Over 30 million records sold worldwide including number ones in 4 different continents and a performance history of some 4,000 live shows to over 25 million people in almost 50 countries underlines the fact that, as well as establishing themselves as Australia’s all-time most successful rock band, INXS also boast a vast international following. INXS are second only to AC/DC as Australia’s most important and best-known rock export to the rest of the world.
In 1971 the Farriss family relocated from Perth to Sydney, just as eldest son Tim, who was already an accomplished guitarist, turned fourteen. That same year, at school Tim met another avid bedroom guitarist, Kirk Pengilly. They became inseparable friends. Kirk’s home was a long way from school and he started bunking at the Farriss’, their first “honorary” brother.
Andrew Farriss in the meantime had instinctively taken to playing piano. Jon, still ten, was playing drums and jammed with both his brothers. There was no grand design to do something together, just a noisy accommodating household with three brothers separately taking an interest in music.
Michael Hutchence first encountered the close-knit Farriss family when Andrew Farriss rescued Michael from being roughed up as the new boy in high school. The two became instant friends. When Michael was sent to live with his mother in Los Angeles, Andrew and Michael stayed in touch through letters, mostly talking about their mutual interests in music. When Hutchence returned to Sydney a year later Andrew immediately invited him to join his band.
Playing alongside Andrew on bass now was a schoolmate of Tim’s, Gary Beers. Tim Farriss and his friend Kirk in the meantime were playing in bands of their own.
The brothers’ respective bands kept breaking up until finally they decided to join forces with Jon on drums, three fraternal brothers and their three adopted brothers.
On Tim Farriss’ 20th birthday on august 16 1977, the day Elvis Presley died “INXS” was born. The Farriss brothers band played publicly for the first time.
Jon was still 16, still going to school, so when his parents decided to move back to Perth Jon was obliged to go with them. Rather than lose their drummer the rest of the band, an extension of the Farriss family, decided to go with him.
In Perth they moved into a communal home and spent 10 months writing, rehearsing, and playing local hotels and mining towns near Perth before returning to Sydney in early 1979.
It proved to be time well spent. The band that returned to Sydney was fresh, relatively young, but able to hold its own against the popular bands of the day.
Their first tour was supporting Midnight Oil. On September 1 they gave their first performance as INXS. From the beginning INXS established the work ethic, which would mark their career, often doing two gigs a night.
Released in October 1980, their self-titled debut album contained the singles ‘Simple Simon’ and ‘Just Keep Walking’, the band’s first hit.The album was recorded for about $7,000.
The Deluxe label also released INXS’ second album, ‘Underneath The Colours’. Ambitious for success, INXS and their manager CM Murphy felt that deluxe could take them no further, especially internationally. Murphy made the decision to mortgage his house to fund the third album. This allowed INXS to create a new model with record companies by only doing territory by territory deals, which also allowed them the creative freedom to make the music they wanted to make.
Mark Opitz was assigned the producer duties, Opitz had previously been instrumental in bringing The Angels and Cold Chisel’s music into shape. Mark Opitz had also managed to bring out the essence in INXS’ music.
The end result was ‘Shabooh Shoobah’, INXS’ breakthrough album. At home it was the band’s first top ten album, and their first break through into the North American market at a time when MTV was the new media master.
The band followed up with the album ‘The Swing’, the first of four Australian no.1 placing’s in a row. The lead single from ‘The Swing’ was ‘Original Sin’, the first of three national no.1 singles. ‘Original Sin’ was produced by American recording great Nile Rogers. INXS were now a global act. The song ‘Original Sin’ itself was inspired by Michael Hutchence watching children play together from his American tour bus window.
INXS had not only brought their music to the rest if the world, they supported their releases with that now-famous work ethic as the band toured the world again and again.
Following INXS’ success around the world they went on to receive 5 MTV awards for ‘Need You Tonight’ from the iconic album ‘KICK’, 2 Brit awards for Best International Group, 10 Countdown awards, 6 ARIA awards and were also inducted into the ARIA hall of fame in 2001.
In July 1985 the Global Live Aid broadcast started with INXS in Sydney. The ‘Listen Like Thieves’ single ‘What You Need’ became the band’s first US top ten hit.
The ‘KICK’ album brought the band the first of their three Grammy nominations. England was tardy coming on board, but on 13 July 1991 INXS performed at Wembley Stadium in London to a sold out audience of 74,000 fans.
The album ‘Welcome To Wherever You Are’ entered the UK chart at no.1. It featured INXS using sitars and a 60-piece orchestra. INXS wasn’t standing still.
The albums ‘Full Moon Dirty Hearts’ and ‘Elegantly Wasted’ followed. The climax for the ‘Elegantly Wasted’ world tour was set for Australian dates in November/December 1997. The band arrived in Sydney for rehearsals, two months after a show in Pittsburgh which would prove to be their last with Michael Hutchence.
On 22 November 1997 Michael Hutchence sadly passed away. INXS refused to surrender their career, but Michael Hutchence proved to be a hard act to follow.
Ex-Noiseworks singer Jon Stevens fronted the band for three years, but when he left, INXS had managed to record just one track with him, a charity single. INXS then became the vehicle for a world-wide television search for a new singer, ‘Rockstar: INXS’. Eventually Canadian singer J.D. Fortune was appointed winner and rushed into the studio to record INXS’ first album for eight years, ‘Switch’.
In 2010 INXS released ‘Original Sin’- the band reinventing their past hits with a various guest vocalists. In September 2011 35-year-old Irish singer Ciaran Gribbin joined INXS’ as new vocalist. INXS in their home of Perth on November 11th 2012 announced “this is possibly our last show”.
INXS are presently focusing on a forthcoming TV, film and songwriting projects to be released during 2013. The statistics tell the real story. 36 Australian hits (13 top ten), 23 in the UK, 18 in the US (7 top ten). 13 Australian top 10 albums, 6 consecutive top ten UK and us albums.