Europe later in the year. On November 11, 2012, during their performance as support act to Matchbox Twenty at Perth Arena, Australia, INXS announced that the performance would be their last, though they did not officially announce a permanent band retirement.
INXS won six Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards including three for 'Best Group' in 1987, 1989 and 1992, and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2001. As of June 2015, INXS has sold over 50 million records worldwide.
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The origins of the band began with Andrew Farriss convincing his fellow Davidson High School classmate, Michael Hutchence, to join his band, Doctor Dolphin. The band contained two other classmates, Kent Kerny and Neil Sanders and a bass player, Garry Beers and Geoff Kennely, from a nearby high school, Forest High School. In 1977, Tim Farriss, Andrew's older brother, invited Andrew, Hutchence and Beers to join him and his schoolmate Kirk Pengilly. Tim and Pengilly had been playing together since 1971 as either an acoustic duo, Kirk and Tim, or as a four-piece band called Guinness (named after their bass player's dog). Together with younger brother Jon Farriss they formed the Farriss Brothers, who consisted of Garry Beers on bass guitar, Andrew Farriss on keyboards, Jon Farriss on drums, Tim Farriss on lead guitar, Geoff Kennelly on drums, Michael Hutchence on lead vocals and Kirk Pengilly on guitar and saxophone. The band made their debut on 16 August 1977 at Whale Beach, 40 km (25 mi) north of Sydney. Andrew Farriss remembers:
I thought the show went really well, but I think my dad summed it up the next day: 'Great show, but everyone was asleep when we left.' I think everyone might have been stoned.
The parents of the Farriss boys relocated to Perth, Western Australia in 1978, taking Jon to continue his schooling and, as soon as Hutchence and Andrew finished school, the rest of the band followed. They briefly performed as The Vegetables, singing "We Are the Vegetables", before returning to Sydney ten months later, where they recorded a set of demos. At a chance meeting in the car park of the Narrabeen Antler, a pub in Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, New South Wales, Tim was approached by Gary Morris, the manager of Midnight Oil.
I remember him coming up to me and saying 'Who are you working for, mate?' and I kind of went, 'Oh, we have this band and we're called The Farriss Brothers'. He offered to give us some work supporting Midnight Oil on the spot.
The band began to regularly support Midnight Oil and other local bands. Morris advised that a member of the Oils crew had come up with a new name and suggested they change it to INXS. The name INXS was inspired by English band XTC and Australian jam makers IXL.
"I saw a commercial for a brand of jam called IXL. Their ad featured a guy who said, 'I excel in all I do.' I'd recently seen the English band XTC when they toured Australia, and I loved their name: XTC – Ecstasy. In that moment, I put all those thoughts together. The name needed to be letters, but make a word. I put the IXL jam commercial together with XTC and the concept of a band that was inaccessible and I had it: INXS
Pengilly explained that Morris had some other ideas:
Gary [Morris] was a great marketer, and I think he also had this idea of us being 'inaccessible'. He said we could be on stage in a cage of lights. It was a mystery thing ... He told us that unless we wanted to change our ways and become the world's biggest Christian band, he could no longer manage us ... He wanted us to write songs about Christ and to promote a drug-and-alcohol-free and no-sex-before-marriage, proper Christian lifestyle. He was very convincing and for a moment I think we might have done it. Then he got on to strange terrain.
We thought that would be a bit much – but it was a good name.
The band's first performance as INXS was on 1 September 1979 at the Ocean Beach Hotel in Umina on the Central Coast of New South Wales and by the end of 1979, after passing on the Christian band image, they hired Chris "CM" Murphy as their manager and continued taking on the Oz pub circuit.
The night Morris offered them to me, I told him I'd take them midway through their third song. I stood there thinking, "This is pretty funky.' This kid up front is pretty weird. This band plays really, really well ... What Morris didn't realise was that I only intended to take them on as their booking agent. I didn't want to be their manager.
Murphy was an adept business manager and negotiator. By early 1980 the band had signed a five-album record deal with a Sydney independent label, Deluxe Records, run by Michael Browning, a former manager of AC/DC.
