Although results for toxicology tests conducted Monday on the body of INXS
leader Michael Hutchence will not be available for several weeks, a
post-mortem examination confirmed that the singer died from hanging on
Saturday, according to the Australia Associated Press.
As Hutchence's partner Paula Yates arrived in Sydney from London to be with
his grieving family and bandmates, local reports dispelled rumors
surrounding the 37-year-old singer's suicide and began to draw a more
complete picture of his final hours.
Hutchence was found just before noon Sydney time on Saturday, naked and
hanging from a leather belt attached to the door of his exclusive room at
the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the suburb of Double Bay. The singer and his
band were in the midst of preparations for a 20th anniversary tour of their
homeland dubbed "Lose Your Head" after a track on their last album, 1997's
Soon after the world learned of Hutchence's suicide, British tabloids began
speculating that the singer had actually died from accidental asphyxiation,
after attempting to obstruct his own air supply for heightened sexual
gratification. Although Hutchence had over the
years earned a reputation as an avid party boy with a hearty sexual appetite,
Australian police denounced the accidental death theory as bogus.
"It's the biggest load of rubbish ever," Senior Constable Mark Hargreaves
told The Australian newspaper.
In Double Bay, fans began leaving flowers, cards and burning candles
outside the Ritz-Carlton, while Australian news outlets continue to pore
over the details of the final hours of their country's biggest rock star.
Police have revealed that Hutchence was still alive at 9 a.m. on
Saturday, when he telephoned a local female friend and left a message on
her answering machine, according to Sydney's Morning Herald
newspaper. The woman later arrived at Room 534 where Hutchence was
staying, and after he failed to answer her knock, left a note under the
door. Neither the woman's identity nor the content of the note have been
Authorities did say they found five prescription drugs in the singer's
room, including the anti-depressant Prozac. None who knew Hutchence,
however, has yet reported the singer as being troubled before he took his
Hutchence's death comes a decade after INXS found their biggest success
with their seventh album Kick, which sold nine million copies, yielding the hit singles "New
Sensation," "Devil Inside," "Never Tear Us Apart" and "Need You Tonight."
Over the course of their career, the band was estimated to have sold 20
In the 10 years since their heyday, however, INXS had trouble matching
Kick's success. The band released a live collection and greatest hits set,
along with four other records.
Friends and family were reportedly shocked by Hutchence's death and have
maintained a low profile since news of his passing broke. Yates, the
mother of the singer's 16-month-old daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily
and the former wife of Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof, flew today to
Yates and Hutchence were rumored to be planning a wedding on the island of
Bora Bora for early next year. The day before he took his life, he sent her a
bouquet of roses at their London home, with a card that read, "To all my
beautiful girls, all my love. Michael."
INXS members released a statement proclaiming their sadness at the loss of
Hutchence and sympathy for his family. "[The band] ask that media please,
in this time of extreme grief, act with courtesy and grace and respect both
Michael Hutchence's family's privacy as well as their own."
The evening before he died, Hutchence dined with his father, Kel, and
step-mother at the Flavour of India restaurant outside of Sydney. A staff
person reported seeing the elder man place a hand on his son's hand,
according to the Morning Herald. "Is everything alright?" he asked,
said waitress Susan Murtagh.
"He said, 'Everything is fine, Dad, everything is fine,'" Murtagh said.
On Saturday, clearly in a state of shock, Hutchence's father told the Sun-Herald, "What can I say? I've lost my loving son."
As more information emerges about the details surrounding Hutchence's
death, little seems to point to an answer for why the singer took his own
life. "This is going to be pretty hard to get through," said Neil Kothari,
a 23-year-old INXS fan shortly after he learned of the suicide.
"He was the most charismatic singer of our generation -- period," said
Kothari, who maintains the "An Excess of INXS" web page. "No one could
move a crowd or delight an audience the way he did time and time again for
over 20 years. I've seen and met the band many times in concert, most
recently in September in New Jersey -- I can honestly say he never sounded
better." [Mon., Nov. 24, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]