INXS: Early days rehearsing in the northern beaches

STAR STRUCK: Author David Clement with this book 'Along for the Ride: Fast cars and rock stars' that he penned about his friendship with INXS. Picture: Geoff Jones
STAR STRUCK: Author David Clement with this book 'Along for the Ride: Fast cars and rock stars' that he penned about his friendship with INXS. Picture: Geoff Jones

BEFORE they were the biggest name in music across the world, and before their songs raced to number one on the charts, INXS was a garage band looking for a place to rehearse.

The six boys from Sydney's northern beaches - Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers and brothers Tim, Andrew and Jon Farriss - first met at school and quickly bonded over a love of music.

In 1979 they still called their band The Farriss Brothers, they were yet to record an album and they needed a place to practice.

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That same year David Clement was a car wholesaler in Brookvale who bought unwanted trades from northern beaches car yards and stored them in his factory on Ada Avenue before selling them on. One day he received a call from a manager at Bill Buckle car sales.

"He rang me up one day and he said 'David you're into your rock music. We've got two blokes here washing our new cars and they've formed a band and they're looking for somewhere to rehearse can you help them out' and I said 'oh yeah, send them down'," he said.

The Brookvale warehouse where INXS, initially called The Farriss Brothers, began rehearsing. Picture: Supplied

The Brookvale warehouse where INXS, initially called The Farriss Brothers, began rehearsing. Picture: Supplied

"Three of four days later in walks Michael Hutchence and Kirk Pengilly."

That phone call changed everything for Mr Clement who has since penned a book called Along for the Ride: Fast cars and rock stars about his friendship with the six musicians who went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world.

In those early days the six musicians didn't have much money, but they agreed to rent out the warehouse for $5 a week to cover the cost of electricity.

"They came in there after work and they'd rehearse right through until dawn," Mr Clement said. "I'd sit out the back and have a beer with the boys [work colleagues] and have a listen."

After a while INXS had racked up a debt of $90 for rent owing so they struck a deal, they'd play at Mr Clement's Christmas party to clear the debt. "It was on December 20, 1979 and it's the only private gig that they've ever done for anybody," Mr Clement said.

INXS in the early days. Picture: Supplied

INXS in the early days. Picture: Supplied

INXS rented the Brookvale warehouse for around two years, writing and rehearsing songs for their debut self-titled 1980 album.

"I used to have some of his [Hutchence's] school exercise books where he'd written most of the first album, but they've got lost in time," Mr Clement said.

Those early days cemented a friendship between them that would see them come together many times during the years ahead. Mr Clement went on to race cars with INXS sponsoring a number of them over the years.

The INXS sponsored race cars. Picture: Supplied

The INXS sponsored race cars. Picture: Supplied

"The first time that they sponsored it was in the 1983 Bathurst 1000, it was a Mazda RX7," he said.

Such was the band's love of fast cars, that Michael, Tim and Jon took Mr Clement up on his offer of trying out racing during a track day at Amaroo Park in Sydney in 1989.

"Michael was very good actually, the instructors that helped him thought he was fantastic".

Mr Clement also joined INXS for stints of their overseas tours to see what life was like on the road with the band. In 1988, at the height of their fame, Mr Clement was a tour guest in Los Angeles and just before a concert sat down with Hutchence.

Michael Hutchence behind the wheel during a track day at Amaroo Park Raceway in 1989. Picture: Supplied

Michael Hutchence behind the wheel during a track day at Amaroo Park Raceway in 1989. Picture: Supplied

"All he said was 'how are the race cars going' and he said 'how are the guys going at the Brookvale Rex [now Brookvale Hotel]'. Here he was the biggest star in the world, ready to go on stage," he said Hutchence's down-to-earth nature.

Tim Farriss with race car driver David Clement during the track day at Amaroo Park Raceway in 1989. Picture: Supplied

Tim Farriss with race car driver David Clement during the track day at Amaroo Park Raceway in 1989. Picture: Supplied

"Michael was a very gentle soul, he was very kind he was the sort of bloke that would speak to anybody. Even at the height of their fame when I did some tours around the world with them he'd be happy to talk to anybody, he wasn't stuck up or anything. They're down to earth, they never got big heads."

These days, Mr Clement still occasionally talks to Tim Farriss and Pengilly. He also has mountains of memories, photos and stories of his times hanging out with INXS which he's shared in his book Along for the Ride: Fast cars and rock stars.

This story 'INXS rehearsed at my warehouse long before they were rock stars' first appeared on Northern Beaches Review.