If Seven could bottle Michael Hutchence & INXS they would surely do it. After those stellar ratings for INXS: Never Tear Us Apart it is doing the next best thing with a two part special, Michael Hutchence: The Last Rockstar.
The title comes courtesy of U2’s Bono, indicative of the level of key players who have participated here. Produced as a Seven News special, this is more than just a retrospective of Hutchence’s roller-coaster life. Produced across 2 years and 4 continents it is sometimes forensic in uncovering remnants, diaries, files and master tapes. Some of the subjects have never given interviews before.
Amongst them is actor Billy Zane who met Hutchence in Australia whilst filming Dead Calm. But it was clearly a bond forged on more than just boozy partying for him to agree to this interview, some 28 years later.
Lesley Rae Bega, who was married to guitarist Jon Farriss, snapped numerous photos of the singer at venues such as Whisky A Go-Go, while friend and actress Peta Wilson brought Mick Jagger along to a concert who couldn’t help but notice the animalistic performer, saying “He’s doing me a lot better than I do.” Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon remembers his “incredible sexual energy” while others note how he balanced both masculine and feminine qualities, likening him to an “androgynous feline.”
Ex-girlfriend Rosanna Crash speaks publicly for the first time, admiting, “He was bad at breaking up, but he was a good boyfriend.”
To many, Hutchence remains mysterious, leaving traces of his life scattered across the globe. Near Wembley producers find one of his old pianos in storage, and there are artwork treasures and old guitars in Zurich. Answering machine calls are like time capsules of the past as Michael, Kylie Minogue or a young Helena Christensen call friends to make weekend plans.
Half-sister Tina recalls his unbridled energy as a boy, his first ever concert, and family gatherings at a French villa, where the singer was proud of his olive trees. But during a visit to Copenhagen he was knocked out, losing all sense of smell and taste, deeply affecting his spirit.
He was besotted with daughter Tiger-Lily, whom he shared with model Paula Yates, with intimate home movies bringing us closer to him as a young father. Significantly the doco uncovers handwritten lyrics, including to Tiger-Lily, that bring further insight to the man behind the singer. But it is a final lyric, left in the Ritz-Carlton hotel room where he died, that will attract the most attention. The doco is promising a “bombshell” for Part II, although that will drag out the length of what could have been much tighter.
Lawyer and Hutchence executor Colin Diamond, who was rumoured to have also been given personal effects from the hotel room, speaks for the first time. But Diamond was also part of legal action taken by the Hutchence family over the millions in his estate. It isn’t clear whether Part II will delve into this, perhaps only adding to the chatter about the drama that followed the singer’s untimely death.
It would be remiss not to mention the world premiere of the unreleased song “Kik It” which is due for release as part of the 20th anniversary of Hutchence’s death. That alone makes this a must-see for true INXS fans, and while this probably won’t stand as a definitive portrait (we have the music for that) it adds to complex picture of an enigmatic star.
As narrator Brad Power reminds us, “He left behind more questions than answers….”
Michael Hutchence: The Last Rockstar screens 7:30pm Monday 16 & Tuesday 17 October on Seven.