Alright kiddies … this is gonna be one of those posts where we go back in time. Where we peer into the past to discover a little more of my younger years.
And why, may you ask, did I decide to to this today? Well because today marks twenty-two years since the beginning of my obsession with all things INXS.
So sit tight … and prepare to laugh your a$$es off …
Picture this, I was all of 14 years old about to start my first year in high school. My cousin in London, Ontario called up and said, “Hey Em. Are you and your brother interested in seeing INXS over here?” Of course, I jumped at the chance … what teenage girl wouldn’t?
My cousin and I have been known to share such similar tastes in music ever since a road trip to Florida when we sang the soundtrack to “Grea.se” pretty much all the way down. And with the advent of MTV and MuchMusic (Canada’s MTV) in the early 80’s, we were exposed to so much more diverse music. D.uran D.uran was one of our first “loves” of many to come over the next decade.
Anyway, INXS was another one of those bands that I began to really like … first because of their interesting videos, and then because of their music. I can remember being 11 years old and fascinated by watching “The One Thing” video … you know, the one where they completely gorge themselves with this massive table of food? And I just remember really liking the catchy beat of “Don’t Change“.
But I never thought more about them, other than really liking their music until that one fateful night on the 2nd of August, 1986. The year INXS was on tour for their “Listen Like Thieves” album.
At 17 and 14 respectively, my cousin and I had this need to somehow be in the front row for this concert. And since the tickets were general admission, we found ourselves sitting outside of the auditorium well before the doors would open. Our patience was justly rewarded as we managed to plant ourselves at front and center. What I can recall of that concert was just how incredibly raw and powerful their performance was. Even at 14 years old, I can remember thinking that I was witnessing an amazing band. Of course, it didn’t help that my raging hormones couldn’t keep my eyes of Michael Hutchence. Yeah … back then, I had a thing for men with long hair and cool shoes …
After the concert, we thought of nothing but grabbing some food and getting back to my cousin’s house, where we could just hang out with some of her friends. So we drove by the T.im Ho.rton’s close her house, which just happened to be by one of the hotels close to the freeway. When we pulled around back, we happened to catch a glimpse of a purple tour bus. And earlier in the day, while waiting outside of the auditorium, we happened to see a purple tour bus. “Nah …,” we all thought. “What are the chances?”
“What the hell,” we all thought. “Let’s just see if maybe they’re hanging out close by.” So imagine our surprise when we happened upon a very drunk Tim Farriss. But despite being completey sh*t-faced, he was a really great person. He was gracious enough to sign some autographs and pose for some pictures. And because he was so wasted, I’m sure he didn’t mean to tell us that they were going to be checking out tomorrow morning. 🙂
So after staying up all night (fueled by T.im Ho.rton’s coffee, of course), we came back the next morning. We did end up waiting quite a while in the car, but eventually (probably around 9:30 or so), one by one, the band started to surface.
And honestly, since it’s been more than twenty years, I can’t remember all of the details of our chance meeting. (Although I’m sure I could probably dig it up from some of the old letters that my cousin and I wrote to each other.) I do remember that they were all incredibly nice and friendly. And probably pretty hungover, too. (Or maybe they just had cologne that smelled like bourbon? 😛 )
One memory I will always hold close to my heart is when Michael Hutchence found out that we (my two cousins, my brother and I) were all related. “No way, really?,” he asked us. And then he spontaneously broke out into song with S.ister Sled.ge’s “We Are Family.” And now every time I hear that song, I can’t help but smile and think of that day.
And thus started my love affair with INXS. No, I did not follow them from city to city. Besides, back then I was (still?) a good Catholic Filipino-American gal. I did, however, religiously watch MTV trying to videotape any and every video / interview / performance I could manage to get. I never did join the fan club at that time, but somehow between my cousin and I, we would know exactly where the band was and what they were up to.
Because of that, I consider myself very lucky to have caught INXS on tour back in September of 1987. This was only the second date of the US tour that the band did prior to the release of “Kick“. It was one of those tours where the band would “practice” their new songs off their latest album to test it in front of an audience. And because the album was not yet released, there were very few new songs that any of us knew. But yet, I can remember being completely enthralled with it. Because, looking back now, I can remember thinking, “Wow. What a culmination of all their styles” … Yes, the music geek in me thought that these songs combined the R&B / Soul of their “Shabooh Shoobah” album with the “’80’s New Wave Alternative” album of “The Swing” and the ultimate “Rock ‘n Roll” of their “Listen Like Thieves” and album. In.Cred.Ible. And may I remind you, once again, that this was even before the “Kick” album was even released?! (I must have been a “special” 15 year old back then … yeah, special like “Ed.”)
