This week, after 35 years together, INXS called it quits.
You mean INXS was still together?
INXS as we know it sadly ceased to exist on November 22, 1997, when charismatic lead singer and chief songwriter Michael Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney, Australia hotel room.
Only the band failed to realize it. They carried on, touring with Terrence Trent D’Arby (remember “Wishing Well”?) and other interim lead singers. The closest INXS got to a true comeback in 2004 when they took part in the CBS TV series Rock Star: INXS in which various singers competed for the chance to be the new lead singer of the band. The winner was a young Canadian singer named JD Fortune, whose voice held an eerie resemblance to that of the departed Hutchence. With Fortune, the band recorded a new album called Switch. From that album the song “Pretty Vegas” became a minor hit, except in JD Fortune’s home country, where it was a substantial hit thanks in part to government regulations that require radio stations to broadcast a certain level of “Canadian Content”.
A few years ago they released a collection of re-recordings of their earlier hits, each one by a different guest lead singer. Although Pat Monahan from Train did an incredible job on “Beautiful Girl”, but the album was a flop.
Last year they permanently severed JD Fortune and named a new lead singer and released some new songs, but it was a tree falling in the forest.
Such a sad ending to a truly great band.
There was a time in the late 1980s when INXS rivaled U2 as the biggest rock band on the planet. Their album Kick was insanely successful. They sold out the biggest stadiums. Their string of hits included “Need You Tonight”, “Devil Inside”, “Never Tear Us Apart”, “What You Need”, “Original Sin”, and “Suicide Blonde”.
And their eventual breakup will be a mere footnote in music history
The reason is simple: In the minds of music fans everywhere, INXS had already broken up 15 years ago. Without Michael Hutchence, there was no INXS, no matter how talented the rest of the band might be… and they did make some decent post-Hutchence music.
Led Zeppelin chose not to replace John Bonham when he died in 1980. They quit. Today the value in the Led Zeppelin brand is beyond compare. It will not fade.
Van Halen was able to carry on when David Lee Roth became dead to them. But they couldn’t pull it off when Sammy Hagar left and Gary Cherone walked in. Today Van Halen is a joke.
AC/DC stands out as one of the few bands to replace a highly-visible lead singer and successfully carry on.
There are some parts of your company that are replaceable and interchangeable.
Like Coke’s secret formula, there are other parts of your company that are the essence of what your customers believe you are. You cannot replace those parts and carry on. No matter how good it tasted, New Coke didn’t work.
No matter how good the music was after Michael Hutchence died, INXS was finished.
What parts of your company are irreplaceable?
What is the very essence of your brand? How can you protect it from ever disappearing?