Roots Magazine Newsletter
Michael Hutchence: Gifted, Troubled, Mystified Mind
Towards the end of an era, we witness how there are some talents that are just irreplaceable. As the last rockstar for his generation, Michael Hutchence embodied the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. The frontman for the Australian-based rock band INXS had it all—charisma, a seductive voice, trademark curly hair and sexual prowess. For most of the 80s you couldn’t escape his music as the band dominated pop and rock radio. But behind the persona, Hutchence hid a gentle soul that was so introverted it left his family shocked when they witnessed the artist onstage.
Born in the metropolis Sydney, Hutchence would only spend part of his infancy in the home state before his family settled on the shores of Hong Kong. As his father recalled, “Michael was an adorable baby with a sweet nature and just giggled and smiled and was no trouble at all.” His family would witness the natural talent that bore inside of him after winning an audition for a commercial at the age of eight. After moving for a second time to Brisbane, Hutchence found his musical side in high school. He met future bandmates Andrew Farris and his brothers Tim and Jon who instantly clicked with his tastes for rock music. The four would form a band and hold concerts in the house garage. After graduation, the group would evolve their neighborhood scene to the concert pubs of Sydney supporting local groups. Fan interest grew over the groups natural stage presence and Hutchence’s model-like looks before signing their first record deal.
The band made their official debut in 1980 with the single “Simple Simon” followed by their self-titled album INXS. The record’s new wave, ska style found its place in the pop market in their native Australia. While it received considerable airplay, critics were less enthusiastic about the album overall despite its fan appraisal. But every reviewer noted that Hutchence was indeed a special talent to watch out for. Allmusic’s senior editor quoted that Hutchence “exuded a powerful vocal charisma.” But the Aussie’s weren’t aware that INXS were just scratching the surface of their talent.
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Lyle Lovett "Release Me"
LP (12" album, 33 rpm), Gatefold