Flash forward to college. By 1990, I had seen INXS a total of five times. (One instance back in 1988 had my mother helping my cousin and I “stalk” the band while they were back in Michigan. By then, they were incredibly huge and there was no way we thought we would find them. But alas, my Mom found them at a larger hotel where we were able to meet Kirk, the guitarist / sax player, in the lounge. Again, what another fun experience.) The album “X” was released that summer and I was working at a local record store (yeah, how ’80’s “Prett.y In Pi.nk” could I be?!). While those songs, especially “Disappear“, served as awesome drinking songs during dorm room parties, I just didn’t have the inclination to go see them when they came around in concert. First of all, they were huge. And second of all … They. Were. Huge. How fun is it to go see them in concert when all I’d be able to see is a “leeetle” tiny spec of them from the nosebleeds seats? (Hey, I was in college then. I couldn’t afford to buy the more expensive main floor jumbo-arena tickets!) So I passed.
And then the last time I ever saw Michael Hutchence in person. It was 1994, the “Get Out of the House” tour. This was a tour to promote their latest album at the time, “Welcome to Wherever You Are“. This was the type of tour where INXS wanted to return to the small bars and clubs of their earlier years. This was one concert I felt that I could not miss … where else would I have the opportunity to see them up close and personal?
By then, I was already in Nursing school and was dating future Hubby. I admit, I was a little concerned about taking future-Hubby to this concert. It would mean that I would have to “introduce” future-Hubby to the “other” love of my life. BUT seeing as future-Hubby stood in line all night long (while I worked the midnight shift at the local hospital as a Nurse Assistant) at the venue where the band would be playing … the only location that tickets would be sold available … I couldn’t not take him. How cruel would I have been?
But even Hubby couldn’t discount how incredible it was to see them at such a small venue. The fact that we happened to make it to the front of the stage just made it more spectacular. Also was the fact that we didn’t get completely crushed up against the stage. Future-Hubby managed to make his way out of the crowd, while I wanted to bask in all of INXS (well, who am I kidding … Michael Hutchence’s) glory. And when a nice guy ended up shielding me from the pressing crowd and at the end of the concert gave me a guitar pick that he managed to catch … well, I don’t think that made future-Hubby very happy at that time. Today though, it happens to be a running joke about the one time I picked up some stranger at the INXS concert. And how he had the nerve to leave me to be crushed by the crowd. Good thing we can joke about those things!
And then came that fateful day on November 22, 1997. Yes, I remember that day clearly; the day that Michael Hutchence died. It started out with an early morning call from my cousin, of all people. The one and the same person who took me to that fateful concert 11 years prior. Both her and I were in complete shock. That summer, Hubby & I had plans to go see INXS again at a music festival put on by the local radio station. At the last minute, we decided not to go … me thinking that I had already seen them so many times and that we’d have more opportunities to see them again in the future. How wrong I was. And for years I mourned what I considered “the end” of an incredible band.
Flash forward again to 2005. Earlier in 2004, I had heard rumors about INXS working with Ma.rk Bu.rnett on a reality show to find the band a new lead singer. “Wrong,” I remember thinking at the time. “Just Wrong.” My thought is that the remainder of the band had every right to carry on … but, how could INXS still be INXS without “Hutch”? Why not do like the remaining members of J.oy Divi.sion (who subsequently became Ne.w Or.der, for those that didn’t know) and rename themselves?
But ask me if I tuned in to watch “Rock.star: INXS“, and I’d tell you that I did so religiously. I even voted every week online. Multiple times. H*ll, I figured that if my favorite band was going to invest in a new lead singer, I had to put my two cents in. I was originally opting for a female lead singer (LOOOVED Jor.dis U.nga), but then she got the boot. Then for me, it was a toss up between Mi.g Aye.sa and Mar.ty Ca.sey. Mi.g Aye.sa was half-Filipino … so I reeeally wanted that connection to the band. And Mar.ty Ca.sey … well, he was just different than Michael Hutchence. And if INXS was looking to go in a new direction … well, I didn’t want someone who try to “fit the role” of Michael Hutchence. Which is the reason why I was initially disappointed that J.D. Fo.rtune won.
The absolute last time I saw INXS was early 2006; when they toured with J.D. as the front man. I just had to know … had to see for myself if they made the right choice. I managed to get 2nd row and was I was incredibly happy that it was an assigned-seated event. (G*d musta known my 30-something body could no longer take the beating …) And while I now know for sure that the remaining INXS members did choose the right person, I feel I can no longer enjoy the band as much as I did before. Don’t get me wrong … their songs are still incredible (especially “Afterglow” and “God’s Top Ten“, both which coincidentally happen to be songs written about Michael Hutchence) … And my ears will probably have a tendency to perk up if I ever hear news about the band … I just won’t have that same love or passion as I once did for INXS.
And thus, I’d say that 2006 was probably the year that Emily, the Groupie died.
And now here are some personal pictures from my experiences with INXS