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INXS (pronounced "In Excess") is an Australian rock group. The band was formed in 1977 and comprised of the late Michael Hutchence (lead vocals), Andrew Farriss (guitar and keyboards), Tim Farriss (b. August 16, 1957, in Perth, Western Australia, Australia) (lead guitar), Jon Farriss (drums), Garry Gary Beers (bass), and Kirk Peningilly (b. July 4, 1958, in Kew, Victoria, Australia) (saxophone and guitar). On September 20, 2005, Canadian singer J.D. Fortune became the band's new lead vocalist after a twelve-week competition on the CBS reality show Rock Star: INXS.
INXS hailed from the pubs of Australia, which is part of the reason INXS never comfortably fit in with new wave. Even when INXS branched out into synth-pop on its early recordings, INXS were underpinned by a hard, Stonesy beat and lead singer Michael Hutchence's Jaggeresque strut. Ultimately, these were the very things that made INXS into international superstars in the late '80s. By that time, INXS had harnessed their hard rock, dance and new wave influences into a sleek, stylish groove that made their 1987 album Kick into a multi-million-selling hit. While that sound was their key to stardom, it also proved to be INXS' undoing; the group became boxed in by their Stonesy pop-funk in the early '90s, when their audience became entranced by harder-edged alternative rock. In spite of declining sales, INXS soldiered on, continuing to tour and record for a dedicated fan base into the late '90s until Hutchence's 1997 death brought the band to a close.
Appropriately for a band that featured three brothers, INXS had its roots in a family act, the Farriss Brothers. The group came together while Andrew Farriss (keyboard, guitar), the middle brother, was in high school with Michael Hutchence (vocals). The two formed a band with Garry Gary Beers (bass). Simultaneously, Tim Farriss (guitar) was playing in various groups with his friend, Kirk Pengilly (guitar, saxophone). Eventually the two groups merged in 1977, with Jon Farriss joining as drummer. Two years later, when Jon graduated from high school, the band renamed itself INXS, moved from Perth to Sydney, and began to play the pub circuit. Within a year, INXS landed an Australian record contract, releasing an eponymous debut on Deluxe in 1980.
INXS and Underneath the Colours (1981) became Australasian hits, leading INXS to an American contract with Atco Records. In 1983, they released their U.S. debut, Shabooh Shoobah, and embarked on an extensive tour which, thanks to the hit single "Don't Change," made them minor new wave stars. For their next album, INXS recorded a few sessions with producer Nile Rodgers, which resulted in the sleek, funky "Original Sin," the first inclination that the band was making a move toward a fusion of Stonesy rock and dance music. "Original Sin" made 1984's The Swing a minor hit, yet the group didn't have a genuine mainstream breakthrough until 1985's Listen Like Thieves, which climbed to number 11 in the U.S. on the strength of the single "What You Need."
Listen Like Thieves laid the ground work for Kick, the album that made INXS international superstars. Released late in 1987, Kick worked its way to multi-platinum status over the course of 1988, as four singles - the number one "Need You Tonight," "Devil Inside," "New Sensation," and "Never Tear Us Apart" - climbed into the U.S. Top Ten. In the wake of the album's success, Hutchence was hailed in some quarters as the heir to Mick Jagger's throne, and the group was considered to rival U2 in terms of international popularity. However, such success went to the group's head. Hutchence released the "experimental" side project Max Q in early 1990, and the record tanked. X, INXS' follow-up to Kick, appeared in the fall of 1990 to mostly negative reviews. While the album generated several hits, including "Disappear" and "Bitter Tears," only its first single, "Suicide Blonde," reached the Top Ten in the U.S., and the sales of X were disappointing when compared to Kick.
X hurt INXS' momentum considerably. Although the group was still quite popular on its accompanying tour - the 1991 live album Live Baby Live was recorded at Wembley Stadium - the group could no longer be considered in the same league as U2, or now R.E.M. Hutchence continued to live a jet-setting lifestyle, dating Kylie Minogue and various supermodels, which did not wear well in the wake of alternative rock's commercial breakthrough in 1992. By the time INXS released Welcome to Wherever You Are, the group's most adventurous record, INXS were out of date in 1992, and even a rash of reviews that compared the record favorably to U2's Achtung Baby couldn't make it a hit. Full Moon, Dirty Hearts followed in 1993, and it was generally ignored. Following its release, the group left Atlantic, releasing Greatest Hits as its last album for the label.
INXS signed with PolyGram in 1994, yet it took them three years to release a new album. During that time, Hutchence was involved in several tabloid scandals, most notably his love affair with British TV personality Paula Yates (which brought an end to her marriage to Bob Geldof), and he hinted that he was recording a solo album. That record didn't materialize, but INXS returned in the spring of 1997 with Elegantly Wasted. While the album was greeted with poor reviews, its hedonistic dance-rock was better suited to the late '90s than the early '90s, which made the record the group's biggest hit since X. On November 22 of that year, Hutchence was found dead in his Sydney hotel room, the victim of an apparent hanging; his long-in-the-works solo debut was posthumously issued in late 1999.
Since Hutchence's death, INXS has continued, using Terence Trent D'Arby, Suze DeMarchi, and Jimmy Barnes as temporary lead singers. New Zealander and Celebrity Treasure Island Host Jon Stevens began singing with INXS in 2000 and was officially named a member of the band in 2002. However, he left INXS in 2003 to pursue a solo career, only recording a contractual obligation song called I Get Up, released as a single (which charted in the top 100 on the Australian ARIAnet Singles Chart) in the same year, and it was used in the Rugby Union World Cup 2003 and the EA Sports Rugby 2004 video game.
INXS returned to the news in 2004 when it was announced that a new reality television program titled Rock Star: INXS would feature a contest to find a new lead vocalist for the band. The show, which débuted on the CBS network July 11, 2005, featured 15 contestants vying for the position of lead singer.
On September 20, 2005, J.D. Fortune (born Jason Dean Bennison, uses his mother's maiden name Fortune) of Oakville, Ontario, Canada won the eleven week competition, which culminated in his singing the Rolling Stones's "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and INXS' "What You Need" in the finale of the show to become the new lead singer of INXS. He has recorded the new album with producer Guy Chambers and is currently on a world tour with INXS in 2006. Runner-up Marty Casey was the opening act during leg one of the world tour, along with his band, The Lovehammers.
During the Rock Star: INXS competition, the contestants were challenged to write the lyrics and melody to music written by Andrew Farriss. Originally this challenge was divided up into two teams. When Fortune did not see eye-to-eye with his team (that included Casey), he decided to venture out on his own and write his own lyrics. At first Fortune's move seemed to have doomed his chances to win the competition (because it was perceived he couldn't work in a team), but it was this move that resulted in his creation of the lyrics to "Pretty Vegas". This song became a favourite of both fans and INXS and played a major role in Fortune being able to win the competition. This single was released October 4, 2005, and reached #5 on the iTunes Music Store ranking of top downloaded songs on its first day, débuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #37, and became a huge radio airplay hit in Fortune's native Canada.
On November 29, 2005, the band's first album in eight years was released, titled Switch.
INXS Song List
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