Michael Hutchence Biography

Singer (1960–1997)
Michael Hutchence was the lead singer of the band INXS, a popular rock group in the 1980s and 1990s.


Michael Hutchence was born on January 22, 1960, in Sydney, Australia. In high school he formed the band The Farriss Brothers which became INXS. They released a self-titled debut album in 1980 which was a hit in Australia. They reached the American audience through heavy video rotation on MTV and their album Kick became a huge international hit. Hutchence was found dead by hanging in 1997.

Early Life

Michael Kelland John Hutchence was born on January 22, 1960, in Sydney, Australia. A vibrant and sensual performer, Michael Hutchence was the lead singer of INXS, a popular rock group in the 1980s and '90s. The son of a makeup artist and a businessman, he spent part of his childhood in Hong Kong. Hutchence grew up listening to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, among others. In high school, he met keyboardist and guitarist Andrew Farriss, and the two became friends and bandmates. They formed a band with bassist Gary Beers. Later on, Farriss brothers, Tim, a guitarist, and Jon, a drummer, joined the group along with Kirk Pengilly, who played guitar and saxophone, forming what was then called the Farriss Brothers.

Formation of INXS

After high school, Hutchence went to Perth with the band and played in some clubs there without a lot of success. They returned to Sydney and renamed themselves INXS. Landing a recording contract, the group released its first self-titled album in 1980. The group's first hit in Australia was "Just Keep Walking," and with their powerful live shows, they began to attract quite a following. With elements of funk and new wave, the band had a distinctive sound. Hutchence's strong vocals also won people over. He had great charisma and sex appeal, with some comparing him to Mick Jagger or Jim Morrison.

Their second album, Underneath the Colours, was also popular with their Australian fans. This led to their first U.S. album, Shabooh Shoobah (1982), which featured "The One Thing" and "Don't Change." Arriving on the American music scene during the rise of music videos, the group's videos got a lot of airplay on MTV, which helped propel their career. Their next few albums featured such hits as "Original Sin," "What You Need" and "Listen Like Thieves."

Commercial Success

In 1987, INXS released its most successful album, Kick. The song "Need You Tonight" reached the top of the charts while "Devil Inside," "Never Tear Us Apart" and "New Sensation," broke into the Top 10. Along with the band's meteoric rise, Hutchence himself was extremely popular with his personable charm and good looks. He even took time away from the group for his own projects. He made his film debut in Dogs in Space (1987) and recorded with Ollie Olsen as Max Q in 1989, but the resulting self-titled album failed to garner much attention.

In 1990, INXS released X, which failed to reach the heights of Kick. It did make it to the top 5 of the album charts and contained the top 10 hit "Suicide Blonde."The group did not fare as well with its consequent albums, but remained a popular live act, drawing large crowds to their shows.

Personal Life

Later that decade, Hutchence found himself in the headlines for his personal life. Once romantically linked to model Helena Christensen and singer Kylie Minogue, he started a relationship with a married woman, Paula Yates, a British talk show host. She was married to Sir Bob Geldof, a very popular performer and social activist. Hutchence was labeled the other man in the couple's breakup and was the subject of intense media scrutiny. Yates and Geldof engaged in a very bitter divorce and custody battle over their three daughters. Hutchence is said to have suffered greatly under the stress of the situation.

One bright spot for Hutchence was the arrival of his daughter. He and Yates welcomed Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence on July 22, 1996. Sadly, Hutchence would only spend more than a year with his daughter before his own tragic end.

Tragic Death

At the age of 37, Hutchence was found dead in his hotel room in Sydney on November 22, 1997. There have been contradictory reports regarding his death and state of mind at the time. Some indicated that he was in despair over his personal life while others stated that he was not suicidal and would not have killed himself. In any case, Hutchence died from suffocation by hanging. His daughter was orphaned in 2000 after Paula Yates died of a drug overdose. Known as Tiger Lily, his daughter has since been raised by Bob Geldof along with her three half-sisters. In 2007, there were reports that Geldof intended to officially adopt Tiger Lily.

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