Michael Kelland John Hutchence (January 22, 1960 – November 22, 1997) was the lead singer of the Australian 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. He attended King George V School.
The Hutchence family eventually returned to Sydney in Michael's late teens, and it was there that Hutchence befriended Andrew Farriss at Davidson High School 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 Perth, 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."
Hutchence became the main spokesperson for the band, and gained a reputation as a confident, sexy frontman, although his close friends and family always maintained he was much more introverted than his on-stage 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 FrankensteinUnbound.
Hutchence's private life was often reported in the Australian and international press, with a string of love affairs with prominent models and singers, including a brief affair with the much-older transsexual model and singer April Ashley, who wrote of their relationship in her memoirs. In 1989, Hutchence began a highly publicised relationship with Kylie Minogue, helping to transform her image from girl-next-door (a hang-over of her soap opera Neighbours fame), into a sexy, edgy dance-oriented pop diva.
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, with little chart notoriety.
That same year, Hutchence was involved in an altercation with a taxi driver in Denmark. He suffered a blow to the head and consequently, lost his sense of smell and partial sense of taste. This made him depressed and more aggressive. According to INXS band mate, Garry Gary Beers, Micheal pulled a knife on him and threatened to kill him. This incident occurred during the recording of INXS' 1993 album, Full Moon Dirty Hearts. It was to be another commercial failure.
INXS spent the mid-1990s trying to develop a successful new album after a series of less-than-spectacular releases.
During this time, Hutchence's relationship with Kylie Minogue ended, then he dated Danish supermodel Helena Christensen before starting a relationship with Paula Yates, who he had met some years earlier during an interview. Paula and Michael's affair was soon discovered by the English press. The pressure from the media was so intense that Hutchence once assaulted a photographer hounding him. Around this time, Yates' separation from husband Bob Geldof became official, sparking an at-times bitter custody battle over their three daughters, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie. In 1996 Yates gave birth to Hutchence's only child, daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence. He was rumoured to have been dating Lady Miss Kier and Shelly Poole, but this has been denied by both people.
Given the history of the unusual names Paula Yates had given her other three children, it was Pixie who chose the name Heavenly. Michael chose Hiraani and Paula 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 punctuated with comparatively poorly-received releases, INXS felt the pressure to make a relevant and successful new album. Recording commenced in late 1996 with Bruce Fairbairn and bandmate Andrew Farriss producing what would become INXS' 10th official release.
A new 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 November 22, 1997, Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in his room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Bay, Sydney (now the Sir Stamford). A belt found at the 'scene of crime' suggested that he had hanged himself.
The New South Wales Coroner initially determined that Hutchence's death was suicide, but analysis of the witness statements in the Coroner's report, anecdotal evidence from certain family members, the lack of a suicide note and other evidence has since come forward to suggest that the cause of death may have resulted from autoerotic asphyxiation (strangling himself while masturbating). However, Hutchence received several prescriptions of the anti-depressant Prozac (fluoxetine), and the autopsy confirmed traces of Prozac beside alcohol and cocaine. Clinical studies have shown that in rare occasions, normally healthy volunteers on fluoxetine may become suicidal.
Kym Wilson and her then boyfriend Andrew Reyment were the last people to see Michael alive. Kym became known as the "Suicide Blonde", after one of INXS' hits, originally written for Kylie Minogue.
] Later developments
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 20 August 2005 that no trace of Hutchence's estimated multi-million fortune could be found by his family after his death.
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 3 days prior to his untimely death. The last song he recorded was "Possibilities". It was co written and co produced by Hutchence and a gaggle of collaborators - Andy Gill from Gang Of Four, TimSimenon 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 by Hutchence, playing a record company A & R man. (Hutchence had filmed the scene in 1996 on a day off from working on INXS' Elegantly Wasted.)
From July to September 2005, 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.
Early in 2006 it was announced that a biopic focusing on the life and times of Michael Hutchence was going forward, to be directed by Michael's friend, music promo director Nick Egan.
In an interview with Woman's Day, Tina Hutchence, Michael's half-sister, revealed that she too is planning to make a movie based on the book she co-wrote with her mother, Just A Man. She also revealed that Canadian actor Hayden Christensen is in line to play Michael.
In 2007, Michael's brother Rhett sold some of Michael's belongings on eBay, to fund a two month trip to the Netherlands; home of girlfriend, Lissette. Rhett also plans to visit his niece Tiger Lily.