Today is the 39th birthday of INXS keyboardist Andrew Farriss. As a member
of the mid-'80s pop-rock sensation, Farriss' keyboard-playing appeared on
some of the decade's greatest hits, including "Need You Tonight," "New
Sensation" and "What You Need." Born in Perth, Australia, Farriss and his
brothers Jon (drums) and Tim (guitar) formed a
group called the Farriss Brothers while they were in high school. The
brothers went their separate ways for a while but reunited musically in
1977 to form INXS with singer Michael Hutchence, bassist Garry Gary Beers
and multi-instrumentalist Kirk Pengilly. INXS were well-known for their
live shows from the get-go and their notoriety in Australia led to a record
contract and the release of their self-titled debut in 1980. Three years
later, the group landed on America's shores with Shabooh Shoobah, an
album that spawned minor hits with the seductive funk of "The One Thing"
and the up-tempo pop of "Don't Change." While 1984's The Swing
received notice for the Nile Rodgers-produced "Original Sin," it was 1985's
Listen Like Thieves that brought INXS their first taste of
mainstream success. The album hit #11 on the charts and is
notable for the title track and "What You Need." INXS spent the next two years building their fanbase by staying on the road, both as an opening act and as headliners.
Kick, released in 1987, was INXS' biggest hit, climbing as high
as #3 on the album charts and spawning four successful singles: "Need You
Tonight" (#1), "Devil Inside" (#2), "New Sensation" (#3) and "Never Tear Us
Apart" (#7). Hutchence's video-friendly face and alluring demeanor were no
doubt part of the group's success, but solid pop-hooks and energetic
performances were what kept the fans coming back to its live shows for the
next three years. X (1990) was only moderately successful compared
to the group's previous outings, with "Suicide Blonde" being the only
single from the album to hit the top 10. INXS' next seven years of
recorded material failed to come even remotely close to their previous
successes. By 1997, Hutchence was working on a solo album and INXS was beginning preparations for an Australian tour to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
Sadly, Hutchence was found hanging from a leather belt in a Sydney hotel
room on Nov. 22, 1997, five days before the tour was to begin. Thus far,
INXS have elected to not continue without Hutchence.
Other birthdays: Tony Banks (Genesis), 48; Kid Congo Powers (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), 37; Mariah Carey, 28; and Brendan Hill (Blues Traveler), 28.