Some bands can carry on without their front man. Wait. Very few bands can carry on without their front man. No, not that either. Bands who carry on without their charismatic, slithering, sex-on-a-stick front man will never come close to the red-hot sweaty success they experienced before the loss of their beloved front man.
Such is the case for INXS. The band announced the split while in Perth over the weekend.
“We understand that this must come as a blow to everybody, but all things must eventually come to an end,” founding members Tim, Andrew and Jon Farriss, Kirk Pengilly and Garry Beers said in a statement. “We have been performing as a band for 35 years, it’s time to step away from the touring arena. Our music will of course live on and we will always be a part of that. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the friends and family that have supported us throughout our extensive career. Our lives have been enriched by having you all as a part of the journey.”
INXS actually made the news public on Sunday in Perth, as it played the final show of a tour with matchbox twenty — during which that group’s Rob Thomas joined INXS for its closing song, “Don’t Change.” Drummer Jon Farriss told the crowd that it was the group’s last show and admitted he was “getting teary” at the prospect. INXS recently released a 25th anniversary edition of its top-selling album “Kick,” as well as a 20th anniversary edition of the DVD “Live Baby Live.
In the statement, Jon Farriss noted that INXS took pride in continuing after the tragic loss of frontman Michael Hutchence in 1997: “It’s been 35 years for INXS as a live touring band and unbelievably it’s been 15 years ago since we lost Michael. We lived for each other in the trenches and we loved each other. It was the six of us against the world and then suddenly and inexplicably we were but five. We were lost right at the moment we were on top.”
But, Andrew Farriss added, “We never took a soft option, it was the adversity, the challenge and the struggle that forged us into the live working band we became. And this was as big as it could possibly get when it came to a challenge, and in the end we decided for a whole bunch of reasons to march forward. To us there was no other option, families always move forward.”
INXS manager Chris Murphy added that, “They believed unconditionally in each other and they also believed unconditionally in the music. People fade, sometimes way too early — that is life whether we like it or not. To live to 80 plus is a life well lived. To lose Michael so young was a tragedy for all of us. But with this band, their legacy, their music was just so damn good, it was always destined to live beyond all of us.”
INXS has worked with several singers since Hutchence’s death, including Canadian J.D. Fortune, who was chosen during the 2005 TV reality show “Rock Star: INXS.” The group was most recently fronted by Ireland native Ciaran Gribbin, and Andrew Farriss had declared that “this particular lineup of INXS is really — we’re on a winner, I think, with this one. It’s looking really, really positive.”
I know that sounds completely disrespectful to the remaining bandmates; and I truly don’t mean it that way. Perhaps they could’ve moved on to other projects, but let’s be honest here. Would you want to see some reality show contest winner front The Foo Fighters? The Rolling Stones? No Doubt? Radiohead? Depeche Mode? Aerosmith? Pearl Jam? Incubus? U2? Garbage? Mumford & Sons? Am I coming in clear yet? (And stop right THERE if you’re going to wag a finger at me and say “Man. INXS shouldn’t be included on that list.” Don’t even try.) I’ve never been happy with the fact that INXS just picked up and carried on without Michael barely one year after he died. That’s. Just. Me.
In just a few days, it will be 15 years since the horrible death of INXS’s lead singer and songwriter, Michael Hutchence in a hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Sidney, Australia. I remember hearing the news on the car radio with my dear friend Holly one freezing November night here in Seattle. We were both completely gutted. She had the good fortune to see INXS in their prime in Hawaii, while I never did see Michael Hutchence live, in concert.
Cut to last summer when my husband saw INXS featuring the troubled JD Fortune in Seattle. I stayed home due to illness. (Read into that what you may, but I was sick.) He enjoyed seeing the remaining members enjoying themselves with JD, who was seemingly always trying to be Michael on one hand, while attempting to be his own “rock star” at the same time. In hindsight, I’m relieved I didn’t attend the concert.
At this point in my post, I feel like I’m rambling. Bottom line–it’s about time INXS just stopped.