When INXS went back on the road Michael gave Blair the tour book, and made her promise to call him at any time. He called her from each city and made airline tickets available to her. He had planned to meet Blair and some of her family in Miami after a show in New York . At the last minute he canceled: there was an emergency in the London home, with which he was in daily contact. There was always a new crisis being reported from the London home. His mind was in constant chaos overload - all to do with the London home front.
The ‘Elegantly Wasted' promotional tour continued on August 22 with a show in Chicago featuring The Violent Femmes, Matchbox 20 and Meredith Brooks . The following day they did a show with Echo & The Bunnymen
and Sarah McLachlan , and six days later a festival with BB King and Bob Dylan in Kansas City , Missouri.
In St Louis , where he heard of the death of Princess Diana, Michael
loudly condemned the outrageous predator tactics of the press. He was obviously thinking of some of his own experiences. With a heavy heart he stepped onstage that night and amidst forgotten lines and missed cues gave one of the worst performances of his career. Blair knew how heartbroken he was over Diana's death and later, when he asked her what she thought of the show she felt constrained to lie that it was as great as usual. They returned to the hotel to take in the news reports in silent grief.
However others were more forthright. One fan, sent a letter to "People" magazine in December 1997, after it had run a tribute story on Michael.
“Those attending the INXS show in Wallingford , Conn. , on Sept. 22 might disagree that 'Michael was performing better than ever.' The once controlled, graceful performer was anything but ‘elegantly wasted.' It's hard to understand how those closest to Michael Hutchence did not see he was in trouble. It was apparent that if he did not get help, the comparisons to Jim Morrison would inevitably prove all too true.”
Bethany , Conn.
Indeed Michael did not display his usual professional brio at all during this tour. He told several people that he was concerned about his finances and he was plagued by constant updates from London on the perils of Paula and the press. His tensions were reflected onstage. Whereas in the past he had shed some clothing between songs for effects and segue, now he was using the device as what appeared to be a desperate, showy, plea for approval. One or two of the other INXS members approached him individually to confront him on his excessive drug use and depression. According to Kirk Pengilly, they talked between themselves but never actually approached Michael to force him to do something positive about getting help for his depression, nor did they suggest postponing the tour. Kirk said that the dynamics of the band were such that the other members did not feel as if Michael was very approachable as he had distanced himself from the other members long before this on the Kick tour. I was shocked to hear this. Personally I disagree with his assumption, because Michael didn't want to be on tour in the first place and he had told them that. I am positive he would have stepped down, and he probably would have been relieved.
However on the edge Michael might have been, the band continued to tour. Blair continued to meet him in various cities. Sometimes they just read books or watched television and other days they worked on acting techniques.
Michael had accepted a cameo role in a small independent film called Limp which was being shot in Canada . His character was that of a jaded record producer who applauds the brilliance of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Saying how great it was because it increased record sales. Michael was very excited about the project and asked Blair to help him with lines. He desperately wanted to do well and worked very hard for what would amount to about seven minutes screen time. Michael invited Blair to accompany him to Vancouver , where he was shooting, but not only was she concerned that her presence would distract him, she was a private person who did not want others on the shoot to know of her involvement with Michael.
INXS completed their North American tour on September 27th 1997 in Pittsbough where they appeared on a show with Savage Garden and 10,000 Maniacs and Michael took a short break in London before heading to Los Angeles to continue work on his solo album. While in London he consulted Dr Jonathan Boreham the general practitioner who had been treating Paula for some time, and asked for a referral to a psychiatrist. Dr Boreham referred him to Dr Mark Collins, a consultant psychiatrist with the Priory Hospital , Rockhampton, London . Dr Boreham forwarded the following letter.
Dear Mark, RE: Michael Hutchence - dob 22.2.60. (should have been 22.1.60) Michael has asked to see you in conjuction with Paula regarding their relationship problems. I have only looked after Michael for the past year and a half and he was taking Prozac 20 to 40 mgs when he first registered with us, so I am not sure of the original indication for treatment. He may wish to discuss his own problems as separate from his relationship with Paula but I will leave that up to him. He is physically well but fairly stressed in his role with Paula's extended family and his re-establishment on tour with INXS. Many thanks for your help.
