- Category : Musician - Popular
- Type : GE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Distraction 2
Michael Kelland John Hutchence (22 January 1960 – 22 November 1997) was an Australian musician and actor. He was a founding member and the lead singer and lyricist of rock band INXS from 1977 until his death in 1997.
Hutchence was a member of short-lived pop rock group Max Q and recorded solo material which was released posthumously. He acted in feature films, including Dogs in Space (1986), Frankenstein Unbound (1990) and "Limp" (1997). According to rock music historian, Ian McFarlane, "Hutchence was the archetypal rock showman. He exuded an overtly sexual, macho cool with his flowing locks, and lithe and exuberant stage movements". Hutchence won the 'Best International Artist' at the 1991 BRIT Awards with INXS winning the related group award.
His private life was often reported in the Australian and international press, with a string of love affairs with prominent actresses, models and singers. Hutchence's relationship with UK television presenter Paula Yates began while she was divorcing musician and Live Aid organiser, Bob Geldof. Hutchence and Yates had a daughter in 1996.
On the morning of 22 November 1997, Hutchence was found dead in his hotel room in Sydney. His death was reported by the New South Wales Coroner to be the result of suicide. In 2000, Yates died of an accidental heroin overdose. The couple's daughter was placed in Geldof's custody with her half-sisters.
Early life and career
Michael Kelland John Hutchence was born on 22 January 1960, the son of Sydney businessman, Kelland ("Kell") Hutchence and make-up artist, Patricia (née Kennedy). Michael was of English ancestry. His half-sister, Tina, was 11 years old when Kell and Patricia married in January 1959. Following Kell's business interests, the Hutchence family moved to Brisbane where younger brother Rhett was born, and subsequently relocated to Hong Kong as a result of his father taking a job at an Australian trading company. Whilst in Hong Kong, Michael showed a lot of promise in a possible swimming career before breaking his arm badly. He then began to show interest in poetry and performed his first song in a local toy store commercial, before attending King George V School during his early teens.
The family returned to Sydney in 1972, buying a house in Belrose near the Northern Beaches when Michael was in his mid-teens. Michael attended Killarney Heights High School where he met Andrew Farriss and they became good friends. Around this time Hutchence and Farriss would spend a lot of time jamming in the garage with Andrew's brothers. Farriss then convinced Hutchence to join his band, Doctor Dolphin, alongside two classmates, Kent Kerny and Neil Sanders. From nearby Forest High School, bass guitarist Garry Beers and Geoff Kennelly on drums filled out the line-up. The boys transferred to Davidson High School where they became serious about the idea of starting a proper band. Hutchence's parents separated when he was 15 and, in 1976 for a short time, he lived with Patricia and Tina in California.
Hutchence returned to Sydney with his mother. In 1977, a new band, The Farriss Brothers, was formed with Tim Farriss on lead guitar, his younger brother Andrew as keyboardist, and youngest brother Jon on drums. Andrew brought on-board Hutchence as lead vocalist and Beers on bass guitar, and Tim brought his former band mate Kirk Pengilly on guitar and saxophone. The band made their debut on 16 August 1977 at Whale Beach, 40 km (25 mi) north of Sydney.
In 1978, the parents of the Farriss boys moved to Perth, Western Australia, taking Jon, who was still at high school. After Hutchence and Andrew finished their secondary schooling, the rest of the group followed. They briefly performed as The Vegetables, singing "We Are the Vegetables". Ten months later, they returned to Sydney, where they recorded a set of demos. The Farriss Brothers regularly supported hard rockers Midnight Oil on the pub rock circuit, and were renamed as INXS in 1979. Their first performance under the new name was on 1 September at the Oceanview Hotel in Toukley. In May 1980, the group released their first single, "Simple Simon" / "We Are the Vegetables" which was followed by the debut album, INXS, in October. Their first Top 40 Australian hit on the Kent Music Report Singles Chart, "Just Keep Walking", was released in September. During the 1980s, Hutchence resided at the apartment block at the end of Kirketon Road, Darlinghurst, Sydney.
Hutchence became the main spokesperson for the band and, according to rock music historian, Ian McFarlane, "He was the archetypal rock showman. He exuded an overtly sexual, macho cool with his flowing locks, and lithe and exuberant stage movements". Close friends and family, however, maintain he was more introverted than his on-stage persona. He co-wrote almost all of INXS's songs with Andrew Farriss, who has attributed his own success as a songwriter to Hutchence's "genius".
