Michael Hutchence is one of the greatest singers and performers in Australia’s history, with a career that spanned 20 years. Born to Kelland Hutchence and Patricia Hutchence (a film and television make-up artist), Michael was the second of three children. He grew up in Hong Kong, USA, and Australia, and often hung out with his mother on film sets, getting to meet many famous people including his former classmate, Nastassja Kinski. When his parents split in 1976, Michael went with his mother to live in America for a while, but finding the fast-paced lifestyle too hectic, he moved back to Australia to live with his father. He attended high school in Sydney, becoming friends with another student, Andrew Farriss. Andrew performed regularly in two bands, Doctor Dolphin and The Farriss Brothers, and at some point invited Michael to sing with them. After graduating, they recruited two more members, Garry Beers and Kirk Pengilly, and immediately started touring pubs as The Farriss Brothers. They were later signed for a record deal on condition that they changed their name to INXS, which was a reflection of their lifestyle, always in excess.
Their first three albums were only minor sellers, but when ‘The Swing’ was released in 1984, it debuted at number one in Australia, and went double platinum. Their 1987 album ‘Kick’ had huge radio airplay, brought them an American number one hit (“Need You Tonight”) and sold millions of albums worldwide.
However, Michael led a life of constant excess, which included women, drugs and alcohol, and sadly after ‘Kick’, the band proved to be not as popular as they once had been. Michael attempted a film career, but his first film Dogs in Space (1986) earned an ‘R’ rating, completely alienating it from teenagers, its intended audience. His second film Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound (1990) did not showcase his talent either, as he had little more than a walk-on role.
All the while, his personal and professional life was falling apart. He fell in love with and later lived with Bob Geldof’s wife, Paula Yates, which tainted his career. They had a daughter together, Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof. In 1997 he met up with Michael Douglas to discuss his songs being used in Face/Off (1997). Hutchence wanted to know from Douglas what steps he should take to further advance himself in the film industry. Douglas advised him, but Michael could not handle the pressure of being a fading rock star, and when his latest album ‘Elegantly Wasted’ was a flop, Michael took the steps that ended his career. Michael once said that he was “just a man” — and that is all he ever was.