Later, in the course of the investigation following Michael's death, Dr Collins confirmed that he had seen Michael twice during this time, and that Michael had already been taking Prozac for many months. He said that Michael's partner had accompanied him on his first visit. He noted in his statement as areas of stress for Michael concerns over an ongoing dispute between Paula and her ex-husband regarding finances and child care. Dr Boreham stated “(Michael) had concerns about the effect of this on his partner and also concerns over the future direction of his career and how this band INXS would be received on its forthcoming tour.” He also noted that Michael showed no signs of physical or psychological dependence on drugs, and said that in his opinion he did not show any indications of suicidal thinking.
During this visit to London he and Paula discussed Christmas plans. Michael wanted Tiger Lily to join him in Australia where he could show her off to his family and friends. For the first time in four years we were all planning to be together and in Australia . Michael told me that Paula wanted to arrive early and bring Pixie and Peaches on the Australian leg of the tour, send them back to their father for the holidays then have them return for twelve weeks while she took some work on a new Australian television talk show. The two of them met with Bob Geldof – a rarity – to talk things through. Bob later told me that he did not object to the girls missing the beginning of the school year if they could have a tutor.
The following day Bob contacted the school and the children's court-appointed psychiatrist. He was informed that it would be detrimental to the children's education to take them out of school early. On November 12th, six days after Michael left London , Bob voiced his fatherly concerns in a meeting with Paula and Colin Diamond's partner Andrew Young. Again, he had no objections to his children spending Christmas in Australia but he could not sanction their missing three weeks of schooling after all the advice he'd received. Paula said that she intended taking the girls out early anyway and when he objected Young told Bob they would see him in court. Paula made an application to the court to override Bob, on November 18th. This gave little time for the courts to set a date and she had already purchased airline tickets for November 22nd. Miraculously a date was set for Friday November 21 although her attorney, Andrew Burton, had been advised that it was doubtful that there would be enough time to hear the arguments.
On November 6th, shortly after the initial meeting with Bob in London , Michael flew to New York where he saw Martha and her husband Bill. He told them that Bob had gone back on his word and was not allowing his children to depart for Australia before the end of the school term. He was very upset and lamented that Paula would have to go back to court to persuade the judge to let her leave with her children. Paula would not leave London without Peaches and Pixie Geldof which meant that Michael could not see his little Tiger as he would be on tour in Australia .
After five days in New York Michael arrived in Los Angeles to continue working on his solo album before joining INXS for the Australian leg of their tour. He checked into the Bellage Hotel, which is in walking distance of the Viper Room -where he spent much of his time that last week before heading to Sydney . He neglected to call several of his usual friends, choosing instead to see acquaintances some of whom were known to be heavy substance abusers. His old friend Nick Conroy visited him in his suite, which was full of people and noted to Michael that these were not his friends. He sensed that Michael was in a place which was hard to reach and left after a short time telling him that when he was ready to get back to basics, when he needed him, that he would be there for him. Even suggesting that he come stay at his apartment for a while. Michael declined but asked Nick to reconsider and stay, when he said he had to leave, Michael hugged him,
and assured him he would call.
Michael only saw Blair once, at his hotel, where she returned some clothes that he had left at her apartment and told him to take care of himself. She sensed that he was in a state that no matter what she said she could not get through to him. She left his hotel room in a hurry and he ran after her, following her to the car. He had company in his room and she did not want to discuss anything in front of others. He said it would be all right, that he would call from Australia.She replied that she had a feeling that they would not see each other again.
The talks about the Christmas arrangements went on. During a conversation with Michael on his last weekend in Los Angeles , he told me he had devised a plan which involved Paula doing a radio show and maybe taping a weekly television show in Australia . Several shows could be taped over a relatively short period directly after the Christmas break. He assured me that Paula needed the financial independence. He was worried about the money it was costing him to fight Bob Geldof but he did not want to hear that this was Paula's problem. He might not be married to Paula, but he felt responsible for the mother of his child. So much had been made of the Geldof, Yates and Hutchence triangle in the press that he felt responsible, appalled that people might think of him as the bad guy.
