Wednesday, July 18, 2007

As Promised: The Strange Story of Bob Geldof, Paula Yates, and Michael Hutchence

(Yes, this is part of my 80's series although the saga goes on into the 2000's.)

Once upon a time back in the 1980's there was a popular rocker named Bob Geldof (left). He sang with a band called The Boomtown Rats and played the leading role in the rock opera "The Wall". He was very British and fairly famous. He achieved superstardom status when he organized the 1985 Live Aid Concert, the first charitable mega-concert of its kind. The event was wildly successful raising over $140 million for the starving and impoverished in Africa. This success got Geldof knighted, made him an extremely powerful philanthropic force of nature, and earned him the unofficial title of "saint".

Meanwhile, Bob had a girlfriend named Paula Yates (right). They had gotten together back in 1976. She was (as my friend Julie would say) "wild as a deer" and a Boomtown groupie. Charismatic, extremely blonde, smart, beautiful, and the product of a troubled childhood, Yates was what Woody Allen would call a "...komikaze woman because she wants to crash her plane into you", the "you" in this case meaning, of course, the man of her choice. Yates posed for Penthouse in 1978 and proceeded to crash into Bob with a vengeance. She liked to dabble in drugs. Hey, it was the eighties. She even released a song that hit the charts, a cover of "These Boots were Made for Walkin'", the Nancy Sinatra hit.

Yates did eventually develop a solid career. With Bob's help, she became a music journalist and wrote a column called "Natural Blonde" for a British paper called the Daily Mirror. After that, she landed a hosting gig on a show called "The Tube" which was sort of the 1980's British version of American Bandstand. Yates was quite successful at this. Her relationship with Bob continued through her personal success and, of course, Bob's career continued apace.

In 1983, Yates gave birth to their first child, a girl they named Fifi Trixibelle. And, finally, the ultimate bachelor gave in and proposed. They were married on August 31, 1986. The star-studded wedding party included Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics and Simon LeBon of Duran Duran. I remember vivdly seeing the pictures that were published of the event at the time because of the bright red dress Yates wore. Isn't it sort of fabulous? I mean, it wouldn't be my choice but, dang, she is seriously pulling that off. That's the biggest version of the photo I could find, darn it.

Anyway, sort of surprisingly, motherhood transformed Yates. The couple went on to have two more girls, Peaches Honeyblossom, born in 1989 , and Pixie, born in 1990. Paula even wrote a couple of fairly successful books based on her experiences a a mother.

Paula did also continue her gig on The Tube. Bob developed another show that was strictly a vehicle for Paula called "Big Breakfast". The program was essentially a talk show that took place in a bed which Paula and the guest du-jour would playfully share during the inteview. The provocative show was a big success. In 1994 Yates fatefully interviewed Michael Hutchence (right), hunky lead singer for the rock band, INXS.

There just isn't any doubt about it, Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence fell madly, passionately in love almost instantly. Yates left Geldof in 1995 for Hutchence. The divorce, as you might imagine, was one of the nastiest in show business. It was played out on the front pages of the British tabloid press for years. Geldof, still in love with Yates, used all his considerable power and influence to retain custody of their three girls,. Geldof made visitation difficult for Paula, and the carping between Geldof, Yates, and Hutchence was vicious and seemingly unending.

As an aside, Hutchence, I have read in more places than one, is rumored to have been sexually insatiable. Reportedly up to and including joining the mile high club on a commerical flight EXCEPT he was in his seat at the time. His companion in sky crime? Kylie Minogue. Just thought you needed to know.

In July 1996, Paula Yates gave birth to Michael's daughter and they named her Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence, "Tiger" for short.

Sadly, in November, 1997, Hutchence was tragically found hanged in his Sydney hotel room (he was hanging from a door, a belt around his neck). The coroner would rule it a suicide. Yates was completely shattered and became obsessed with clearing Michael's death certificate of the word "suicide". Yates was convinced Hutchence was indulging in a type of maturbation that included cutting off one's oxygen supply to heighten the orgasm by hanging, and that Michael's was a case of accidental death. To make a bad situation worse, the distraught Yates also had to contend with Hutchence's family who began legal proceedings to try wrest custody of Tiger (and, coincidentally all of Michael's money) from Yates. Yates attempted suicide herself (by hanging), was unsuccessful, and eventually sought psychiatric treatment.

Despite seeking help, however, Yates would not recover. She had slipped into the habit of using heroin and drinking heavily. She accidentally overdosed at the age of 40 in September of 2000. Her lifeless body was discovered when a friend called to check on Yates and Tiger answered the phone saying her mother, "wouldn't wake up". Tiger was four years old.

Sort of incredibly, upon hearing of Paula's death, Bob Geldof sprang into action. Geldof made all of Paula's funeral arrangements, paid the tab, and then filed for temporary custody of little Tiger citing Tiger's, "need to be with her three half-sisters at this difficult time". Geldof's appeal was granted. Despite attempts by the Hutchence family, the orphaned girl continues to live with her half-sisters and to be reared by Geldof.

As recently as August of 2006, there have been reports that Michael Hutchence's mother continues to fight for custody of Tiger claiming the girl is "being raised by a succession of nannies" and claiming also that she has only been allowed to spend time with Tiger twice since Paula's death.

Geldof continues to decline comment.


ChristaD said...

Love this story...dark and tragic. Where in the world did you find that phenomenal picture of Michael Hutchens? He was so unbelievably handsome. He had me from "The One Thing" video.

Bizzy said...

The photo turned up in a Google Image search. Of course, I love the story too!

Yummy said...

Just to clarify, Bob Geldof is Irish and not British as the piece says.
I can never understand that people find it imposssible to differeniate between Irish and British.
2 different countries people!!

