INXS Michael Hutchence’s hauntingly prophetic words, days before his death

Michael Hutchence

Michael Hutchence

This story was published 18 days ago February 08, 2014 9:36PM by news.com.au

MICHAEL Hutchence battled many demons but, for the first time, he felt close to winning the war.

“I have dealt with many demons in my life, but nothing compares to what I’ve had to face over the past few years,” Hutchence told me over the phone, in what would be his last interview.

“It would be so easy for me to say that I hate what I’ve become, but then, what I’ve become, certainly in the public eye, I’ve had no control over.

“I don’t like that.

“It concerns me a great deal that every move that I make is looked at, photographed, and made into gossip, some f—ing sound bite that doesn’t resemble the truth.”

Hutchence had called to promote a homecoming tour with INXS. It was November 18, 1997, and he was about to board a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney.

Four days later, he took his own life in a Sydney hotel room. Upbeat about coming home, the open and obliging frontman broadened our interview to include his lover British broadcaster Paula Yates, pride at their daughter Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily, and his seething contempt of Yates’ former husband, Sir Bob Geldof.

Geldof and Yates, who had three children together, split in 1995, a year after her affair with the Australian rocker was uncovered.

That rift sparked a vicious slanging match and bitter custody battle. In our interview, he was increasingly angry and hurt at the picture the British press painted of him, especially after his fling and subsequent relationship with Yates.

“I’d say it was much worse for Paula – but I’m a realist, I just do my best to confront these things and hope I come out of it stronger and wiser and a better person,” he told me.

“The truth has hardly ever survived in our case. I get to see some of what is written, hear what is said. I try not to because some of it, no, most of it, is hurtful and it does me no good to think that it is out there. I hate the fact that people’s perception of you is just fodder. Every move you make is just used to sell newspapers.

“I don’t want to be exposed like that all the time. I don’t want to be known as someone that’s just a shallow sound bite. I have worked too long and too hard for that.

“I have always just carried on my life the way I see fit. If that ruffles feathers, and it becomes tabloid fodder, then so be it. I’m not going to lock myself away or change my lifestyle to suit somebody else’s set of rules. I think that’s immoral.

“People should just remember: I am a musician. I am a singer. That’s it.”

He continued: “I’m not complaining about the life I’ve got. I’m a dad, I sing, I travel, I get into most of the clubs for free. I have freedom and freedom gives you a certain amount of power.”

Then eerily: “I can lose all of this whenever I want to.”

Earlier that month, Hutchence had met with major studio and indie filmmakers in New York and Los Angeles to resurrect his acting career.

In that time, Hutchence did a cameo role in Limp, a low-budget movie shot in Seattle. He auditioned for the part, got it, and played a jaded record company executive. “It was directed by this hot-shot kid, this 26-year-old guy, and his energy, just seeing how this guy works with ideas, it has inspired me to work in films again,” he told me.

Hutchence was excited by the rise of quality, independent Australian film, and had set up meetings with local filmmakers during the INXS tour.

“I am the biggest fan of anything Australian, especially when I’m away from home,” he told me.

“I just rant and rave because I know what it takes to get it out there on the world stage.

Hutchence was in love, but said he had not discussed marriage with Yates.

“Every year, some columnist tells us we are going to get married somewhere. Last year it was in Queensland, the year before, it was in Italy,” he told me.

“Marriage is a very personal thing and to deny it, well, you don’t want to deny it because it sounds like you don’t want to do it.”

Did Hutchence want to do it?

“To be honest, yes,” he replied.

“I think there is a part of me that truly wants that. But in reality, we haven’t even discussed it. Some gossip columnist just thinks it’s pretty funny to tell us when we should.”

After Hutchence’s death, an understandably distraught Yates struggled to cope.

In September 2000, she was found dead in her London home from a heroin overdose. Geldof took foster custody of Tiger Lily, so she could be raised with her older half-sisters. He formally adopted Tiger Lily in 2007.

Hutchence, caught in the vitriol between Geldof and Yates, once described Sir Bob as “an evil man” and said the public had been fooled into siding with “Saint Bob”.

He told me: “It is an easy contrast. A convenient one. Saint Bob and (a) wild boy rock star. You pick the one who people are going to believe?

“One day, the truth will be told,” Hutchence sighed. Did he want to give his side of “the truth” for our interview?

“No,” he answered flatly.

“The ones who lie should be made to tell the truth.”

According to the coroner’s report, Hutchence called Geldof twice in the early hours of November 22, 1997, begging Sir Bob to let Yates bring her children to Australia. Geldof told authorities Hutchence’s tone was “abusive, hectoring and threatening”.

A desperate and distraught Hutchence placed further calls, and left voicemail messages with his former girlfriend, Michelle Bennett, and manager, Martha Troup.

Bennett rushed to the hotel, but was unable to rouse Hutchence by knocking loudly on his door, and calling repeatedly.

At 11.50am, a hotel maid found him, dead, and naked behind the door to his room. He had apparently hanged himself with his own belt.

Earlier that week, Hutchence was optimistic about being able to telling the truth his way.

“Are you comfortable in your skin?” he asked in Building Bridges.

“Some days I am everything that I hate. There’s nothing if the truth won’t survive.”

In essence, Hutchence’s songs let him have the last word.

“That I can create, that I can write, that I can express,” Hutchence told me, “that is the light at the end of the tunnel. That is how you win the battle.”

