“The whole point, right from the word go, was that we were always a BAND”. Tim Farriss.
With over 30 million records sold worldwide, including number ones in 4 different continents and a performance history of some over 4,000 live shows to over 25 million people in almost 50 countries, INXS have not only established themselves as Australia’s all-time most successful rock band, but also boast with a vast international following.
It all started in 1971, when the Farriss family relocated from Perth to Sydney, just as eldest son Tim, who was already an accomplished guitarist, turned fourteen. That same year Tim met another avid bedroom guitarist at school, Kirk Pengilly. They became inseparable, with Kirk bunking at the Farriss’ house as an “honorary” brother.
Andrew Farriss in the meantime had instinctively taken to playing piano. Jon Farriss, still just ten, was playing drums and jammed with both his brothers regularly.
Michael Hutchence first encountered the close-knit Farriss family after Andrew rescued him from being roughed up as the new boy in high school. The two became instant friends and Andrew invited him to join his band, Doctor Dolphin. Also now playing alongside Andrew on bass was a schoolmate of Tim’s, Gary Beers.
Meanwhile, Tim Farriss and Pengilly were playing in a band of their own (Guiness). After the Farriss brothers’ respective bands broke up, they decided to join forces with younger sibling Jon, on drums, and their three adopted brothers. On Tim Farriss’ 20th birthday (August 16 1977) “INXS” was born. The Farriss Brothers Band, as they were known then, played publicly for the first time. 20 years later, as INXS, they would remain unchanged in their line-up – a definite rarity in the music industry.
Jon Farriss was still 16 and attending 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 jumped on board.
In Perth, the band moved into a communal home and spent 10 months writing, rehearsing, and playing local hotels and mining towns before returning to Sydney in early 1979. The band that returned to Sydney was fresh, relatively young, but able to hold its own against the popular bands of the day.
They began to regularly support Midnight Oil and other local bands. A member of the Oils crew suggested they change their name to INXS – inspired by English band XTC and Australian jam makers IXL.
On September 1 1979 the band gave their first performance as INXS. By (the end of 1979), Chris Murphy was their new manager and the band had signed a five-album record deal with a Sydney independent label, Deluxe Records, run by former manager of AC/DC Michael Browning.
Released in October 1980, their self-titled debut album contained the single ‘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 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.
The end result was ‘Shabooh Shoobah’, INXS’ breakthrough album, released internationally in 1982. It was the band’s first Top Ten album in Australia and their big break into the North American market at a time when MTV was the new media master.
The band followed up with the album ‘The Swing’, released in April 1984, receiving significant attention from around the world. The lead single ‘Original Sin’ became their first No. 1 single and was a highly popular song worldwide with fans and reviewers
INXS 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. The ‘KICK’ album also brought the band the first of three Grammy nominations.
Between 1990 and 1997 INXS released the albums ‘X’, ‘Welcome to Wherever You Are’ and ‘Full Moon Dirty Hearts’, all having chart success in the UK, Australia and the US. Following a break, they released their comeback album ‘Elegantly Wasted’, garnering mixed reviews. A world tour was set to start in Australia during late 1997. The band arrived in Sydney for rehearsals, two months after a show in Pittsburgh that would prove to be their last with Hutchence.