When Michael Hutchence met Paula Yates

When Michael Hutchence met Paula Yates, he was an Australian superstar famous for fronting rock band INXS, while she was a bubbly TV presenter who hosted the cult Channel 4 music show, The Tube.

Although there was chemistry between them when they first met in 1985, they didn’t get together as a couple for another nine years.

© PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

When they went public with their relationship in 1994, mother-of-three Yates left her husband, Boomtown Rats’ singer and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof. Hutchence had been romantically linked to a succession of beautiful celebrities including singers Kylie Minogue and Belinda Carlisle and supermodel Helena Christensen.

Yates and Hutchence were never far from the headlines, but appeared to have a happy relationship, having a daughter together in 1996. Sadly, their romance ended in tragedy when Hutchence died, at the age of only 37, while on tour with INXS in November 1997.

Rise to fame

Hutchence was born in Sydney, Australia, in January 1960. At 17, he was invited to join a new band, The Farriss Brothers, as lead singer by his friend from Davidson High School, Andrew Farriss. This was the start of his career – the band was renamed INXS in 1979.

Hutchence and Farriss became a successful song writing partnership. The band released their first single, Simple Simon, in May 1980, followed by their debut album, INXS, in October the same year. They enjoyed success in their native Australia and by 1982 broke into the American market.

In 1985, they were in the UK promoting their fifth studio album, Listen Like Thieves, with a spot on C4’s The Tube to play the title track.

Yates was born into a showbiz family in April 1959 in Colwyn Bay, Wales, as her mother was an actress and author. She described her childhood as “lonely”, and her parents’ marriage broke up in 1975. She was a superfan of the Boomtown Rats and began dating Geldof in 1976. They had a daughter, Fifi Trixibelle, in March 1983.

Yates had begun her media career in 1979 as a music journalist for the Record Mirror. She came to national prominence when she began hosting The Tube with singer and songwriter Jools Holland in the 1980s. The show featured live performances from alternative, punk and rock bands and was an antidote to Top of the Pops.

First meeting

The first time Yates met Hutchence, they appeared to be flirting with each other in the casual surroundings of the The Tube set, which was designed to look and feel like a bar. Afterwards, Yates said Hutchence had invited her back to his hotel, but she had declined, telling him she had a daughter.

They reportedly kept in touch over the course of the next nine years, while Yates was still with Geldof. She was seen at INXS concerts with Fifi. It was reported that Geldof objected to his wife’s friendship with Hutchence.

Yates and Geldof finally married in 1986, after ten years together. In March 1989, they had their second daughter, Peaches, followed by their third daughter Pixie in September 1990. While they appeared to be a solid couple on the surface, apparently, cracks were beginning to appear outside of the public eye.

Their marriage was beset by persistent rumours of Geldof’s infidelity. In an interview, he made it apparent he and his wife had different expectations of their marriage. He said it would be “tedious” to “live your life in a state of passion”, adding that it “burns out” over time.


In 1994, when Hutchence was dating Helena Christensen, he and Yates had a second televised interview. This time, they met on the set of C4’s morning show, The Big Breakfast, which Yates co-hosted. The chemistry between them was undeniable on this occasion.

Lounging on the bed on the set, Yates and Hutchence flirted outrageously, their legs entwined, giggling like teenagers. The interview led to rumours that they had been seeing each other in secret for some time.

Yates left Geldof for Hutchence just four months after the controversial TV interview. She moved out of their marital home with her three daughters. In May 1996, the divorce was finalised. On 22nd July, she and Hutchence had their only child together, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence.

It was a difficult situation between Geldof and Yates, due to their three daughters together. A painful divorce and subsequent wrangles about their kids played out in the public eye. In an interview, Yates said she was sad about the breakdown of her marriage, adding she and Geldof would remain friends for their daughters’ sake.

However, they later became embroiled in a bitter custody battle over Fifi, Peaches and Pixie. Yates received lots of bad press and said it felt like a “witch hunt”. She was compared unfavourably with Christensen.

Added to this, there was media speculation that Hutchence wasn’t coping well with married life and parenthood. Despite Yates and Hutchence “adoring each other”, it was claimed he couldn’t handle the “practicalities of life” once the “novelty wore off”.


Geldof eventually gained custody of their three daughters. Hutchence was said to have descended into a “downward spiral” as a result of the continued problems between Yates and Geldof. In November 1997, INXS were on tour in Australia. Hutchence was on the road for three months and Yates had planned to join him.

She had intended taking Fifi, Peaches and Pixie with her, but Geldof won a court order banning her from taking them out of the UK. Yates recalled walking from the court room, turning to her solicitor and saying, “This will kill Michael.”

Tragically, on 22nd November 1997, Hutchence, 37, was found dead in his room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Sydney. The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide while depressed. In her statement, Yates said she had told him, over the phone, about the court verdict.

She described Hutchence as having been “terribly upset” and quoted him as saying, “I don’t know how I’ll live without seeing Tiger.”

Following his death, Yates sought counselling, as she found it impossible to accept that he had killed himself. The star never seemed to recover from her loss. On 17th September 2000, she died at her London home, at the age of 41.

The coroner recorded it wasn’t suicide, but rather an accidental death, as a result of “foolish and incautious” behaviour, leading to a drugs overdose. Geldof won foster custody of Tiger Lily, aged four, so she could live with her three half-sisters.

He later described his grief at the “Shakespearean tragedy” of his ex-wife’s death and his “bewilderment” at Hutchence’s suicide. What had begun as a romance led to a painful love triangle and the deaths of the two main protagonists. Geldof went on to marry his partner, actress Jeanne Marine, in 2015. They live in Battersea, London.

Thankfully, few meetings are destined for such a tragic end. When you’re looking for an affordable and professional meeting room for hire, give us a call on 0800 073 0499 and we’ll be happy to assist with the booking process.

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