Baby Animals Singer Almost Replaced Michael Hutchence In INXS

22 November 2022 | 9:00 am | Mary Varvaris

"There was a formal offer from their manager..."


INXS are currently celebrating multiple anniversaries. 

It's been 45 years since the iconic Australian rock band played their first gig, 40 years since the release of their third album featuring the hit Don't Change; Shabooh Shoobah, 35 years since the release of the life-changing album Kick - featuring the likes of Never Tear Us Apart and New Sensation - and today marks 25 years since singer Michael Hutchence passed away.

Reflecting on all of these significant milestones, INXS band members Jon Farriss, Andrew Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Jon Stevens (who filled Hutchence's shoes between 2000 and 2003), and one-time members Jimmy Barnes and Suze DeMarchi discussed the life, death, and career of Michael Hutchence in a two-part special episode on the LiSTNR podcast, Behind The Hits. 

In 2002, INXS were touring and making new music alongside Jon Stevens. However, while Andrew Farriss was writing with Stevens, he was also in the studio with the Baby Animals singer Suze DeMarchi. The band wanted her to join. "There was a formal offer from their manager," DeMarchi recalled. She came close to accepting the offer before INXS opted to find their next singer through a reality television show.

"It was an offer; it didn’t say ‘you’re going to make this, we’ll do that’; it hadn’t got to that point. It was conversations with their manager at the time, David Edwards, and Andrew and I had spoken quite a bit about it... I was really seriously thinking about doing it, and then I was just about to go, ‘yeah, maybe we can try this’, and then they said, ‘Well, we want to do this show’. That’s how it went down," she explained. 

The show was Rockstar INXS. The band did find their new singer: the Canadian vocalist JD Fortune. After airing the show in 2005, the band with Fortune recorded the album Switch that year and Original Sin in 2010. He sang for the band until 2011.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

"I think Rockstar INXS was amazing. It was a really unique concept; I’m really proud of it," Pengilly said before Jon Farriss confirmed that he had "no regrets" about how the band found their singer. However, INXS were banking on a female vocalist winning the show.

"Look, we all wanted it to be a girl. We loaded it with girls. It was 15 contestants, eight girls and seven guys," Jon Farriss revealed. "We already had the name of the album – Switch – switch to a girl. The whole thing was set up perfectly. She wasn’t there. That was the real honest truth of it. Anyone can get upset and have a tanty, but on the day when we had to tally up who was the best performance, the girl didn’t make it. I still reckon a girl singer for INXS would be awesome. I still believe that. I honestly do. It just isn’t what god wanted at that time."

Looking back, DeMarchi said that the offer of joining INXS as their frontwoman interested her. "The idea of getting a girl was a good idea because Michael was very difficult can’t replace Michael. Nobody can replace him. So if a girl did it, they’d not get the immediate comparisons, maybe."

Listen to the full podcast episodes below to hear more INXS stories.