According to Hutchence, "Most of the songs on Underneath the Colours were written in a relatively short space of time. Most bands shudder at the prospect of having 20 years to write their first album and four days to write their second. For us, though, it was good. It left less room for us to go off on all sorts of tangents". Soon after recording sessions for Underneath the Colours – produced by Richard Clapton – had finished, band members started work on outside projects. Hutchence recorded "Speed Kills", written by Don Walker of hard rockers Cold Chisel, for the Freedom (1982) film soundtrack, directed by Scott Hicks. It was Hutchence's first solo single and was released by WEA in early 1982.
Stardom and acting career
In March 1985, after Hutchence and INXS recorded their album The Swing (1984), WEA released the Australian version of Dekadance, as a limited edition cassette only EP of six tracks including remixes from the album. The cassette also included a cover version of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood's hit "Jackson", which Hutchence sang as a duet with Jenny Morris, a backing singer for The Swing sessions. The EP reached No 2 on the Kent Music Report Albums Chart. Hutchence provided vocals for new wave band Beargarden's 1985 single release.
On 19 May, INXS won seven awards at the 1984 Countdown Music and Video Awards ceremony, including 'Best Songwriter' for Hutchence and Andrew, and 'Most Popular Male' for Hutchence. They performed "Burn for You", dressed in Akubras (hats) and Drizabones (outdoor coats/oilskin jackets) followed by Hutchence and Morris singing "Jackson" to close. INXS performed five songs for the July Oz for Africa concert, in conjunction with the Live Aid benefit organised by United Kingdom musician, Bob Geldof. Two of their songs, "What You Need" and "Don't Change", were also in the BBC broadcast and are contained on Live Aid's four DVD boxed set released in 2004.
In 1986, Hutchence acted as Sam the lead male role, in the Australian film Dogs in Space, directed by long-time INXS music video collaborator Richard Lowenstein. Sam's girlfriend, Anna, was portrayed by Saskia Post as a "fragile peroxide blonde in op-shop clothes". Some events are based on Lowenstein's life when sharing a home in a Melbourne inner suburb with friend Sam Sejavka (Beargarden) when Sam was in the band The Ears, in the late 1970s. Hutchence provided four songs on the film's soundtrack. A cover version of "Rooms for the Memory", a song by Whirlywirld (a post punk band that included Ollie Olsen), was released as a solo single. It peaked at No. 11 in February 1987. Back in 1979, both INXS and Whirlywirld had played at the Crystal Ballroom, in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, which featured in the film. According to music journalist and author, James Cockington, "St Kilda was about drugs. Fitzroy Street was the smack capital of Melbourne, with heroin being openly traded on the footpath."
Late in 1986, before commencing work on a new INXS album and while supposedly taking an eight-month break, their management decided to stage the Australian Made tour as a series of major outdoor concerts across the country. The roster featured INXS, Jimmy Barnes (Cold Chisel), Models, Divinyls, Mental as Anything, The Triffids and I'm Talking. To promote the tour, Hutchence and Barnes shared vocals on: The Easybeats cover "Good Times" and "Laying Down the Law" which Barnes cowrote with Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Hutchence and Pengilly. "Good Times" was used as the theme for the concert series of 1986–1987. It peaked at No. 2 on the Australian charts, and months later was featured in the Joel Schumacher film The Lost Boys and its soundtrack, allowing it to peak at No. 47 in the U.S. on 1 August 1987. Divinyls' lead singer, Chrissie Amphlett enjoyed the tour and reconnected with Hutchence, " was a sweet man, who said in one interview that he wanted me to have his baby".
In 1987, Hutchence provided vocals for Richard Clapton's album Glory Road which was produced by Jon Farriss. INXS released Kick in October, which provided the band with worldwide popularity, it peaked at No. 1 in Australia, No. 3 on the US Billboard 200, No. 9 in UK, and No. 15 in Austria. It was an upbeat, confident album that yielded four Top 10 U.S. singles, "New Sensation", "Never Tear Us Apart", "Devil Inside" and No. 1 "Need You Tonight". "Need You Tonight" peaked No. 2 on the UK charts, No. 3 in Australia, and No. 10 in France. The song is not lyrically complex, it is Hutchence's performance where "he sings in kittenish whisper, gently drawing back with the incredible lust of a tiger hunting in the night... Hutchence knows the prey will eventually come to him" that makes the song "as sexy and funky as any white rock group has ever been". They toured heavily behind the album throughout 1987 and 1988. The video, directed by Lowenstein, for the 1987 INXS track "Mediate" (which played after the video for "Need You Tonight") replicated the format of Bob Dylan's video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues", even in its use of apparently deliberate errors. In September 1988 the band swept the MTV Video Music Awards with the video for "Need You Tonight/Mediate" winning in five categories.