Paula said...

Amazing story. Love Geldof and Hutchence.

Claire said...

Just wanted to add a bit of extra info to the part about Paula on the Big Breakfast. This was a reasonably successful UK morning magazine show set up by Bob's company. However Paula's bed interview was only a small part of the show. The main show was co-presented by Chris Evans (not the American actor!) and Gaby Roslin. After Paula left the show following the news of her relationship with Michael, the bed interviewing section continued with the likes of UK broadcaster Vanessa Feltz and Liverpudlian cross-dresser and comedian Lilly Savage a.k.a Paul O'Grady.

gaysy said...


Britain, ie the British, is made up of Wales, England, Ireland & Scotland. So anyone from any of these countries is British, including Bob.
So NOT two different countries people!!!

Claire Bear said...

Actually Ireland is a different country, its only Northern Ireland that is British and a different country to the Republic. If you're Irish, you're not British!

mick said...

Just to clarify - the Hutchence family only attempted to get custody of Tiger Lily after Paulas death. Not before. Also Paula was possessive of Hutch and cut his family and friends off. I believe all the threats she made about ending her and her daughters life caused Hutch great pain. It's fair to say his demise began with her.

Suzanne said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments and setting me straight on my bungling Geldof's country of origin. Thanks to Claire for the additional detail on the Big Breakfast. Mick, I did read that the Hutchence family tried to gain custody of Tiger Lily before Paula's death though those reports may have been in error and, if so, I appreciate your input. Also, I did not know of Paula's possessiveness with Hutchence, although it doesn't surprise me. As I stated in the piece, the girl was was troubled ("komikaze"). Sad. While I don't think Geldof behaved as well as he might have during his divorce from Yates, I admire his willingness to rear Tiger Lily and give her a family with her half sisters. I saw INXS when they toured with Adam Ant in '83. I went to see Ant and came away a Hutchence fan. He flat stole that whole show.

Mawt? said...

"Britain, ie the British, is made up of Wales, England, Ireland & Scotland. So anyone from any of these countries is British, including Bob.
So NOT two different countries people!!!"

Ireland is IRELAND. Geldof is IRISH. Fuck off and read a book before you say stupid shit like that.

Gaye Murray said...

Seems I made a mistake with my geography for which I would normally apologise. HOWEVER, what is wrong with people who come on here & have to be disgustingly rude?????
There was no need for the fuck off and read a book comment was there?...dickhead!

Suzanne said...

A bit of an update--Hutchence's mother and Tiger Lily's grandmother died late last year:

Supposedly, these are photos of Tiger Lily at the aquarium taken earlier this year (that does look like Peaches Geldof):

And, finally, a glimpse into Tiger Lily's life when she was 13, circa January, 2010:

Amy Lee said...

The "nickname" Tiger Lily came from the Peter Pan character. It was used for me as far back as 1983 when Michael Hutchence and I met. This is when I started writing songs for the band. At the same time I was writing songs for Madonna. We worked on script ideas for a film titled The Breakfast Club, Madonna claimed to be in a band named Breakfast Club, and where Paula and Bob got the idea for the title to the show. After Bob's friend, Midge Ure, heard about Michael calling me "Tiger Lily" claimed this as the former band name of Ultravox. I was also working with Michael Jackson starting in 1983, writing the songs Thiller, Billie Jean, etc. and after Michael gave me the nickname, decided to name his ranch "Neverland". Michael Hutchence and I decided to work on a script titled "The Lost Boys" which INXS would work on the soundtrack. None of what INXS or Hutch claim in public is true about their relationships, writing the songs, or even about Michael's death.

tamevamos said...

Britain is not a country but an Isle made up of countries : Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Geography... Learn it.

Matt Holbrook said...

Actually 4 different countries!!I'm English not British.

Matt Holbrook said...

Actually Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom not Great Britain so Sir Bob is not British whatever that means (I'm English not British) he is intact Irish,hope this clears that little matter up.

Pete said...

Was The Tube Bob's company? I read somewhere else that after Bob's music career wasn't so successful she was the main breadwinner.

micky mac said...

N Ireland is not part of britan
its part of the uk
look at your uk passport the cover states 'united kingdom of great britan and N Ireland'the Irish north or south are not british

Lazarus Max said...

Bob Geldolf is IRISH. IRISH. IRISH.

julie said...

England Ireland Scotland Wales
Countries are in priority of their size. Englands the largets followed by um ... Ireland now come on folks work the rest out for your selves.

clara27 said...

I never tire of this story. It`s so sad, so tragic, so human and so heroic all at once. Just to add to the arguement--Geldof is Irish not British and that is why he has an "honorary" knighthood that is usually reserved for the British...please, a brit come forward if i am wrong.
Second--Geldof was the beadwinner, since he produced the show and owned a percentage of the production company, but of course Paula did her share. I think in that sense they were pretty equal. Geldof made most of his money from being a TV producer, a travel internet service and other stuff as a businessman.
3. Michael`s family did file for custody after his death allegating that she was unfit to care for Tiger because she was an addict and so and such, plus, Tiger was set to gain 50% of Michael`s money(which by the way vanished before that could happen)Hutch`s family was not happy at all with Paula from the start and apparently it was Paula who first mentioned that Tiger should grow up with her sisters, so Geldof was simply honoring her wish. You gotta love this man!
And for the record--Tiger Lily was Pixie`s idea.
If I may direct you to a more complete story:

Foxiepaws said...

See above...Only Northern Ireland is British (Scotland is questionable too if you ask Scottish people. .i.e. me lol!). Bob Geldof is most definitely Irish. Also Pixie looks more like Tiger than Peaches or Fifi (just saying like!).

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