In July 1991, only days before INXS was due to play the original Wembley stadium, their manager Chris Murphy came up with the grand plan to film the special event. Murphy, who found the band twelve years previously in a Sydney dive called The Stage Door Tavern, intuitively knew this was INXS’ moment. More to the point, Michael Hutchence’s moment. Murphy ran around London like an old time circus operator, trying raise money to film Wembley.
Director David Mallet accepted the task, but wanted sixteen cameras PLUS a helicopter to shoot this special moment in time…all on 35mm film.
At the very last minute, Murphy’s dream came true when PolyGram Video execs Michael Kuhn and Geoff Kempin came to the rescue to assist funding the filming of the Wembley show, subsequently christened Live Baby Live. “Assist” being the key word here, as Murphy had taken the very lonely decision to contribute INXS’ income from the sold-out show to capture what he believed would be a highlight of INXS’ career. Little did he know then that nearly thirty years later, Live Baby Live would remain one of the best live shows ever committed to film.
While Murphy had taken the bit between his teeth to make the filming happen, there was no time to have a sparring match with members of INXS about contributing their fee to the filming. Knowing INXS was living in the moment and he was living in the future, a future where the rock star genius of Michael would be recorded and restored forever and ever.
The moment of truth came for Murphy and Michael as they stood together side of stage gazing at the sold out 72,000 crowd at Wembley, with the INXS musicians already on stage jamming into “Guns in the Sky”. Michael peered way out into the crowd, then with a smile looked back at his mentor and trusted friend Murphy and quipped “so how much are we making for this"? Without flinching, Murphy rolled two of his fingers into a naught. Then added "sixteen cameras and a helicopter, mate". Michael responded “you motherfucker” then ran onstage to deliver the performance of his lifetime.
72,000 fans bouncing up and down to the band’s monster hits, helicopters swooping overhead, movie cameras capturing every single exhilarating second of the performance of a lifetime. The moment was not lost to Murphy that only five short (but busy!) years prior, INXS had opened at the same venue as special guests to Queen on their Magic Tour.
When Murphy made this dangerous decision to co-finance the production, he had no clue that within the immediate future that he would leave INXS to care for his two young daughters Stevey and Jeri in 1995. Or that Michael would leave us all in 1997.
Twenty-eight years later, people still ask the question “is it LIVE BABY LIVE or LIVE BABY LIVE”? Murphy, who came up with the title, will always smile and respond “just listen to the opening lines of ‘New Sensation’”.