from Michael’s dearest friends for the 20th anniversary of his passing.
Hey Michael, thinking about you today as 20 years have passed since your death. In fact, I think about you often, when I hear your voice singing or when something random reminds me of you, a place, a word, a scent… Thinking of you usually makes me smile, even crack up, because you were very funny in such a unique and refreshing way. I hold so many memories about us being totally childish and doing hilarious things and I love that those moments are how I best remember you. You shared your enormous talent with the world and touched so many people with your kind, empathetic heart, but what a special honor it is to have been one of the lucky few who got to know the sweet, curious, caring, smart and funny man you were on a personal level. You left us the beautiful present of being able to listen to your amazing voice, over and over, and for that we will always be grateful. We play INXS every summer when we’re gathered under a dark violet summer sky, while cicadas chirp along and stories about you are being told, making us all smile and hug. You are with us in so many ways still…
In 1984 my film Strikebound was at the Cannes Film Festival. By co-incidence, INXS are playing in Nice (just a few miles from Cannes). I rustle a few Australians and Poms together and we go to the concert in a large marquee tent. My French publicist, her 14-year-old daughter, Michael Hutchence and I end up in a party in a rustic French Villa, where Michael protectively offers to protect the daughter from all the unwanted sexual harassment she had been receiving from the thuggish boys in her class at school.
The girl’s mother (my publicist) drives us back to Cannes and drops us off. After a night of clubs and hotel room parties and no sleep, Michael and I arrive at my publicist’s apartment and escort her daughter to school early the next morning. The young girl points out the boys that had been harassing her and Michael approaches them and in bad French, informs them of the physical violence they will receive at his hands if they ever harass our young friend again. The incredulous boys throw stones at him and abuse him loudly in French informing him in no uncertain terms of their general disregard for his band, INXS.
Michael chased them away and then tags along with me as I meet with the prominent, respectable and middle-aged Australian producer, Joan Long about the next movie I had planned and was in the middle of writing. Whilst moaning artistically and collapsing into our 1984 ten-dollar orange juices, I explained the plot of my new futuristic political thriller. The response was blank and expressionless to say the least.
I was then hit by a lightning bolt of an idea. I sat up suddenly and said, “And of course there’s the film that Michael and I are making…”. Michael looks up in a vague stupor and said, “We are…?”. I said, “Yes, we are… It’s all about this young girl who comes into a house-hold full of hippies and punks and other assorted weirdos in the late seventies”. Michael interjects, “That’s right, and then there’s…”
Michael and I began to ad-lib the story-line which wasn’t bad since we hadn’t discussed it at all up to that moment. Joan Long’s face lights up. This is something she understood and we promised to get in touch as soon as we got back to Australia.
Michael and I walked down the Croissette to the Cannes office of the Australian Film Commission where I left a rather bedraggled Michael on the front steps basking in the sun as he waited for his tour bus to pick him up, something I wasn’t sure they would know how to do since they didn’t have the slightest inkling where he was. As I departed, one of Australia’s most prominent film critics walked by and dropped a franc into Michael’s out-stretched hand. Michael looked up at him, smiled and said, “Thanks…” A few weeks earlier an INXS song had been number one in France. I guess the film critic understood how the tide could turn.
Two years later, ‘Dogs In Space’ was in production..
We never saw or spoke to Joan Long, the Australian producer, again…
Our Man Mike
It is 20 years since Michael left us and here are 20 asides and anecdotes about my friend.
1 It is 20 years since he died and 20 is the number of iPhones he would have bought and lost by now if he had stayed around.
2 Michael turned up to be an extra on Mad Max 3. We spent most of the time with fellow nere-do-wells and musicians Andrew Hunter and Marc Scully pretending we were in a Monty Python film.
3 Michael once co-reinvented with a friend called Paul Ellis and I a dance called the “Glam Slam”. I say reinvented as it featured very strongly in a Glam rock compilation Paul had at his house. It is on youtube and it is Suzi Quatro doing “Devil gate Drive” on Top Of The Pops. It is the dance they do in the second instrumental section where the drummer comes out from behind his kit and joins the other musicians. A moment of pure genius and we learned to do it. We were very good at it. I suggest everyone google it and dance it in memory of Mike.
4 He always ran out of cigarettes at 3am.
5 Due to his adolescent misadventures with bad skin, in his later years if he found a pimple on his face he called the whole night off!
6 Michael once ended up in a hotel room with Tom Jones, the great Welsh singer, and Gibby Haynes, the eccentric front man from the Butthole Surfers. Although he loved Tom’s voice. He loved Gibby’s sense of humour a whole lot more.
