Why rock stars should be nice to taxi drivers

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taxi with michael hutchence

Deceased rock star Michael Hutchence is in the spotlight again.

No doubt the recent mini-series Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS, which dramatised the rise and fall of one the biggest bands of the 80s and the sad decline of its front-man, is a major factor.

Michael Hutchence, in case you missed the 80s, was the lead singer of mega successful Australian rock band INXS. He died in a hotel room after strangling himself on a doorknob and his partner Paula Yates was often blamed for his downfall. She died a few years later of a heroin overdose.

The rather sordid origins of the Hutchence/Yates affair began shortly after she interviewed him on British TV’s The Big Breakfast. At the time, Yates was married to Bob Geldof and Hutchence was dating supermodel Helena Christensen.

The affair shocked and horrified not only their partners but also the British press, who hounded the couple relentlessly.

People could not understand why Hutchence would dump the beautiful Christensen for Yates, who the press described as the ageing mother of three and wife of a British hero.

Surprisingly, I may just have the answer.

It revolves around an extraordinary encounter I had with a furious Sydney taxi driver in the early 90s.

I hailed his cab soon after Hutchence had apparently gotten out. The taxi driver was apoplectic. He asked if I knew Hutchence, which luckily I didn’t, and proceeded to rant about the insolent rock star who he’d sooner “run over in my cab than pick up again.”

Several years later, Hutchence upset another taxi driver while out with Christensen in Copenhagen.

Was this the very same Sydney taxi driver? Had he moved abroad to escape rude Australian rock stars and was enjoying a nice croissant dipped in hot chocolate until Hutchence got into his cab again?

This irate Dutch (or possibly recently emigrated ex-Sydney) taxi driver knocked Hutchence unconscious after which, according to many, the singer underwent a personality change.

The brain is a fragile instrument and a strong blow leaves lasting damage. This could explain why Hutchence then became erratic, impulsive and aggressive and unlikely to consider the consequences of a high profile affair with Yates.

So it’s possible the tragic trajectory of Hutchence’s life may have been avoided if someone had advised him to hire a private limo whenever he left home.

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Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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