Listen back to INXS’ last performance with Michael Hutchence, weeks before his death
The tragic and grisly end to the life of one of the most adored men in rock and roll, Michael Hutchence, is one that still hangs over the legacy of Australian band INXS.
The singer was found in his hotel room by a mad, having hanged himself with his belt and the door. The star seemingly took his own life in 1997 following a heavy night of drink and drugs followed by a confrontation between Paula Yates, his girlfriend, and Bob Geldof, her ex-husband.
Having become involved with Yates during a hazy end to her and Geldof’s marriage, Hutchence and the presenter of music show The Tube, Yates, were soon an item and became the focus of tabloid hysteria. After the birth of Hutchence’s child Tiger Lily, what started as gossip column fodder soon became a deeply bitter custody battle for the children caught in the crossfire.
By 1997 INXS’ Elegantly Wasted had provided another huge worldwide tour for Hutchence, the singer on incredible form, perhaps finding a new zealous for the stadium-sized adoration which met him on stage. The tour would wrap up at the elegantly named Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheater near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 27th. With final number, ‘Suicide Blonde’, Hutchence vocals end – ringing out across the audience, to be remembered as the last performance he would ever give.
Shortly after the tour in support of the album finished, the band were getting ready for the upcoming 20th anniversary performances in their native Australia, set to take place in November and December. Hutchence had invited Yates and the children out to Australia to spend the downtime together and get prepared for what would be a momentous week for the band who began in 1977.
Sadly, during the lengthy litigious arguments, one of the many custody hearings the family had experienced was delayed until December 17th, meaning Yates and the girls would not be able to travel down under. According to Yates, Hutchence “was frightened and couldn’t stand a minute more without his baby… [he] was terribly upset and he said, ‘I don’t know how I’ll live without seeing Tiger'”.
After a series of calls, Hutchence would take his own life while under the influence of drink and drugs, it would go down as a dark day for INXS and for rock and roll. The tabloid press would try to find another piece of gossip out of the tragic affair and claim the singer had died due to auto-erotic asphyxiation, a clearly misplaced theory. The truth is likely a far darker moment of saddening spontaneity.
As with every tragic ending in music, there remains a beacon of light and hope – with the celebration of their life and art. There’s no better way to begin those celebrations than with INXS’ impeccable live show.
In this audio, the band is on wonderful form, delivering a crystalline view of why they were so highly regarded as the perfect fusion of pop and rock. While the band delivers an infectious groove Hutchence shines with his heartening vocal. Sadly no footage of note remains of the event, however, the audio provides a stark and touching reminder of the beauty of Michael Hutchence.
Listen below to Michael Hutchence’s last ever performance, just weeks before his death: