INXS Leader Struggled With 'Demons'

Argued with Bob Geldof over personal issues.

Only days before he apparently took his own life, INXS leader Michael

Hutchence presented a persona to at least some around him as a figure

who had weathered the storm of life in the probing public eye and had come

out wiser and happier.

It was a picture that contrasted sharply with that which was drawn on

Saturday morning, when Hutchence was found hanging in a Sydney, Australia,

hotel room from his own belt in an apparent suicide.

In what Melbourne, Australia's Herald Sun newspaper claims was

Hutchence's final interview, conducted just four days

before his death, the singer admitted that he had struggled with

personal problems but suggested that he had persevered.

"I have dealt with many demons in my life, but nothing compares to what

I've had to face over the past few years," Hutchence told Nui Te Koha of

the Sun newspaper last Wednesday. "It would be so easy

for me to say that I hate what I've become, but then what I've become

certainly in the public eye, I've had no control over. And I don't like

that. It concerns me a great deal that every move that I make is looked

at, photographed and made into gossip, some fucking sound bite that

doesn't resemble the truth."

Still, Hutchence said that his art has helped him to survive such

scrutiny. "That I can create, that I can write, that I can express, that is

the

light at the end of the tunnel," he told the Sun. "That is how

you win the battle."

Hutchence's behavior later in the week seemingly added to that image of

one who had put his hardest days behind him. On Friday afternoon, one day

before the INXS lead singer was found dead in a Sydney hotel room, he was

in "brilliant spirits" as he rehearsed with the band, according to Shawn

Deacon,

the band's Australian publicist. There were no outward signs that anything

was troubling Hutchence that Friday afternoon, Deacon said.

"They were rehearsing for the [since canceled 20th anniversary] tour

that was to have begun Tuesday [Nov. 25]. A crew from a respected news

magazine here called A Current Affair was filming them for a

story," said Deacon, who works for Big Media Party Ltd., the band's PR

firm.

In fact, Deacon said the 37-year-old singer, whose body was found

in his Ritz-Carlton hotel room in the Double Bay

neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, "was very up, very

witty and charming" during the rehearsal session.

Police have yet to determine what circumstances led to Hutchence's

death. Although police are still investigating the death as well as

awaiting toxicology reports, which should take several weeks, Scott

Willis, Senior Constable with the New South Wales Police said Monday

that he "seriously doubted" Hutchence was the victim of what some

speculate may have been a sex ritual gone wrong.

"We don't believe there is anything to indicate autoerotic

asphyxiation," said Willis, of the dangerous practice that involves the

cutting-off of oxygen to the brain in an attempt to heighten sexual

pleasure. "Even though he was found naked, there's nothing to indicate

that was the cause."

Willis said the police will still not officially rule the death a

suicide until the toxicology reports are back. He did say, however, that

foul play is not believed to have been a factor.

It has been widely reported that the prescription anti-depressant Prozac

was found in Hutchence's room, which he had occupied since arriving in

Sydney last Tuesday, along with four other, still unidentified

prescription pills. Willis, who would not comment on what the contents

were of the other containers found in the room, would only say that "you

can't do tests on empty bottles."

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday (Nov. 25)

(Australia is 18 hours ahead of the United States) that Hutchence had

argued with Live Aid benefit organizer/ex-Boomtown Rats leader Bob

Geldof, the former husband of Hutchence's partner, Paula Yates, the evening

before his body was found.

The Herald story is based on an account of a British journalist

who was on Yates' flight to Australia. According to Martin Frizell,

Yates said she blamed Geldof for Hutchence's death. "She said she wanted

to bring all her children [Yates had three children with Geldof and a

daughter with Hutchence] to Australia for Christmas, but Bob Geldof had

changed his mind and said the children couldn't go," Frizell told the

Herald. "The last words she heard Michael say were, 'I love you.

I'm going to phone Bob right now and beg him, beg him to allow them to

come.' "

Geldof has thus far refused to respond to Yates' claims. "I am not

being difficult, but it's better for me if I do not just say anything at all,"

he told the British Press Association outside his London home.

During Hutchence's interview with the Herald Sun, he made

reference to the recent stress that had affected both Yates and him. "I

have been

through some difficult times lately -- I'd say it was much worse for

Paula -- but I'm a realist, I just do my best to confront these things and

hope I come out of it stronger and wiser and a better person," he said.

Later, the singer acknowledged that the press often pitted the public

personalities of him and Geldof against one another. "It is an easy

contrast," Hutchence said. "A convenient one. Saint Bob and the wild

boy rock star. You pick the one people are going to believe. One day the

truth will be told."

In a SonicNet on-line chat in February of this year, Hutchence, while in

the United States promoting the band's most recent album, Elegantly

Wasted, expressed his joy about being a new dad. "The best thing I

ever made," said Hutchence about his now 16-month-old daughter Heavenly

Hiraani Tiger Lily.

Ironically, in that same interview, guitarist Tim Farriss, when asked

how long the band would last, typed, "We already have lasted forever."

Willis would not confirm if the police had any indication that Hutchence

had called Geldof from his room, or if phone records indicated that he'd

called anybody else from the room. As reported earlier by the

Herald, police revealed that Hutchence was still alive at 9 a.m.

on Saturday, when he telephoned former girlfriend Michelle Bennett and

left a message on her answering machine.

Bennett is then reported to have arrived at Room 524 where Hutchence was

staying, and after he failed to answer her knock, left a note under the

door. Willis would not reveal the contents of that note, nor would he

confirm or deny if any other note was found in the room. The

Herald also reported on Monday that Hutchence had sent Yates a

dozen red roses in London on Friday, with a note that read: "To all my

beautiful girls, all my love, Michael."

In addition to INXS' 13-date anniversary tour, which was to kick-off on

Tuesday and play both 10,000-seat arenas and more intimate venues,

Deacon confirmed that Hutchence had been working on-and-off, on a solo

album. "It was only about half-finished," said Deacon of the singer's

putative debut solo album, on which he had worked with Bomb the Bass'

Tim Simenon and former Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill.

Hutchence had begun work on the solo album in 1995, Deacon said, and

finished only half of the tracks when he took a break in mid-1996 to

work on INXS' Elegantly Wasted. "He was an artist, he created

music," Deacon said, explaining why the singer decided to strike out on

his own. "That's what he was doing, creating. A painter doesn't always

paint."

As of Monday, the band's label, Mercury, did not have Hutchence's solo

effort on its release schedule. Hutchence's funeral is to be held at

2:30 p.m. on Thursday at St. Andrews Church in Sydney, Australia. Deacon

said the public is invited to attend, but that only family and some fan

club members will be allowed inside the 800-capacity church. Deacon

said the funeral will be broadcast on Australian television and that

monitors will be set-up outside the church for mourners who cannot view

the service first hand.

The singer's family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be

sent to UNICEF aid organization or the Starlight Foundation.

[Tues., Nov. 25, 1997, 9:00 a.m. PDT]