7 He actually managed to avoid looking like a complete buffon when he wore leather trousers.
8 Mike had a huge crush on Molly Ringwald, especially her character in “Pretty in Pink”
9 Paul Ellis, Michael, myself and a handsome model called Mark once ended up in someone’s kitchen at 3am. There was something wrong with the microwave and it kept pinging. So, being in a somewhat altered state as we were, we turned the whole kitchen into the control deck of a submarine, the pings from the microwave being of course, the sound of the sonar bouncing off some distant object. (in our scenario, an enemy ship!) After about an hour we decided to attack. In the middle of Paul and I loading the torpedos Mark yells out “Open the bomb doors”! For some strange reason he had read it as us being on the flight deck of a bomber. I guess the many times we shouted “Up periscope” didn’t really register.
10 Michael sometimes came and watched the Deadly Hume and would jump up and do backing vocals. One day at a gig called the Hopetoun in Sydney’s Surry hills, a die-hard punk and fan of ours, Charred Remains turned up and began yelling abuse at Michael. Half an hour later I saw Michel and Charred sitting on the edge of the gutter outside, sharing a beer and chatting like old mates. From that day on, Charred would not tolerate a bad word from anyone about Michael.
11 This is the number of pairs of glasses he would have lost had he stayed alive.
12 Mike told me once that although he was not really a christian it was still worth believing in God “just in case it’s true!”
13 The best party I ever went to in my life was with Michael and a lot of other people. It was like a cross between the film The Party (with Peter Sellers) Fellinis Satyricon and every party you ever saw in any John Hughes film. It started very early on a saturday afternoon and it was The Ellis Brothers, Paul and Tim, who got the whole thing going with the greatest game of tennis I have ever been involved in.
The party was one of the “rich young girl who’s parents have gone away so we are having a party” variety so they had a swimming pool, a huge tennis court and a lawn you could have landed a jumbo jet on.
So the Ellis Brothers suggested that we would have an all-in tennis game, which meant eight a side, as many tennis balls on the course at once and very few rules.
However, there were only eight tennis rackets so we had to raid the garden shed.
Our team was Michael, The Ellis Brothers, Gerrad Needham, Sally Kater, Tux Akyondani, myself and Rebecca Williamson. The Ellis Brothers gave the other two rackets allocated to our team to the two grils, so the rest of us had to improvise. Mike found a plastic rake, I found a straw broom, Gerrad found a cricket bat and Tux found a shovel.
The game began. Balls flew every where and kept flying out over the fence and into the neighbours. People were going down all over the place, but no real serious injuries. Gerrad lost control at one stage and thought it was a cricket game so hit a few sixes over the fence and out. And lost half the ball supply. But we improvised.
Tux welded the shovel like a pro and managed a few aces and also a couple of near-decapitations.
The game went on forever, and at one stage the teams grew to about twenty aside with kitchen utensils now being utilised as rackets. I say forever, as there was apparently LSD in the punch (so it possibly did not last as long as we thought). Michael is probably the best plastic rake bearing tennis player I have ever seen in a mixed eight expanding to twenty, four hour long tournament.
We spent the most of the day in hysterics, happy idiots.
At once stage a giant urn of smarties was spilt on the lawn and we crawled around looking for the red ones.
Someone emptied a can of dog food in the punch but it did not seem to bother anyone at all. And then someone found the wine cellar!
The whole place was jumping and there was absolutely no aggression. Just a bunch of happy idiots.
14 The Peter Lindbergh shoot in Paris. So we were in Paris and Mike’s girlfriend was modelling in a Gaultier shoot and the photographer was a guy called Peter Lindbergh. I did not have a clue who he was or how important he apparently was, but he let Mike and I sit in the bar they were shooting in.
It was bloody boring so Mike and I got a whole lot of drink coasters and a pen and created a pack of cards. We played the more sophisticated games: Snap and Happy families. Very Loudly! Peter was not happy and banished us to a trailer, where we kept playing. A couple of very French French men joined us. One of them was apparently Gautier’s assistant. We made up a game of poker where the winner had to put everyone else’s jacket over his own. I love the French. They look at life from a completely different point of view. They love the absurd. Michael was as happy as I had ever seen him.
15 Possibly the number of hearts Michael may have broken if he had stayed around. Or not.
16 We climbed the Sydney harbour bridge one night. It was a pretty common pastime back then. Easy to do as well. Our friend Nick Conroy holds the all-time record. More than ten, less than twenty but lots of times. He was our intrepid leader that night, although he was a bit mad at the time and almost fell off. Michael got to climb right to the top. And hug the red light that warns aeorplanes the bridge is there!
