The charismatic singer and frontman for my favorite band, INXS, Michael Hutchence, would have been 57 today. INXS, formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977, had already released two albums (1980’s INXS and 1981’s UNDERNEATH THE COLOURS) before they appeared on my radar (and most folks from North America and other parts of the globe) in early 1983, with “The One Thing,” the first single from their third album, the brilliant SHABOOH SHOOBAH.
“The One Thing” was first released in July 1982, a few months before the release of SHABOOH SHOOBAH, and reached No. 14 in their Australian homeland. The album and single were released here in the U.S. in February 1983, and I instantly fell in love with the song (and later the album). “The One Thing” is three-and-a-half minutes of pure New Wave / Rock perfection.
SHABOOH SHOOBAH prolly wouldn’t have happened if INXS hadn’t fronted the money to record “The One Thing” with producer Mark Opitz, who had worked with fellow Australian Rock bands AC/DC, The Angels, and Cold Chisel (who INXS toured with in 1982). Mark Opitz was initially hired to produce “The One Thing,” which led to producing a few more songs, and later, what would become SHABOOH SHOOBAH.
The success of SHABOOH SHOOBAH in Australia (where it reached No. 5 on the album chart, and spent 94 weeks on that chart), led to success here in America and beyond. The album reached No. 46 on the BILLBOARD album chart and was certified Gold.
Over on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “The One Thing” became the band’s first American hit, debuting at No. 90 in late March 1983. Their first U.S. performance that month, in San Diego, California (on a tour in support of Adam And The Ants) was before a crowd of 24 people. Can you imagine? Damn. That prolly never happened again. INXS would later tour with Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Stray Cats, The Kinks, and The Go-Go’s (Portland, Maine was a stop on that tour – wish I could have been there!).
With a steady climb up the Hot 100, “The One Thing” became the band’s first U.S. Top 40 hit as well, reaching No. 40 in mid-May 1983, and spending two weeks at its peak position of No. 30 in late May / early June 1983, and a total of 14 weeks on the chart. Over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it fared much better, reaching No. 2. “The One Thing” was also a Top 20 hit in Canada.
With the positive reaction to both SHABOOH SHOOBAH and “The One Thing,” INXS would go on to have much success for many years to come. The one and only time I would see INXS – on an early date in the Fall of 1987 for their monster KICK tour and album, at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Michael Hutchence was so fun to watch on stage. The band, of course, was phenomenal, but Michael had the moves and charisma as I had never seen in a singer / frontman before or since (save for maybe David Byrne). It was a performance I will never forget, and one of the last performances at a small venue INXS would play on that tour, or again.
2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of Michael’s passing, and I think of him often, sometimes wondering what he’d be doing with INXS for their 40th anniversary this year. But, at the very least, I have amazing songs like “The One Thing” – which is just one of many things – to remember him by…
Miss you Michael, wherever you are…