He said that relocating Paula to Australia for a while would keep Tiger closer to family and allow him to divide his time between Sydney and Los Angeles. This was a turnaround from the strategy he had discussed a year earlier when he had planned to bring Paula and Tiger to California . I asked him if it was definite. He replied "Pretty much. Well, um, we're working on it." He was loath to return to London , that much was certain. I did not ask him about the Geldof girls as I assumed this was a decision for Paula and Bob to make.
Michael arrived in Sydney from Los Angeles on the evening of Tuesday, November 18th and checked into the Ritz Carlton, room 524 using the name of a popular Australian landmark, Murray River , as his pseudonym. He made his first call to Blair from his room the following morning. He called again on Thursday morning for a longer talk and again that evening for an even longer one. Rhett was in Sydney , staying overnight before catching a bus for the Gold Coast. He and Michael made plans to see each other that evening but after a six-hour rehearsal Michael had gone back to the hotel and fell asleep, succumbing to jet lag and exhaustion. By the time Rhett called him from the hotel lounge to ask Michael to join him and Mandy with some friends it was after 11pm and Michael was too tired. He and Rhett had a minor argument and when Rhett left for the Gold Coast early on Friday morning he was irritated as well as disappointed as he had not seen or spoken with Michael in ten months.
According to the hotel's records, Michael did not call Paula until Friday morning. The first call lasted seven minutes. Soon afterwards he called the London home again, this call lasting twenty minutes. Then he rang Mother on the Gold Coast and had a long conversation.
Michael phoned me when he arrived in Sydney and we made plans to see each other the following week, as he would be performing in Queensland . He phoned once more on Friday morning and we spoke
of Christmas plans. I suggested that as we would all be together it would be a good opportunity to have Tiger Lily christened. Firstly he seemed hesitant but then said he thought that was a good idea but went on to say that Paula had threatened not to bring Tiger Lily out to Australia for Christmas if he did not agree to marry her. Paula had always held the ‘threat' of marriage over him, but I said nothing, not wanting to burden him more. He was so concerned that he would never see his daughter again, as he had no intention of returning to London. He sounded frail. I think he could see the mess his life had become.
I called Kell and warned him that Michael was depressed and suggested that he not push him for any definite plans.
On Friday morning Michael called Michele Bennett at her office. They spoke for approximately ten minutes and made plans for breakfast Saturday morning. The conversation was centred around the tour and his disenchantment with it. He also expressed concern about Paula's custody problems and spoke of his desire to get back to a simpler way of life. He was tired of dealing with all of the problems. He was looking for the silver lining.
He also called actress Kym Wilson, a friend who had left him a message.
"Mr River, if the current is flowing right it should lead you to the basement from about 8pm till late. Love very much to see you. Hugs and kisses, love, Kym." This alluded to a benefit play she was involved with which was being staged at a venue called the Basement. Kym did not answer her phone and Michael left a message apologising for being a no show the previous evening and suggesting that they meet up on Friday evening after his dinner with his father. He spent the afternoon rehearsing with the band, seeming to be in great form. None of them could have for seen that this would be their last time together.
That evening, Michael met Kell and Sue at 7:30pm and drove to one of his favourite Indian restaurants for dinner. Kell remembers him as pensive and quieter than usual at first but brightening up enough to fall into some of his usual mimicry. Nonetheless he confessed that he was burdened by his troubles in London and elaborated upon his problems with Paula's custody battle, her expenditures, and the overall gloom of life in the United Kingdom. He told Kell that Geldof had signed a legal agreement to allow his children to visit Australia for three months and then pulled out. This alone indicates that Michael had a different understanding of what was really going on. Kell sensed that Michael was very worried, and tried to pursue this line of conversation. Michael, in his usual way, changed the subject. In the weeks following this dinner, Kell would change his statement to the police four times. The last time he said that Michael was concerned about the court hearing in London , he did not trust Bob and hoped that the court would rule in their favour. He said that he missed Tiger very much and needed to see her. Despite this, Kell maintained that Michael was in good spirits, telling jokes and relating stories. He even said that when they dropped him off at the Ritz-Carlton, Michael had danced through the main entrance.
