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Michael Kelland John Hutchence (22 January 1960 – 22 November 1997) was an Australian singer-songwriter, most famous for his work with rock band INXS.


Early life and career

Hutchence was born in Sydney, son of Kelland ("Kell") and Patricia Hutchence, but was subsequently raised in Hong Kong. He began performing at the age of eight in a local toy store commercial.

The family eventually returned to Sydney in Hutchence's late teens, and it was there that Hutchence befriended Andrew Farriss at Davidson High Schoolmarker on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Shortly, Michael and Andrew joined with Andrew's brothers Tim and Jon, as well as friends Garry Gary Beers and Kirk Pengilly to form their first band, The Farriss Brothers, which would ultimately become INXS.

When, in 1979, the Farriss family moved to Perthmarker, Western Australia, the rest of the band followed, returning to Sydney soon after. In 1980, the group released their first album, INXS, and put out their first single, "Simple Simon," which was soon followed by their first moderate Australian hit, "Just Keep Walking." During the 1980s, he resided at the apartment block at the end of Kirketon Road, Darlinghurst, Sydney.

Hutchence became the main spokesperson for the band and gained a reputation as an enigmatic, sensual frontman, although his close friends and family always maintained he was much more introverted than his onstage persona. A talented lyricist, he co-wrote almost all of INXS's songs with Andrew Farriss, who has attributed his own success as a songwriter to Hutchence's “genius”.

Stardom, acting career and romances

In 1987, following several increasingly successful INXS albums, Hutchence appeared in the Australian movie Dogs in Space, directed by long-time INXS music video collaborator, Richard Lowenstein. In the film, some events are from Lowenstein's life when sharing a home with friend Sam Sejavka, played by Hutchence. In 1989, he released the album Max Q, a collaboration with Australian post-punk pioneer Ollie Olsen. In 1990, he played Percy Shelley in Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound.

Hutchence's private life was often reported in the Australian and international press, with a string of love affairs with prominent actresses, models and singers, including Kym Wilson, Helena Christensen and Kylie Minogue. Other brief romances included Berlin lead singer Terri Nunn, supermodels Elle MacPherson, April Ashley and Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle.

In 1990, INXS released X, which spawned more international hits such as "Suicide Blonde","Disappear" and "Bitter Tears". A live album, Live' Baby Live, followed in 1991.

Welcome To Wherever You Are was released in 1992 to little chart success as the band did not tour to support this album. That same year, Hutchence was assaulted by a taxi driver in Denmarkmarker after nearly being run over by the aforementioned driver. Some media reports also inaccurately stated that he had crashed his bicycle on a curb and suffered brain damage. The resulting brain damage resulted in Hutchence losing his sense of smell and taste. This condition often causes depression and increased aggression. Both these conditions manifested in Hutchence and he never fully recovered upon being released after two weeks in a Copenhagen hospital. According to INXS band mate, Garry Gary Beers, Michael pulled a knife on him and threatened to kill him during the 1993 recording of Full Moon, Dirty Hearts on the Isle of Capri.

Later career

INXS spent the mid-1990s trying to develop a successful new album after a series of critically acclaimed but less commercial releases.

During this time, Hutchence's relationship with Kylie Minogue ended, then he dated Danish model Helena Christensen before starting a relationship with Paula Yates, whom he had met some years earlier during an interview and who was still married to Bob Geldof. Yates and Hutchence's affair was soon discovered by the British press. The pressure from the media was so intense that Hutchence once assaulted a photographer that was hounding him. Around this time, Yates' separation from husband Geldof became official, sparking an at-times bitter custody battle over their three daughters, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie. On July 22, 1996 Yates gave birth to Hutchence's only child, daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence, whom Yates claimed, in a TV interview shortly after Hutchence's death, was delivered in their bathroom. Like her sisters, the child was christened with an unusual name. It was Pixie who chose the name Heavenly, Hutchence chose Hiraani, and Yates chose Tiger Lily. They had chosen to call her Tiger since her birth. Michael once described his daughter as "just what we ordered."

