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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 12:20 GMT
Rock band INXS hunt for UK singer
Rock band INXS
INXS singer Michael Hutchence (centre) died in 1997 aged 37
Rock group INXS have auditioned singers to replace the late Michael Hutchence in London.

The Australian band are holding auditions in six continents as part of a reality TV series, INXS Rock Star, to be broadcast in the US in July.

The winner will record an album with the band as well as tour with them.

Tuesday's open audition at Shepherd's Bush Empire in west London drew a modest response. Further UK auditions will be held in Liverpool on Thursday.

Global hits

Hutchence was a founder member of six-piece radio rock band INXS, which formed in Sydney in 1977.

They became Australian superstars in 1983 with third album Shabooh Shoobah. Fame followed four years later in Britain and the US thanks to album Kick, which generated hit singles Need You Tonight, Devil Inside, New Sensation and Never Tear Us Apart.

Hutchence was found hanged in November 1997 aged 37, by which time the band had sold more than 30 million albums globally.

George Condous and guitarist Ben Treeby
There have already been plenty of TV talent shows but the reward at the end of this competition will be stratospheric
George Candous
Since his death the band briefly performed with soul singer Terence Trent D'Arby and toured with Jon Stevens, former frontman of Australian band Noiseworks.

They have already held auditions in the US and Canada, with further auditions taking place in New Zealand and Australia in March before finalists compete before a TV audience in Hollywood.

Budding rock stars were slow to arrive outside the cold and dark Shepherd's Bush venue on Tuesday, perhaps daunted by the prospect of filling the shoes of party animal Hutchence.

The first to arrive was George Condous, originally from Adelaide but now living in Chichester, West Sussex.

"There have already been plenty of TV talent shows but the reward at the end of this competition will be stratospheric in comparison," the 36-year-old said.

Admitting he had been "an INXS fan for years but preferred their early stuff", he was preparing to sing three self-penned songs.

Jo Maloney
Jo Maloney hoped INXS would relaunch with a female singer
"The fact that eight years have passed since Michael Hutchence's death makes the whole experience less daunting for a new frontman," he said.

Diego Campanotti, 35, travelled from Codroipo in northeastern Italy for the audition.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said he would sing the INXS song Never Tear Us Apart for the judges, alongside songs by rock bands Aerosmith and Dream Theater.

"I'm not trying to copy Michael's style," he said. "I trained as an opera singer and sang in a heavy metal band. I have my own style."

Jo Maloney, originally from Sydney but now living in London, hoped the band would ring the changes by choosing a female singer.

It's a great platform for publicity
Richard Davey
"I think the band could handle it," she said. "I don't think they would be impressed by some chippy 17-year-old in a short skirt, but once they hear my voice they'll remember me."

The 29-year-old singer said she was impressed that entrants had to be over 21 to audition, as they would choose "a more mature performer".

"Absolutely everyone has a dream of being a rock star, you are kidding yourself if you don't," she said. "I just think it would be a hell of a lot of fun."

Singer and guitarist Richard Davey, 27, from north London - who plays "everything from Cole Porter to Coldplay" - was more pragmatic about his reasons for auditioning.

"It's a great platform for publicity," he said.

Survivor team

On launching the search, INXS member Tim Farriss said: "After Michael died, we wanted to search the world for a new singer but didn't know how we could effectively do that."

He described the TV talent show format as "a fantastic way to make that happen".

INXS Rock Star will be made by Mark Burnett Productions, the company behind US reality TV hits Survivor and The Apprentice.

The series will be screened by US television network CBS in July, after which programme-makers hope to broadcast it in the UK.

INXS search for a new band member

What makes a good frontman?
08 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
INXS to star in reality TV show
14 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
INXS to tour with new frontman
03 Mar 02 |  Entertainment
Kurt Cobain's fellow rock icons
05 Apr 04 |  Entertainment
INXS plan Olympic comeback
27 May 99 |  Entertainment
INXS plan Hutchence tribute concert
06 Jul 98 |  Entertainment


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