This was the song that launched INXS to global stardom. They had released five albums and were huge in their native Australia, but were just starting to get noticed in most other countries. Many Americans knew the band from their MTV hit "What You Need
," but they had little draw in that country. Atlantic Records knew the Kick
album was a chance to break them in America, but the label pushed back when they heard the album, deeming it out of touch. INXS' manager, Chris Murphy, addressed their concerns by setting up a tour of American colleges to promote "Need You Tonight" as the first single. If this small-scale effort went well, Atlantic could put more promotional might behind the album knowing it had at least a niche audience.
So, when the single and album were released in October 1987, INXS was dispatched to places like Kalamazoo, Michigan and Poughkeepsie, New York, where they played colleges. As hoped, the tour got a great reaction and college radio stations jumped on "Need You Tonight." Their fears assuaged, Atlantic pushed the song to commercial radio stations, which added it to their playlists. MTV put the video in hot rotation, and on January 30, 1988, "Need You Tonight" went to #1 in America. "Devil Inside
," "New Sensation" and "Never Tear Us Apart
" were the next three singles, keeping INXS on the air throughout 1988, while Kick
stayed in the upper end of the albums chart the entire year.
The transition to Bono-level superstar frontman was a tumultuous one for Michael Hutchence, who struggled to stay grounded. While his bandmates formed families away from the public eye, his every move - especially his high-profile relationship with Kylie Minogue - was covered in the entertainment press. INXS didn't release another album until 1990 when they returned with X
. It was a success, but subsequent releases had more narrow appeal. Hutchence had a daughter, Tiger Lily, in 1996 with the British TV personality Paula Yates. Struggling with depression and away from his daughter, he committed suicide in 1997