After a period of inactivity and releases that received lukewarm reviews, INXS recorded the band's 10th official album in 1996, produced by Bruce Fairbairn and Andrew Farriss.


The INXS album, Elegantly Wasted, was released in April 1997. Hutchence and INXS went on a world tour. The final leg of the tour was to be in Australia in November and December. However, on the morning of 22 November 1997, Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in his room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Baymarker, Sydney (now the Stamford Plaza). A belt found at the scene suggested that he had died by hanging.

The New South Wales coroner determined that Hutchence's death was the result of suicide, but analysis of the witness statements in the coroner's report, the lack of a suicide note and other anecdotal evidence, such as the fact that Hutchence was found nude, has led some—including Hutchence's brother and other close relatives—to suggest that the death may have resulted from autoerotic asphyxiation.

Kym Wilson and her then boyfriend Andrew Reyment were the last people to see Michael alive.

Michael Hutchence's coffin was carried out of St. Andrew's Cathedral by members of the band and his younger brother Rhett. "Never Tear Us Apart" was played in the background. Nick Cave played "Into My Arms" during Hutchence's funeral and demanded that television cameras be switched off during the performance. Bono of the rock band U2 , a good friend of Hutchence, wrote a song, "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of", which is interpreted as an intervention with him.

Later developments

Paula Yates died on 17 September 2000 of what was ruled an accidental heroin overdose even though she was extremely depressed over Hutchence's death and had long had a history of serious drug abuse. She had been battling Hutchence's family for custody of Tiger Lily, but ultimately it was decided that the child would live with Bob Geldof to be raised with her three half-sisters.

The Melbourne newspaper The Age reported on 20 August 2005 about the disposition of Hutchence's estate and assets, estimated at $20 million. The remainder of Hutchence's estate was sold off and swallowed in legal fees. Millions of dollars in property and other assets, including on-going royalties from INXS, were held in "The Vocals Trust", a complex arrangement of international companies and trusts, of which Hutchence was not a beneficiary. Mr. Fisher, the man who set up this arrangement, has stated that Michael Hutchence used this structure to keep his wealth from his "thieving relatives", girlfriends and any wives. Others who have been linked with this scheme are Andrew Young, Tony Alford, Gordon Fisher, Andrew Paul, and Colin Diamond. Some of these have had their financial and personal credibility questioned.

Hutchence's long-in-the-works solo album, Michael Hutchence, was finally released in 1999. He had begun working on the album in 1995 and had last worked on it three days prior to his untimely death. The last song he recorded was "Possibilities". The album was co written and co produced by Hutchence and a diverse collection of collaborators—Andy Gill from Gang of Four, Bernard Fowler (backup singer for the Rolling Stones), Tim Simenon of Bomb The Bass, and Danny Saber from Black Grape. It featured a duet with U2's Bono called "Slide Away"; Bono actually recorded his vocals after Hutchence's death. The movie, Limp, was also released in 1999 and featured a cameo role by Hutchence, playing a record company A&R man. (Hutchence had filmed the scene in 1996 on a day off from working on INXS's Elegantly Wasted.)

Eight years after Michael's death, a television show featured the members of INXS looking for a new singer to succeed Michael. The show, which aired on CBS, was called Rock Star: INXS. The winner was Canadian singer J.D. Fortune. Fortune and the band parted ways in 2009 amidst some controversy.

In 2006, it was announced that a biopic focusing on the life of Michael Hutchence was planned, initially in development with Morgan Freeman's production company Revelations, and later by Australian production company Shingle, and producers Clark Westerman and Rodney Wilson. The film, Slide Away, is set for release in 2009. The project is backed by Michael's trust and his brother, Rhett.