From "Simple Simon" to Shabooh Shoobah
INXS released their first single, "Simple Simon"/"We Are the Vegetables", in Australia and France in May 1980. The single had its debut TV performance on Simon Townsend's Wonder World. Their self-titled debut album, INXS, was recorded at Trafalgar Studios in Annandale, Sydney, it was co-produced by the band and Duncan McGuire (ex-Ayers Rock), with all songs attributed to the entire band, at the insistence of Murphy. Deluxe gave them a budget of $10,000 to record the album, so to keep within the budget they had to record from midnight to dawn, usually after doing one or more performances earlier that night. The album was released in October 1980. It featured "Just Keep Walking" which was their first Australian Top 40 single, with the album peaking in the Top 30 of the Kent Music Report for Australian albums. The album eventually went gold (selling over 35,000 units) but it took a number of years to do so.
I'm not a great fan of the first album. It's naïve and kinda cute, almost. It's these young guys struggling for a sound. All I can hear is what was going to happen later and it's probably an interesting album because of that. "Just Keep Walking" was the first time we thought we'd written a song. And that became an anthem around town. It's funny, I remember kids in pubs saying it and hearing it on the radio the first time. We'd never heard that before.
These early records demonstrated their new wave/ska/pop style, and were followed by near constant touring with almost 300 shows during 1981 as the band developed their status as a live act.
After a year of playing pub gigs, I made sure that INXS only did tours, whether it was just a few cities or across the whole of Australia. We choose a theme, made posters, printed T-shirts, and gave it a mood that created excitement. It made an INXS show into an event, not just another pub gig.
In 1981, they signed Gary Grant as their tour manager, who then became co-manager a year later. Between touring commitments, the band released their third single in May 1981, "The Loved One", which was a cover of a 1966 song by Australian group The Loved Ones. The song was recorded at Studios 301 in Sydney, produced by Richard Clapton, and peaked in the Top 20.
Richard had never produced before and wasn't sure if he wanted to. I didn't care; I knew his songwriting capabilities would be a good influence to give INXS more structure. In the early days the band would jam in rehearsal until a song just happened. Then they'd stand in front of an audience and play that song and see whether or not the audience jumped around. Then they'd go back and chop it up until it worked. And if it continued to work live, they'd go and record it.
The success of the single led to Clapton and the band returning to Studios 301 between July and August 1981 to create an album. In October 1981, their second album Underneath the Colours was released and became a hit in Australia peaking at No. 15.
I was completely enamored with them. I really thought that they could become one of the biggest bands in the world, completely out of nowhere. I mean, at that point, they didn't even have an audience.
Most of the songs on Underneath the Colours were written in a relatively short space of time. Most bands shudder at the prospect of having 20 years to write their first album and four days to write their second. For us, though, it was good. It left less room for us to go off on all sorts of tangents.
Soon after recording sessions had finished, band members started work on outside projects. Beers, Jon and Andrew Farriss played on Clapton's solo album, The Great Escape. Hutchence recorded "Speed Kills", written by Don Walker of Cold Chisel for the soundtrack of the film Freedom directed by Scott Hicks. It was his first solo single and was released by WEA in early 1982. In January, INXS toured New Zealand as support act for Cold Chisel. Band manager, Murphy, became convinced their future no longer lay with Deluxe Records. RCA (who distributed Deluxe) had employed music lover Rockin Rod Woods, who had been promoting Eric Clapton, Split Enz and some of the worlds biggest acts.
Woods was passionate about the band and brought key music people along to their gigs. He encouraged RCA to sign them worldwide because Murphy had played him some demos of future songs. Deluxe had been unable to attract international interest, and decided to record a new song, "The One Thing" at their own expense, with Mark Opitz at Paradise Studios. The song turned out so well that Murphy hired Opitz to produce three more songs. Murphy approached WEA Australia with copies of the song, leading to INXS signing a recording deal in July 1982 with WEA for releases in Australia, South East Asia, Japan and New Zealand, Atco Records (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records) for North America and Polygram for Europe and the UK.
INXS got signed not because some A&R guy thought we'd sell a lot of records, but because we sold out so many venues.
Murphy and the band weren't entirely convinced that Opitz could produce an entire album that would attract international interest, so prior to recording their third album Pengilly, Hutchence and Andrew Farriss visited the UK and USA, with a view to selecting a suitable producer, only to find that no one they wanted was available and that most people advised them that Opitz's work on their single was as good as they could wish for.