The Best Gram Parsons Songs To Banish The Winter Blues

Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons

Bask in the tender glory of America’s cosmic country pioneer.

“A VOICE THAT WOULD break and crack but rise pure and beautiful and full of sweetness and pain.” – Emmylou Harris describes her friend and musical soul mate, Gram Parsons, in the liner notes for 1976′s Sleepless Nights.

Just 26 when he died in September 1973, the man born Cecil Ingram Connor III in Winter Haven, Florida on November 5, 1946 packed a lot into his quarter century. His commitment to blending his beloved country music – this was the man who taught Keith Richards the difference between the Nashville and Bakersfield sounds – with the world of rock saw him work his way through The International Submarine Band, The Byrds and, most significantly, The Flying Burrito Brothers, before recording two solo albums that have become touchstones for those seeking the full-powered hit of mythic American music.

He may not have had the best voice in the business, but with master musicians like Chris Hillman and Emmylou Harris at his side, the ache, tenderness and vulnerability of the country boy with the hippie threads can really be something to behold.

To mark 40 years since the release of Grievous Angel (The Gilded Palace Of Sin celebrates 45 years of glory next month) we decided to revisit 20 classic Gram Parsons performances. From ISB, to The Byrds and Burritos, through GP, Grevious Angel and beyond…

Oasis: Definitely Maybe Reissue & Rarities Incoming

Oasis

Oasis

OASIS WILL RELEASE their first three albums, Definitely Maybe (1994), (What’s The Story) Morning Glory (1995) and Be Here Now (1997), in deluxe edition formats later this year.

1994 debut Definitely Maybe will be the first to appear on May 19 and will be available in an array of formats including standard CD, digital download, special edition 3CD, 12-inch vinyl and a deluxe box set featuring the LP, CD and an exclusive 7-inch.

Even more tantalising is the limited edition release of the band’s original 8-track 1993 demo cassette which will be available to order (on cassette!) from oasisinet.com.

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And if that’s not enough Oasis for you, a limited edition remaster of the band’s debut 12-inch, Supersonic, will be available on Record Store Day 2014, otherwise known as Saturday, April 19.

The Definitely Maybe: Chasing Sun Edition will include a remastered version of the original album alongside all the B-sides and previously unheard acoustic and live versions of Live Forever, Shakermaker, Half The World Away, Sad Song, unreleased demo Strange Thing and the strings from 1994′s Whatever, the latter recorded on cassette at Maison Rouge Studios by Oasis sound guru Mark Coyle.

Watch the trailer for the Chasing The Sun series below:

Check out their live UK TV debut on The Word here:

Preparing To Split, The Beat Decide To Save It For Later

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Brum ska-pop contenders peak at Californian enormo-fest in 1983. Plus! Live dates.

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BEAT DRUMMER EVERETT MORTON recalled the group’s show at the May 1983 US Festival in San Bernadino, California, as “just as we were getting to the top of the mountain… towards the end.”

This was Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s personal music fest/technology exposition where he watched Bowie, The Clash and more from the side of the stage. The Beat had only weeks left to live, giving this crowd-pleasing performance of Special Beat Service album track Save It For Later – a song of adolescent angst that Pete Townshend and Pearl Jam have covered – an extra poignancy. Taken from the Live At The US Festival CD/DVD set, they don’t look or sound like a band on their last legs.

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Vocalist Dave Wakeling, meanwhile, will be bringing his stateside group The English Beat over for a UK tour next month, starting at Holmfirth Picturedome on May 7 and taking in shows in Liverpool, Birmingham and London before ending at the Skamouth weekender, Great Yarmouth on March 16. Support is from Roddy Radiation of The Specials (comically, the UK-based version of the group led by Ranking Roger also play British dates that month. Will they meet on the motorway?)

Wakeling is also ambassador for the Specialized charity project in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. Having already raised funds via new versions of songs by The Specials and The Beat, this year it’s Madness’ turn to get the covers treatment. A version of the Nutty Boys’ Our House featuring members of The Specials, Bad Manners, The Body Snatchers and The Selecter has been recorded; see here for more info.

Pink Floyd Exhibition To Open In Milan

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Major international retrospective, Their Mortal Remains, will launch in September.

Flying pig included.

PINK FLOYD HAVE announced details of a major new exhibition entitled Their Mortal Remains, set to open in Milan on September 19.

Promising a multi-sensory experience that will encompass the band’s music and art, this retrospective has been created with the active involvement of David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Roger Waters and will be curated by Aubrey Powell – one half of Floyd’s design favourites Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson passed away in April 2013).

“If ever a band lent itself to a major retrospective exhibition it’s Pink Floyd,” says Powell. “For a curator, selecting what to include from such a treasure trove, is both a dream and a nightmare: however there were elements that just had to be included, for example a 20 metre-wide sculpture of The Wall, 5 metre high inflatables and of course a flying pig. We shall be aiming for state-of-the-art, visuals and sonic delivery, similar to the experience of attending a Pink Floyd concert, you never know what to expect next.”

Alongside the audio-visual journey from 1968′s The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn to the present day, 300 artefacts from the band’s archive will also be on display. All will be housed within the 2,500 square metres of Milan’s La Fabbrica Del Vapore. Stufish, the team behind many of Floyd’s gargantuan stage sets, have been leading the design of the exhibition.

Tickets for the four-week residency will cost 15€ and will go on sale on Thursday (February 27) via pinkfloydexhibition.com

Preview the event via the video below: