Remembering the impact of Michael Hutchence

Remembering the impact of Michael Hutchence


This week marks 20 years since we heard the news of Michael Hutchence death. A shock to the nation that left us all wondering how something like that can happen to someone so talented, so enigmatic and who's career was so successful.

We think Karen Black, a long-time fan of the band and now respected music industry publicist, has said it best in her account of seeing INXS live, meeting Michael and that fateful day.

Over to Karen, and a big thanks from us at ILYOS for the guest contribution...

"Twenty years ago, the world lost one of the greatest frontmen in rock when we lost Michael Hutchence of INXS.

It was a day I will never forget as I was ironically in Australia at the time on a vacation here with my dad.

It was during my very first trip to Australia and on November 22, 1997, we were in Adelaide doing a tour of the Barossa Wine Region when I heard he the news that afternoon on the radio on the drive back to our hotel. Like everyone who was a fan, I was in absolute shock and couldn’t believe what I just heard.  I was numb.

INXS and their music was such a big part of my life growing up and ever since I was a kid, I was a huge fan. So big, that one day I always hoped to make it down to Australia to see this beautiful country where so much great music came from. I think that’s also why Michael’s passing hit me so hard. It was so surreal to finally make it down here and experience so many incredible things but then be heart-broken by such a tragedy.

When I was a kid, I first heard of INXS on MTV.  In the early days, they would play their videos for “The One Thing” and “Don’t Change” constantly and sometimes even “To Look at you”. My best friend Joanie and I loved them and we even wrote to their record company seeking more information on them. I’ll never forget how they sent us some leaflets on the band that had INXS (pronounced “in excess”) on them because in their very early days, apparently, some people in America were actually calling them “inks”.

Anyway, after following them for about a year or two, we heard they were coming to our hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and going to play a show at a local nightclub called The Station. It was on August 8, 1984.

Of course, my friend Joanie & I wanted to go but we were both way underage and knew it would be difficult to get into the nightclub due to the drinking age being 21 at that time.

However, my sister-in-law’s sister Karen was willing to take us.  So, on the night of the show, my dad came down to the nightclub with us and explained to the guy on the door that Karen was our “guardian” for the evening and we were just a couple of crazy kids wanting to see this Australian band and promised that we would “behave”.   It took a bit of convincing, but the manager finally broke down and agreed to let us into the show.  Needless to say, Joanie and I were thrilled!

The show was AMAZING and with the recent release of their album “The Swing”, they played hits like “Original Sin” and “I Send a Message” as well as all of our favourites from “Shabooh Shooabah”. I’ll never forget how Michael had his hair in a ponytail and wore white trousers and a black sleeveless top during the show.  He looked awesome!

Somehow, we even managed to sneak a camera in and actually got a couple of shots during the show. It was super tricky because back then, cameras were not allowed and we were being “watched” very closely with us being so under-age.

After the show, we hung around the venue for a little while hoping the band might come out.  Sure enough, after a short wait, all of a sudden Gary Gary Beers came out from their backstage area and as nervous as we were, we finally worked up enough courage to approach him. We told him how we were huge fans and even showed him the leaflets we got from their record company and the next thing you know, we ended up hanging out with the band backstage!

It was an incredible experience and we even got to get the whole band to autograph our leaflets for us! Everyone in the band was super nice & Michael was just so cool, he had an amazing aura about him and I knew that meeting him that night would be a special moment I’d treasure forever.

I was lucky enough to see Michael Hutchence & INXS 3 more times during their career. The last time was in September of 1997 when Joanie and I saw them for one last time together at the Beacon Theatre in New York, which just was approx.  6 weeks before Michaels passing.

Michael may no longer be here with us but his spirit and incredible music will live on forever.

R.I.P. Michael Hutchence, true rock n’ roll legend".

-Karen Black (Warner Music Australia) 

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