Bob Clearmountain said to us, 'I love your music and I would definitely work with you guys, but I don't have any ideas better than the guy who recorded these for you. The best advice I have for you is to go back to Australia and record the whole album with him.
In mid-1982, they commenced recording at Rhinoceros Studios, with Opitz.
Mark was the first producer that was able to capture some glimmer of what the band felt it was like live. Prior to us, Mark had done bands like AC/DC, Cold Chisel, The Angels. Big guitar sounds, mighty drum beats.
In October 1982, Shabooh Shoobah was released internationally on Atlantic/Atco Records, peaking at No. 52 on the US Billboard 200 and No. 46 on the Hot Pop Albums chart. In Australia it peaked at No. 5 and remained in the albums charts for 94 weeks. The single "The One Thing" brought them their first Top 30 hit in United States peaking at No. 30 on 28 May 1983, it was a Top 20 hit in Canada, and peaked at No. 14 in Australia on 23 August 1982. "One Thing" was their first video to air on the fledgling MTV and significantly added to the ultimate success of the single.
INXS undertook their first US performance in San Diego in March 1983, to a crowd of 24 patrons. Their first tour was as support for Adam and the Ants, then support for Stray Cats, The Kinks, Hall & Oates followed by The Go-Go's. INXS played alongside many of their contemporaries on New Wave Day in May 1983, at the US Festival in Devore, California. It was during this time that Grant, their co-manager, relocated permanently to New York to ensure a continual presence in the northern hemisphere. The band remained on the road in the US for most of the year, including support for Men at Work and by mid-1983 were headlining venues such as The Ritz in New York.
From "Original Sin" to Listen Like Thieves
Following a performance in Toronto, Canada, the band was approached by producer Nile Rodgers, and by September 1983, recorded "Original Sin", originally titled "Brand New Day", at New York's Power Station Studios.
We were fresh off the road. So we had the basic song completed and we'd been playing it live in the set. He was talking to us through the headphones, kind of saying things that were meant to encourage us, and we figured he was just getting levels and stuff on the whole band playing together, but after we'd run it down a couple of times he said 'OK, come in and have a listen'. We went in and the control room was sort of full of people dancing. Apart from adding background vocals and the sax solo, we were finished. We didn't even know he was recording.
Three tracks from Shabooh Shoobah were featured in the soundtrack for the 1984 film Reckless. The band then travelled to the UK to begin sessions on their fourth album with Nick Launay at the Manor Studios in Oxford.
Nick was always going to be the main production force behind The Swing. We had a really genuine interest in the stuff that he had done and we knew he was the right guy for us at the time. It was funny, actually, because we arrived at the Manor, which is up in Oxford, and we basically walked in and said, 'Nick, we've recorded one song for the album'. And he was like, 'Oh yeah, where did you do that?' And we said, 'New York.' "Who'd you do it with?' 'Nile Rodgers.' And his face just went white because he was a major Nile Rodgers fan himself. So he said 'Well, 'suppose we'd better listen to it', and we put it on and he was just blown away. I think that started poor old Nick off on a bit of a – he wasn't as secure and confident as he probably would have been.
The album The Swing released in April 1984, received more significant attention from around the world, as "Original Sin" became their first No. 1 single and was a highly popular song worldwide with fans and reviewers. During 1984 it was No. 1 in Australia (for two weeks in January) as well as in Argentina and France, No. 6 in New Zealand, No. 11 in Canada, No. 23 in Switzerland, No. 31 in the Netherlands and No. 58 in the U.S. Yet "Original Sin" was largely ignored in the UK, where INXS was described in New Musical Express as a "depressingly definitive example of excruciating, boring, incredibly unimaginative MTV rock", and INXS didn't have any Top 50 chart success until the 1985 album Listen Like Thieves.
During 1984, INXS toured non-stop performing across Europe, the UK, the US and Australia, and, by December 1984, The Swing was double platinum, making it, at the time, one of the five biggest domestic albums in the history of Australian music. In March 1985 the band re-entered Sydney's Rhinoceros Studios to record their next album, together with producer Chris Thomas (Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, The Pretenders, Elton John).
Chris was one of the most talented, most eccentric and demanding people you'd ever want to meet. ...from the moment you walked into the control room, there was no doubt you were in the presence of greatness. INXS met their match with Chris Thomas. He was the only producer they've ever had who told them what they needed to hear.