Returning to his hotel at 10:30pm , Michael changed and went downstairs to the bar to wait for Kym Wilson and her boyfriend, barrister Andrew Rayment. When Kym and Andrew arrived at 11pm , they found Michael sitting in a booth with a girl each side. Kym remembers introducing Michael to Andrew and suggested that they order drinks. The girls left to return to their dates and Michael said he would prefer to go up to his room as he was waiting on a phone call from London . As they were leaving Michael made a joke about getting out without paying the bill. He was quite theatrical about it and appeared in good spirits. The barman came after him and asked him to sign the tab before he could make a getaway. With drink in hand, he laughed and signed the bill.
Up in Michael's room he told Kym and Andrew, to help themselves to the mini bar. Kim and Andrew sat on the sofa and a nearby chair, Michael on the bed. Michael finished his drink and opened a beer as he explained that the call from London was about the outcome of a court ruling on the departure
of the Geldof girls for their Christmas vacation in Australia . He said that he was quite nervous but hopeful as he wanted to see Tiger Lily, who would,
of course, be grounded with her mother if the other girls could not fly out. There was a script on a chair and he also talked about the film he had just worked on. Martha called from New York and told him that Quentin Tarantino did not want him for the original small role he had tried out for in his new movie 'From Dusk Till Dawn' but had something much better in mind. She also said that Harvey Weinstein from Miramax had made favourable comments about him. It was a long conversation and he was excited about all of the positive aspects relaying the gist to his guests. Martha concluded by telling him that she would see him Sunday night. Actually she knew that she would not be arriving into Sydney until Monday, but she wanted Michael to feel a little more secure. This is from a statement she made to the Sydney detectives so she too must have sensed that Michael was emotionally frail.
Kym, Andrew and Michael settled down to their drinks and to talk about Michael's plans for a career as an actor. But after a time he began to speak to them also of the problems in London . He said how much he loved Paula's children and that he thought it unfair of Bob to prevent the children from going to Australia early. He said he considered himself to be their father, besides, he wanted to see his daughter. He said of the 1996 opium bust that he was convinced that Bob had set Paula up. He spoke quite openly with Andrew about Paula's legal battles, obviously feeling comfortable in the knowledge that he was an attorney. He also railed against the way the press had behaved in all of this. He told them that this was his last tour with INXS and that he even considered cancelling the Australian leg if the outcome of the court appearance in London did not go their way. He could not stand to be without Tiger Lily. He must have seemed like a man obsessed and possessed.
Throughout the evening Kym and Andrew occasionally stepped out onto the balcony as Michael received or made phone calls. Kym does not recall Michael exhibiting anger or despair during this time, nor does she remember any outbursts on the phone before she and Andrew had to leave. She does not recall him being wasted, just frustrated and anxious. At some stage Michael said that he wanted to go out and Kym demurred, reminding him that the London call was the reason they were waiting in his room. Michael replied "I know but sometimes I just want to run away" . Kym and Andrew were tired and at some stage she was falling asleep. Michael roused her with "I need you Kymmie, please stay awake." According to Kym's statement to the police, he handed her two small empty plastic bags containing a white, powdery residue and said "Here you are, suck on this." Kym says she then asked what it was and Michael said "Leftovers." It was literally the leftover powder residue of cocaine from a previous indulgence. Andrew says he did not participate.
Andrew remembers that by about 4:30am he was falling asleep. Kym was exhausted too and he said that they needed to go home to bed. It was 5:30pm Friday evening in London . Michael decided to call London one more time to find out about the court matter before they left but the number was busy. The phone log from his room shows that Michael called Nick Cave at 4:45am and stayed on the line for almost eleven minutes. Andrew Rayment remembers this call prior to departing. He says that around 4:50am Michael had not heard anything else from London and insisted that they take themselves home to bed. They had helped him get through most of the night, and he could await alone the all important call, as it would surely be in the next hour or so. Before leaving, Kym and Andrew noted their mobile numbers in his address book which was lying on the bed and told him to call if he needed to as they would be just a short distance away from the hotel. He suggested they have breakfast later then changed his mind, remembering that he was meeting Michele and then said, "Let's go out tomorrow night." As they left he lay on the bed and said "I'd love a Valium" . Kym replied that they had none and they drove to Andews' parents' home, just ten minutes from Michael's hotel.
