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Tribute: Michael Hutchence

Michael Hutchence was a sensual and charismatic performer. Possibly one of the sexiest men to ever grace a stage, he was the Jim Morrison for the uber-sexed generation coming of age in the 1980s. What his music couldn't do to you, his looks could. He gave a band (INXS) that might have otherwise been lost in '80s Pop a distinction - pure, primal, unadulterated sex appeal. Hutchence was raw, and unlike most singers of the decade, he was natural, never utilizing make-up or costumes. His only props were his voice and his body, and both were beauty, capable of astonishing feats. His love songs were populated by sensual imagery and some of the most honest confessions of love and desire ever put to music. "We will make time stop for the two of us, make time stop and listen for our sighs. Not enough time for all that I want for you, not enough time for every kiss, and every touch, and all the nights I want to be inside you." ("Not Enough Time" from Welcome to Wherever You Are.)

Michael Hutchence

Michael Kelland John Hutchence was born 22 January 1960, in Sydney, Australia. He was raised in Hong Kong, returning to Australia in his teens. INXS formed in the late '70s, and in 1980, the band released thier first album, INXS. Their first single was "Simple Simon" followed by "Just Keep Walking." Hutchence co-wrote most of INXS's songs, and bandmate, Andrew Farriss, credited his own success as a songwriter to Hutchence's "genius."

In 1987, the band released Kick, which went on to sell more than 10 million copies in the U.S. The album produced four top ten singles, including " "Need You Tonight"/"Mediate," "Devil Inside," "New Sensation" and "Never Tear Us Apart." The video for "Need You Tonight"/"Meditate" won five MTV Video Music Awards. Their next album, X (1990) contained the hits, "Suicide Blonde," "Disappear," and "Bitter Tears." On their 1993 release, Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, INXS collaborated with Chrissie Hynde and Ray Charles. INXS won numerous awards and, in 2001, was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame. (A complete list of the group's honors and awards is given further along on this page.)

Michael Hutchence

While recording albums and performing, INXS also created several songs for film soundtracks, including "Do Wot You Do" (Pretty in Pink, 1986), "Laying Down the Law" and "Good Times" - both with Jimmy Barnes (The Lost Boys, 1987), and "Don't Lose Your Head" (Face/Off, 1997). Hutchence (solo) covered Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" for Batman Forever (1995). In 1986, Hutchence starred in the film Dogs in Space and contributed to the soundtrack ("Rooms for the Memory," "Dogs in Space," and "Golf Course"). In 1989, he released the album, Max Q, with his side project of the same name.

Hutchence's personal life rivaled his professional career for media headlines. He was romantically linked to some of the most beautiful women in the world, including supermodels Helena Christensen and Elle MacPherson, Australian actress Kym Wilson, Terri Nunn (lead singer of '80s band, Berlin), and singers Belinda Carlisle and Kylie Minogue. But it was his relationship with the wife of musician/philanthropist, Bob Geldof, that ushered in Hutchence's downfall. He first encountered writer and television host ("The Tube," "The Big Breakfast"), Paula Yates, in 1989; their affair picked up in earnest in 1993. Yates left Geldof for Hutchence in 1995, and the divorce was finalized in May of 1996. Two months later, Yates's daughter with Hutchence, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, was born. Yates and Geldof embarked on a bitter custody battle over the couple's three children, impeded by Yates's use of illegal drugs. (She was arrested in September 1996 when opium was found at her home.)

Hutchence shirtless

On 21 November 1997, Hutchence was in Australia visiting family and preparing for the final leg of a tour supporting the latest INXS album, Elegantly Wasted. Reports vary as to his mood, but it was said that he was upset by the fact that Geldof would not allow his three daughters to leave England for the Christmas holidays. (Thus preventing Yates and Tiger Lily from joining Hutchence in Australia.) Supposedly he called Yates and his last words to her were, "I love you. I’m going to ring Bob and beg him to allow the children to come over here with you."

Hutchence smoking

Hutchence had dinner with his father, Kelland, at the Flavour of India Restaurant. Later he went out with ex-girlfriend Kym Wilson, and her boyfriend Christopher Stollery. They went to the bar of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (now the Stamford Plaza), where Hutchence was staying. Around 11:30 pm, they went upstairs to room 524 and continued drinking. Wilson and Stolley left around 4 am. Supposedly during that night, Hutchence called Geldof in a rage. About nine o'clock in the morning, Hutchence made another call, to ex-girlfriend Michelle Bennett, to have breakfast. She wasn’t there, so he left a message. A while later, Benett recieved the message and went to Hutchence's room, but there was no answer. She slipped a note under the door and left. At 11:50 am on Saturday, 22 November 1997, the maid came to clean the room. When she recieved no reply, she entered.

Michael Hutchence

Hutchence had hanged himself with his belt and the buckle broke away, so his body was found kneeling on the floor and facing the door. He was naked. There was no suicide note. Beer, champagne, vodka, cocaine, Prozac, and other prescription drugs were found in his system. The coroner ruled his death a suicide, but analysis of witness statements, the lack of a suicide note, and the fact that he was found naked, has led some people - including his brother and other close relatives - to believe that his death may have been the result of autoerotic asphyxiation. He was 37.

This is a link to the Inquest into the Death of Michael Kelland Hutchence, filed by the New South Wales coroner, where he disregards the theory of autoerotic asphyxiation in favor of suicide.

