Circles by Deirdre Lawson
It is bad enough when a loved one commits suicide, but when that loved one spent twenty years as the frontman for one of the most influential rock bands to ever hit the stage, the aftermath of tragedy takes on a life of its own. Any other family would have been allowed to grieve in private. There have been so many untruths printed about Michael and the Hutchence family; they are left with no choice but to speak out. It is a matter of dignity, their right to grieve, to honor the memory of their son, brother, uncle, father, and to preserve his legacy—their family history—for future generations. They are no different from any other family I've ever known.
Legal battles were played out in the media, and much of which was reported were outright lies. The problem is, according to Tina Hutchence, “this was the fall back on every untruth printed and remains that way. ‘It was in a newspaper, on the web.' Unbelievably we also found out that it holds up in court. You can never find the original source and nobody takes the blame.”
Tina has spent the past seven years of her life fighting for justice for her brother, and she will continue to do so as long as she has breath in her body. However, when you're fighting a battle in which no one seems to listen, you begin to believe that no one seems to care. You don't know who has wronged you, or why, and you don't know whom to trust. You perceive enemies who might not exist, and it becomes a personal burden.
As a long time fan, I was well aware of the media hype that pitted family members against family members, and an entire family against a band that provided me so much joy in the soundtrack of my life. I didn't know who to believe either. What this did to me on an emotional level was a difficult lesson to learn. It made me realize that heroes are fallible—because they are human, just like the rest of us.
It took me almost seven years to warm up to Tina, and be willing to listen to what she had to say. Sometimes it is simply a matter of miscommunication.
When Michael died, there was only one place for fans to consistently turn for information—any information at all. It was the oldest fan-based website on the Internet, lovingly created and maintained by a young man named Neil Kothari, who was also busy with his own academic and professional life. The site remains as a lasting tribute, though he no longer maintains it for personal reasons. I recently spoke with him, and by his own admission, it is not something he wishes to discuss. I respect that.
There is something, however, that neither Tina, nor Neil realized. In the chaotic time after Michael's death, Neil placed an article on his site stating that the Hutchence family tried to delay the release of Michael's self-titled solo album. Tina contacted him via e-mail in an attempt to tell him the truth, but she never received a response. The article remained in place.
Neil Kothari is thanked in the liner notes on the 1997 album, Elegantly Wasted. Tina assumed that Neil had chosen to ignore her. Based on my own experiences, I had a hunch that this was not the case at all.
When the doors of communication are opened in the spirit of love and truth, we may find that if we make friends with our perceived enemy, we may learn that our real enemy is grief.
For years Tina and her mother thought of Neil in a bad light. It added to their pain. Tina is quite outspoken in her attempts to right the wrongs done to Michael by the media, but she doesn't often express the emotional weight that it carries. That is deeply personal. She recently stated, “obviously I cannot say that I don't care anymore … it still upsets me to think of all those people reading misinformation about the family … you don't ever really get over that when it has gone to your heart at a particularly horrendous time.”
When Neil Kothari learned of the situation, he replied, “to be honest, I don't think I ever received Tina's e-mails that she apparently sent me a few years back in reply to one of my postings. It's not like me to simply ignore an e-mail…and I'm sure I would recall if I had ever received anything from her. So for all this confusion, I apologize if she thinks I slighted her – it certainly wasn't my intention. As for what I had posted back then, it was likely that it was a news posting I simply came across on the ‘net … whether or not it had a shred of truth, I merely posted it because it was already being reported somewhere else. My apologies if she felt shut out, or unjustly maligned by the posting on inxsweb – again, it was unintentional.”
I read somewhere a long time ago that Michael believed everything in life is a circle. This part of the circle has closed. A burden has been lifted. This is Tina's thank you to Neil Kothari. Nothing else needs to be said in regards to this matter, or the parties involved. I pray that the rest of this circle continues to close and that this family can heal with dignity.