As to what happened next, since Michael's death my mother and I have of course spoken with (amongst many others) Michele, Kym, Bob, Martha and Kell about their recollections and understandings. Naturally we have pored over the coronor's report, dissecting each individuals' police statement and all the time frames. Geldof's police statement was mostly word for word conversation. We are familiar with Paula's statement, but did not have the opportunity to have a straightforward discussion about events.
The guest in the room next door to 524 awoke to noise coming from Michael's room and glanced at her clock. It was just after 5am . She heard a loud male voice obviously having a heated phone conversation, as she could not detect another voice coming from the room. According the Ritz Carlton phone records, this was not an out going call. Out of all the police statements the only incoming call around this time was from Paula. I can only assume that it was the call that she made to Michael after arriving home from the court hearing. Presumably Paula called Michael, venting her anger at the outcome of the proceedings. The detectives handling the case did not request Paula's phone records and her statement to the Rose Bay police does not give this kind of detail. However, both she and her friend Belinda Brewin state that they called Michael when they arrived home from the hearing. Michele made her phone records available to the detectives without them requesting it.
No one can be sure what transpired in this conversation. Paula
contend that she said that she would not be bringing the children out to Australia and that Michael was distraught when she told him of the hearing postponement. She said that she could not leave without Pixie and Peaches (Fifi was not scheduled to join them). Paula stated that Michael was terribly upset and said, "I don't know how I will live without seeing Tiger. What will happen?" She said that he sounded desperate and couldn't stand a minute more without his baby. He told her that he would call Bob and beg him on his knees to allow the children to depart for Australia early. She said that he did not sound as if he had consumed much more than a drink. According to the police report this is the extent of Paula's statement about her last call to Michael. The remainder of her statement is concerned with background on her discordant relationship and financial woes with her former husband. Belinda Brewin says that she took the phone and spoke to Michael after he had talked to Paula. She told him not to worry and he replied, "Yeah, thanks Belinda. How's Tiger?" She said that he sounded fine.
Looking at this logically I wonder why – knowing that he was under great stress and had recently sort the advice of a psychiatrist, Paula didn't attempt to alleviate his anguish by telling him that she would take her scheduled flight without the Geldof children. There was nothing preventing her from doing so, thus making it possible for Michael to at least spend time with his daughter. The Geldof girls could have joined Paula in Australia for Christmas later. It would have been very difficult to tour with three children anyway, so why not have them join the family on the Gold Coast for the Christmas celebrations once the pressures of the tour were behind Michael?
My crucial question is, did he sound fine , or was he desperate ? It is hard to reconcile Paula and Belinda's recollection of Michael's disposition on that first phone call after the court hearing when you consider the following conversations between Michael and Bob which took place directly afterwards and was taken by Bob as he waited with Fifi for her school bus.
It was made at 5.18 am Sydney time and lasted just over a minute. Bob remembers Michael's phone manner as being the same as it had always been during the very few times he had called in the past. Low voice and a little sleepy - a voice I'd heard many times myself. Bob reports his manner was sarcastic as he obviously believed he (Bob) had been causing problems. There were no witnesses to this call – this is in a statement that Bob's attorney wrote up the day following Michael's suicide.
" It's Michael man. Are you happy?"
"I'm okay. Listen, can you call back in ten minutes, I'm on the other line"
"Ah man, can you call me?"
"I can't, I don't have your number"
"Hold on, I'll give it to you"
"I'm in the car and I don't have a pen"
(Sigh of exasperation) "Okay, I'll call back."
