INXS Leader's Funeral Celebrates 'Life Of Michael'
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIAThe afternoon sun shone through the enormous
stained glass windows of the majestic St. Andrews Cathedral as the
forty-member Cathedral Choir entered the church, in full white and
purple robes, and took their places in pews flanking both sides of INXS
leader Michael Hutchence's coffin to the strains of the INXS song "By My
The church itself, located on George Street in Sydney, Australia, was
sparsely decorated, with the center of attention
being the single casket adorned with 500 purple irises and a single
yellow Tiger Lily, the flower after which the singer named his
16-month-old daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.
Most mourners attending the Wednesday (Thursday in Australia, which is
18 hours ahead of the U. S.) service, which began at 2:30 p.m. (local
time) honored Hutchence's parents' wishes that, in lieu of flowers,
donations be sent to UNICEF and the Starlight Foundation. One notable
exception was a large white wreath to the left of the coffin, sent from
U2 singer, Bono, and his wife, Ali. The arrangement was in the shape of
a Claddagh Ring, an Irish symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship
represented by a heart shape that is clasped by hands and topped with a
(At U2's PopMart show Sunday night in San Antonio, Bono, a
friend of Hutchence's, had dedicated a song to his departed mate,
"This is for Michael Hutchence, a great singer and a great friend.
It was a fittingly beautiful day for the service, intended to be a
celebration of life rather than a mourning of death, or as his family
explained in their funeral notice, "A Thanksgiving for the life of
Those inside the 800-capacity cathedral included Hutchence's long-time
partner, Paula Yates, and their daughter, Heavenly Hiraani
Tiger Lily. His family members, father Kelland "Kel" Hutchence, mother
Galssop, younger brother Rhett Hutchence, and sister Tina Hutchence
Schorr, were in attendance. Also present were the remaining members of
INXS: bassist Garry Gary
Beers, guitarist/saxophone player Kirk Pengilly and brothers guitarist
Andrew Farriss, drummer John Farriss and guitarist Tim Farriss.
Other music industry luminaries at the service included Australian
singer-songwriter Nick Cave, who performed a touching solo-piano version
of his song "Into My Arms" as part of the service, former Crowded House
Seymour, and renowned singer Tom Jones, in town to perform at the
opening of the new Star City Casino.
There was also a multitude of local music industry personalities and
observers, including journalist Ian "Molly" Meldrum, music historian
Glen A. Baker, singer Jimmy Barnes, and one-time MTV Australia VJ
Richard Wilkins, who gave a short eulogy on behalf of Hutchence's fans.
Conducted by the Anglican Dean of Sydney, The Very Reverend Boak
Jobbins, the hour-long service was relatively traditional, with the St.
Cathedral Choir singing a number of Psalms and one 19th Century
spiritual "Deep River." These were interspersed with eulogies from
sister, Tina, and brother, Rhett,
Wilkins, and former band mate and songwriting partner, Andrew Farriss,
who gave the most touching tribute in honor of his "friend and former
work mate." Between them, the pair co-authored hundreds of songs,
including many of the band's biggest hits, and the closeness of their
relationship was evident as Andrew Farriss closed his statements on
behalf of the
band with, "We will remember him with love and affection. We all miss
before turning to the casket to say farewell to his friend with a
"God bless you."
The only break from the traditional nature of the service came with
Cave's stark reading of "Into My Arms," off his latest album
The Boatman's Call, part way through the service, and the playing
two INXS songs -- "By My Side" as the choir and priests entered the
cathedral, and "Never Tear Us Apart" as the singer's brother and five
band mates lifted his casket onto their shoulders and carried it outside
And then, as if the whole service had been choreographed on some cosmic
level, as the
coffin was carefully loaded into the back of the hearse, storm clouds
moved in and darkened the previously clear skies, and it started to
Everyone from Australia's Prime Minister John Howard on down has
commented on the singer's tragic death. There have been statements from
record company personnel, industry observers,
ex-managers; even the waitress at The Taste of India restaurant, where
Hutchence ate his last meal, has been widely quoted. Tributes have been
made by all of the major Australian music industry personalities
including Meldrum ("one of the greats") and Baker ("the
consummate rock star").
Less, perhaps, has been heard from the fans. It was the INXS fans who
made Hutchence and his INXS band mates stars. Several thousand of them
crowded outside the church,
watching the service on hastily installed television monitors;
hundreds of others had placed candles, letters, and flowers at the
entrance to the
Ritz-Carlton hotel, forming a makeshift shrine just hours after the
singer's body had been identified.
Others are still desperate for mementos of their idol; a large number
local record stores confirmed a dramatic increase in sales of INXS
products since news of the singer's death broke.
As the service was about to begin, a dozen or so fans gathered at
Melbourne's Hard Rock Cafe to watch
the funeral on television; as the ceremony started, a noticeable
quiet drifted over the usually hectic restaurant. No one was sobbing
uncontrollably or was visibly distraught. It was just a diverse group of
fans from different walks of life: Bankers and accountants in suits and
a couple of university students in torn jeans and Converse sneakers, all
quietly united in their mourning of a great talent. "It's pretty much a
scenario where we're leaving people to grieve in their own way, and not
cash in on it," said Nicole Bailey, public relations manager
for the Hard Rock Cafe Melbourne. "We're playing it quite low-key".
On the Web, hundreds of fans have e-mailed local mailing lists
and sites dedicated to the band to express heartfelt tributes to the
singer. Touching sentiments from fans such as Sherrianne Kozak, who
to the Australian online music guide iZINE. "I will not say
Hutch," she wrote. "He's not gone. He's in every song he ever wrote,
every note INXS ever played.
"Maybe in death he can find what it was he was 'Searching' for," she
through our love, he will live in each one of us." Chris Nelson