Michael Hutchence of INXS – my chance encounter
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.
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!)
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.
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.