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20th anniversary: World mourns death of Michael Hutchence

MUSIC fans around the world were sent into a state of shock when INXS frontman Michael Hutchence was found dead in a hotel room in Sydney on this day in 1997.

The Australian was ruled to have committed suicide after a long night spent at the Ritz-Carlton in Double Bay. He was 37.

Hutchence, born in Sydney, had a well-travelled upbringing that included stints in Hong Kong and California. But it was back in his hometown that he met classmate Andrew Farriss at Davidson High School near the Northern Beaches.

Farriss coaxed Hutchence to join his band, The Farriss Brothers, which also included his brothers Tim and Jon, Garry Beers and Kirk Pengilly in 1977.

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After a brief stint as The Vegetables, the band changed its name to INXS in 1979 and arguably Australia's greatest rock and roll band was born.

The band released its first album INXS and had its first Top 40 Australian hit with 'Just Keep Walking' in 1980.

Michael Hutchence died 20 years ago.
Michael Hutchence died 20 years ago.

After the band's second album, Underneath the Colours, Hutchence's on-stage personality, good looks and sex appeal quickly made him a star. Despite the media attention, close friends said the young frontman was more of an introvert away from the spotlight.

Introvert or not, his career continued to grow and, amongst recording new albums with INXS, he embarked on several side projects, including acting, that continued to build his reputation as one of Australia's greatest talents.

And then in 1987, Kick was released and, if they hadn't before, INXS and Hutchence were discovered by the world. The album spawned four US top 10 singles ('New Sensation', 'Never Tear Us Apart', 'Devil Inside, 'Need You Tonight') and helped the band sweep the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards.

On the back of that success, Hutchence became a global star with his love life, including the likes of Kylie Minogue and model Helena Christensen, dominating tabloid pages.

Helena Christensen attends Hutchence’s funeral in Sydney. (Pic: News Corp)
Helena Christensen attends Hutchence’s funeral in Sydney. (Pic: News Corp)

However, his personal life took over his professional career when the British press revealed Hutchence was having an affair with TV presenter Paula Yates, the wife of The Boomtown Rats singer and Live Aide organiser Bob Geldof, in 1994.

The coverage was intense and the couple were followed everywhere, leading to one incident where Hutchence assaulted a photographer.

Yates and Geldof split in 1995 (they divorced the next year) which led to a bitter custody battle that was often played out in the public arena.

However, in July, 1996, Hutchence and Yates welcomed their only child, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence.

But then tragedy stuck. Hutchence, in Australia for the end of INXS' world tour to support latest release, Elegantly Wasted, waited for a visit from Yates and his daughter. However, the ongoing dispute between Yates and Geldof kept her and their child in England.

From the book Michael In Pictures: Michael Hutchence with Paula Yates and Tiger-Lily. Picture: Supplied
From the book Michael In Pictures: Michael Hutchence with Paula Yates and Tiger-Lily. Picture: Supplied

On the night of the November 21, 1997, Hutchence was visited by former girlfriend Kym Wilson and her then boyfriend Andrew Reyment. They - the last people to see him alive - left at 4:50am.

During that night he angrily phoned Geldof, spoke with Yates, another former girlfriend, Michele Bennett, and left a message on his manager's phone: "Marth, Michael here. I've f---ing had enough."

Hutchence's body was discovered at 11:50am. Despite the coroner's report he had committed suicide, his family argued his death was accidental, with even Yates claiming his death may have resulted from autoerotic asphyxiation.

The tragedy of his death seemed to spark years of grief and never-ending disputes for the family. His mother, Patricia Glassop and sister Tina Schorr, said Yates made multiple threats of self-harm and harming Tiger if the couple did not wed. Yates then died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2000 with Tiger legally adopted by Geldof.

The Hutchence family than claimed Geldof pushed them out of the young girl's life.

Hutchence's long-awaited debut album, Michael Hutchence, was released posthumously in 1999.  

Topics:  inxs michael hutchence



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