No yelling or argument, so this could not have been the 5am conversation the hotel guest next to Michael's room overheard. After a brief call to Paula at 5:31am , Michael called Bob back at 5:38am and his tone was as before. As his theme was familiar to Bob, (who had once reported a call from Michael as harassment) he did not have any hunch that this exchange was going to be any different. According to Bob, Michael's calls in the past had been hectoring and threatening. Most of them, and I reiterate there had not been many more than a half dozen in a thirty month period, were marked by offensive fantasies. Michael would say that he knew of wrong doings by Bob and had proof. It is obvious to me that these 'proofs' were fantasies –stories, that he was being fed. Many times over the last year of his life Michael told me that Young had found court documents to prove that Bob was paying off authorities to make sure he won custody of his girls or
Young said he had his people follow Bob to brothels. Bob knew that he was innocent of all this and he would not rise to Michael's accusations. Such lofty calm would further enrage Michael.
Bob simply told Michael that he could not allow his children to miss their last three weeks of school. Bob contends that Michael called him 'little man' as he had done in previous conversations. "I'm their father little man, when are you going to realise that ." It was obvious that he did not understand that because of the original application and Paula's objection to the court's ruling Bob did not have control over the situation. It appears that Michael, did not know that the application had been lodged by Paula, and not Bob. Bob says he did not appear to be depressed and was sleepy rather than loudly aggressive. He did not seem to hear Bob when he tried to explain that things were out of his hands, accusing him instead of obstruction. When Bob tried to refute this, explaining that it was the court's decision, Michael continued as if not hearing him. Speaking directly over Bob's objections, Michael said, "I hate you” repeating that he was Pixie and Peaches' father now. Bob replied that he was glad he felt that way, and he preferred that his children spent time with someone who cared so much.
Michael only became more agitated and rambled on without making sense. Between expletives he accused Bob of trying to take Tiger away from him. Michael had accused Bob of many things but he had not heard this before. When Michael insisted that he had proof of this Bob, with what seems like extraordinary patience, offered to sit down with him and Andrew Young to go over it and assure him that he had no interest in taking his daughter. This call ended at 5:54am when Michael slammed the phone down. I shudder when I consider how misjudged Michael's tactics were. On going over Michael's conversation with Bob, I realize that it is doubtful that Michael
was fully aware of all the events that took place in court that Friday, when the departure date of the Geldof girls had been discussed. The court records clarify the various to's and fro's between attorneys, and why there was
going to be a futher delay before the Geldof girls' Christmas plans could be finalized.
The hotel room's records show that he did not make any more calls to Paula. The coronor's report states that Michael did not speak to her again, which is a strange assumption, after all she said herself that Michael had told her that he would call Bob and beg him to allow her to take the girls to Australia the following day. Surely she would want to know the outcome of his call to Bob as she was holding tickets for a flight to Sydney departing November 22nd? Michael was making a call that he thought could clear the way so surely she would have called him to get the outcome. She must have wanted to know how the conversation went, especially since she had not told him about the application that she had brought which made it impossible for Bob to change anything. The hotel had no log of incoming calls. In her statement Belinda Brewin says that she asked Paula when she had last spoken to Michael, and Paula told her it was around 6 or 7am Sydney time, which supports this hypothesis. The coronor cites Belinda as witness to the call between Michael and Bob, which is puzzling as she was at Paula's house when Bob was talking to Michael on a mobile phone on the other side of town. What she had said was, Bob told her about the call the following morning.
The hotel records show that Michael did ring Michele whom he was due to meet for breakfast in a few hours. She was asleep and did not hear her phone so he left a brief message on her machine at 6:09am . He sounded drunk and just said that he wanted to speak to her. The only thing that is clear from here on is that he undressed and took a short nap. Something woke him, maybe a phone call. The fact that some of his belongings seemed to have been hurled around the room as if in anger, suggests that something made him lose his temper. When Michele rose she played back a message from what she describes as an inebriated Michael and called him back at around 8am . There was no answer and she assumed that he had fallen back to sleep, so she left a message.
