jenn jay tales

Jennifer Johnston shares her travel tales; life adventures; observations, photos and random thoughts

Michael Hutchence of INXS – my chance encounter


Michael Hutchence of INXS – my chance encounter

Michael Hutchence img

Michael Hutchence

The radio station I was listening to this morning was discussing the soon to be released Australian mini series Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS (screening this Sunday, February 9 on Free to Air TV.) Although everyone knows the series is about the band INXS and their amazing musical journey through the 80’s and 90’s, the centre of attentions falls on the band’s lead singer and front-man, the charismatic Michael Hutchence.

Hearing his name and listening to the hype about the series release, took me back a few decades, where I had a (very) brief encounter with the rock legend Michael Hutchence

It was 1986 and I was overseas studying at a university in America – the University of Massachusetts – in a small town called Amherst.  I’d been at Uni for only a few weeks and noticed flyers posted around Campus about an upcoming gig featuring INXS.

Friendly with two other Aussies on campus, we were rapt INXS on their North American tour were stopping by our campus.  This Aussie trio couldn’t wait to see one of our country’s favourite home grown rock bands play at our foreign Uni. Tickets were bought. The concert quickly sold out – Americans were savvy to INXS’s growing popularity.

On the night of the show we were outside the venue, waiting for the doors to open. Filling in time reading signs on the notice board near the doors.

Michael Hutchence early days - Copy

Michael in his early days

Someone approached, checking what we had caught our attention. Imagine our surprise when we turned around to chat to who we thought was just another Aussie waiting for INXS, only to discover it was the man himself – Michael Hutchence. We’d no idea where he came from, or where the other band members were. He just “appeared” next to us and was happy to chat. The American students gathering at the entrance were unaware Rock Star Royalty was casually mingling in their midst. (In their defense, this was the band’s “growth” phase in the States, unlike Aus where INXS were well established, popular and instantly recogniseable!)

Although this was 28 years ago, my vivid recollection of Hutchence was of his long, dark, lanky (almost greasy) wavy hair, drooping over his lightly acne scarred face. His manner was hyped – anticipating a good night. You could sense his charismatic, cool persona.

He said he’d “overheard” our Aussie accents. We chatted for a few minutes. In that time he asked what our names were and what we were doing in the US of A. My Aussie companions and I were blown away by his casual, friendly demeanour.

INXS played an incredible show, despite the campus review saying there were difficulties hearing Michael. (Amazingly I still have the newspaper review and the ticket stub from the night!)

INXS Concert Umass Feb 1986 jpg

INXS Concert Review UMASS February 1986 and ticket stubb!!!

Few in the audience sang along, obviously not knowing the words – unlike (us) die-hard INXS fans. We were buzzed from our celebrity encounter and anticipated a mention at some stage during the show. That never happened, but we weren’t concerned. Not only was one of our favourite Aussie bands playing on our American campus, but we got to casually chat with Hutchence, a Rock Star legend.

For three Aussies living away from home, this was a treasured, memorable moment.

Michael Hutchence grew in notoriety and fame over the years until his too early (and untimely) death in November 1997. Thanks to the mini series, later generations who may not have heard of INXS (seriously how could you not) or realise they were one of 1980’s biggest rock success stories, can discover their incredible music and Hutchence’s enigmatic life.

There are many who have experienced their own Michael Hutchence moment. Although brief (and admittedly non-contact) this was mine! Please share with me any of your close encounters with the one and only Mr Michael Hutchence.

INXS 1988 - Copy

An INXS publicity shot from 1988. Source: News Limited

Another talented musician/singer/song writer/father/son/brother and friend who left this world too soon.  

The following quote is from: Michael Hutchence in his own words

1988 – U.K. ‘New Musical Express’ Journalist Neil Taylor wrote:  Live, they are a power of sound channeled through Hutchence who thrashes his way across the stage like some bastard cross between Mick Jagger and Robert Plant.

In response Michael said:  “God, everyone seems to make those comparisons. I’ve never tried to emulate anyone. I’ve never idolized people, I prefer instead to get off on attitudes. I look at Jagger and the like and if I see a good attitude I’ll admire it but I wouldn’t copy their style. C’mon, most of my peers are ten years older than I am.”

Michael, if you were still here, those peers would now be looking up at you.

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Author: Jenn Jay

JennJayTales was created as a place to share my writing. I share random blogs about activities of interest to me and maybe to you. Writing is a passion and there is nothing I enjoy more than meeting people and capturing their stories through my observations and words. As TRAVEL is a huge passion of mine, I've created a travel blog Please enjoy Jenn Jay Tales and if you consider my writing style as something your magazine, book, blog, on-line publication, website or business may be interested in, please let me know - I'm keen to write for you. Email me at

10 thoughts on “Michael Hutchence of INXS – my chance encounter

  1. Michael was a very friendly person as you described and glad you have fond memories. I am the Amy mentioned in the lyrics of the INXS Reckless Ways and he gave me the nickname Tiger Lily as a teen in 1983 after we met. We were working on the Peter Pan inspired titled “The Lost Boys” which INXS and friends provided songs for the soundtrack. Tiger Lily happens to be a Peter Pan character name.

  2. Great post, thanks for sharing. I was a huge INXS fan but didn’t see them live for the first time until Summer XS at Wembley in 1991.

    • Thanks Markewest – their music still lives on which i love. That would have been an amazing concert at Wembley – the only show I ever saw at Wembley was Madonna – I am not necessarily a huge fun – but just to be with that many people was an experience!

      • Yes, I still listen to them regularly and my 9-year-old son is a fan too – I don’t listen to the material they put out after Michael died, though my wife says “Switch” is very good.

        The Wembley gig was terrific (the DVD captures the atmosphere of it very well) but the best show we saw was as part of the Get Out Of The House tour in 1993. Did you get to any of them?

        If you’re interested, I blogged about the concert we saw at Leicester –

        Anyway, thanks again, looking forward to reading more of your work.

        Best wishes

  3. Pingback: Travel blogger Jennifer Johnston: “…..we turned around to see it was Michael Hutchence” | As I was saying...

  4. Oh, I can imagine that this must have been one of the greatest moments in your life. Thank you for sharing your memories. It was so nice to read it.

  5. When I was in the Marines in 1989, our ship was ported in the harbor at Hong Kong. I saw Michael Hutchence in a nightclub in Kowloon. But I immediately dismissed it, thinking it couldn’t be him (He was Australian, afterall).

    But later, after he died, I read an article finding out that he lived there in 1989. I kicked myself for not having gone and introduced myself to him. He was tearing up the dancefloor. His moves were just like you see in the old inxs videos. That’s what got my attention.

    • Hi Phil, what a shame you didn’t go up and say hi. He may have been friendly and he may not have been. Hard to know – but I bet he was busting some moves on the dance floor. The guy could move! Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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