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Flashback: The Bold ’90s Rolling Stone AU Issue That Upset INXS Manager Chris Murphy

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Aussie music managers in the 1980s didn’t come much more fearsome than Murphy Media Academy (MMA) founder Chris Murphy. Credited as the man who took INXS from a Sydney pub band to an international sensation, he was an intimidating figure and a larger-than-life part of the Australian music scene. 

In 1985, Rolling Stone Australia publishers Paul Gardiner and Jane Mathieson wanted to take a chance with an Australian cover, and they wanted Michael Hutchence. Music Editor Toby Creswell was tasked with locking the rising star in, but that meant going through Murphy. 

“From my perspective, Australian music in the 70s and 80s was run by the managers are they were a bunch of alpha males who were dictacting how the industry would develop, who was going to make it and how it was going to go. They had much more clout than the record companies or radio or anyone else,” Creswell tells Rolling Stone AU/NZ Editor in Chief Poppy Reid on the newest episode of the ‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’ podcast, sponsored by Shure.

“Chris really was an alpha male among the alpha males.”

In 1985, for the October cover, Creswell had a good experience with Murphy. As he tells Reid, he was able to spend time with Hutchence and the band in their hotel room before a show, see them play and join them on a night out. The issue was a success and paved the way for more Australian music coverage in the magazine going forward.

But the next time Creswell sought out Hutchence for a cover, Murphy was less easygoing. 

For the December 1989 cover, Creswell wanted to focus on Hutchence’s side project with Ollie Olson, Max Q. The band’s first, and only, album had come out in September and showed a different side to Hutchence. 

Murphy, however, only wanted Hutchence to feature in relation to INXS. And with the power he had in the industry at the time, without his sign-off, there was no way for Creswell to secure a photo for the cover. 

Find out how Creswell secured a picture for the cover, despite no photographers being willing to go against Murphy and sell him one, in the latest ‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’ episode. 

Murphy never spoke to Creswell again, but it was worth it to highlight the project he says. 

“It was a great record, and Michael was happy,” he tells Reid.

“I thought it was important to publicise his work, and our reader wanted to hear about it too.”

Hear the whole story, as well as Creswell’s reflections on the two sides of Hutchence, on the podcast.

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