What happened to Paula Yates' rock star ex Michael Hutchence?

What happened to Paula Yates’ rock star ex Michael Hutchence and how did he die? INXS frontman’s turbulent life included string of celeb exes, ‘missing millions’ and brain injury

  • Second part of Channel 4’s documentary about Paula Yates will air this evening 
  • READ MORE: What happened to Paula Yates’ kids and where are they now?

He was the frontman of the hugely popular Australian rock band INXS – yet he was equally known for his string of celebrity exes, including popstar Kylie Minogue, Danish supermodel Helena Christensen and Australian actress Kym Wilson.

In 1994, he began an affair with British TV host Paula Yates after she famously interviewed him on a double bed on Channel 4 show The Big Breakfast. 

Yates, who died in 2000 from a heroin overdose, left her husband Bob Geldof the following year – before she and Hutchence then had their own daughter, Heavenly Haraani Tiger Lily, in 1996. 

But on November 22, 1997, the world was left shocked after Hutchence was found hanged in his hotel room in Sydney, aged 37.

Here, FEMAIL explores the turbulent life of Hutchence ahead of tonight’s release of the final part of Channel 4’s documentary, Paula, which features previously unbroadcast interviews with Yates about her life, given in 1998 and 1999.


(L-R) Lead singer Michael Hutchence (1960-1997) guitarist Kirk Pengilly, bass guitarist Garry Gary Beers, drummer Jon Farriss, lead guitarist Tim Farriss and keyboardist Andrew Farriss of the group INXS pose for a portrait

Long before sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Michael Kelland John Hutchence enjoyed a quiet life in New South Wales, Australia.

He was born on January 22, 1960 to make-up artist Patricia Kennedy and businessman Kelland Hutchence.

In 1965, his father received a job offer he couldn’t refuse and uprooted the family to Hong Kong amid greener pastures. 

However his family-of-five were soon forced to move back to Australia where Hutchence was dealt a huge blow in the wake of his parents’ crashed marriage.

He is thought to have found therapy in music and after attending Davidson High School, he linked up with future INXS band-mate, Andrew Farriss.

In the late 70s, a dream team made up of Hutchence and his frends: the Farriss brothers, Kerny, Sanders, Beers and Kennelly came together to forge The Vegetables. 

After recording a series of demos in Sydney, the group were renamed INXS – a phonetic play on ‘in excess’.

In 1980, their first single Simple Simon/We Are the Vegetables landed them a five-album record deal with a $10,000 budget, forcing the group to record at all hours, instilling a work ethic that the INXS employed during their lengthy career.

The band went on to release 12 studio albums, 70 singles, and win a multitude of awards both in and out of Australia.

Hutchence also attempted to launch a film career but largely failed. Dogs in Space (1986) tanked at the box office and his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Frankenstein Unbound (1990) did little for his career. 


Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence, pictured. The Australian sweetheart, 54, shared intimate details of her relationship with the troubled rock star between 1989 and 1991 for the documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence in 2019

By 1989 Hutchence’s music career had mostly run out of steam – but his relationships hadn’t stopped making headlines. 

For instance, a documentary on his life revealed a love affair with Aussie pop princess Kylie Minogue. 

The Australian sweetheart, 54, shared intimate details of her relationship with the troubled rock star between 1989 and 1991 for the documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence in 2019.

Richard Lowenstein’s film featured love letters the young couple sent to one another by fax while they were touring, and never-before-seen personal footage of the pair.

Minogue described the moment Hutchence eventually broke her heart – just like she knew he would – when he called her to New York to break up with her for no apparent reason. 

‘The room was dark, the curtains were drawn, he was on all fours on the floor, crying,’ she said in the film.

‘Was it work, was it the drugs? I don’t know. He was like a broken man.’ 

She said the heartbreak took a long time to get over, but it was one she saw coming even when the pair were smitten and sending each other secret love notes from different parts of the world.

Both touring consistently, the couple would fax one another from their hotel rooms using the aliases Gabby Jones and Swordfish.  

‘Jones was my mother’s maiden name and Gabby was my dog. He was swordfish, well, just because.’ 

The pop princess said she would wait on receiving her fax for the day just to see his handwriting and what message – whether sweet or mundane – he’d written her.

They hoped the secret code names would prevent receptionists and hotel staff from reading their love letters.

Minogue said while the pair were often separated due to conflicting schedules, their time together was electrifying.

‘Sex, love, food, drugs, music, travel, books, you name it, he wanted to experience it,’ Minogue said of their whirlwind relationship.  

‘As his partner I got to experience a lot of that as well. If you’re a sensual being, all of your senses need stimulation. He definitely awakened my desire for things in my world.’

She said the public perception that she was a ‘pure, good girl dating this dark, bad boy’ was pretty accurate, but despite it all, she felt ‘safe with him’.

‘I felt protected,’ she said. ‘He had insatiable curiosity, all the good things in life and some the bad. He opened up a whole new world for me. A lot of it was based around pleasure, let’s face it.’

But the relationship was never built to last. Minogue said while she hadn’t expected to be with Hutchence forever, when the end came it completely broke her heart.   

‘It felt loving, yet sad and probably doomed. We talked through things and I couldn’t give you an actual reason [as to why it happened]. 

‘I left pretty confounded and destroyed and I knew that was…that was it. Yeah, he broke my heart. I have to confess, the hurt stays for quite a long time,’ she said.  


Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence began their relationship in 1994 when she interviewed him on a double bed on Channel 4 show The Big Breakfast

Paula Yates in Milan in 1997 with Michael Hutchence and daughters Tiger Lily and Peaches

Michael Hutchence, Paula Yates and Tiger Lily in Sydney in 1996

After his split from Kylie, Hutchence went on to find love with British television presenter Paula Yates. 

The married mother-of-three first met Hutchence almost a decade earlier, when he and his band were just taking off.

After their first interaction, she allegedly said to his tour manager: ‘I’m going to have that boy’. 

In 1994, nine years after they first met, they began having an affair. Yates was married to Sir Bob Geldof at the time and the couple had three children.

What happened to Paula Yates’ kids and where are they now? How daughters’ lives have been blighted by tragedy

Martha Troup, the INXS band manager at the time, said she regularly fielded calls from Hutchence where he declared his love for Yates.

‘He said ”Martha, she’s beautiful. Martha, I’ve never loved somebody like that.” It was magical. It just was something that changed him completely,’ she said in the Mystify documentary.

But that relationship, too, turned tumultuous. 

The couple were embroiled in a custody battle with Geldof over Yates’ eldest three daughters, and after the birth of their daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, in 1996, the nanny found a stash of opioids and heroin in their home.

They denied the drugs were theirs but the public had turned on them, and Yates struggled to cope after spending so many years being adored. 

Hutchence returned to Australia apparently expecting his partner and young daughter to follow him across the pond for a three-month holiday, but he never saw them again.

On November 22 1997, Hutchence was found hanging in his Sydney hotel room. 

A post-mortem examination found alcohol, cocaine, codeine, Prozac, Valium and other prescribed benzodiazepines – or ‘benzos’ – in Hutchence’s urine and blood. He left no suicide note. 

Three years later, on September 17 , 2000, Yates was found dead in her home. She died of an accidental heroin overdose while Tiger Lily was at home with her. 

Sir Bob Geldof was awarded custody of Tiger Lily and her three half sisters after Yates death and legally adopted her in 2007.


Details of the one-punch attack were revealed by his former partner supermodel Helena Christensen (pictured left with Hutchence), in a documentary about the INXS frontman’s life, Mystify: Michael Hutchence

Some of Hutchence’s friends and family trace the steep decline of his mental health back to the attack he was subjected to five years before his death, in 1992.

He had been out in Denmark with his then girlfriend Helena Christensen when a taxi driver punched him.

He fell to the pavement and fractured his skull. Despite his clear and substantial injuries, Hutchence refused appropriate treatment.

Hutchence lost his sense of smell and taste in the wake of the attack, and friends and band mates said they noticed an almost immediate change in his personality.

INXS’s Los Angeles-based bassist Garry Beers said: ‘When Michael hit his head, he came back a different person and I’m sure doctors were prescribing all sorts of weird and wonderful concoctions.

‘He was drinking wine by the bottle ’cause it was just like nothing to him.’ 

It wasn’t until his autopsy that those closest to him learned he suffered two large areas of brain damage as a result of the attack. 

In Mystify: Michael Hutchence, Ms Christensen recounted the moment she witnessed the taxi driver yell at Hutchence to move out of his way before getting out of his car and punching him, ABC reported.

The punch was so forceful it pushed the singer backwards and he fell, smashing his head on the curb and leaving him unconscious in the middle of the street.

‘He was unconscious and there was blood coming out of his mouth and ear,’ Ms Christensen recalled in the documentary.

The supermodel rushed Hutchence to hospital but thought he wouldn’t live through the night. But when he woke at the hospital, Ms Christensen says he wasn’t the same person.

‘This dark, very angry side came out in him,’ she said, adding his personality changed from ‘joyful, sweet, deep and emotional’ to ‘ dark and very angry’. 

In the week and a half he stayed at the Danish hospital, he was aggressive and would push away doctors and nurses, insisting he was fine to go home. 

In the following month, he spent the entire time in the supermodel’s apartment refusing to eat and vomiting blood.

Ms Christensen said the incident contributed to his depression and eventual suicide in a Sydney hotel room five years later. 


Hutchence and guitarist Tim Farriss perform live on stage with INXS in 1985 in Sydney

When Hutchence ended his life in 1997, he believed his estate was worth millions of dollars and that his daughter Tiger Lily would be taken care of for life.

In 1996 Michael drew up his last will. It is believed the first $500,000 of his estate was bequeathed to charities Amnesty International and Greenpeace. 

Another portion was to be split among his family, including his mother, father, brother, half-sister and partner Paula Yates.

The remaining half of his estate was intended for Tiger to inherit when she turned 21. 

Following his death, barrister Andrew Young, who drafted the will, said: ‘[Michael] told me that his principal concern was his daughter and that he had “structured his financial affairs” to help her.’ 

However, despite outlining in his will how he wanted his fortune to be divided, claims have been made that Hutchence actually ‘died penniless’. 

In 2017, Colin Diamond, the singer’s business manager, alleged his wealth was ‘eaten up by partying, gifts and huge legal bills’. 

An executor report given to Hutchence’s family eight years after his suicide stated he had just $506 in cash at the time of his death.

The report added that his share of INXS’s bank balance was a measly $572.

Tiger Lily was due to receive inheritance from her father’s estate and at first said that this never happened. Later it was revealed that she did receive a shockingly low amount of inheritance from her father.

Film-maker Richard Lowenstein revealed to Spectrum that she told him she was given an envelope containing just £500, in 2009.

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