Today we launch a new feature called Milestones — which looks back at important events or releases in the ’80s college-rock pantheon — with a bittersweet commemoration: INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence, who died somewhat controversially in 1997, would have turned 50 today.
To mark the occasion, Hutchence’s bandmates and manager today posted their memories (“Michael loved and embraced life in every direction. So here’s to you mate,” Kirk Pengilly writes) of the iconic frontman on the band’s official website.
We’ve reproduced those below, as well as a clip of INXS in its prime, performing “Don’t Change” on July 13, 1985, at Oz for Africa, part of the worldwide Live Aid event. Speaking of that song, the band has announced proceeds from the sale of the “Don’t Change” single via iTunes will be donated to the Red Cross’ relief efforts in Haiti.
Read INXS’s tributes to Michael Hutchence after the jump…
INXS members’ tributes to Michael Hutchence on his 50th birthday:
From Andrew Farriss:
Michael and I met as school friends in Sydney around 1972.
Firstly he was a good mate – sincere and yet funny too.
We both liked music but I remember us talking more about motocross dirt bikes and girls than music.
Michael then went to live in L.A. where he wrote some cool poetry and by the time he returned I had started a band of my own and I suggested he tried singing some of his poetry to music. Michael by then had met my family, including Tim and Jon and our friends Kirk and Garry, thus we all became mates.
This meeting later became the Farriss Brothers. Which became INXS. Michael’s ability to say much with few words helped us become a prolific songwriting duo.
Some years later, whilst INXS was on a world tour in 1986 I sat down on an upright piano and started working on the chords that would eventually become “ Never Tear Us Apart “.
I thought it had potential and asked Michael what he thought of it. He told me he really liked it so I recorded a blues style demo for him. I gave the demo to Michael and the eventual lyric that he wrote was truly inspired. Straight from the heart. I know how much that lyric meant to him …….. it was a personal love lyric very much in the moment for him.
It still amazes me how this song and others we wrote have touched so many people around the world. Michael was a brilliant lyricist and I am very fortunate to have written with him and more importantly, shared his friendship.
From Kirk Pengilly:
I met Michael in his early teens. We went on an amazing journey together. From kids in High School to worldwide success with our band INXS. It’s impossible to put into words how that journey affected us all, but throughout it all we remained great friends, more like brothers. We are a family.
Michael was one of a kind. When you talked with him, he made you feel like you were the only one in the room, yet in a Stadium, he could make the whole audience feel like they were in his hotel room.
As a performer, he was one of the best.
As a humanitarian, he made you feel human.
As a singer, he was blessed with the constitution of an ox and never faltered.
As a friend, you felt like you were his best.
As a writer, he was an enlightened poet.
I will always remember him. If he were alive today, he would have had the biggest and best 50th birthday party. Michael loved and embraced life in every direction. So here’s to you mate. See you when I see you…….
From Tim Farriss:
Where is my brother, where has he gone?
Human companionship is a weird thing.
So powerful, wonderful and fulfilling, yet at a time of loss, it brings so much grief. It’s hard to know when to be happy or sad, when you lose someone you love.
INXS were/are a ‘Band Of Brothers’, literally.
I still dream almost every night that Michael is still alive, we are still having a great time together and his death was just some really bad-taste stunt. Then I wake up and I still have to pinch myself ‘till it hurts and it always does.
When Michael died it was just so sudden, we and even his father had no inkling. It has been very hard for me, personally, to get closure on this.
Yet, knowing he turns 50 today brings me back to the table with all the good times.
The original six, ‘Band Of Brothers’ sipping the wine, savouring the food and the fruits of our labour and lives spent together.
Climbing the endless mountains, overcoming everything we possibly could…. and we did!! We did IT Michael!!!!!!!
Tiger Lilly, Michael’s family, everyone he touched with his words, song and beautiful smile. It’s all our loss. Maybe some people are just supposed to be remembered young.
To Tiger, This must be a tough day for you too sweetheart.
I just want you to know that when you are ready, you have five Uncles who are here, to be here for you, at anytime with open arms.
God bless you Michael, I know you can hear me and I will always treasure the times we spent together. Even (maybe especially) the tough ones.
You always made me feel special. Thankyou mate.
Please, rest now in peace with yourself and the world. . Shine like it does.
Love you always Brother.
From Garry Beers:
I first met Michael when he was about 13 years old.
He became the lead singer of my first proper band with Andrew called Dr Dolphin. The things that really struck me about Michael back in those days was his compassion and his great sense of humour.
For me, these qualities helped both our friendship and the band when going through the good and the bad times.
I miss Michael, but luckily for me he lives on in my dreams.
From Jon Farriss:
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Michael.
He is in my dreams at night.
Most days I have to reset my conscious mind to allow for the fact that he is not in this physical dimension.
He is definitely present in my waking hours, quite often nearby.
Michael always had a very good sense of humour and I always enjoyed his take on things, the way he saw things through his eyes. Since his passing, I can often sense his humour and connection with things I am doing, like he is here.
A part of Michael I’m sure is in all of us.
I feel privileged to have known Michael on so many levels. Privileged to have shared so much with him as a friend, as school friends. We had great times, awesome times and sometimes we shared tough times. I have so many happy memories of Michael.
He was a confidant, a musical partner, a song-writing partner, a touring partner, a business partner, a performing partner, and a party partner, a ‘Howdy Partner’, a band mate, a live in flat mate and as an extension of my family. We are family. We are brothers…and although I feel him around, I really miss him.
This 22nd January is Michael’s 50th birthday.
Everyone celebrates things in their own way. As I am quite a private person, I will celebrate Michaels birthday privately with my wife and daughter…. and Michael.
God bless and HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATE!
I love you.
I really miss you…even when you are nearby.