HIS FI­NAL HOURS

A new book lays bare the life of the singer—and his last mo­ments with fam­ily and friends

WHO - - Seal -

In the months be­fore Michael Hutchence died, INXS had re­leased their 10th stu­dio al­bum, El­e­gantly Wasted, and em­barked on a tour of the US and Europe. To­wards the end of 1997 they re­turned to Aus­tralia and be­gan re­hearsals at ABC Stu­dios on Syd­ney’s North Shore for the Aus­tralian (and fi­nal) leg of the tour. Hutchence was hop­ing his part­ner, Paula Yates, would join him on the tour with their 16-month-old daugh­ter, Tiger, and two of Yates’s three daugh­ters with Bob Geldof. Yates and Geldof, how­ever, were locked in a cus­tody bat­tle and a hear­ing on the mat­ter was due to take place in the UK on Nov. 21. In the early morn­ing of Nov. 22, Hutchence was ex­pect­ing a call from Yates with news that she would be granted per­mis­sion to bring the chil­dren to Aus­tralia. In this edited ex­tract from the new Michael Hutchence bi­og­ra­phy Shine Like It Does, mu­sic

jour­nal­ist and Rolling Stone Aus­tralia found­ing ed­i­tor Toby Creswell de­tails the fi­nal tragic hours of a cel­e­brated life.

Fri­day, Nov. 21, 1997 was much like any other day. The be­gin­ning of sum­mer in Aus­tralia, it was bright and warm. Michael woke up alone and dressed: black jeans, a col­lared Fred Perry shirt in grey and black stripes. Tight. Re­hearsal was good, busi­nesslike. Ev­ery­body could feel that the end of the tour was com­ing, and that there would be a big break. Ev­ery­one was weary; weary of the bull­shit from the me­dia that as­saulted them ev­ery morn­ing over break­fast, weary of the tour and this strug­gle with start­ing over, con­fused at why their magic touch had lost its magic, worn out by the singer’s mood swings. But through it all there was the mu­sic. When Timmy tight­ened his shoul­ders and bent his head into at­tack po­si­tion and Kirk, hold­ing the horn, tipped his head slightly back be­fore go­ing up to the mike to wail. When the mu­sic started, hang on. It was like alchemy.

Late in the af­ter­noon, [for­mer INXS co-man­ager] Gary Grant stopped by. There was a good feel­ing in the room. He of­fered to give Michael a lift back to town and the singer eas­ily agreed. He grabbed some beers on the way out.

As Gary drove across the ex­press­way and onto the Har­bour Bridge, it was like old times. They had shared so many ad­ven­tures, care­free trips down the coast; just think­ing of it, you could al­most smell the surf and those leg­endary fish and chips. There’s a kind of haze that comes across Syd­ney in the early sum­mer, a soft­ened light full of warm colours, and the air is just threat­en­ing to get un­com­fort­able. With the beer and the at­mos­phere and the dap­pled light from the steel gird­ers of the bridge as they flew across it, there was the usual small talk that friends have.

Michael was also think­ing about the fu­ture: think­ing about his fa­ther, whom he very rarely saw, think­ing about Tiger and think­ing about the law. Tonight he would get the news and all things con­sid­ered, it could be good news. The fam­ily— all four of them, and his mum and his dad and Rhett and his kids, maybe they would have an Aus­tralian Christ­mas. He had been a lucky man.

Hol­ly­wood came to mind. He’d had fifty meet­ings with pro­duc­ers and di­rec­tors and his man­ager, Martha Troup, had said that [Quentin] Tarantino had him in mind for some­thing. Th­ese last years had been a night­mare, but it was like the song says: “It’s the swing like a pen­du­lum”; or the other one: “Some­times you kick, some­times you get kicked.” He hoped he’d be kick­ing the dark­ness in the near fu­ture . . .

“The last time I spoke to Michael was in my car driv­ing from re­hearsals at the ABC to the In­dian restau­rant on New South Head Road, where he was din­ing with his dad, Kell, and Kell’s girl­friend, Susie,” Gary wrote to me in an email. “He had a can of beer in his hand and was in great spir­its, and we had a good laugh as one al­ways did with Michael! He got out of the car and said, ‘Thank you, Gary, hey, how about we hit some clubs to­mor­row night?’ I said, ‘Great idea, Mikey . . . I’ll call you, mate.’” And with that, Michael Hutchence jumped out of the car and, with a spring in his step, went into the Flavour of In­dia for a curry.

After din­ner, Kell dropped Hutchence at the RitzCarl­ton. At the bar, he met his for­mer girl­friend, ac­tress Kym Wil­son, and her part­ner, An­drew Ray­ment. All three later went up to his suite and Hutchence asked the pair to stay with him for sup­port as he waited to hear the out­come of the hear­ing. After they left around 5 AM, Yates called at 5.30 AM to say the cus­tody mat­ter had not been fi­nalised. Hutchence then called Geldof, who de­scribed the singer as “hec­tor­ing, abu­sive and threat­en­ing.” At 9.38 AM he called Troup and left a mes­sage say­ing, “I’ve f--king had enough.” His fi­nal call was to for­mer girl­friend Michelle Ben­nett. Hear­ing how “up­set” he sounded, she went to the ho­tel, but when she knocked there was no an­swer. Around 11.50 AM, ho­tel staff found Hutchence dead, naked and hang­ing from his own belt from the door of his suite.

“He had a can of beer and was in great spir­its” —Gary Grant

Out­side Syd­ney’s Ritz-carl­ton ho­tel on Nov. 22, 1997, a coroner’s van holds the body of Michael Hutchence. The fu­neral for Hutchence was held at Syd­ney’s St An­drews Cathe­dral on Nov. 27, 1997. His ashes were later scat­tered on Syd­ney Har­bour. From left, An­drew Far­riss, Garry Beers and Hutchence’s brother, Rhett, were among the pall­bear­ers.

Yates (hold­ing Tiger at the fu­neral) told po­lice that Hutchence “couldn’t stand a minute more without his baby.”

Tiger with her adop­tive fa­ther, Bob Geldof, in Lon­don in 2008. Geldof adopted the girl in 2007.

Life­line: 13 11 14

This is an edited ex­tract from Shine Like It Does by Toby Creswell, pub­lished by Echo, rrp $32.99.

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