This is what we've been trying to do one way or another for a few years now, that is to make an album that is purely just form and function of the songs. It has no artistic pretentions.
As the band were finishing the recording sessions, Thomas told the band that the album was not good enough and still had no "killer" track:
We'd already finished the Listen Like Thieves album but Chris Thomas told us there was still no 'hit'. We left the studio that night knowing we had one day left and we had to deliver "a hit". Talk about pressure.
Andrew produced a demo tape of a funk song he had been working on "Funk Song No. 13" and evolved it into "What You Need".
Then Andrew brought in three demos – two songs that had been completed and he played me a thing that was just this riff – dink, dink, dink-a-dink-and it was great. I thought, 'I could listen to that groove for ten minutes!' I said, 'Let's work with that groove.' So we went with that and in just two days it turned into the song that eventually broke them, "What You Need".
We wrote it on Saturday, rehearsed it on Sunday and recorded it on Monday.
Whilst the band was recording, WEA released Dekadance, a limited edition 12" Vinyl and cassette only EP of INXS remixes from their albums The Swing and Shabooh Shoobah.
On 19 May 1985, INXS won seven awards at the 1984 Countdown Music and Video Awards ceremony. They performed "Burn for You", dressed in Akubras (hats) and Drizabones (outdoor coats/oilskin jackets). They performed five songs for the July 1985 Oz for Africa concert, in conjunction with the Live Aid benefit. Two INXS songs, "What You Need" and "Don't Change", were also in the BBC broadcast and are contained on Live Aid's four DVD boxed set released in 2004.
INXS had started out as a new wave act, gradually moved in a more straight-ahead rock-oriented direction through the first half of the 1980s. Listen Like Thieves was released in October 1985, was approved of by critics, reaching No. 3 on the Australian charts and No. 11 on the US charts. With the release of Listen Like Thieves, the band had developed a rock sound influenced by Led Zeppelin and XTC, but remained true to the band's original roots in Aussie pubs. It was also the first album to feature songs written by a combination of band members, with Andrew Farris and Hutchence becoming the primary songwriters in the years to follow. The first US single from the album, "This Time", stalled at No. 81 in late 1985, but the next single, "What You Need", released there in early 1986, became a top five Billboard hit, bringing INXS their first break-out US success. The single was also a top 20 hit in Canada, reached No. 2 in Australia (September 1985) but only No. 51 on the UK charts.
The British press dismissed the album, with New Musical Express calling the band 'INX-cusable' and a reviewer declaring Listen Like Thieves to be a 'complete and utter turkey'. In the United States however Rolling Stone Magazine wrote "INXS rocks with passion and seals the deal with a backbeat that'll blackmail your feet."
In August 1985, they toured ahead of the album's release, touring South America before returning to Melbourne to play for Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Wales at a concert in Australia. It was filmed and later released on home video entitled Living INXS; an edited version of the concert was played on MTV in the US in 1985 on their Saturday night concert series. In November, December, January, and February INXS toured North America, Europe, and New Zealand. The band then took a two-month break, with Andrew Farriss writing and producing "You're Gonna Get Hurt" for Jenny Morris (who had previously been a backing vocalist with the band), and Hutchence featuring in Richard Lowenstein's second feature film Dogs in Space. Lowenstein had previously made the video clip for "Dancing on the Jetty". Whilst a song from the movie, "Rooms for the Memory", written by Ollie Olsen, with vocals by Hutchence charted, the movie was received well by critics but was not a commercial success.
In May 1986, the band returned to the United States and over the next six months performed 32 European shows, including support for Queen at their Live at Wembley '86 concert on 12 July 42 US shows and 12 Australian shows. America's influential Musician magazine calling them "the best live band in the world."
From "Good Times" to Kick
Whilst supposedly taking an eight-month break before beginning work on a new album, their manager Murphy decided to stage a series of major outdoor concerts across Australia, featuring INXS, Jimmy Barnes, Models, Divinyls, Mental as Anything, The Triffids and I'm Talking. To promote the tour INXS recorded two songs with Jimmy Barnes of Cold Chisel: The Easybeats cover "Good Times" and "Laying Down the Law" which Barnes co-wrote with Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Hutchence and Pengilly. "Good Times" was used as the theme song for the Australian Made series of concerts in the summer of 1986–1987. It peaked at No. 2 on the Australian charts, and months later was featured in the Joel Schumacher film The Lost Boys and its soundtrack, allowing it to peak at No. 47 in the US on 1 August 1987.
