Crowded House Drummer Paul Hester Found Dead In Australia

Authorities rule out foul play, say founding member of band committed suicide.

Australian police made a grim discovery on Saturday, when the body of 46-year-old Paul Hester, who formed the popular rock group Crowded House with singer Neil Finn and bass player Nick Seymour in 1985, was found in Elsternwick Park near the drummer's Melbourne home, according to Australian daily newspaper The Age. Hester, who'd also played drums with Finn in New Zealand's Split Enz, was reported missing Friday night after he failed to return from walking his two dogs, police told The Age.

Investigators have been able to rule out foul play, saying instead that Hester took his own life. Authorities claim he "attempted suicide" and eventually died from strangulation. Hester was beyond help by the time ambulance personnel arrived at the scene. Metropolitan Ambulance Service spokeswoman Liraje Memishi could not confirm various news reports suggesting Hester's body was found hanging from a tree.

Reports have surfaced in the Melbourne Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph claiming Hester suffered from depression and spent eight years in therapy to treat the condition. Both papers are also reporting that Hester and his fiancee, New Zealand singer Kashan, called off their engagement in December. The two had planned to wed this May.

Speaking from London, where he's currently on tour, Neil Finn said he was devastated by the death. "I have lost one of my best mates," he told Australian paper The Daily Telegraph.

After leaving Crowded House in 1994, Hester became a familiar voice and face on Australian radio and televisions shows and opened a tea house in Elwood Beach. Musically, he has collaborated with Richard Pleasance, Deborah Conway (in the group Ultrasound) and Penny Flanagan, and wrote songs with old Deckchairs Overboard cohort John Clifforth. Hester hosted a music show on Australia's ABC network, and had a recurring role as Paul the Cook on the children's program "The Wiggles."

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