These are copies of the statements given to Australian police by Paula Yates and Belinda Brewin ("close friend" to Ms. Yates). The statements are dated 26 November 1997.

The following YouTube link, produced on the tenth anniversary of the singer's death, chronicles his funeral. It is quite touching.

Hutchence's casket was carried out of St. Andrew's Cathedral (below) by members of INXS and his younger brother, Rhett (in the red striped suit - a gift from Michael). "Never Tear Us Apart" was played in the background. Nick Cave played "Into My Arms" during the funeral, demanding that television cameras be off during the performance. Bono (U2), a good friend of Hutchence, wrote the song, "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of," as a response to Hutchence's final act. Hutchence was cremated and his ashes were divided. His father, mother and Paula Yates each received 1/3 of his remains. On 22 January 1998, his father spread his share of his ashes in Sydney Harbour.

Hutchence's funeral

Hutchence also has a plot in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in Los Angeles. And a memorial was erected in the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium in Sydney, Australia. The first panel of the monument shows a photograph of Hutchence, the center panel is his memorial (below), and the third panel has the lyrics for the INXS song, "Shine Like It Does," hand written by Hutchence and reproduced in bronze.

This is a link to the Official Michael Hutchence Memorial Website, originally updated by his father, Kelland (who died in 2002) and step-mother, Susie. The site has detailed information on Hutchence's funeral, ashes ceremony and the one-year memorial service.

Hutchence's memorial

Hutchence's memorial reads:

In loving memory of

Michael Kelland Hutchence

22 January 1960 - 22 November 1997

Beloved son of Patricia and Kelland,

brother of Rhett and Tina, partner of Paula,

father of Tiger Lily

A sensitive and loving soul who

touched hearts around the world

so dearly loved - so sadly missed

"Stay Young"

Ashes scattered in Rose Bay 22 January 1998

Hutchence's grave

Paula Yates could never seem to get over the death of Michael Hutchence. She once attempted to hang herself. On Sunday 17 September 2000, a friend called Yates. Four-year-old Tiger Lily answered the phone, stating that she couldn't wake her mother. The "partner" of Michael Hutchence and mother to his only child, was dead. She was 41. The coroner listed the cause of death as "non-dependant abuse of heroin," meaning she overdosed on heroin but was not a habitual user. She was cremated; the location of her ashes is not known. In an ironic twist of fate, ex-husband Bob Geldof assumed custody of Tiger Lily so that she could be raised with her three half-sisters. He later adopted the child, changing her name to Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof.

In 2014, the UK's Daily Mail published an online interview with the two detectives who investigated Michael Hutchence's final hours. They shed some light onto the disturbing details that preceded the singer's death.



Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Award - Best Group.
Five MTV Video Music Awards for "Need You Tonight": Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best Editing, Breakthrough Video, and Viewer's Choice.
Three ARIA Awards: Best Group, Best Video and Outstanding Achievement Award.
Australian Music Awards for Best Australian Band and Best Video for "Baby Don't Cry".
ARIA Award for Best Group Album "Live Baby Live".
ARIA Award, Best Video for "The Gift"
Inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame.
Other honors
1986 - MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best Group Video, "What You Need".
1988 - Nominated, MTV Video Music Awards for Best Concept Video, Best Special Effects and Best Art Direction, "Need You Tonight".
1989 - Nominated for International Artist of the Year, Juno Awards.
1989 - Nominated for a Grammy Award, Best Rock Vocal, Group - "Kick".
1989 - MTV Video Music Awards nomination - Best Art Direction for "New Sensation".
1986 - MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best Group Video, "What You Need".
INXS is the third-highest selling Australian music act in the United States (after AC/DC and The Bee Gees).



INXS, 1980

Underneath the Colours, 1981

INXSive, 1982 (compilation)

Shabooh Shoobah, 1982

Dekadance, 1983

The Swing, 1984

Listen Like Thieves, 1985

Kick, 1987

X, 1990

Live Baby Live, 1991 (Live at Wembley Stadium)

Welcome to Wherever You Are, 1992

Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, 1993

Elegantly Wasted, 1997

Max Q., 1989 (released by Hutchence's side project, Max Q)

Michael Hutchence, solo album, released posthumously in 1999


INXS - Selected Singles

"The One Thing"

"Don't Change"

"Original Sin"

"What You Need"

"Listen Like Thieves"

"Shine Like It Does"

"New Sensation"

"The Devil Inside"

"Need You Tonight"/"Mediate"

"The Loved One"

"Never Tear Us Apart"

"Suicide Blonde"


"The Stairs"

"Bitter Tears"

"Taste It"

"Not Enough Time"

"Baby Don't Cry"

"The Strangest Party"

"Elegantly Wasted"

"Don't Lose Your Head"


"I'm Just a Man"


"Shine Like It Does"

This is the power

Since time began

Every single hour

That we have known

And from each moment

All that is left

Sleep of the innocent

Just one desire

Shine like it does

Into every heart

Shine like it does

And if you're looking

Well you will find it

This is the story

Since time began

There will come a day

When we will know

Shine like it does

Into every heart

Shine like it does

And if you're looking

Well you will find it

Shine like it does

Into every heart

Shine like it does

And if you're looking

Well you will find it

You will find it

You will find it

You will find it

You will find it