After the success of "What You Need" and Listen Like Thieves, the band knew their new material would have to be even better, according to Pengilly,
We wanted an album where all the songs were possible singles.
They recorded Kick in Sydney and Paris, it was produced by Thomas again, but Atlantic Records was not happy with the result, as manager Chris Murphy remembers:
They hated it, absolutely hated it. They said there was no way they could get this music on rock radio. They said it was suited for black radio, but they didn't want to promote it that way. The president of the label told me that he'd give us $1 million to go back to Australia and make another album.
Despite Atlantic's protests, Kick was released in October 1987 and provided the band with worldwide popularity, it peaked at No. 1 in Australia, No. 3 on the US Billboard 200, No. 9 in UK, and No. 15 in Austria. It was an upbeat, confident album that yielded four Top 10 US singles, "New Sensation", "Never Tear Us Apart", "Devil Inside" and No. 1 "Need You Tonight". "Need You Tonight" peaked No. 2 on the UK charts, No. 3 in Australia, and No. 10 in France. They toured heavily behind the album throughout 1987 and 1988. The video for the 1987 INXS track "Mediate" (which played after the video for "Need You Tonight") replicated the format of Bob Dylan's video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues", even in its use of apparently deliberate errors. In September 1988 the band swept the MTV Video Music Awards with the video for "Need You Tonight/Mediate" winning in 5 categories.
During 1989, Hutchence collaborated with Ian "Ollie" Olsen on a side project, Max Q, the two had previously worked together on Lowenstein's film Dogs in Space. The rest of the band also took a break to work on side projects, but soon returned to the studio to record their follow-up album to Kick.
1990 to 1997: from X to Elegantly Wasted
In October 1990, INXS released X which was produced by Thomas again and it peaked at No. 3 in Australia, No. 5 in the US, No. 2 in the UK, No. 5 in Switzerland and No. 10 in Sweden. It followed in the same vein as Kick, and added harmonica to some songs. X scored hits with "Suicide Blonde" and "Disappear" (both Top 10 in the US), "Suicide Blonde" peaked at No. 2 in Australia, No. 11 in the UK and in Switzerland. Other singles from X were "Bitter Tears" and "By My Side" but they had less chart success.
Hutchence's romance with Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue brought the group a new audience of fans. INXS performed at Wembley Stadium on 13 July 1991, during their "Summer XS" tour stop in London to a sold out audience of 74,000 fans. This performance was recorded and filmed to become their live album Live Baby Live (a video version was also released under the same title), which was released in November 1991 and peaked in the Top 30 in both Australia and UK album charts, but had less success on The Billboard 200.
On 28 March 1992 INXS performed at the controversial Concert for Life at Centennial Park in Sydney (a fund raiser for the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Centre), together with Crowded House, Yothu Yindi, Jenny Morris, Diesel, Ratcat and Def FX. Due to inclement weather, the expected attendance of 100,000 never came through and the event only raised $500,000.
Welcome to Wherever You Are, produced by Mark Opitz and released in August 1992, was an experimental album using sitars and a 60-piece orchestra while adding a much more "raw" sound to their music. It received good critical reviews and went No. 1 in the UK and in Sweden; No. 2 in Australia and Switzerland, and No. 3 in Norway, but had less chart success in the US peaking at No. 16. Singles from the album included, "Taste It" and "Baby Don't Cry" which were Top 20 successes in UK but had less success in US or Australian markets.
Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, produced by Opitz again, was released in November 1993 and peaked at No. 3 on the UK charts, No. 4 in Australia, No. 8 in Sweden, No. 9 in Switzerland, No. 14 in Norway, but did not reach the Top 50 in the US. The title track featured The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde and another track, "Please (You Got That)", featured Ray Charles. The band made a full video album for the record using unknown Australian students to direct with help by Richard Lowenstein. Full Moon, Dirty Hearts received mixed reviews and was the last record under INXS' contract with Atlantic in the States. The band took time off to rest and be with their families, while Hutchence remained in the public eye through modelling and film acting.
