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The forgotten girlfriend Michael Hutchence

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She was rock star Michael Hutchence's first love, and in some ways his last. For seven years, they made a striking pair with their good looks, enigmatic brown eyes and flowing dark hair, and even after their split Hutchence and Michele Bennett remained his closest confidante as he went on to date some of the world's most beautiful and successful women. It was Bennett who the tragic INXS frontman called in a final, desperate plea for help from his best friend before his tragic demise in a Sydney hotel room.

She rushed to her old boyfriend's aid after his last dark hours in which he struggled with his 'demons' and the fact he would not be seeing his only child, daughter Tiger Lily, for Christmas. But she was too late. She could not get inside the hotel room door, from which Hutchence was hanging from the door handle on the other side by a belt, already dead.

The dramatic circumstances of the morning of November 22, 1997, when Bennett frantically knocked on the singer's door at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and called out repeatedly, but in vain, were later tendered in evidence to the coroner's inquest into his death.

Now an internationally renowned feature film and music video producer, Michele Bennett is beautiful, successful and now has children of her own.

 

 

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But it is her life with Hutchence which has come under the spotlight, following her portrayal by actress Jane Harber in the two-part telemovie, INXS: Never Tear Us Apart. Harber described Bennett as 'a bit of a touchstone' in Michael Hutchence's life.

'Michele was Michael’s first love and somebody who played in his life for the next 20 years and was the last person he called before he passed away. 'They met at a gig  . . . kind of before he found his groove. 'He was just starting out and she obviously loved his music having been to a couple of his gigs.
They fell in love quickly, as you do when you’re a teenager.'

The relationship began around the time INXS had released its self-titled debut album.

Bennett had embarked on a career as a producer, first of music videos. She produced the documentary Lovetown for the Irish band, U2, and in 1991 formed her own production company, Cherub Pictures.

After meeting Hutchence, she made the INXS television documentary, Welcome to Wherever you Are, and went on to produce for Prince, Silverchair, Foofighters and other Australian and overseas artists.
Bennett and Hutchence lasted as a couple until the late 1980s, by which time Hutchence had starred in the film, Dogs in Space, and the band had launched Kick, which won them international fame and success.

Yates gave birth to Huthence's only child, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily in July 1996. The rock star was biding his time between the UK, Hong Kong and Australia.

The following January, Bennett arranged a birthday party for Hutchence in Sydney.

 

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On the night of his death, Hutchence was in Sydney preparing for a concert tour to mark INXS's 20th anniversary, and was hoping for Yates and Tiger Lily to join him for Christmas. The agreement was contingent on whether Yates could bring to Australia her three daughters with Geldof.

He was exhausted by press coverage of his and Yates' relationship and the custody battle ensuing between her and Geldof over their daughters and the proposed Australian trip.

Following concert rehearsals with INXS band members on Friday, November, 21, he dined with his father, Kell, and then returned to the Ritz Carlton and continued drinking.

Australian actress, Kym Wilson, with whom he had once enjoyed a brief fling and her boyfriend paid him a visit, then he was on his own.  Hutchence apparently engaged in a bitter conversation with Geldof on the phone, after he had spoken with Yates who informed him told him the custody case had been adjourned, so she would not be coming to Australia with the children.

At around 9.35 on the Saturday morning, he left a phone message for Michele Bennett, in which she would later say he sounded 'drunk'.

At 9.54 he rang Bennett again. This time she answered. He cried down the phone, and she told him she would come straight away. But when Bennett finally knocked on the door, there was no answer. She tried ringing him, to no avail. Asssuming he was alright, and may simply have gone to sleep, she letf a note with reception and returned home.

On November 27, 1997, Michael Hutchence's coffin was carried out of St Andrew's Cathedral by his band members and his younger brother Rhett, as Never Tear Us Apart played in the background.

Cherub Films in which Bennett is involved with, produced the 2000 box office success, Chopper. Last year the company made the surfing feature, Drift. The company's latest film is Mule, about a first time drug importer. Bennett also made the 2004 music documentary, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.

INXS have currently four albums in the Australian music charts (as of week commencing 17/2/14) with their Greatest Hits at No.1.

 

 

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