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.