Travel blogger Jennifer Johnston: “…..we turned around to see it was Michael Hutchence”

Jennifer Johnston (Image courtesy of Jennifer Johnston)

Jennifer Johnston (Image courtesy of Jennifer Johnston)

On Sunday 22nd it was the 18th anniversary of INXS rock legend Michael Hutchence passing. Australian travel blogger Jennifer Johnston recalls unexpectedly meeting Michael in 1986 outside of the INXS gig at the University of Massachusetts where she was a student.

On your blog post you recall in 1986 having been at the University of Massachusetts (in a small town of Amherst) for only a few weeks when you noticed flyers were put up around the campus for an INXS GIG. How aware were you of the band at this point?

I knew of and loved INXS, having seen them perform a few times in Australia. Let’s say I was very aware of their music. There were two other Australians on campus I was friends with and we all agreed we had to see INXS at UMass.

Something unexpected happened when you were waiting outside the venue with your friends, can you explain what this was and how you remember it?

My two Australian friends and I were waiting outside the venue.  We were near the entrance door and the walls were covered with flyers about what was happening around Campus.  As we were reading these, someone came up behind us and said hello. It was another Australian voice. Imagine our surprise when we turned around to see it was Michael Hutchence. He’d heard us talking and came over to say “hi.” We chatted for a few minutes about his tour and he asked what we were all doing at an American campus. He asked our names.

What was the gig like?

Incredible – despite the campus review not giving Michael a rave review, we loved it. Heaps of energy, plenty of songs and two encores. The crowd may not have known all the words to their songs – but we did!

Review and ticket stub from the night (Image courtesy of Jennifer Johnston)

Review and ticket stub from the night (Image courtesy of Jennifer Johnston)

Does it amaze you how big the band became after this period, and the legacy Michael and INXS still have due to fan support after all these years?

I am not amazed by their success. They worked hard at it. But they had a unique sound and so many of their songs were catchy. Their music is still played on radio and occasionally you will hear covers of their songs on movie soundtracks and TV shows.  So much great music came from the 80’s, but INXS music just resonated with millions.

From how Michael’s personality came across to you, does it surprise you how the media portrayed him? Unfair? 

In the really brief time we met him he came across interested and interesting. His energy and charisma was undeniable and he seemed unfazed by having to perform in front of a crowd.  Has the media portrayed him in a certain light? I guess they have tried but it depends if you buy into that. Only those who knew him would really understand him. The media always wants sensationalism and will go after it in any way they can.  From what I read over the years I don’t think Michael really cared what the media thought about him.

Can you understand fellow fans passion for INXS even after 18 years since Michael’s passing?

Yes I can – when a talent like Michael Hutchence leaves the world way before his time, it is completely understandable how fans feel like they have missed out and therefore mourn his tragic passing. There is always a sense of wondering what they would be doing now had this not happened.



Do you remember how you felt when hearing the tragic news?

Devastated, shocked and filled with disbelief. I was driving in the car up to the Sunshine Coast and it was announced on the radio. A very sad day.

When INXS music is played whether on TV or radio now, does it make you think about your amazing chance encounter and remember good memories?

All the time! I wrote the blog post about my chance encounter when they released the INXS TV series in Australia as it took me straight back to that time in 1986!  Not only that moment brings up good memories, I’ve been to a few INXS concerts around Australia in bars, pubs and outdoor venues.  I would love to have seen them at Wembley Stadium. Now that would have been a memorable moment to be there for that performance.
Thankfully legends live on after they die – immortalised through their music, videos and photos. And through our chance brief encounters – if we are lucky enough to be there at the right time in the right place – the memories remain special forever.
Michael Hutchence

Michael Hutchence (January 22, 1960 – November 22, 1997)


To read Jennifer’s post of the special memory, click this link:


You can follow Jennifer and her travels here:











  1. Good morning,

    firstly I’d like to thank you for this interview I enjoyed pretty much. As a fan of INXS who never had the opportunity to see them live in concert I can imagine how lucky she felt during her short encounter with Michael Hutchence.

    Like her, I felt utterly shocked at the news breaking that morning to me on November 22nd, while I was standing in the kitchen chopping onions. And it wasn’t definitely the onions which brought me to tears.

    … and I so agree with “There is always a sense of wondering what they would be doing now had this not happened” because that’s what I’m imagining from time to time.

    Thanks a lot for that.


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