17 We went hiking in the Blue mountains once with a lovely Scottish chap and fellow musician, Stuart McKie and Michael’s current beau of the time, Kylie Minogue. We were completely ignorant about most of the Australian flora, so we just made up our own Latin names for all the plants we saw. It was once again, like a Monty Python epidsode as we put on very Upper class twit English accents. “Ah yes, the Mossicus Buttocus, a sturdy little shrub if ever there was one”.
18 The amount of credit cards Michael would have accumulated in his wallet by now, some of which could only be used on a Thursday in the Northern part of Bulgaria, one that got as many people as you liked into Disneyland, others that were only good for a very expensive drink at various night clubs in the world’s major cities, and two that were only of any value when East Germany still existed.
19 Michael had quite possibly the most infectious laugh of anyone I have ever met and the whole world was just a little better for that brief moment.
20 Michael Kelland Hutchence was an awkward, gawky, handsome, insecure, erudite, funny, but most of all a unique, kind and beautiful soul who shone a lot brighter than some who live to a 100. There will never be another like him. Vale Mike, the world was a better place for you being in it.
Michael, my extraordinary step-son, it is hard to believe it has been 20 years since you left us. I am a very proud step-mother thankful to have shared many amazing moments with you and your equally charismatic father Kelland and your brother Rhett. After reading Helena’s and other dear friends’ comments, I really cannot add a lot as they have so beautifully articulated the unique attributes of a truly wonderful human being. Many of us had our lives enriched during your short journey, but your greatest legacy lies in your music and your daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, of whom I know you would be so very very proud. She is another joy in your lineage. Her grandfather Kell, your own sweet self – and now a ‘bonsai Michael’ as her dear mother called her.
Jane and Jeremy English
Why aren’t the Hong Kong radio stations playing more INXS? Mike, Andrew, Tim – they’re so good!!”. In 1985, living in Hong Kong, Jeremy and I met Susie and Kell Hutchence. As a manager at WEA Hong Kong, the local record label for INXS, I would very often be asked this question by Kell. Almost daily. This was around the time of Listen Like Thieves. Michael was living in Hong Kong at the time, in Tai Tam. Both Susie and Kell adored Michael, Kell was his biggest fan. Over the next 12 years Jeremy and I came to know Michael through his Dad and Step Mum. Kell never stopped asking me about the music business. He wanted to better understand Michael’s life. Kell was a fan of everything Michael did. May be not Dogs in Space, but Kell laughed it off. Kell laughed a lot. At the start of 1997, we knew all about Michael’s solo recordings in LA, his steps into acting, his plans for a new direction. After he died, on this day 20 years ago, his solo album was eventually released. His bereaved Dad asked me, “Why aren’t the radio stations playing more of Michael’s solo album? It’s the best music he’s ever made”. Michael, the world misses you, none more than your proud Dad did.
22 November 2017
I miss Micheal everyday, the time I spent with him was amazing, we both spoke about making new music together just before he passed away. He was a very soulful person with a great deal of passion and humour, I will continue to miss him but with a glad heart for having known him and collaborated with him.
Sending my love to his family and friends
Gary Lilley & Ian Rylance
Thank You Hutch
A simple post for our dear friend Hutch as his 20th anniversary is upon us – Quite simply Michael “Thank You” for the many years of friendship you gave to us and the wonderful times we all shared together, I remember clearly when you said to me “One day, Gary, you will be able to share this journey we’ve had to INXS fans around the world”.
In so many ways you made us feel so special even through all of the highs and lows and the ups and the downs from initially just being fans of the band in which blossomed into a wonderful friendship your hospitality was so genuine as management were awares that when Gary and Ian were in tow profits were down (LOL).
I remember one time in particular on the second leg of the Kick tour we had so much fun and partied very hard that on arrival back into Newcastle I admitted myself into hospital I thought I was dying (Thanks Hutch) 😈for the glucose drip.
I first met your beautiful daughter Tiger at 18 months – she is such a credit to you now and one day I sincerely hope we can meet again so I can tell her that with my last few times with her father his love and excitement for her was unconditional.
The last time we saw each other we had a great day on departure from the arena about 2.00am. I carried your bag and upon arrival at the tour bus we were alone, you embraced me tightly and thanked Ian and myself “for all the times we had been there for the band” – it’s a farewell I will treasure forever. I still hear the little lisp in your voice as if it was yesterday and in hindsight will always wonder if you were saying goodbye then.
Once again Mike thanks for making so much time for us during all the tours in Europe even though you had to take most of the can for our mischief and wherever you are were hoping your still “Shining Like It Does” All of our Love Hutch – L.G.S.F.U.
Gary Lilley & Ian Rylance – England
Back in 1977 Michaels Mom Patricia told me her son Michael was the singer in a newly formed band and she didn’t think there was much of a future in it! Michael fronted INXS and they rocked the world.
Rest in Peace Michael
More to come…
please visit again soon.