There were only three more outgoing calls from Michael's room, two of them to Martha. The first one was to her New York office, which she had left for the day. He left a message at 9:42am Sydney time, his voice was agitated and angry. He said, "Martha, Michael here, I fuckin' had enough" . The next message was left at her home nine minutes later. His voice was slow and deep and mumbled. He just said. "Martha, it's Michael" . He returned Michele's call at 9:54am , sounding wasted as he did when he had been drinking all night, but this was no different from dozens of other calls she had received from Michael over the years. He said that he was just over-tired and upset but speaking, in Michele's words normally and not angrily. Michael said that he had to see her. Nothing alerted her that this call was any different from the many calls she had over their eighteen-year friendship. As they spoke he became distressed and told her that he had been to sleep for
a short time, but was still tired and did not know how he was going to get through the band rehearsal which was scheduled for noon that day. He began to cry as he said that he could not sleep and that he just needed her
to come over to the hotel. Michele promised she would be there and advised him that he should skip rehearsals, suggesting he call someone in the band and explain. He agreed to do so. Then she told him to expect her in twenty or thirty minutes and said he should lie down and try to rest until she arrived. Michele then showered and dressed and flew out of the house, taking with her the book by her bed. She had soothed him to sleep many times in the past by reading to him and she thought it wouldn't hurt to try again today.
Then Michael rang down to the front desk and left a message for tour manager Jon Martin, also staying at the hotel. The note said 'Mr River is not going to rehearsals today.' When Michele arrived there she made her way up to Michael's room, knocked on the door and listened for him to open it. No answer so she knocked again and even tried the door. Still no answer. Michele thought it had been no more than twenty-five minutes since she had been speaking to Michael but according to phone records and the time she scribbled on the note she subsequently left for him, it was more like forty. She decided that he must have gone back to sleep and went to the house phone next to the elevators to call his room. Four rings and no answer so she decided that he must be in a much-needed deep sleep and did not want to wake him. She wrote her note at the lobby, saying that she was worried about him and that she would stay in the area in case he awoke. He could
call her mobile number. She asked for the note to be slipped under his door and went out to look around the neighbouring shopping area. Then she sat in a cafe with a newspaper, and waited for Michael's call.
Martha had already spoken with Jon Martin at approximately 7am Sydney time, explaining the London court developments, which meant that Paula and Tiger would not be joining Michael for the tour. Then Jon had breakfast and did some work in his room before receiving a call from Kell asking if he had seen Michael. This call was received at about 11am . Kell said that they had had a great time the night before and it had been a late night so maybe Michael was sleeping in. Kell and Sue had dropped Michael off at the hotel at 10:30pm . Hardly a late night, as far as he knew. Jon returned Martha's call after speaking with Kell, and finding the message from Mr River under his door. It was around 11:15am when Jon spoke to Martha and she told him to let Michael sleep for an hour or two longer.
At 11:50am a hotel maid was doing her rounds and knocked on the door of room 524. There was no answer so she used her master key. When she attempted to push the door open it was obvious that there was something obstructing it. With great force she pushed it open to find Michael's naked body on the floor. He was in a kneeling position facing the door. Much has been made of the fact that he was nude but Michael had usually slept naked since his teens and it was obvious from the crumpled bedding that he had at least been trying to sleep.
He had used his black leather belt to tie a knot on the automatic door closure at the top of the door, and had strained his head forward into the loop so hard that the buckle had broken. The room was chaotic: clothes on the floor, over chairs and two suitcases were open on the floor. Scattered around were a number of medications including a Becloforte ventolin inhaler for his asthma, Nurofen tablets for pain, Zoviorax 200 tablets, and two other containers filled with unidentified pills. In the bathroom lay an open packet of Prozac capsules and some nicotine patches. The management was alerted, then the relevant authorities. He was pronounced dead.
An hour after Michele arrived home just before noon things happened in quick succession. The authorities had not taken precaution to keep Michael's name from the press, and it had already been reported over radio and television. She received a phone call from her old friend Jenny Morris with the terrible news and she assured Jenny that the person at the Ritz-Carlton could not be Michael as she had just spoken to him less than three hours before. All the same, Jenny dispatched her husband Paul to Michele's apartment to help if need be. After this Michele desperately tried to call Michael and was told that there was no Murray River registered. She then tried to call the police but no one would speak to her. Rhett phoned and told her what had happened but she could not believe him: she had spoken to Michael and although he was exhausted and upset he was definitely not suicidal. Rhett told her to call Kell, who asked her to get over to his apartment.
