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INXS Singer Found Dead In Sydney Hotel Room

November 22, 1997 12:00 AM ET

INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney, Australia hotel room shortly before noon local time on Saturday, Nov. 22. After Hutchence failed to appear for a morning appointment with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a Ritz Carlton employee entered and found the body hanging in the room.

Local authorities removed a leather belt and several prescription drugs from the scene, and although the Australian Associated Press is reporting it as an apparent suicide, the official cause of death has yet to be determined.

At 4 p.m. EST on Saturday, Triple M Broadcasting in Sydney reported that Hutchence spoke with a friend earlier that morning. The friend told detectives that they had made plans to meet later that day, and that the singer "didn't sound like he had any intention of taking his life."

Rock music commentator Ian "Molly" Meldrum, in a statement to the Associated Press, noted that when he last saw Hutchence eight weeks ago, the singer didn't seem overly troubled. "I've never seen Michael more peaceful and happier in his life," he said.

As of 6 p.m. EST, no suicide note had been found. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Hutchence, who lived in London, had arrived in Sydney to make final preparations for the INXS 20th anniversary "Lose Your Head" tour scheduled to kick off Tuesday in Wollongong.

Concert promoter Michael Gudinski announced that the tour, which was to have been the group's first in Australia in more than three years, has been canceled.

INXS formed in Perth in 1977 and released four well-received albums on an independent label. The band's major label debut, Listen Like Thieves (1985) was their first real commercial breakthrough, peaking at No. 11 on U.S. charts largely on the strength of the single, "What You Need."

The success of Listen Like Thieves served as an appropriate prelude for INXS's next album, Kick. Released in 1987, Kick sold nine million copies and featured four hit singles -- "Need You Tonight," "Devil Inside," "New Sensation," and "Never Tear Us Apart."

Although record sales had fallen off in the last few years, Hutchence still retained celebrity status in Australia due in good measure to his well-publicized romances with pop star Kylie Minogue, model Helena Christensen and Paula Yates, ex-wife of rock star and Live Aid planner Bob Geldof. Hutchence and Yates have a daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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