INXS are suddenly big news all over again. There was an excellent TV documentary, that made everyone realise just what a talented band they were. Their greatest hits album has rocketed them to the top for the first time in 24 years. But alas, without front man Michael Hutchence, things were never the same. His death really did "...Tear Us Apart". They brought the remaining members back for a TV interview and it was obvious how conflicted they still felt about his passing.
Why do I feature Michael in this post? His untimely demise happened in his 37th year and not his 36th. What does 'Life Cycles' have to say about him, that is derived directly from the hit TV Show "Never Tear Us Apart"? I know what I do is not an exact science, and the fact that I study events in my 'significant years' first and foremost, has the potential to create allegations of subjectivity.
I was actually at his hotel -The Ritz-Carlton at Double Bay- on the day he died, to attend a birthday function. I saw some small candlelight tributes, but there were no crowds. His death proved unusually messy in terms of allegations and meant that the focus was not on his achievements. So, let's backtrack a little.
The first 'significant year' of Michael we'll visit is his age 19 'Year of Broken Pathways' (Jan. 22nd, 1979 to Jan. 22nd, 1980). This was a big year in the career of INXS. In this year they transformed from a band called "The Farriss Brothers", who were supporting leading local band, "Midnight Oil", and had a manager, who wanted them to become a big-time Christian rock band (believe it or not!): into a band called INXS, with a new manager called Chris Murphy.
The TV show covers the accidental discovery of the name, which was a combination of English band XTC (ecstacy) and Australian jam makers IXL (literally 'I excel'). It also shows how the band solicited Murphy, who refused saying he didn't want to do it. However, when he did, he soon negotiated a 5 album record deal. Their success wouldn't have happened without Murphy. It was the genesis of the band, and Hutchence was totally transformed by it. His challenge was to sell their new image through lots of hard work, touring pubs and clubs.
Now we skip to Hutchence's next 'significant year', which was his age 24 'Year of Revolution' (basically all of 1984). What happened then for him? Did it see a new age/direction ushered in, as the theory would say? The answer to this is 'yes'. Murphy had directed the band to start working in the US, and in 1983 they toured as support act for artists like Adam and the Ants, The Kinks and Hall & Oats.
Then in April, 1984 the album called 'The Swing' was released and it proved to be their first major international success. It was also their first international recording project, done in New York and the UK. It reached No.1 in France, Argentina and Australia (but not in the US or UK). The song 'Original Sin' was seen as controversial in the 'Bible Belt' states (they were certainly not a Christian band now). The TV show highlights Michael's pure joy when he learns of the No.1 in France, while in a Paris Hotel.
This was to begin an era of dominance on the world stage. It was to culminate some 7 years later with the famous sell-out concert at Wembley Stadium in July, 1991. This 7 year journey in a forward direction, until there is a direction-change and uphill climb, is fundamental to 'Life Cycles' theory. It was this way for Michael. He was 'at the highest point' that night, but looming in the near future were a series of disappointing events.
They released a live album, based on filming of the Wembley concert, in Nov. 1991, but it wasn't well received, critically or commercially. Also in 1991, still within Michael's age 31 'Year of Broken Pathways'; they began recording their next album 'Welcome To Wherever You Are' in Sydney. They tried to establish a new direction for themselves, using a 60 piece orchestra and sitars. Upon release in August, 1992, it reached No.1 in UK, but had much less success in the US and Australia. Also the band was criticised for taking part in the 'Concert for Life' fundraiser in Centennial Park, which was affected by bad weather.
However, the most disturbing event happened to Michael in 1992, when he was in Copenhagen. He got into a scuffle with a taxi driver and fell to the ground hitting his head. This caused him to lose his sense of taste and smell and to create violent, unpredictable mood swings. Basically he wasn't the same after this. Several years of diminished success followed. In fact, after the release of the album 'Full Moon, Dirty Hearts' in Nov. 1993, the band took several years off to be with their families. The album had mixed reviews and was their last recorded by Atlantic in the States.
Now we enter the important, age 36, mid-life 'Year of Revolution' of Michael Hutchence (1996). I'm forever thankful to the producers of "Never Tear Us Apart" for making my job easier. I doubt I could have found the detail I wanted, without reading the full biography and I have already stated I'm actually a poor reader of books. Anyway, we now cut to two scenes in the documentary, which tells the story and I do my best to pinpoint the date of these.
The first shows Hutchence talking with his ex-girlfriend and long-time confidant, Michele Bennett, about how he was thinking of "breaking up with the band". She chided him about always talking 'break-ups' with her and said he belonged 'on the road'. Then there is a scene showing Andrew Farriss (co-writer of all INXS's hits along with Hutchence), talking about being separated a lot from Michael and saying that it may be time to quit the band. He actually responded to a fellow incredulous band member, by saying "it's like the end of a cycle." Yes, those exact words.
Now my research tells me that the group began rehearsals for their comeback album 'Elegantly Wasted' in April, 1996 in London. So, I'm playing detective here, but the next scene in the doco shows a pivotal moment when Farriss and Hutchence meet and Farriss leads by indicating he has thought about their futures. What would he say? He didn't say "let's split up", instead he says "let's get back to basics and start writing like we did before". This to me is an important moment in both lives and could well have happened just prior to April, 1996. Why do I care so much? What's in it for me? I also must state I don't know the full answer, it's my best guess.
OK. Andrew Farriss, co-writer of the music half of the duo was born Mar. 27th, 1959, so he was also 36 in the period Mar. 1995 to Mar. 1996. He and Hutchence shared about 2 months of 'Confluence' (ie. mutual time in their 'significant years'). This is generally meant to enhance empathy and understanding. So, the rapprochement of Andrew and Michael could have occurred in this very period (ie. Jan. 22nd to Mar. 27th, 1996).
However, there was an event much greater than this in Michael's central, mid-life 'Year of Revolution'. It was to be the birth of his only child, his daughter Tiger Lily on July, 22nd. His partner, Paula Yates had begun living openly with Hutchence, while still being married to Bob Geldorf in 1995. They divorced in May, 1996 and set in train a bitter custody dispute for their own three daughters. The acrimony embroiled Hutchence and was to be a major contributing factor in his untimely death.
Yate's fated love affair with Hutchence also featured a period of 'Confluence' (she was born Apr. 24th, 1959 and so she shared 3 months with Michael). She was aged 36 when she separated from Geldorf. The much greater period of totally unrealised 'Confluence' however was between Michael and Tiger Lily (would have been 6 months for every 'significant year'). I have written on this before, but I believe there is no greater or more fated bond in all of 'Life Cycles', than that between a parent in their age 36 'Year of Revolution' and their newly born child.
So much was unfulfilled in Michael's tragic death and none more so, than to see his daughter develop and grow. She looked very much like him and I'm sure you would also echo my good wishes for her coming adulthood, as she is soon to be aged 18 (the legal adulthood year in Australia).