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
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
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
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
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
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
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]