“The nov­elty wore off”

The pas­sion be­tween Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates was white-hot but ul­ti­mately fa­tal, as a new bi­og­ra­phy of the late INXS star re­veals

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - This is an edited ex­tract of Shine Like It Does: The Life Of Michael Hutchence by Toby Creswell (Echo, $32.99), out now.

Their tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship hit global head­lines. Now, a new bi­og­ra­phy lifts the lid on what hap­pened be­tween Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates.

At the end of this story, three peo­ple are dead, five chil­dren have lost their mother, one is a com­plete or­phan and two men are left to pick up the pieces. The story of Michael Hutchence, Paula Yates and Bob Geldof is one of in­tense love and pas­sion. It’s also a story about how the tabloid press crushes peo­ple.

Geldof’s mother died when he was eight. His fa­ther, a com­mer­cial trav­eller, then left young Geldof to his own de­vices. “Life was just… grim,” Geldof told The Guardian. “We had no money. We didn’t have a telly – or even a fridge – but if you didn’t have a telly you read books and lis­tened to the ra­dio and sud­denly, like all of my gen­er­a­tion… I heard The Rolling Stones, The Bea­tles and Bob Dy­lan.”

In the mid-’70s he was seized by the ex­cite­ment of punk rock. Geldof had a band called The Boom­town Rats and was soon a prince of the Lon­don scene. Dev­as­tat­ing wit and a rapier-sharp mind meant he ver­bally dec­i­mated any­body who crossed him. Then he met Yates.

“I re­mem­ber her now,” Geldof later re­called, “stand­ing at the stage door, lit by the lights of the car park. Snow was fall­ing and she was wear­ing a bareshoul­dered ball gown. She was just so beau­ti­ful… I mean, what’s a boy to do?”

She too was a wild child on the run from her past. They made the most lov­able cou­ple – him with un­washed hair and crocodile smile, her with the tattoo and dizzy blonde rou­tine. They would be to­gether for 19 years.

But re­la­tion­ships are hard, and by 1993 Geldof was al­ways busy at work or sav­ing the world. Yates bris­tled at her con­fine­ment. In 1995, she made the break. Two decades later, Geldof con­fessed he was “ru­ined” when Yates left him. When it hap­pened, he was like this mas­sive, wounded, bleed­ing an­i­mal. Geldof had never taken any­thing in his

life ly­ing down, and he was go­ing to fight for his fam­ily with ev­ery­thing.

The Geld­ofs had lived un­der a mi­cro­scope: they were al­ways on the telly say­ing some­thing out­ra­geous or giv­ing their kids fan­ci­ful names.

Yates’s fa­ther hosted the re­li­gious va­ri­ety show Stars On Sun­day. Her for­mer showgirl mother wrote erotic fic­tion. The mar­riage was a mess. “I used to go to bed not know­ing if she’d still be there in the morn­ing,” Yates told The In­de­pen­dent of her mother.

Ac­cord­ing to her mem­oir, Yates lost her vir­gin­ity and started snort­ing heroin aged 12. At 14 she was club­bing. At 16, she found Geldof at a restau­rant. He pro­vided the dis­ci­pline she needed to turn her life around. She wrote for the mu­sic papers, com­pleted a book ( Rock Stars In Their Un­der­pants) and posed for Pent­house.

Geldof and Yates mar­ried in 1986, 10 years af­ter they started their re­la­tion­ship. But a year ear­lier, Yates had be­come in­fat­u­ated with Michael Hutchence dur­ing a TV in­ter­view on The Tube. She made no se­cret of her lust for the INXS front­man. She had his pic­tures on the fridge, which Geldof de­faced. Since that first in­ter­view she had re­mained in con­tact, go­ing to the band’s shows in New York and the UK. It’s un­likely these en­coun­ters were en­tirely chaste. She told INXS tour man­ager Bruce Pa­tron, “I’m go­ing to have that boy.” As Hutchence spent more time away from girl­friend He­lena Chris­tensen, he saw more of Yates.

HUTCHENCE KNEW WHAT he was do­ing when he slid be­tween Yates’s sheets. For­mer girl­friend nd Michele Ben­nett says Yates “went right ght into dark places with Michael. He loved ved her provoca­tive­ness. s. It was fun for him. She was as in­tel­li­gent. He liked how witty she was, and that she had this earth mother side as well. But I think she be­came in­se­cure about him… and he didn’t like that.”

