INXS band manager Chris Murphy dies
Legendary Australian music entrepreneur Chris Murphy, who steered INXS to global success and resurrected their chart fortunes in recent years, died suddenly on Saturday.
The 66-year-old manager, record label owner and television producer was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer before Christmas and died surrounded by his family at his Sugar Bay Ranch property in Ballina.
"It is with great sadness that the remaining members of INXS mourn the passing of our brother, Chris Murphy. Without Chris's vision, passion and hard work, the INXS story would be totally different," band members Tim, Jon and Andrew Farriss, Kirk Pengilly and Garry Beers said in a statement on Saturday.
"Chris's star burned very bright and we celebrate a life well lived and send all our love to his family."
Murphy was just 16 when he joined his mother running the theatrical agency MMA in 1970 after the death of his father, shifting the business to book tours for rock acts and pioneering the "door deal" which guaranteed his acts a percentage of the cover charge and increased their earnings.
He became the manager of INXS in 1980 when their initial minder Gary Morris decided to focus on the affairs of his other act, Midnight Oil.
The dogged Murphy, renowned for his equal parts charm and tough negotiation skills, secured INXS a global record deal a couple of years later and took the band from the rough and tumble Australian pub circuit to world domination off the back of their relentless touring and innovative funk-driven rock sound.
The band would headline the innovative Australian Made mini-festivals in the summer of 1986-87 which Murphy helped organise out of frustration about the dominance of international artist tours here.
The maverick manager was always plotting his next move and as well as taking on management of Models, set up the successful independent label RooArt Records in the late 1980s, signing a raft of alternative acts including You Am I, Ratcat, The Screaming Jets, Wendy Matthews and supergroup Absent Friends.
His entrepreneurial skills pushed him to boldly broaden his business empire in the '80s and '90s into non-music related ventures including setting up Australia's first digital radio broadcaster Digital One, and chicken farming.
Murphy quit managing INXS in 1995 to spend more time with his family after decades travelling the world with the band. He took over Sydney radio station 2SM, rebranded it as KICK FM and doubling the struggling broadcaster's earnings.
"As well as his love of the music and entertainment business, CM was passionate about agriculture, horse breeding, racing pigeons, surfing and rugby," a statement from his family said.
"His competitive spirit seen on the polo field and the ice hockey rink was alive right to the end as he fought Mantle Cell Lymphoma."
Having sold RooArt to multinational label BMG, he set up a new imprint Petrol Records in 2001, which curated world music compilations through the early 2000s and more recently signed his rising sibling country act The Buckleys.
"Chris has been our guardian angel from the day we met him and he will continue to be for the rest of our lives. As with everyone who was so blessed to have known him - the strength, passion, guidance and love he ignites is forever lasting," said Sarah, Lachlan and Molly Buckley.
"We are so grateful to have walked this earth with him, our best friend, greatest champion and mentor. His spirit and light will forever live within and around us."
Murphy teamed up again with INXS in 2008, determined to restore the band's legacy and presence on the international charts.
He oversaw the development of the Never Tear Us Apart miniseries which tracked their rise to fame through to the death of frontman Michael Hutchence.
The success of that series considerably added to the band's account of more than 40 million album sales worldwide, with The Very Best compilation celebrating diamond status of more than half a million copies sold in Australia in October last year.
The savvy and relentless businessman was developing INXS film projects and a musical based on the band's music with respected Australian theatrical producer Michael Cassel.
Murphy is survived by his family, his wife Caroline, children Stevey, Jeri, Jack, Louis and Charlie and grandchildren Asher, Samantha, Bella, Axel, Harley and Reuben, his mother Janice and sisters Charne and Tanya.
"The family have asked that in lieu of flowers that trees are gifted to create an everlasting and ever growing memorial at Chris' beloved Ballina property," the family said in their statement.
Originally published as INXS band manager Chris Murphy dies