Michael Hutchence PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 15:53

Michael Hutchence of INXS - San Francisco, 1986

Michael Kelland John Hutchence

Born: January 22, 1960, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Died: November 22, 1997, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Age: 37

Cause of death: Strangulation, either autoerotic asphyxiation, as suggested by his fmaily, or suicide.

Notable because: The conflict with Bob Geldof ended with the death of Hutchence and Paula.


Michael Hutchence was an Australian singer-songwriter, most famous for his work with rock band INXS. Hutchence was born in Sydney, son of Kelland ("Kell") and Patricia Hutchence, but was subsequently raised in Hong Kong. He began performing at the age of eight in a local toy store commercial. He attended King George V School and was in the house Crozier.

The Hutchence family eventually returned to Sydney in Michael's late teens, and it was there that Hutchence befriended Andrew Farriss at Davidson High School on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Shortly, Michael and Andrew joined with Andrew's brothers Tim and Jon, as well as friends Garry Gary Beers and Kirk Pengilly to form their first band, The Farriss Brothers which would ultimately become INXS.

When, in 1979, the Farriss family moved to Perth, Western Australia, the rest of the band followed, returning to Sydney soon after. In 1980, the group released their first album, INXS, and put out their first single, "Simple Simon," which was soon followed by their first moderate Australian hit, "Just Keep Walking."http://www.gigwise.com/gallery/hutch2.jpg

Hutchence became the main spokesperson for the band and gained a reputation as a enigmatic, sensual frontman, although his close friends and family always maintained he was much more introverted than his on stage persona. A talented lyricist, he co-wrote almost all of INXS' songs with Andrew Farriss, who has attributed his own success as a songwriter to Hutchence's 'genius.'

In 1987, following several increasingly successful INXS albums, Hutchence appeared in the Australian movie Dogs in Space, directed by long-time INXS music video collaborator, Richard Lowenstein. In the film, some events are from Lowenstein's life when sharing a home with friend Sam Sejavka, played by Hutchence. In 1989, he released the album Max Q, a collaboration with Australian post-punk pioneer Ollie Olsen. In 1990, he played Percy Shelley in Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound.

Hutchence's private life was often reported in the Australian and international press, with a string of love affairs with prominent actresses, models and singers, including Kym Wilson and Helena Christensen. In 1989, Hutchence began a highly publicized relationship with Kylie Minogue, helping to transform her image from girl-next-door (a hang-over of her soap opera Neighbours fame), into a sexy, edgy dance-oriented pop diva.

Other brief romances included Berlin lead singer Terri Nunn, supermodel Elle MacPherson and Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle.

In 1990, INXS released X, which spawned more international hits such as "Suicide Blonde", "Disappear" and "Bitter Tears". A live album, Live Baby Live, followed in 1991.

Welcome To Wherever You Are, was released in 1992, to little chart success. That same year, Hutchence was involved in an altercation with a taxi driver in Denmark. He suffered a blow to the head and consequently lost his sense of smell and, partially, his sense of taste. This made him depressed and more aggressive. According to INXS band mate, Garry Gary Beers, Michael pulled a knife on him and threatened to kill him. This incident occurred during the recording of INXS' 1993 album, Full Moon Dirty Hearts.


INXS spent the mid-1990s trying to develop a successful new album after a series of critically acclaimed but less commercial releases.

During this time, Hutchence's relationship with Kylie Minogue ended, then he dated Danish supermodel Helena Christensen before starting a relationship with Paula Yates, whom he had met some years earlier during an interview and who was still married to Bob Geldof. Paula and Michael's affair was soon discovered by the English press. The pressure from the media was so intense that Hutchence once assaulted a photographer hounding him. Around this time, Yates' separation from husband Geldof became official, sparking an at-times bitter custody battle over their three daughters, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie. In 1996 Yates gave birth to Hutchence's only child, daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence, whom Paula claimed in a TV interview shortly after Michael's death was delivered in their bathroom. Like her sisters, the child was christened with an unusual name. It was Pixie who chose the name Heavenly, Michael chose Hiraani, and Paula chose Tiger Lily. They had chosen to call her Tiger since her birth. Michael once described his daughter as "just what we ordered."