In 1989, Hutchence collaborated further with Olsen for the Max Q project, they were joined by members of Olsen's previous groups including Whirlywirld, No and Orchestra of Skin and Bone. They released a self-titled album and three singles, "Way of the World", "Sometimes" and "Monday Night by Satellite". Max Q disbanded in 1990. Max Q showed Hutchence explore the darker side of his music and, with Olsen, they created "one of the most innovative dance music albums of the decade". Hutchence wrote most of the music and provided "an extraordinary performance...it was one of the most significant statements Hutchence was to make". Hutchence, from the late-1980s lived outside Australia, mostly in the United Kingdom. In 1990, Hutchence portrayed nineteenth-century Romantic poet, Percy Shelley, in Roger Corman's film version of Frankenstein Unbound based on a science fiction time travel story of the same name written by Brian Aldiss.
In 1990, INXS released X, which spawned more international hits such as "Suicide Blonde" and "Disappear" (both Top 10 in the US). "Suicide Blonde" peaked at No. 2 in Australia and No. 11 in the UK. Hutchence and Kylie Minogue attended the premiere of her 1989 film, The Delinquents, which depicts her in a platinum blonde wig. Hutchence, with Andrew Farriss, wrote the song after Minogue used the phrase, suicide blonde, to describe her look during filming. Hutchence won the 'Best International Artist' at the 1991 BRIT Awards with INXS winning the related group award. Hutchence provided vocals for pub rockers, Noiseworks' album, Love Versus Money (1991).
Welcome to Wherever You Are was released in August 1992 but INXS did not tour to support the album. It received good critical reviews and went to No. 1 in the UK and in Sweden; No. 2 in Australia and Switzerland, and No. 3 in Norway; but had less chart success in the U.S. peaking at No. 16. Helena Christensen and Hutchence were cycling when he collided with a taxi and its driver assaulted him. As a result, Hutchence's fractured skull left him with substantial loss of the sense of smell and partial loss of taste. This led to periods of depression and increased levels of aggression; he had not fully recovered after two weeks in a Copenhagen hospital. According to INXS bandmate Beers, Hutchence pulled a knife and threatened to kill him during the 1993 recording of Full Moon, Dirty Hearts on the isle of Capri. "Over those six weeks, Michael threatened or physically confronted nearly every member of the band. Suicide blonde, right?"
Spud Entertainment made an independent film in the United States/Vancouver called "Limp" that had a cameo appearance by Michael Hutchence. It is his last known work. He played a jaded A&R representative in the music industry named Clive. The movie was filmed while the band was recording tracks such as "Elegantly Wasted" up in Canada.
Later career and Paula Yates
Hutchence and INXS faced reduced commercial success with Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, especially in the U.S. The band took time off to rest and be with their families, while Hutchence remained in the public eye through his romances. He commenced work on a self-titled solo album in the mid-1990s. During this time, his relationship with Christensen ended when he renewed his friendship with UK television presenter Paula Yates. He had met Yates in 1985, during an interview for her program, The Tube; her marriage with The Boomtown Rats' lead singer and Live Aid organiser, Geldof, was already in a crisis. Yates interviewed Hutchence again in 1994 for her Big Breakfast show and their affair was soon uncovered by the British press. By that time, Geldof and Yates had three daughters, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie and had married in 1986. Media scrutiny was intense and Hutchence assaulted a photographer who had followed the couple. Yates' separation from Geldof in February 1995 sparked a public and at times bitter custody battle over their daughters – they divorced in May 1996. On 22 July, Yates gave birth to Hutchence's only child, their daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence, whom Yates claimed was delivered in their bathroom. Like her half-sisters, she was christened with an unusual name. Pixie chose Heavenly, Hutchence picked Hiraani, and Yates provided Tiger Lily; she was called Tiger and Hutchence described her as "just what we ordered".
