Although the veteran Aussie rockers had fun taping their summer-long reality series, Rock Star: INXS, it was also serious business. “This whole process, the TV show, was all about finding a new singer so we can do what we do best,” guitarist/saxophonist Kirk Pengilly said after the Tuesday morning taping of the show’s finale at Los Angeles’ CBS Studios. “And that’s go out and play music.”
The show’s winner — and, by definition, INXS’ new lead singer — is Canadian J.D. Fortune, who out-dueled Chicagoan Marty Casey with renditions of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and INXS’ own “What You Need,” backed by his bandmates-to-be. As a consolation prize, Casey was offered an opening slot on INXS’ upcoming world tour.
“I know you guys have waited a long time for this,” keyboardist Andrew Farris told the audience before the band made its decision, “but we’ve waited even longer.”
INXS, who formed in 1977 and scored hits in the Eighties and Nineties with singles like “What You Need,” “Need You Tonight” and “Suicide Blonde,” have been without a permanent singer since charismatic frontman Michael Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney hotel room in 1997. The band had since tried a series of vocalists, including a tour with British R&B singer Terence Trent D’Arby.
Pengilly said that this time the band feels complete. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been onstage with a singer,” he said. The chemistry was immediately apparent as Fortune joined his new bandmates for a post-taping concert that included several of the band’s biggest hits, as well as a new track, “Easy, Easy.”
The thirty-two-year-old Fortune had been planning for this gig for years. “I was living in Nova Scotia, and I had a little twelve-inch black-and-white TV,” he said of his earliest INXS memory. “I saw one of their videos, and I went, ‘Oh my god, that’s the band.’ I’ve been in love with them ever since.”
Fortune and INXS will perform this Friday on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and October 17th at the new Virgin Megastore in Hollywood before beginning a world tour in January.