After a period of inactivity and releases that received lukewarm critical review, INXS recorded the band's 10th official album in 1996, produced by Bruce Fairbairn and Andrew Farriss.

The new INXS album, Elegantly Wasted, was released in April 1997. Hutchence and INXS went on a world tour. The final leg of the tour was to be in Australia in November and December. However, on the morning of November 22, 1997, Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in his room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Bay, Sydney (now the Stamford Plaza). A belt found at the scene suggested that he had died by hanging.

The Coroner of New South Wales determined that Hutchence's death was the result of suicide but analysis of the witness statements in the Coroner's report, the lack of a suicide note and other anecdotal evidence, such as the fact that Hutchence was found nude has led some - including some of Hutchence's closest relatives, including his brother - to suggest that the cause of death may have resulted from autoerotic asphyxiation.

Kym Wilson and her then boyfriend Andrew Reyment were the last people to see Michael alive. Kym later became known as the "Suicide Blonde", after one of INXS' hits, which was originally written for Kylie Minogue.http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ksSdBOI1Ppk/Rp7y9L_oFrI/AAAAAAAAAkk/sRExuO9k3sc/s400/michael+hutchence.gif

Michael Hutchence's coffin was carried out of St. Andrews Cathedral by members of the band and his younger brother Rhett. "Never Tear Us Apart" was played in the background. The song is now known to many original fans as his anthem.

Paula Yates died on September 17, 2000 of what was ruled an accidental heroin overdose. She had been battling Hutchence's family for custody of Tigerlily, but ultimately it was decided that the child would live with Bob Geldof and be raised with her sisters.

The Melbourne newspaper The Age reported on 20 August 2005 about the disposition of Hutchence's estate and assets, estimated at $20 million. The remainder of Hutchence's estate was sold off and swallowed in legal fees. Millions of dollars in property and other assets, including on-going royalties from INXS, were held in "The Vocals Trust", a complex arrangement of international companies and trusts, of which Hutchence was not a beneficiary. Mr. Fisher, the man who set up this arrangement, has stated that Michael Hutchence used this structure to keep his wealth from his "thieving relatives", girlfriends and any wives. Others who have been linked with this scheme are Andrew Young; Tony Alford; Gordon Fisher; Andrew Paul; and Colin Diamond. Some of these have had their financial and personal credibility questioned.

Hutchence's long-in-the-works solo album, Michael Hutchence, was finally released in 1999. He had begun working on the album in 1995 and had last worked on it 3 days prior to his untimely death. The last song he recorded was "Possibilities". It was co written and co produced by Hutchence and a gaggle of collaborators - Andy Gill from Gang of Four, Tim Simenon of Bomb The Bass, and Danny Saber from Black Grape. It featured a duet with U2's Bono called "Slide Away"; Bono actually recorded his vocals after Hutchence's death. The movie, Limp, was also released in 1999 and featured a cameo by Hutchence, playing a record company A & R man. (Hutchence had filmed the scene in 1996 on a day off from working on INXS' Elegantly Wasted.)

From July to September 2005, a television show featured the members of INXS looking for a new singer to succeed Michael. The show, which aired on CBS, was called Rock Star: INXS. The winner was Canadian singer J.D. Fortune.

In 2006 it was announced that a biopic focusing on the life of Michael Hutchence was planned, initially in development with Morgan Freeman's production company, Revelations, and later by Australian production company, Shingle, and producers Clark Westerman and Rodney Wilson. The film, Slide Away, is set for release in 2009. The project is backed by Michael's trust and his brother, Rhett.INXS film is the new sensation

On November 22nd, 2007, the 10th anniversary of Michael's death, the remaining original members of INXS created a tribute page on their website, leaving testimonials to their friend and bandmate. Countless other tributes have been made throughout the world, citing Hutchence as one of Australia's finest and one of the world's last true rock stars.

Ten years after Michael's death, Rhett Hutchence revealed to Woman's Day that he is going to the Supreme Court to try and overturn the verdict of suicide, as he does not want Tiger growing up thinking her father intentionally left her.

The dispute between Bob Geldof and the Hutchence family over Michael's only child has continued. Geldof intends to legally adopt Tiger, against the wishes of Hutchence's mother and sister who believe Geldof wishes to change her surname to Geldof.


Last Updated on Saturday, 28 March 2009 12:57

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