What happened to Michael Hutchence?

What happened to Michael Hutchence?

Having already written a pouring-my-heart-out kind of piece on Michael Hutchence from a fan’s perspective, I am adding this one for more practical reasons. So I guess you might be wondering – what do I mean by that? Why talk about what happened to Michael Hutchence, so many years later?


Rewind to the most recent anniversary of when the lead singer from INXS died, which falls on 22nd November. Someone I know personally, who has 250K followers on social media and growing, posted about the significance of the date and how the symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are often similar to those experienced by PTSD sufferers.

The response to this attempt to shed light on mental health issues was mostly very positive – but. There were also numerous comments about what people mistakenly believed to be the real Michael Hutchence cause of death.


Anyone who claimed after his passing that there was a link between the INXS death and asphyxiation certainly left their mark on the minds of the public, probably because the press took the story and ran with it. As they do. It sells their filthy rags, after all.

After that I read Michael: My Brother, Lost Boy of INXS by the singer’s sister, Tina Hutchence, which to me was a searingly honest and unbiased account of his life. Frankly, it broke my heart that she and others – not least his daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence – have experienced such a loss. Not only that, but so many people around the world still believe his death wasn’t suicide.

This article, therefore, is my attempt to set the record straight. If anyone searches online for ‘what happened to Michael Hutchence’ (and at the time of writing about 140 people per month do) hopefully this piece will help to tell the tale. The real story, rather than what the papers may say.


Thankfully anyone interested enough in Michael, in INXS or in Australian music to watch Mystify – a Michael Hutchence documentary made by his close friend and film director Richard Lowenstein – now knows the truth already.

What really happened is now also known because Michael’s ex-girlfriend Helena Christensen finally opened her heart about what occurred in her company, one night in Copenhagen in August 1992.


Following a confrontation by a taxi driver, Michael was knocked to the ground, hitting his head. He became unconscious, and Christensen says there was a lot of blood. Initially, she feared he was dead.

He did briefly recieve hospital treatment, followed by care from Helena herself in the privacy of her Copenhagen apartment. It was clearly a very dark time for them both.

Medical advice was duly sought when things didn’t improve, and a scan showed lesions on Michael’s brain. It also showed the complete and irreversible severing of the nerves that result in humans experiencing the senses of taste and smell.


This meant the INXS lead singer would have no sense of smell or taste for the rest of his life. He also had permanent brain damage. The accident occurred when he was just 32, leaving him with a TBI that would negatively impact on his future.

Sadly, Helena and Michael parted. He then got together with Paula Yates. Whatever you or I make of that relationship, something great did come out of it in the form of Michael’s only child, now simply known as Tiger.

By all accounts he was a very proud and devoted father from the off, despite other elements of his life slipping from his grasp during the mid 1990s.


Friends say that there was conflict in the relationship between Michael and Paula, some adding that he was trying to find a way to leave her. In the Mystify documentary, and in Tina Hutchence’s book, there’s talk of an affair Michael had with an American called Erin. Spending time with her appeared to make him happy.

It was becoming clear to many of Michael’s nearest and dearest, though, that he was unhappy in general. But as no one really knew the true extent of his injuries and symptoms, no one realised just how serious it was.


TBI symptoms may include headaches, tiredness, anxiety, memory problems, visual disturbances, balance issues and more. In this case, Michael from INXS also no longer had a sense of smell or taste. As a very sensual man, you could say that this alone could well have destroyed him mentally.

As the 1990s went on, his INXS band mates were among those who reported witnessing erratic behaviour, including mood swings, aggression and rage. He picked fights and destroyed a vintage guitar. This, those who knew the INXS lead singer say, was completely out-of-character.


It was, in short, a perfect storm, and one that came to a head during the evening of 21st November 1997. The INXS singer was staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Double Bay, Sydney, and spent time drinking with friends in his room there.

During the course of the evening, he spoke to Bob Geldof, Paula Yates’ ex-husband and the father of three of her daughters, on the phone. Michael became agitated and distressed when he learned that Yates’ visit to Australia with Tiger wasn’t going to happen as planned.