After a period of inactivity and releases that received lukewarm reviews, INXS recorded the band's 10th official album, Elegantly Wasted, in 1996, produced by Bruce Fairbairn and Andrew Farriss. At the 1996 BRIT Awards, Hutchence presented Oasis with the 'Best Video' trophy. While singer Liam Gallagher was receptive to Hutchence, lead guitarist Noel Gallagher objected to his presence, and opined that "Has-beens shouldn't be presenting awards to gonna-bes". In response, for the 1997 song Elegantly Wasted, Hutchence added some additional vocals: "I'm better than Oasis".
Hutchence and INXS went on a world tour to support the April 1997 release of Elegantly Wasted, both the album and its related singles having had less chart success than their prior releases. The final leg of their 20th anniversary tour was to be in Australia in November and December. However, on the morning of 22 November 1997, Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in Room 524 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Bay, Sydney.
On 6 February 1998, after an autopsy and coronial inquest, New South Wales State Coroner, Derrick Hand, presented his report which ruled that Hutchence's death was a suicide while depressed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Former girlfriend Kym Wilson and her then boyfriend, Andrew Reyment, were the last people to see Hutchence alive when they left him at 4:50 am; he was still awaiting a phone call from Yates in London concerning whether she would bring their daughter Tiger to Australia. Hutchence's second last outgoing phone call was to his personal manager, Martha Troup's voice-mail, "Marth, Michael here. I've fucking had enough". When Troup returned the call there was no answer. At 9:54 am he talked to his former longtime girlfriend, Michele Bennett, who stated that he was crying, sounded upset and said he needed to see her. Bennett arrived at his door at about 10:40 am but, there was no response. Hutchence's body was discovered by a hotel maid at 11:50 am. Police reported that, "He was in a kneeling position facing the door. He had used his snake skin belt to tie a knot on the automatic door closure at the top of the door, and had strained his head forward into the loop so hard that the buckle had broken".
After Hutchence's death, Geldof and Yates each gave police statements on the phone calls they exchanged with Hutchence that morning but did not volunteer their phone records. Yates' statement on November 26 included "He was frightened and couldn't stand a minute more without his baby ... was terribly upset and he said, 'I don't know how I'll live without seeing Tiger'". Yates contended that Geldof had repeatedly said, "Don't forget, I am above the law" referring to his influence since Live Aid. Her statement said that she had informed Hutchence of the custody hearing being adjourned until 17 December and that consequently she would not be bringing their daughter out to Australia as previously intended. Yates indicated that Hutchence said he was going to phone Geldof, "to let Tiger come to Australia".
Geldof's police statements and evidence to the coroner indicated that he patiently listened to Hutchence who was "hectoring and abusive and threatening". A friend of Yates and Geldof confirmed the substance of this call and added that Geldof had said, "I know what time the call ended, it was 20 to 7, I was going to log it as a threatening call". The occupant in the room next to Room 524 heard a loud male voice and swearing at about 5 am, the coroner was satisfied that this was Hutchence arguing with Geldof.
On 27 November, Hutchence's coffin was carried out of St. Andrew's Cathedral by members of the band and his younger brother Rhett. "Never Tear Us Apart" was played in the background. Nick Cave, a friend of Hutchence, performed his 1997 song "Into My Arms" during the funeral and requested that television cameras be switched off. Rhett claimed in his 2004 book, Total XS, that on the previous day at the funeral parlour, Yates had put a gram of heroin into the dead Hutchence's pocket. He was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney.
In 1999, Yates claimed that Hutchence's death may have resulted from autoerotic asphyxiation, in a paid interview on 60 Minutes, in a documentary film on Channel 4 Television and in opposition to her previous statements given to the police investigators and the coroner. Hand had specifically considered the suggestions of accidental death (coupled with the fact that Hutchence left no suicide note) but had discounted it based on substantial evidence presented to the contrary. Despite the official coroner's report, fans and relatives considered his death accidental. In 2000, Patricia Glassop (Hutchence's mother, who had remarried) and Tina Schorr (his sister), gave an interview on This Morning asserting that Yates had, on more than one occasion, made threats of harming herself or the baby if Hutchence did not marry her; and, that they believed she said this again on the morning of his death, directly precipitating his suicide.
Simon LeBon of Duran Duran, a close friend of Hutchence, wrote the lyrics to the song "Michael, You've Got A Lot To Answer For" about his friend and the apparent troubles he was having at the time. The song appears on their October 1997 release Medazzaland, and ends with the line "And I know that you're going to call... if you need me." Hutchence was found dead less than a month after the album came out.
