Hutchence Death Details Emerge

November 24 [7:55 EDT] — More details are emerging about the death of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.

As we first reported early Saturday morning , the singer was found dead in his hotel room in Sydney, Australia, but few other details were released at the time leading to much speculation about the cause of the singer’s death.

Now, Monday’s “Sydney Morning Herald” reports that the singer had been found Saturday, November 22 just before noon Sydney time hanging naked from the self-closing apparatus attached behind the main door of his hotel by a hotel employee who had been sent by Hutchence’s handlers to check on him. Hutchence had been late joining the rest of INXS at an Australian studio.

The paper reports that the police are so far unofficially calling it a suicide (officially, all the authorities are saying is the cause of death was from hanging), and that they have ruled out kinky sex. “There was no toga party
or anything,” one officer told the paper. Toxicology reports are likely weeks away.

They appear to be basing much of their hypothesis on the presence of legally prescribed Prozac, an anti-depressant, in his room. But friends and music industry co-workers, given the available evidence at this time, say they’re not so sure that autoerotic asphyxiation isn’t to blame. The practice, which involves blocking the air supply for supposedly heightened sexual self-gratification, is a growing trend that’s taken the lives of several prominent entertainment, business and political figures in recent years.

Possible key evidence, however, remains undisclosed. Although they confirmed that no suicide note was found, police at press time had not released the contents or tone of a message Hutchence left on a friend’s answering machine at 9 a.m., nor a note that the same as-yet-unidentified woman later slid under his door. She had knocked on the door but failed to get a response.

Hutchence’s
last hours otherwise gave little or no hint that he was about to take his own life. He had dinner with his father and stepmother the previous evening, and drinks with friends in the hotel bar and later in his room. From all reports, he was upbeat and looking forward to the start of the band’s home country tour and to the arrival of his mate, Paula Yates, and their 16-month old daughter, Tiger, on Monday from England.

He had little reason to be depressed. The latest INXS album “Elegantly Wasted,” had been reasonably successful in the States and very successful in Australia and other major markets like England and Canada. Hutchence also had a solo album waiting in the wings, recorded just after the INXS album with help from Depeche Mode producer Tim Simenon, Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gibb and studio ace Danny Saber among others. The project was expected to be released in 1998 once “Elegantly Wasted” had run its course.

Hutchence had also been talking to several movie
people, most notably actor/producer/director Michael Douglas, about projects in the film industry. Yates had been offered a TV hosting job and the two were seriously considering relocating to Australia from London, mostly to escape the British tabloids who had been hounding the couple since their affair became public over two years ago.

Hutchence had met Yates when she interviewed him in bed for Britain’s “Big Breakfast” program. Within weeks she had left husband Bob Geldof and their three children to move in with Hutchence. A bitter custody battle ensued with Geldof, which the tabloids covered like glue. She soon became pregnant with Hutchence’s daughter, subsequently named Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lilly. The suit with Geldof was eventually settled amicably.

Although Hutchence, his father and his manager all vehemently denied reports he was going to be marrying Yates on a tropical island in January, the couple were said to be happy. A story of his sexual exploits while
in tour in South Africa made headlines in the British tabs this summer, but the relationship survived. The “Herald” reports that the day before he died, Hutchence had sent Yates a dozen roses with a card that read, “To All My Beautiful Girls, All My Love, Michael.”

On the other hand, most sources are giving serious thought to the possibility of death by sexual misadventure, although Yates’ lawyer has also discounted that theory. “I can’t say Michael had a sex problem,” said one source who worked closely with Hutchence. “It was really only a problem for Paula because of all the other women. He was always a gentleman, but he was very, very sexual.”

In other news, the BBC reports that Yates got into an altercation with a British Airways employee on the 21-hour flight from London to Sydney during a stopover in Thailand. Another passenger told the British broadcaster that Yates was treated poorly by a Thai official who unsympathetically demanded she reboard the plane, denied
her a buggy for her baby and ended up kicking her. Yates, said to be on sedatives, threw champagne at the offending official and police were called. The flight was delayed a half-hour, but Yates eventually reboarded the plane and flew on to Sydney where she remains in seclusion.