A month af­ter Yates and her daugh­ters Fifi, Peaches and Pixie moved out of the mar­i­tal home, she and Hutchence checked into a ho­tel in Kent. Yates had tipped off the press; lit­tle did Hutchence know that when he went to din­ner, ev­ery other ta­ble was oc­cu­pied by a tabloid re­porter. The am­bush turned to farce, cul­mi­nat­ing in Hutchence tak­ing a swing at a pho­tog­ra­pher. Ev­ery­body had now seen ev­ery­body’s cards – Geldof and Chris­tensen were out of the pic­ture, and the press was brought into the Yates–hutchence house­hold like the guest who will never leave. She just didn’t an­tic­i­pate the flood of neg­a­tive press.

Even The Guardian weighed in with an at­tack: “Yates’s big­gest pub­lic re­la­tions prob­lem is that she is, to use the taxi driver ver­nac­u­lar, ‘a bit of a stupid cow’. What, af­ter all, can one say in de­fence of a woman who started out as a groupie and went down­hill from there? In many ways, she is a born loser.”

Hutchence was not used to this. He saw his role as hav­ing to pro­tect Yates and her rep­u­ta­tion. Ben­nett be­lieves he would have felt guilty about break­ing up a home. But they were very much in love, cer­tainly in the early years. Ac­tor/ mu­si­cian Terry Se­rio re­calls, “It was lovely. There was a lot of af­fec­tion be­tween them, and I found Paula funny and fas­ci­nat­ing. It felt like his girl­friend but also a force in her own right.”

But this was dif­fer­ent. Hutchence had al­ways hopped on a plane to es­cape dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. He couldn’t do that now. And then a daugh­ter named Heav­enly Hi­raani Tiger Lily Hutchence was born on July 22, 1996. “The first months when the prac­ti­cal­i­tie prac­ti­cal­i­ties of life ca came alon along,

wh when the nov­elty wears off, Michael couldn’t han­dle that,” says close friend Richard Lowen­stein. “Michael was never – not even in Paula’s wildest dreams – go­ing to be that do­mes­tic per­son. When they were liv­ing close to Nick Cave he would say, ‘I’m go­ing to see Nick…’ and do noth­ing but bitch about the mis­sus and the fam­ily. Any­one who thought Michael was go­ing to be this tame, do­mes­tic hubby with the kids was just kid­ding them­selves.”

But whether he liked it or not, by 1996 Hutchence’s ca­reer took a back seat to his new role as a fam­ily man. The nov­elty de­lighted him; he came to think of Yates’s daugh­ters as his own. That Septem­ber, the pair were in Aus­tralia with Tiger when hard drugs were found un­der the cou­ple’s bed in their Lon­don home; the nanny dis­cov­ered a tube of lol­lies that con­tained opium and heroin.

There has never been a full and rea­son­able in­ves­ti­ga­tion into how the drugs got into the tube or un­der the bed. But the next month Geldof was given cus­tody of his three daugh­ters. This set­back ac­cel­er­ated Hutchence’s down­ward spi­ral. Ac­cord­ing to his brother Rhett Hutchence, “He was on Prozac and be­ing treated for de­pres­sion on ac­count of all the money he was spend­ing and the prob­lems with Paula and Bob. Paula had been feed­ing Michael bullsh*t; when he started find­ing out how much it was cost­ing him to be with her, I think he wanted to sep­a­rate.”

The para­noia grew more in­tense and the qual­ity of his com­pan­ion­ship di­min­ished. His usual crew was grad­u­ally re­placed by drug peo­ple. “In the last year be­fore he died,” re­mem­bers Se­rio, “I felt when I would catch up with Michael in my place in Syd­ney or driv­ing around in my car, that I was watch­ing the bird in the cage – a gi­ant bird in a very small but gilded cage.”

“Not even in Paula’s wildest dreams was Michael go­ing to be do­mes­tic”

NEW N SEN­SA­TION (from far left) Paula Yates’s in­fa­mous 1994 19 in­ter­view with Michael Hutchence for her TV show The Th Big Break­fast; the INXS front­man re­hears­ing for the 1990 19 MTV VMAS; Hutchence thought of Yates’s daugh­ters as his own; Yates and Hutchence’s daugh­ter Heav­enly Hi­raani H Tiger Lily has been raised by Bob Geldof.

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