Michael Hutchence cause of death


The early hours of 22nd November saw the lead singer of INXS making phone calls to several people, including his personal manager and an ex-girlfriend he was still close to. He sounded increasingly desperate, and begged to see Michele Bennett.

Tragically, by the time she reached the hotel the INXS lead singer death had already taken place. She assumed he was at last asleep, and left a note at reception. The door was broken down by staff during late morning, but it was too late.


Michael was found dead. He’d made a loop from his belt, and attached this to the door-closing hinge before forcing his head into the makeshift noose. He was naked, facing the door, and the belt buckle had broken, either due to the weight of his body or the pressure of the door being forced open.

Kelland Hutchence, Michael’s father, was called by the press for a comment before he’d even heard of his son’s passing. The rest of INXS, who were expecting him to join them at rehearsals for their upcoming tour, learned the news on TV while they were waiting.


The first question during the aftermath was of course how did the lead singer of INXS die? As there was no note some assumed it couldn’t be suicide, but this is not actually as uncommon as people seem to think.

There were only really three possibilities – suicide, an accident or someone else being involved. New South Wales coroner Derrick Hand ruled out the last two options due to a complete lack of evidence. Due to Michael’s fragile state and the evidence available, he was satisfied that the singer did indeed take his own life.


So how old was Michael Hutchence when he died? Only 37. A decade too late to join the infamous 27 club, but still with so much life ahead of him. The true tragedy is that it may only have been a moment of absolute, nowhere-to-turn desperation that led to him joining the ranks of dead Australian musicians.

Never Tear Us Apart was used as the Michael Hutchence funeral song just five days later, with By My Side then being played as the attendees filed soberly out of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.


Those who want to visit the Michael Hutchence grave need to go to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles. His mother and sister lived in LA, and Michael had even attended school there for a while, earlier in his life.

There is also a memorial for the at the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium in North Ryde, Sydney, close to where he and the rest of INXS went to high school. The members of INXS the band met during those days, and until Michael’s death the original line-up never changed.


Many say that INXS was Michael Hutchence. Although all six are incredibly talented musicians, his stage presence and charisma is often seen as the secret of their global success.

For a time during the 80s and 90s, the boys from Sydney’s northern suburbs were one of the biggest bands on the planet, and their live performance at Wembley Stadium, London in 1991 is still viewed as phenomenal.

Several INXS lead singers have taken on the role since, but none, it seemed, could really fill Michael’s shoes. The band are now no more, although various members have since embarked on other solo or collaborative projects.


As for the Michael Hutchence estate – apparently none of Michael’s family have received a single penny. Even his personal possessions were reportedly seized by Colin Diamond, the star’s business manager. He claimed that Michael’s wealth was spent on partying, extravagant gifts and legal bills. Even if that were true, what happens to the royalties that keep on rolling in?

INXS’s most recent greatest hits album has spent a record-breaking amount of time on the music charts, and there should also be income from radio stations and other sources all over the world who play the band’s music.

Even precious, incredibly personal items like Michael Hutchence pictures in his possession have never been held by his family again. After he’d put the Mystify documentary together, Richard Lowenstein met Tiger, and gave her a guitar of Michael’s. Apparently before that she had little or none of her dad’s stuff.


Despite the lack of money or material goods, Michael gave the world so much. Over 10 songs have been written about him. His music is played, pretty much non-stop by fans like me and others I’ve met online via social media groups dedicated to his memory.

After reading Tina Hutchence’s latest book, I contacted her to comment and thank her for sharing her story and memories. When she actually replied, I was both humbled and delighted.

By all accounts, Michael was a poetic, intelligent, amusing, thoughtful, kind and charming man. Nothing like the picture the press painted. Myself and other fans will love and miss him until the end of our days.

Michael – as Abba said, ‘thank you for the music’. And again the title of the Duran Duran song Michael You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For springs to mind. But I mean that in only in the most caring of ways.

Marcy x (Note – Marcy is a pseudonym. I use my real name on social media.)

For more on TBIs, their effects, raising awareness and support, visit The Michael Hutchence Foundation, set up by his sister Tina.

With special thanks to Tina Hutchence and the INXS Access All Areas podcast, plus all the INXS and Michael Hutchence fans who keep the memories alive.

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