In 1997, the group released a comeback album titled Elegantly Wasted, which garnered mixed reviews. It fared respectably in Australia (No. 14), Canada (No. 14), France (No. 30), UK (No. 16) (where INXS had more success in the 1990s than in the 1980s), Belgium (No. 7), Switzerland (No. 13), but only No. 41 in US. On 22 November 1997, Hutchence was found dead in his Sydney Ritz-Carlton hotel room. On 6 February 1998, after an autopsy and coronial inquest, New South Wales State Coroner, Derrick Hand, presented his report which ruled that Hutchence's death was a suicide while depressed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Despite the official coroner's report, there was continued speculation that his death was accidental.
1997 to 2003: transitional years
After Hutchence's death, INXS did not perform publicly for almost a year and then only made a few one-of performances with different guest singers until 2000. On 28 November 1998, they played at the Mushroom 25 Concert with Jimmy Barnes fronting for two songs: "The Loved One" and "Good Times". On 12 June 1999, they headlined the opening of Stadium Australia in Sydney, with US singer-songwriter Terence Trent D'Arby and Russell Hitchcock as guest vocalists, they performed "New Sensation", "Kick", "Never Tear Us Apart" and "What You Need".
In December 2000 INXS performed a concert with singers Suze DeMarchi and Jon Stevens sharing the spotlight. Former lead singer of Australian band Noiseworks, Jon Stevens began singing with INXS on regular basis. They played as one of the headline acts at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and then toured through South America and Europe. Stevens was officially named a member of INXS in 2002 and they started recording new material in November. Stevens left in October 2003 to pursue a solo career, only recording a contractual obligation song called "I Get Up." This was not officially released as a charting single due to it being part of the game EA Sports Rugby 2004. All sales of this single were not tallied in comparison to the ARIA charts of the time. The song was used in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the EA Sports Rugby 2004 video game.
2004 to 2005: Rock Star: INXS
INXS returned to the news in 2004, when it was announced that a new reality television program titled Rock Star: INXS would feature a contest to find a new lead vocalist for the band. The show, which had its debut on the CBS network 11 July 2005, (on Global in Canada, VH1 in the UK and FOX8 in Australia), featured 15 contestants vying for the position of lead singer. The show was executive produced by Survivor's Mark Burnett and hosted by Brooke Burke and Jane's Addiction and former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro.
On 20 September 2005, J.D. Fortune (born Jason Dean Bennison, but uses his mother's maiden name) of Salt Springs, Nova Scotia, Canada won the eleven-week competition, which culminated in his singing the Rolling Stones's "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and INXS' "What You Need" in the finale of the show to become the new lead singer of INXS. With Fortune they recorded their 2005 album, Switch produced by Guy Chambers and went on a world tour in 2006. Runner-up Marty Casey was the opening act during the first leg of the tour, along with his band, The Lovehammers.
During the Rock Star: INXS competition, the contestants were challenged to write the lyrics and melody to music written by Andrew Farriss. Originally this challenge was divided up into two teams. When Fortune did not see eye-to-eye with his team (that included Casey), he decided to venture out on his own and write his own lyrics. At first Fortune's move seemed to have doomed his chances to win the competition (because it was perceived he couldn't work in a team), but it was this move that resulted in his creation of the lyrics to "Pretty Vegas". This song became a favourite of both fans and INXS and played a major role in Fortune being able to win the competition. "Pretty Vegas" was released 4 October 2005 and reached No. 5 on the iTunes Store ranking of daily most downloaded songs on its first day. It peaked at No. 9 in Australia, No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100, and became a huge radio airplay hit (going platinum and reaching number one) in Fortune's native Canada.
2005 to 2010: J. D. Fortune era
On 29 November 2005, the band's first album with Fortune as lead singer, titled Switch, was released in the United States via Epic Records. This new line-up started touring in support of Switch in January 2006. Fortune revealed he was working on material for the next INXS album, but it would turn out that Fortune's songs would later appear on his solo album.
In September 2006, INXS and Epic Records parted ways. The band then performed at the 2006 NRL Grand Final.
