It seems so long ago now, back in 1984 working in the USA with my best friend Ian, where we became familiar with an Australian band who were getting considerable airplay with a new album entitled “The Swing” . The band, of course, was INXS. Around that time we were fortunate enough to hear that INXS were going to open for the English group, Adam and the Ants, so we went along the show and later introduced ourselves to the band. It was a great occasion being able to tell the guys how much we loved their music. Back in the U.K. one year later, on the release of “Listen Like Thieves”, we met up with the band again and it was wonderful how we all recognized each other from our first meeting a year before. That night was the beginning of an amazing 15 year friendship with the greatest band we had ever heard, INXS!
From that night on we began to travel with them all over the U.K., including Europe, and as we did our friendship blossomed, particularly with Michael as we traveled with him, often staying in the same hotels. We had some fantastic evenings with him and the band and we always told them how much we appreciated them. Ian and I by now realized that the guys were destined to massive success (and we told them so) particularly when the “Kick” album was first released.
I remember so much about Michael and what he was like back then. All the world seemed to be talking about INXS, yet he was so calm and collected. Back stage you would always find him in a corner out of the limelight, listening with interest to others, just like he listened to us. He had so much time for us, always just as pleased to see us as were to see him. We still say to this day that the reason our friendship continued over the years was because we were two off-shore riggers, normal working boys with a sense of humor, who used to go crazy back stage. I recall a number of times Ian and I had to apologize to Hutch for going nuts the night before. As always, he laughed it off.
As the massive “Kick” tour came to an end we became more than casual friends, often writing and faxing messages to Michael and the band to keep in touch. Some of my most precious photographs are from this period. My memories of Michael back then are also very precious and are perhaps amongst my favorite. He was so softly spoken, so shy and reserved, yet a fantastic night owl too. Some of my memories I can’t share as they are… well… hush, hush!
In the early 90’s the X tour also holds beautiful memories, whether it by crew bus or Daimlers we traveled to hotels and shows with Michael. We sure drank a lot of booze on this tour, especially the day the lads played London’s Wembley Stadium in front of 72,000 fans. For us this day said it all for we had seen our friends struggle into England in the mid 80’s and now they were about to play the finest show of their career. We were with Michael that afternoon, when around 5:00 pm he came up and handed us an envelope. Our first reaction was, “What is this”? We were already with the band so we didn’t need back stage passes. Inside were tickets for the Royal Box! To us the lads had recognized our loyalty over the years, especially Hutch, who was always making sure others were OK, always putting others before himself.
After the show I recall being at the buffet table with Michael eating our seafood, when he turned around and said, “Hell, Gary! What shall I do?”
I said, “Do about what?”
Hutch replied, “I’m with Helena… look who just walked through the door!” Of course it was Kylie!
I said, “See you next gig, Mike!” As she was fast approaching him, Gary and Ian made a quick exit!
The pubs and club tours were such a success in Europe and we had such great times. One such time was in Chelsea, London. At the Conrad Hotel we had drinks with Michael before we traveled to the show. As always the band asked us if we had transport and this time we said yes. Michael replied, “Well I’ll come with you two.” All we had was our work’s old, clapped-out transit van. Michael nearly passed out when he saw it, as the other guys drove off in their black Mercedes. I’m not kidding you, the only time we caught up to them was at a red traffic light. INXS were screaming with laughter through their car windows as we caught up with them. And here we were with Hutch in a clapped out old transit van going to the gig. Street credibility don’t you think? This had to be one of our most precious moments with Michael and the band. It was a unique and very funny experience.
It is hard to cram over 15 years of experience with Michael and INXS in to such a short space. Whenever the band came to Europe we had such good times and Hutch was so hospitable, as were all the band. This brings me to the last time I saw Michael in July, 1997. We had such a good afternoon and an even better evening filled with great conversation. I left the arena that night with Michael and I carried his bag for him to the crew bus. It was then he put his arms around me and kissed me on the cheek… it was his way of thanking me for all the times I had been there for the band, back in the early days, when they had nothing. I was so proud at that moment and I still am proud. It was a farewell I will treasure forever!
Man of the world for all the good reasons. Yes, Michael Kelland Hutchence there is not a single day passed when I have not thought about you. I can still hear your softly spoken voice. I miss your talent so very much. Others have tried to convince me that “IT IS BETTER TO HAVE HAD A FRIEND AND LOST HIM THAN NEVER TO HAVE HAD THAT FRIEND AT ALL”.
Gary Lilley and Ian Rylance, Newcastle, England.
To all who read this I hope you have enjoyed it. I was so honoured when Kell invited me to be part of this memorial site. Kell and I have grown close since early 1998. Kell, you made me feel happy again when I was so down, by telling me to dwell on the great memories I had of your son. I thank you so very much for this advice.
As Kell is aware, on November 22, 1999, we will hold our second annual tribute evening honouring Michael with my tribute band performing once again a host of INXS songs. As last year, all money raised will go to a recognized charity. If you are reading this and wish to send a message to be read on that night please email it to this web site.