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More Than 2,000 People Turn Out for the Funeral Service Today for INXS Singer Michael

November 27, 1997 GMT

More Than 2,000 People Turn Out for the Funeral Service Today for INXS Singer Michael Hutchence in Sydney, Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ To the sound of INXS’ hit song ``Never Tear Us Apart,″ blue-haired teen-age fans gathered alongside friends and family to say farewell today to lead singer Michael Hutchence, who apparently hanged himself in his hotel room.

More than 2,000 people turned out on a hot spring afternoon for the funeral at St. Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral.

The hourlong service was interrupted briefly when a man tried to jump from a first-floor balcony of the church, crying, ``He’s dead, he’s dead.″

``He was going to do a swan dive,″ Police Officer Noel Flanders said. The man was taken away for ``assessment,″ Flanders said.

Fellow INXS band member Andrew Farriss urged fans not to copy Hutchence’s death.

``We ask the band’s fans and those who are touched by his death not to react in any way that would hurt themselves. Michael would not have wanted that,″ he told the congregation.

Fans began gathering outside the 1,000-seat church more than two hours before the service began, filling the courtyard outside where a tower of television monitors broadcast the ceremony.

A convoy of black limousines brought Hutchence’s parents, other relatives and the remaining band members.

Hutchence’s English lover Paula Yates, wearing a sleeveless black, knee-length dress and sunglasses, carried the couple’s 16-month-old daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, from the limousine into the church.

Yates reportedly had promised earlier to wear the dress she had bought for the couple’s wedding, which was to take place in Bora Bora in January. She said she was going to dye it black for the funeral.

Yates was comforted by a friend as she sat sobbing in the congregation’s front row with her daughter on her lap.

Hutchence’s casket was covered with 500 blue irises and also had one tiger lily, for his daughter.

Celebrities in attendance included Tom Jones, Australian pop star Kylie Minogue and the band Midnight Oil. Australian singer Nick Cave sung his ballad ``Into Your Arms.″

Delivering the eulogy on behalf of INXS fans and the music industry, music commentator Richard Wilkins said Hutchence was ``a star in every sense of the word,″ whose songs touched the lives of millions of followers.″

Hutchence, 37, was found hanging from a leather belt in his room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Saturday, just days before INXS, an international chart-topping Australian band, was to start a comeback tour celebrating its 20th anniversary.

A coroner has said Hutchence died from asphyxiation but has not yet confirmed the death as a suicide.

``Who knows what goes through a man’s thoughts?″ said Farriss, Hutchence’s songwriting partner. ``Only he and the Lord knows.″

Hutchence and Yates clashed with the press in Britain after Yates left her husband, charity organizer Bob Geldof, for Hutchence. A custody battle for Yates’ three children with Geldof is continuing.

As Hutchence’s casket was carried from the church to a waiting hearse by INXS band members and his brother Rhett, thunderclaps ushered in a spring storm that doused mourners and a large news contingent outside.

Hutchence was cremated later after a small private service.