David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Paul McCartney and more pictured in their underpants by Paula Yates
Paula Yates, the enigmatic television presenter and writer, rose to prominence as a music journalist with a column called ‘Natural Blonde’ before going on to present Channel 4 music show The Tube alongside Jools Holland.
Yates would go on to build a cult following and marry the Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof after a ten-year romance but, sadly, the pair endured a messy divorce just a few years later. Yates would then go on to strike up a whirlwind relationship with Australian musician Michael Hutchence before he tragically committed suicide in 1997 at the age of 37.
Yates, battling mental health and addiction issues, sought psychiatric treatment following the death of Hutchence which resulted in her ex-husband Geldof securing full custody of the couple’s three daughters. “When Michael died I was tipped over the edge,” Yates once said. “I was beyond grief.” Devastatingly, just a couple of years later, on her daughter Pixie’s 10th birthday, some 20 years ago today, Yates died at her home in London of an accidental heroin overdose on September 17, 2000.
The death was widely recognised a relapse from Yates who, up until that point, had been clean from drugs for over two years. Paul Knapman, the coroner on the case, had concluded that the amount Yates had taken would not have killed an active drug addict. Instead, the report referenced Yates as “an unsophisticated taker of heroin” who had no tolerance to the drug to her past rehabilitation.
In her twenties, Yates released a fantastically cheeky book entitled Rock Stars in Their Underpants which perfectly sums up her desire to not take life too seriously. At one point, Andy Warhol comically dubbed the book as ‘the greatest work of art in the last decade.’‘
The book, 86 pages of glorious fun, Yates features images of her future husband Geldof along with Chrissie Hynde, Frank Zappa, Steve Jones, Jools Holland, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Debbie Harry and more all present.