Kirk Pengilly at The Richmond  Club, Ballina RSL Friday February 23
Kirk Pengilly at The Richmond Club, Ballina RSL Friday February 23 Kate O'Neill

INXS star's candid interview

IN a candid interview in front of a sold-out audience at the Ballina RSL on Friday night, Australian rock royalty Kirk Pengilly spoke about the early years of INXS, the death of Michael Hutchence and how a bottle of Limoncello was responsible for getting he and wife Layne Beachley together.

Pengilly, who was the guest of the Richmond Club - an exclusive club for advertisers with The Northern Star and the Ballina Shire Advocate - also voiced his support for a planned INXS museum at Ballina, saying it would be a 'fantastic inclusion' to the town.

Interviewed by Sydney showbiz journalist Jo Casamento, Pengilly said Hutchence's death in 1997 came as a huge shock.

He said Michael had been in a great place, and it was still hard to believe it was suicide. He said at one stage he'd even gone down the conspiracy theory path and entertained the idea the IRA was involved.

"I don't think he took his life, I think it was an accident, but no one will ever know," he said.

Pengilly also revealed some hilarious details of his awkward first date with his wife champion surfer Layne Beachley.

"'She's in the bathroom going 'is there a window I can climb out?' and I'm sitting at the table thinking 'should I just leave the money and do a runner?," he recalled.

"It was totally wrong."

The date was saved when the restaurant manager joined them with a bottle of Limoncello and they polished it off together. On the walk home, Layne started hiccupping uncontrollably: "I thought it was so cute", said Pengilly.

Back at Layne's house, watching Monsters Inc, she called him outside to give her a kiss.

"She said if something's going to happen here you've got to be a good kisser . Well so I went out and kissed her and obviously I was good," he laughed.

Asked about the plans by former INXS manager and now South Ballina resident Chris Murphy to set up an INXS museum in Ballina, Pengilly said he was 'all for it."

"I think it would be a fabulous inclusion to the Ballina area... there's nothing really like that here.

"It would be something that will help bring people to Ballina".