When she arrived the police were there and asked her to come to the station where they interrogated her with questions, which seemed to assume that she had actually been in the hotel room with Michael. They conducted the interview as if she were a suspect. She was in grief and disbelief and she insisted that they take her to see him. It was only then that she was convinced that Michael was really gone.
In subsequent interviews Paula contended that she had proof that Michael's death was accidental. She was positive that he was involved in a sex act, auto asphixiation eroticism, which went wrong. She never set forth any evidence but she continued to keep the idea alive quite simply maintaining that it was simply impossible that Michael would choose to abandon her. She participated in a TV documentary in August 1999, which centred on her theory that Michael had accidentally taken his life. The producers relied heavily on Paula's comments and innuendoes, some of which were upsettingly brazen. She never once mentioned this as a possible cause of death to Inspector Duclos, the lead detective in the case. Her statement, taken four days after Michael's death, cites Michael's despair at not seeing Tiger Lily before Christmas and the battles with her ex-husband as a possible cause. The detectives treated Michael's room as a crime scene: this, I am told, is always the first procedure in a suicide case. The local Rose Bay detectives went through, not only room 524 but also the balcony, the room above Michaels' which is the gymnasium, and the roof. They checked to see if there was any evidence of forced entry and any trauma to Michael's body, which would suggest a struggle. They took statements from people who were not even in the country at the time and each statement is consistent with Michael being in a deeply depressed state. They also looked into the possibility of A.A.E. The coronor Derek Hand and Detective Duclos found no reason to switch to Paula's theory and nothing to substantiate it when she came up with this notion many months after Michael's death. We also categorically refute it.
In the aftermath I have studied some powerful literature on depression and its' effects on individuals. I spoke at length with one particular specialist who assured me that it would not make sense for a person in deep depression to feel the sexual urge this act requires. The one thing we knew for sure was that Michael was depressed so we may be sure that his libido was low. Add to this, Michele's conversation with him. As no one else has come forward and there were no more outgoing calls, as far as we know Michele was the last person to speak with Michael and she states emphatically that sex of any kind was definitely not on Michael's mind. The A.A.E. theory is ridiculous. The aspect of such speculation which makes my blood boil, is that it is a despicable legacy to lay out there for Tiger to read about in the future. You have to wonder what would make a woman who professes to have loved him, the mother of his only child push the idea. Perhaps she could not accept that Michael would deliberately choose to live without her. Some have suggested it might have something to do with the terms of Michael's life insurance policy, but it's beneficiaries were the other members of INXS. (This is not unusual when someone is an integral part of a company, or in Michael's case a band when such an incident would presumably bring hardship on the remaining partners who could not continue their business obligations) And in any case the insurance policy was honoured its benefits duly paid out to the band. I conclude that Paula refused to believe Michael would deliberately leave her. This behaviour is certainly consistent with the ‘borderline personality' that Dr Oliver James described to Tim Rayment.
We will never know what went through Michael's mind in those last few minutes nor why he could not hold on when he knew deliverance was on the way. But deep depression can cause someone to feel hopeless and helpless and quite beyond the rational and logical thought processes that should have kept Michael going until Michele reached him. Maybe, confused and befuddled by fatigue, too much alcohol and another cocktail of drugs, he simply lost his mind. We will never know exactly what phone calls he received and what was said. But it is obvious that Michael was pushed beyond his limit - he was already a man on the edge. Many people were aware of this and the police statements confirm it. He had been mixing both prescription and illegal drugs for at least two years and legal or not, drugs are known to distort the mind. His perception of his life that day would have been contorted beyond his capacity to handle it.
Michael had many people watching out for his needs. A personal manager,
an accountant, several lawyers, an investment advisor, a tour manager, a bodyguard, a publicist, a record company, a management company for his acting career, not to mention roadies and assistants. He had friends and family who loved him but were unable to get beyond the frenzy in his mind. My mother and I both happen to think that it takes real courage to take your own life. We also think that the deep depression that Michael was experiencing and the drugs and alcohol he had taken made it impossible for him to see a solution. It was a split second resolve made in anger and despair. The fact that there was no suicide note says to us that Michael made a snap decision. In his own words uttered repeatedly over the last 5 months of his life, he just "couldn't take it any more".
END CHAPTER TWELVE