Bono of the Irish rock band U2, a good friend of Hutchence, wrote "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of", which is interpreted as an intervention with him. In a 2005 interview, Bono regretted that he had not spent more time with Hutchence. Alison Hewson had seen Hutchence prior to the Australian trip and noted "he looked a bit shaky to her".
INXS decided to continue without Hutchence and, on 14 November 1998, they performed at Mushroom Records' 25th anniversary concert – recorded as Mushroom 25 Live – with Jimmy Barnes handling vocals. In June 1999 U.S. singer, Terence Trent D'Arby, provided vocals for INXS at the opening of facilities for 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. From May 2000 they performed with former Noiseworks front man, Jon Stevens who officially joined in 2002 to start recording a new INXS album but the sessions only provided one track and Stevens left in 2003. In 2005, INXS took their search for a lead singer to Rock Star: INXS, a reality TV show on CBS. The winner was Canadian singer J.D. Fortune – they subsequently released Switch on 29 November and Original Sin in October 2010.
Hutchence's solo album, Michael Hutchence, was finally released in October 1999. He had started on the album in 1995, recording songs in between INXS sessions and had last worked on it three days prior to his death. The last song he recorded was "Possibilities". The album was co-written and co-produced by Hutchence and various collaborators – Andy Gill (Gang of Four), Bernard Fowler (The Rolling Stones backing singer), Tim Simenon (Bomb the Bass), and Danny Saber (Black Grape). It has a duet with U2's Bono, "Slide Away", with Bono's vocals recorded after Hutchence's death. The movie, Limp (1999) includes a cameo by Hutchence, playing a record company A&R man – he had filmed his scene in 1996 on a day off working on INXS's Elegantly Wasted.
On 18 June 2000, his mother Patricia and sister Tina released their book, Just a Man: The Real Michael Hutchence, which is described as "an odd biography ... combines the basic facts of Hutchence's early life...with an almost too-intimate view of the authors' feelings". Yates died on 17 September of an accidental heroin overdose – she was discovered by four-year-old Tiger. Geldof filed for custody of Tiger the next day, although not directly related, to be raised with her half-sisters. Hutchence's family members were not given Geldof's permission to join the custody hearings – Patricia and Tina initiated legal proceedings to pursue custody. On 12 December 2002, Hutchence's father, Kelland, died of cancer in Sydney. Kelland had helped create and maintain a memorial website for his son from 1999.
On 20 August 2005, Melbourne's The Age reported on the disposition of Hutchence's estate and assets, estimated at between $10 to $20 million but containing virtually nothing. The remainder of his estate had been sold off and swallowed in legal fees. Millions of dollars in property and other assets, including ongoing royalties from INXS, were held in 'The Vocals Trust', a complex arrangement of international companies and trusts, of which Hutchence was not a beneficiary. Gordon Fisher, who set up the arrangement, stated that Hutchence used this structure to keep his wealth from his "thieving relatives" and "girlfriends". Others linked with this scheme are Andrew Young, Tony Alford, Andrew Paul and Colin Diamond, some of whom have had their financial and personal credibility questioned.
On 22 November 2007, the 10th anniversary of Hutchence's death, the original members of INXS created a tribute page on their official website. Rhett revealed to Woman's Day magazine that he was going to the Supreme Court to try to overturn the verdict of suicide, as he does not want Tiger growing up thinking her father intentionally left her.
The dispute between Geldof and Hutchence family members over Tiger continued. Geldof legally adopted Tiger, against the wishes of Patricia and Tina, who disagreed with Geldof changing her surname to Hutchence-Geldof. In July 2009, Patricia protested that Geldof had prevented access to her granddaughter for three years, "It's totally cruel and unnecessary. I've lost my husband and now I have a granddaughter who doesn't even know her beloved Grandpa Ross has died. We have been completely cut out of her life by Bob Geldof." Patricia requested a visit with Tiger from Geldof for the 50th anniversary of Hutchence's birth (22 January 2010) and indicated that she accepted her son's death as being a suicide. Patricia died on 21 September 2010, Tiger was not in attendance at her funeral due to Geldof's fear of attention that would be generated. Her uncle Rhett indicated that Geldof had sent condolences, that he had spoken to Tiger and agreed it was advisable to keep the 14-year-old out of the media.