On 22 November 2007, the 10th anniversary of Michael's death, the remaining original members of INXS created a tribute page on their website, leaving testimonials to their friend and bandmate. Countless other tributes have been made throughout the world, citing Hutchence as one of Australia's finest and one of the world's last true rock stars.

Ten years after Michael's death, Rhett Hutchence revealed to Woman's Day magazine that he is going to the Supreme Court to try and overturn the verdict of suicide, as he does not want Tiger growing up thinking her father intentionally left her.

The dispute between Bob Geldof and the Hutchence family over Michael's only child has continued. Geldof legally adopted Tiger, against the wishes of Hutchence's mother and sister, who disagreed with Geldof changing her surname to Geldof. Since that time Tina Hutchence was informed that her niece is now recognized as Tiger Hutchence-Geldof since the adoption.




Other albums

Collaborations / Soundtracks


  • Nick Cave sang his ballad "Into My Arms" at the funeral of Michael Hutchence. The funeral was broadcast live on Australian TV, but out of respect for Hutchence, Cave refused to allow his song to be televised.
  • U2 and Bono have made several tributes to Hutchence ever since his death:
    • The 2000 U2 album All That You Can't Leave Behind includes a song titled "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of", which Hutchence's friend Bono wrote about his apparent suicide. The song is written in the form of an argument about suicide in which Bono tries to convince Hutchence of the act's foolishness. Bono characterized the song as a good old row between friends, which he felt guilty for never having with Hutchence while he was alive.
    • Bono also dedicated an emotional performance of One to Hutchence on the live video PopMart: Live from Mexico City. During the intro to the song, Bono refers to Hutchence as "a great mate, a great singer."
    • On both the PopMart and Elevation Tours, Bono frequently dedicated the song "Gone" to Hutchence by yelling "Hutch!" at the beginning of the song.
    • On U2's Vertigo Tour on 13 November 2006 in Sydney, Bono said "Blow a kiss to Heaven to Michael Hutchence" before playing "With or Without You."
    • On 24 November 2007, U2 played a secret gig at the Little Noise Sessions in Islingtonmarker, Londonmarker. During their performance of "Desire", Bono changed the lyrics of a verse to include the lyrics from INXS's "Need You Tonight" on the tenth anniversary of Hutchence's death. He sang the lyrics "I've got to let you know / You're one of my kind."

  • Singer Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, a friend of both Hutchence and Yates (and Geldof's best man at his wedding to Yates), also wrote an eerily prophetic song for him. It was recorded in 1996 and released on the album Medazzaland only a month before Hutchence's death. "Michael, You've Got a Lot to Answer For" included these lyrics:
:"Trust you to get caught up in somebody's war; you'll come out of it all intact, I'm sure.
:Just remember what friends were put here for;
:Michael, you've got a lot to answer for, and I know that you're gonna call ... if you need me."

Duran Duran was touring to support the album when Hutchence died, and Le Bon found the song too difficult to perform anymore so it was cut from the set for the remainder of the tour. However during subsequent Duran Duran tours, it was included as a tribute.

  • INXS has dedicated many performances to their fallen friend:
    • On INXS' 2002 Just For Kicks tour, they dedicated "Never Tear Us Apart" to Michael and had a screen which showed pictures of him throughout his life.
    • A song on INXS' album Switch called "God's Top Ten" pays tribute to Michael and his daughter, Tiger Lily. Another song, "Afterglow," pays tribute to Hutchence alone.

  • The song "Private Man" on the Powderfinger album Internationalist is a tribute to Hutchence.

  • At a 2007 show in Adelaidemarker supporting INXS, Simple Minds dedicated "Gloria" to Michael, saying "it's about a woman, but it'd have to be with Michael." At a New Zealand show 2 months later, he also dedicated "Gloria" to the memory of Michael Hutchence.

  • On many aftershows in London Indigo during his Earth Tour (21 nights in London), Prince played the song "What You Need" with Maceo Parker on saxophone to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Michael's loss.


External links

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