INXS toured Australia and New Zealand in March 2007, with Simple Minds and support band Arrested Development. After the cancellation of a 31 August 2007 show in Cleveland, Ohio, INXS placed a statement on their website stating "Due to ongoing medical issues with Garry Beers' hand, the band's doctor has urged the band to not play more than three shows in a row or risk permanent damage to Garry's hand."
The band signed with Petrol Electric Records in December 2008, reuniting them with former manager Chris Murphy. The band were preparing to enter the studio in March 2009 to record a new project without a singer.
On 16 February 2009, J. D. Fortune told Entertainment Tonight Canada that INXS had let him go from the band with a shake of the hand at an airport in Hong Kong.
On 23 February 2009, Chris Murphy, INXS creative director and global business strategist and former manager, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, said J.D. was not sacked and, in fact, "the band made it known to him that they had not ruled out seeing a return by Fortune." He also stated JD was next on his list to call regarding a major recording contract he was negotiating for the band. In an interview with Confidential on 1 March 2009, Murphy stated "The whole thing has been bizarre – he was basically a contractor and his contract had ended." Speaking with Billboard, Murphy stated that he would rather part ways with the band than work with Fortune. "If the band said to me tomorrow, 'We'd still like you to make that call and talk to him about working on a project,' I'd have to say 'Sorry, I have to go.'" However, JD Fortune toured with INXS as frontman in February 2011.
In an interview with Sun Media published on 6 March 2009, J. D. Fortune clarified his claim that he had been fired at an airport. After returning to Canada from Hong Kong, Fortune believed there were still two more legs of the INXS 2007 tour to complete. When the rest of the tour was cancelled and the band did not return his calls for 10 months, he believed he was out of the band.
On 30 November 2009, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, and Kirk Pengilly performed an acoustic version of "Don't Change" with the Qantas Choir at the Pride of Australia Awards.
On 8 December 2009, INXS announced they would be embarking on a large scale world tour, commencing with a performance in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The band announced on 11 February 2010 that J. D. Fortune would be vocalist for the performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics, but that it would be a one-off performance with Fortune, with a vocalist for the subsequent world tour still to be announced. The band performed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics on 24 February 2010 with guest singers J. D. Fortune and Argentine singer Deborah de Corral.
On 22 April 2010, INXS announced that Fortune would again front the band for a performance on 10 July 2010 at Townsville, QLD, Australia, and then again on 16 July 2010 in Broome, WA, Australia
During a radio interview with Kirk Pengilly and JD Fortune in July 2010 just before the Broome concert, Pengilly confirmed that Fortune had returned as the band's permanent singer.
In August 2010, Petrol Records issued Australian radio stations with a 1 track promo "Never Tear Us Apart" featuring Ben Harper on vocals, a preview from the upcoming INXS Michael Hutchence tribute album Original Sin.
On 25 September 2010, the band performed prior to the 2010 AFL Grand Final.
On 19 October 2010, it was announced in the Courier Mail that INXS, fronted by JD Fortune, would tour as part of the A Day on the Green winery concerts in February."
The band recorded an album in memory of Michael Hutchence titled Original Sin, which was released in November 2010. The album featured well-known singers from Australia and around the world. Brandon Flowers of the band The Killers revealed that he recorded the song "Beautiful Girl" with the band, although the track ultimately did not appear on the album due to conflicts with the release of Flowers' solo album. Rob Thomas from the band Matchbox Twenty recorded the song "Never Tear Us Apart" and "Original Sin" with the band, although only "Original Sin" with DJ Yaleidys appeared on the final album. Australian singer-songwriter Vanessa Amorosi has also been reported to have recorded a version of "Devil Inside", although that recording did not appear on the final album. Ben Harper recorded a version of "Devil Inside" along with Nikka Costa, and Harper also performed "Never Tear Us Apart". Gabriella Cilmi, Tricky, and Eskimo Joe's Kavyen Temperley also recorded tracks for the project. Deborah de Corral performed New Sensation on the album. Patrick Monahan of Train recorded "Beautiful Girl". On again-off again lead singer J.D. Fortune performs lead vocals for the 1991 track The Stairs and the 1984 track "Love Is (What I Say)". The album was produced by James Ash of Rogue Traders.
