SYDNEY, Australia -- Though surviving members of INXS were
nowhere to be found, family, friends and fans gathered to pay tribute
to the band's late singer, Michael Hutchence, during a memorial
service Sunday here at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium and Memorial
"It's time to let go, time to forgive," Hutchence's brother, Rhett,
told a gathering of about 250 mourners. "As Michael said, 'Have
faith in each other.' "
Hutchence's short tribute to his brother typified the upbeat nature
of the service memoralizing the charismatic frontman's death one year
Attended by an international group of mourners -- some
clutching flowers, many wearing gear emblazoned with the band's
distinctive red, white and black logo -- the understated
service was followed by the unveiling of a memorial stone to the
INXS frontman, who hanged himself at the Ritz Carlton Hotel here
Nov. 22, 1997.
A small-scale auction of memorabilia from the '80s dance-rock band
took place at Darlinghurst's Hard Rock Café after the service. Proceeds from the auction are to be donated to the Starlight Foundation, the mission of which is brightening the lives of seriously ill children. The charity is a favorite of the band.
Speaking quickly and occasionally brushing away tears, Hutchence remembered how quickly his sibling was taken from him. "A year ago I went out to buy some sunglasses and came home to find out I'd lost a brother. I still have my sunnies. God works in mysterious ways."
The remaining members of the band -- who had played their
first public event since Hutchence's death the previous week at Mushroom
anniversary show in Melbourne -- were not visible at the ceremony.
Nevertheless, they left their mark. Presiding over the memorial service, the
Rev. Dennis Patterson read a message sent by the group:
"On behalf of the members of INXS and their families, we wish to extend our
love and condolences to Michael's friends and family at the memorial
service. We wish to voice our appreciation and acknowledge to the fans
their dedication and the efforts they have made to show their respect and
affection for Michael. We too miss him dearly and share your feelings of
great loss. We hope everyone respects our needs to mourn privately and in
our own way. With love and our best wishes to all of you. Andrew, John,
Garry, Tim and Kirk."
The remaining members, brothers Andrew, John and Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly
and Garry Gary Beers, also contributed a huge floral wreath, which was
placed prominently at the front of
the chapel where the service was held.
Typifying the international flavor of the mourners was a 26-year-old
Londoner temporarily residing in Sydney, who gave her name only as Sharon.
When she heard of Hutchence's death, she said, "I bawled my eyes out. I've
loved him from the start, since I was about 13."
Her one big regret was not seeing INXS headline at Wembley, a suburb of
London, England, at the height of their career, a show considered by many to
be among their best. "I was gutted," she said.
The service included a wandering saxophonist, David Addis, who serenaded
teary-eyed mourners as they arrived and departed; singer Clare Patterson
performed a spiritual to the accompaniment of a lone piano. During a prayer
dedicated to Hutchence's toddler daughter, Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily, the
minister briefly mentioned the late singer's partner, model/actress Paula
"The beauty is that the sum of his talents will remain forever, due to the
huge legacy he left us all, in hundreds of songs and thousands of
performances all around the globe," he said. "Sometimes I feel Michael is
Long-time Hutchence friend Greg Parano said, "I had to lend [Hutchence] 20
cents [Austrailian] so he could go up the shop and buy him a loaf of bread.
So I knew him a long time. He'd be pretty happy about today, but he probably
wouldn't be here yet because he'd be driving around the cemetery trying to
find out where this chapel was," he laughed.
Parano then read from a poem dedicated to his friend that included the line,
"I will sit here evermore and count the empty years."
Shortly after the service, while unveiling the memorial stone, the late singer's father, Kel Hutchence
-- one of the event's key organizers -- described his son as "a good and
loving man, an excellent musician. You'll be in our hearts forever."
The inscription on the stone describes Hutchence as "a sensitive and loving
soul who touched hearts around the world." It also includes the sentiment,
"Stay young." Alongside the inscription is a plaque featuring Hutchence's
hand-written lyrics to "Shine Like It Does," which were recently discovered
by his brother Rhett.
"The whole family appreciates today," Kel Hutchence said, adding that he had
created a Michael Hutchence Memorial Committee -- the tag of which appeared
on faxes dispatched prior to the memorial -- solely for the purposes of the
service. The committee was to be disbanded once the event was held, he
Standing outside the chapel in the warm sun, a 30-something Sydney resident
who identified herself as Jenny, told how she had followed the band since
its first shows in and around Sydney in the early 1980s.
"We used to go to backstage parties, probably for about the first three
years they played," she said, displaying a grainy photo she took of the late
singer in 1982. She recalled how she reacted when news broke of Hutchence's
"I was so shocked. At first, I was a bit scared to play his records again,"
she said. "But it got easier after a couple of months. But it's still not
After watching popular local singer Jimmy Barnes fromt the band -- Barnes
performed two songs with the remaining members at the recent Mushroom
Records concert -- she said she had her doubts about the band's ability to
carry on without Hutchence.
"Michael actually once held my hand and sang 'The Loved One' to me," the fan
said. "To hear that song and for Michael not to be there just didn't work.
No one can ever sing like him. I honestly don't think they can go on without