MTV also played a significant role in the selling of INXS, but Hunter says the push started long before Kick. Beginning in 1982, he recalls VJs “being called into meetings with executives, who told us there was an arrangement between Atlantic and the network. We were going to see if MTV could break a band.” INXS, he says, served as a guinea pig, and indeed, heavy video rotation of its debut U.S. single, “The One Thing,” in 1983, helped drive the song to No. 30 on the Hot 100.
“We were always getting pressured to talk up the band,” says Hunter, and though Kick was released as he was leaving MTV, he recalls in-house discussions about “programming the hell out of [videos for] the album to see if it can have an impact.” (Judy Libow, then a promotion vp for Atlantic, says that no such arrangement existed, saying MTV was simply “part of the marketing puzzle.”)
MTV’s attention certainly didn’t hurt, and the video for “Need You Tonight/Mediate” -- the visuals for the latter song a spoof of Bob Dylan’s cue-card-wielding “Subterranean Homesick Blues” scenes from D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back -- won five Moonmen at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1988.
One thing all parties agree upon is that Hutchence's rock-star charisma was the biggest factor in INXS’ global success. “If I knew nothing else about Kick, I knew that this kid was going to be a star,” says Morris.
Hutchence’s stardom would be brief. He committed suicide in 1997, hanging himself at age 37 with his belt in a room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Sydney just days before INXS was set to go on tour. Hutchence reportedly was distraught at not being able to see his 16-month-old daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, whom he had fathered after a long affair with Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof’s wife, Paula Yates. He reportedly was despondent over an injunction filed by Geldof -- as part of a custody battle with his ex-wife Yates -- that kept mother and daughter from traveling to see him. (Yates, who died from a heroin overdose in 2000, offered another theory in a 60 Minutes interview: that Hutchence had died from autoerotic asphyxiation.)
Since its release, Kick has sold 6 million copies (based on RIAA certification figures and Nielsen Music sales data). That number should grow with the Nov. 13 reissue of an expanded anniversary edition of the album. The surviving members of INXS have toured with three different replacement singers since their bandmate’s death -- one hired from a 2005 reality-show competition -- but never again came near the success they had when Hutchence was their frontman. They officially announced their retirement at a concert in Australia in November 2012.
Murphy ceased managing the band in 1995 but continues to develop and license projects that involve INXS’ music as chairman/CEO of Petrol Records. (An off-Broadway musical and documentary on Hutchence are in the works.)