2011 to 2012: A Group In Flux
In March 2011 INXS confirmed they would be returning to the UK and headlining with support from New Zealand band Shihad for an outdoor event on Clapham Common, London on Saturday 11 June called Southern Sounds. The event was an all Australian, New Zealand and South African celebration line up with INXS fronted by J.D. Fortune.
INXS toured extensively throughout 2011 with singer J.D. Fortune to support the album Original Sin.
The band released a demo of a song, called "Tiny Summer", in streaming format on their official website in September 2011, along with news that J.D. Fortune had left the band again and that Northern Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Gribbin would be the band's frontman for their forthcoming tour of Australia, South America and Europe in November & December 2011.
Ciaran Gribbin and INXS recorded more material; a demo of another song titled "We Are United" appeared on their website. Other new songs were also played live in July 2012 in Australia, such as "Honesty", "Tears of Rain" and "Dancing Like a Flame". "Sugar", an unreleased song from the Jon Stevens era, was brought back too.
On 6 October 2012, INXS were the headline act at the annual charity ball organised by the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondent's Club.
INXS announced during a concert on 11 November 2012, at the newly opened Perth Arena, while supporting Matchbox Twenty, that they would no longer be touring. Kirk Pengilly stated that it was appropriate to finish where they had started 35 years earlier. Jon Farriss admitted, "I'm getting teary", before the band performed their biggest hit, "Need You Tonight".
In 2014, INXS released a tell-all history of the band on an Australian television interview special, The Story Behind INXS. During the interview, Jon Farriss made the statement, "Never say never", regarding the possibility that the band could record and perform more music in the future.
Television mini series
In 2013, Australian TV network Seven Network announced it would be producing a miniseries focusing on the band's behind-the-scenes stories, called INXS: Never Tear Us Apart. Band member Tim Farriss was a pre-production consultant on the show. The mini series commenced production at the end of June 2013, and premiered on 9 February 2014 and the finale aired the following Sunday night (16 February 2014). The mini series rated very highly for both nights and created a renewed interest in the band which translated to a resurgence in sales of their music bringing them once again to the number one position on the Australian popular music charts.
Luke Arnold was cast as Michael Hutchence, Alex Williams as Kirk Pengilly, Nicholas Masters as Tim Farriss, Hugh Sheridan as bass guitarist Gary Beers, Ido Drent as Jon Farriss and Andy Ryan as Andrew Farriss. In addition, Damon Herriman played band manager CM Murphy and Samantha Jade played Kylie Minogue.
Given the popularity of this TV mini series and subsequent reemergence, there is talk of a Broadway musical and a feature film in the upcoming future.
Influence and recognition
Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, INXS was a major force in Australian popular music, leading the way into worldwide popularity for several Australian bands. The band worked closely with several other Australian artists, such as Models and ex-patriot New Zealander Jenny Morris, helping to establish their careers. By the mid-1990s, however, their popularity had waned, especially in the US, where their Greatest Hits compilation failed to reach the Top 100.
INXS has won six other ARIA Awards including three for 'Best Group' in 1987, 1989 and 1992. The band has also received three Grammy nominations over their 30-year career. In 2007, The Farriss Brothers were inducted into the West Australian Music Industry Awards Hall of Fame. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), INXS have sold 15 million units in the United States alone, making them the third-highest selling Australian music act in the United States, behind AC/DC and The Bee Gees.
Awards and nominations
INXS has won and been nominated for numerous music awards. These include ARIA Awards, Grammys, MTV Awards.
INXS has won seven Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards. The band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2001 alongside The Saints. This induction recognised their achievement of a "significant body of recorded work" and that they "had a cultural impact within Australia". INXS has won six other ARIA Awards including three for 'Best Group' in 1987, 1989 and 1992.
Countdown was an Australian pop music TV series on national broadcaster ABC-TV from 1974–1987, it presented music awards from 1979–1987, initially in conjunction with magazine TV Week but then independently. The Countdown Music and Video Awards were succeeded by the ARIA Awards. INXS won seven awards at the 1984 awards ceremony, which was broadcast on 25 May 1985. On 20 April 1986 they won three further Countdown awards for 1985.
INXS received three nominations for the Grammys.
MTV Video Music Awards
INXS won five MTV Video Music Awards for their 1988 song "Need You Tonight/Mediate".
Never Tear Us ApartKick · 1987
Need You TonightKick · 1987
New SensationKick · 1987