I remember being in the middle of getting ready to leave a hotel down in Slidell, Louisiana, back in November 1997 when the news came through on both the TV and the radio that INXS frontman Michael Hutchence had been found hanged in a hotel in Sydney, Australia.
The four of us who had made the trek to this small suburb of New Orleans from Chicago were all rock fans. Not only were we in "Loozeana" to hit the normal trappings like Rue Bourbon and the French Quarter, but we were also in town for the U2 show at the Superdome. When we heard the news, it hit all of us like a ton of bricks. To some degree, we were all fans of INXS. Myself especially.
I'm not a career-long fan like so many others before me. I will admit to having only become a fan as a result of 80s radio rotations in which their album Kick featured so prominently. But I remained a fan long after so many other U.S. fans forgot about them. I saw them on their Full Moon, Dirty Hearts tour in 1993 at the Aragon Ballroom (or "Brawlroom" as it's lovingly referred to in Chi-town) with my friend Michael who was an even bigger INXS than myself. Heck, he made the trip out from Ames, Iowa, just to see them play. I slapped five with Hutchence three times while down in front of the stage (and I'll never wash my hand again... just kidding).
I own all their albums (either in CD or MP3 format), including those that predate Kick. I still listen to them fairly regularly as I feel that INXS is a band whose music remains current.
But I will never be able to see them play live again. Or will I?
A week from this coming Monday (that's July 11 for those of you scrambling for your calendars), CBS will premiere their latest in a seemingly neverending line of reality shows... Rock Star: INXS.
What's it all about? Here you go, as per CBS.com...
Celebrated rock guitarist Dave Navarro and Brooke Burke are the hosts of ROCK STAR: INXS, a new reality show executive produced by SURVIVOR's Mark Burnett. The show combines the world of rock music with relationship-style unscripted drama, performance competition and a weekly contestant elimination. The last singer standing will become the lead singer of the internationally renowned band INXS, will embark on a worldwide concert tour with the band and will be part of the group's new album.
Yes, I realize that my comment "Or will I?" may sound like I'm holding out hope for this show. That could not be further from the truth. This is just a train wreck waiting to happen.
This is not the first I've heard of this disaster. I think it was roughly a year ago that I first heard this show was in the network's coffer. I was ready to gag then and I'm ready to gag now.
My problems with the show...
- Michael Hutchence is INXS. He was their heart, soul, and, for many women as well as some men, their body. He epitomized the concept of modern stage presence. His energy is what made the band what it is. Yes, the other five guys in the band are spectacular musicians and I don't mean to take anything from them, but Hutch defined the band. Don't sully his memory. Please.
- I know many bands have replaced lead singers in the past with varying degrees of success. But if you hope to be able to return to some semblance of your past self, don't you think you will need someone of a little higher caliber than unknown artists that, in some cases, are just barely half the age of the other band members?
- "Celebrated rock guitarist Dave Navarro"? Are you kidding me? Yeah, he was good with Jane's Addiction. But the one album he did with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (One Hot Minute) was hardly palatable. Aside from marrying Carmen Electra, what the hell else has he done to deserve the title "Celebrated"?
- And why is Brooke Burke getting snubbed in the adjective category? No descriptor for her? Not even "Sex bomb host of Wild On!" If I were her, I'd be pissed. Then again, if I were her, I'd be running for the hills knowing that this was my next gig.
Bear in mind that these are just the humble opinions of one U.S. fan of the band. I would like to ask INXS fans from their home country of Australia what they think (Kazza and others?). If you are a fan, how do you feel about this whole sordid affair? If you have no particular opinion, have you heard rumblings from other people? Grunts of disdain or support?