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The History of INXS

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. Formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977, INXS began as a new wave/ska band and broke into the American market with 1982’s "Shabooh Shoobah." After switching to a more rock and pop sound, they gained more success at home and had a top 5 U.S. hit. INXS also stood out for their live shows, especially frontman Michael Hutchence's performance skills. They finally became international stars with the 1987 album, "Kick." Sadly, Hutchence's personal problems led him to take his own life in 1997. Though the band continued with a new lead singer for a few years, they announced their breakup in 2012. In this video, we take a look at the history of INXS.

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Script written by Craig Butler.

They came from Down Under to create a “New Sensation.” Welcome to, and today we’re taking a look at the history of INXS.

The Farriss Brothers

Rock band INXS formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977 as The Farriss Brothers. Consisting of guitarist and keyboardist Andrew Farriss, drummer Jon Farriss, lead guitarist Tim Farriss, bassist Garry Gary Beers, guitarist and saxophonist Kirk Pengilly and the charismatic Michael Hutchence as vocalist, they adopted the name INXS two years later.


INXS was initially a new wave/ska band, as demonstrated on their 1980 eponymous debut and their 1981 sophomore effort Underneath the Colours.

Homeland Success

They didn’t hit it big in their native land until 1982’s Shabooh Shoobah, which also broke into the top 50 of the American charts. Thanks to MTV’s airplay of “The One Thing,” the album gave them their first U.S. top thirty hit the next year.

More Rock and Pop

The follow-up album, The Swing, reached number one at home and produced the Australian chart-topping single, “Original Sin.” By now, the band had changed musical directions and had taken on a more rock-oriented sound with plenty of room for a sleek, pop-funk edge.

American Breakthrough

That paid off when 1985’s Listen Like Thieves climbed to number eleven, while the single “What You Need” soared into the top 5 in the U.S. Supporting tour dates gave stateside audiences a taste of Hutchence’s panther-like sensuality.

International Stardom

The band consciously groomed their next album for mainstream success. They were rewarded when Kick turned them into international stars. Reaching number three in the U.S., the alternative rock album sold over six million copies and spawned four top 10 singles, including the chart-topping “Need You Tonight.”


As their most cohesive album, Kick came together with track after track clicking and creating a perfect dance/rock blend. With the single “Devil Inside” practically dripping sex, Hutchence’s cool-yet-hot animal magnetism was placed front and center. On “New Sensation,” Hutchence and the band created a sound that was the love child of Roxy Music and Motown, with a touch of Michael Jackson tossed in. Then came “Never Tear Us Apart,” which was a power ballad that scaled emotional heights.

More Music

This international success raised INXS to a new platform. They were now considered one of the world’s biggest groups so expectations were high for their next album, X. Genuine enthusiasm greeted top 10 singles like “Suicide Blonde,” with its blues harp, swirling sax work and Hutchence in fiery form, as well as the sinuous and captivating “Disappear.” But critics felt that the rest of the album tried too hard: not bad, just a little formulaic. Still, X was an international top 10 hit.

Popularity Back Home

Critics were more interested in 1992’s Welcome to Wherever You Are. The adventurous and experimental piece combined the INXS sound with sitars and an orchestra, but unfortunately did not crack the U.S. top 10. The group remained popular in Australia, but their next two albums, 1993’s Full Moon, Dirty Hearts and 1997’s Elegantly Wasted, were met with limited commercial success internationally.

Michael Hutchence

Part of the reason for this decline may have been the overexposure of Hutchence. His high profile romances with stars like Kylie Minogue, as well as a well-publicized jet-set lifestyle, created backlash.


That came to an end on November 22nd, 1997 when Hutchence was found dead in his hotel room. A rumor persisted that he had died while engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation, but the official ruling was an alcohol and drugs-influenced suicide.

“Rockstar: INXS”

After Hutchence’s death, INXS continued touring. In 2005, they participated in the reality program, “Rock Star: INXS,” in which a new lead singer for the band was chosen from 15 contestants. With winner J.D. Fortune, they released the moderately successful Switch, which yielded the top forty hit, “Pretty Vegas.”

Last Years

The new INXS toured on and off for the next few years and released a Hutchence tribute album, Original Sin, in 2010. This was followed by Fortune’s departure, his subsequent replacement with Ciaran Gribbin and the recording of some new material. However, on November 11th, 2012, INXS announced that that night’s performance at the Perth Arena was their last.


After 35 years and 30 million records sold, INXS paved the way for Australian acts. They may be finished, but – as Michael Hutchence once sang: “There’s nothing better we could do/Than live forever.”

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