Celebrating his 41st birthday is Kirk Pengilly, multi-instrumentalist
for INXS, the Australian band that became successful in the '80s with
their danceable pop-rock.
INXS, known for such songs as "Suicide Blonde" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Need You Tonight," have decided to carry on despite
the loss of lead singer Michael Hutchence, who was found hanged in a
hotel room in late 1997.
Pengilly was born in Sydney, Australia, where INXS began as the Farriss
Brothers in the late '70s. Keyboardist/guitarist Andrew Farriss was playing in a band with Hutchence
and bassist Garry Gary Beers. Farriss merged this band with a group that featured his
guitarist brother, Tim, and Pengilly. When youngest brother Jon Farriss signed on as
drummer, INXS were born.
INXS quickly developed a following on the pub circuit, which led to an Australian record
contract. But they were interested in establishing themselves in the States. With two
albums under their belt, INXS toured the United States in support of the band's third LP,
Nile Rodgers, leader of disco stars Chic, produced the INXS single "Original Sin," which
almost made the U.S. top 40. The Swing (1984) also included tracks such as
"Melting in the Sun" and "Dancing on the Jetty."
But most U.S. listeners first heard of INXS thanks to the 1985 LP Listen Like
Thieves, which included the top-five hit "What You Need." The band became a
superstar act with Kick (1987), the LP on which they most successfully merged
dance-pop with R&B-influenced rock.
That album's success was spurred by the catchy single "Need You Tonight," which
segued on radio stations into the rap-like "Mediate." It also featured the smashes "Devil
Inside," "New Sensation" and "Never Tear Us Apart."
Hutchence became a global celebrity thanks to his lanky good looks and several acting
roles. But the follow-up LP, the U.S. top-five X (1990), spawned just one hit,
"Suicide Blonde." Though INXS continued to attract a huge number of fans to their live
shows, the group was never as successful again on the record charts.
After two even less successful albums, INXS took a breather until 1997's Elegantly
Wasted. That album didn't exactly set the charts on fire either, but INXS decided to
launch a big tour anyway. Their plans were derailed, though, when Hutchence's body
was discovered in November of that year in a hotel in Sydney.
The other bandmembers have insisted they will continue, despite the death of their
visual focal point and main lyricist. They did an Australian gig in late 1998 with Aussie
singer Jimmy Barnes.
Last month INXS performed at the opening of Sydney Stadium in Australia with R&B
singer Terence Trent D'Arby taking over on vocals.
"It's for one night only, at this stage," Pengilly said.
INXS are reportedly recording new music.
Other birthdays: Bill Withers, 61; Jeremy Spencer (ex-Fleetwood Mac), 51; Ralph
Johnson (Earth Wind & Fire), 48; John Waite, 44; Rick Rizzo (Eleventh Dream Day), 42;
Matt Malley (Counting Crows), 36; and Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (Canned Heat),