Bob Geldof Talks About Final Hutchence Phone Call
Though his ties to the INXS singer and his family have become the subject of discussion as of late, ex-Boomtown Rats leader Sir Bob Geldof is refusing to be dragged into the aftermath of Michael Hutchence's tragic death.
Just one day before the 37-year-old musician, who was found hanging from his leather belt in a Sydney, Australia, hotel room over the weekend, was to be buried, Geldof made his first public statement about the death.
"I don't talk about these type of things at all. I haven't talked about this for three years, and I don't think I'll start now. I probably never will," Geldof told British reporters on Monday, according to Reuters. Geldof's ex-wife, Paula Yates, Hutchence's girlfriend, has been quoted in the British press as blaming Geldof for her lover's apparent suicide. (Though the coroner has said Hutchence died by hanging, it is still unclear whether Hutchence killed himself or hanged accidentally.)
"Bob Geldof murdered Michael Hutchence," Yates told Britain's Daily Express newspaper on Monday. "That bastard killed Michael. He is called Saint Bob. That makes me sick. He killed my baby. We have had three years of this."
Yates and Geldof, who have three children together, have been undergoing a high-profile divorce since she left the Live Aid benefit concert organizer for the Australian rocker more than three years ago.
In her final conversation with Hutchence on Friday night, Yates is reported to have told him that Geldof reneged on a promise to allow Yates to bring their daughters to Australia to spend the holidays with Hutchence, who was to embark on Tuesday with INXS in Australia on their 20th anniversary "Lose Your Head" tour.
Responding to Yates' public comments that Hutchence's suicide was a result of her contentious divorce and the on-going court battles over custody of the couple's three daughters, Geldof, who acknowledged talking to Hutchence before his death, told the Daily Express, "He called up in the early hours of the morning, and I couldn't understand a word he said. I just put the phone down."
The paper reported that Geldof told friends he and Hutchence had not argued during the conversation, one of the many Geldof said Hutchence had initiated over the past few months. Hutchence is reported to have told Geldof "she's not your wife anymore" during their final conversation.
A visibly distraught Yates flew to Australia on Sunday with Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, the 15-month-old daughter she had by Hutchence, causing a stir en route by reportedly dumping a glass of champagne on a British Airways flight attendant.
A representative for INXS' public relations firm, Big Media Party Ltd., said on Monday that it was too early to know what will become of the band in Hutchence's absence. "The tour is canceled," said Vicky Edwoods, of the 13-date tour of Australia the band had been rehearsing for as late as Friday afternoon. "It's too early now for the band to think about what they're going to do."
Edwoods said she didn't believe that the group, which formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1977 and that also features bassist Garry Gary Beers, guitarist/saxophone player Kirk Pengilly and brothers guitarist Andrew Farriss, drummer John Farriss and guitarist Tim Farriss, had any new or unreleased material in the vault. "They're grieving right now," Edwoods said. "I don't think they'll start thinking about any of this any time soon."
A Hutchence solo album, produced by Black Grape's Danny Saber and hip-hop producer Tim Simenon, may be released next year, according to a report in Thursday's Melbourne-based Herald Sun. Hutchence told reporter Nui Te Koha last Wednesday (Nov. 19), during what Nui Te Koha claims was Hutchence's last interview, that he's recorded about six songs. "My solo work complements what I do in INXS, though INXS is more musical," Hutchence told Nui Te Koha. "For my solo stuff, I was working with this crew, none of them can write music, none of them play instruments. They decide everything on the basis of whether it's 'wicked' or 'not wicked.' "
Hutchence told Nui Te Koha that he'd gone to London to work on the solo album because "it had the most exciting scene, musically. I wanted to be in the same environment that influenced Tricky and Goldie. The first night I arrived, I checked into my hotel, brushed my teeth, went to clubs to meet [producer] Nellee Hooper [Bjork, U2] and all those guys. I found them in dark little corners."
About the songs themselves, Hutchence told Nui Te Koha, "My songs are what they've always been about, which is, er, experience. I never try to put blinkers (sic) on. I want to see everything. I want to go for that X factor, the weird, the things that will make it special. I want to surprise myself. I want to see how far I go."
The Herald Sun also reported that it was Hutchence who had introduced Saber to Mick Jagger. Saber co-produced one track that appeared on the Rolling Stones' latest album, Bridges To Babylon, titled "Gunface."
There is also what Hutchence called "weirder" INXS material that had been left off the group's most recent album, 1997's Elegantly Wasted, that the Herald Sun said also could see release.
John Marre, senior sergeant in the Sydney police media unit, said Wednesday (Thursday in Australia) that the police had already conducted interviews with Yates, Hutchence's father Kel (with whom he dined the evening before his death), Australian actress Kym Wilson and her boyfriend Christopher Stollery, and Michelle Bennett, an ex-girlfriend of Hutchence's whom he called just hours before his body was found. Marre said he did not believe that investigators had spoken yet to Geldof as of Wednesday morning.
Although he would not elaborate, Marre also said that investigators will likely talk to Wilson again, since "she had some interesting things to say." Wilson and Stollery were seen drinking with Hutchence late into Thursday night.
It was announced on Tuesday in Australia that INXS' label, Mercury, would be donating $3.14 from the sales of every copy of the band's greatest hits CD to the Starlight Foundation and UNICEF, the two organizations to which Hutchence's family asked that donations be made in his name.
At the PopMart tour Sunday night in San Antonio, U2 singer, Bono, a friend of Hutchence's, dedicated a song to his departed mate, saying, "This is for Michael Hutchence, a great singer and a great friend. We'll miss him."
The show, the first the band have performed since hearing of Hutchence's death, featured a version of "Pride (In the Name of Love)," a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., during which Bono substituted a somber reading of the traditional Australian ballad "Waltzing Matilda" in the final verse.
According to a fan on an INXS mailing list, during "Staring at the Sun," a picture of Hutchence was projected on the giant video screen and, instead of closing the show with "One" as they have on most of the PopMart tour, they chose the rarely performed Pop track "Wake Up Dead Man." As the audience shuffled out after the show, INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" blasted from the sound system. [Wed., Nov. 26, 1997, 9 p.m. PDT]