ALISON BOSHOFF: All Paula Yates’s daughter Tiger Lily inherited from her rock star dad Michael Hutchence was an old guitar – but she couldn’t be happier surfing and singing folk songs on the other side of the world
With her intense gaze and hint of a smile, Tiger Lily Hutchence-Geldof has the unmistakable rock star swagger of her father, the late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.
The 26-year-old has inherited his musical talent, too. Last month, she quietly released her debut album, Tragic Tiger’s Sad Meltdown, a phrase borrowed from a headline about her in an Australian magazine.
And it is that tongue-in-cheek title that speaks volumes about where her character comes from.
For making a joke about the media’s interest in her is, friends say, exactly the kind of thing that her late mother, Paula Yates, would have done.
This week, Paula’s legacy – as a mother, TV presenter, friend and lover – is once again in the spotlight in the wake of the two-part Channel 4 documentary, Paula.
Tiger Lily Hutchence-Geldof, pictured here in 2014, seems to have inherited musical talent from her late father, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence
NEW LIFE: Tiger Lily enjoys the beach in Perth, Australia. She lives in the bohemian seaside town of Fremantle, south of Perth, where she has started a career as a musician
It questions how her trail-blazing but short life affected those she loved – and whether the toxic mix of drugs, alcohol and grief which killed her took its toll on them, too.
‘Tragic Tiger’ certainly suffered unduly. Just 16 months old when her father killed himself in a Sydney hotel room, she was orphaned three years later when Paula, then 41 and consumed with grief, died following an ‘incautious’ overdose of heroin.
But – having been raised by Bob Geldof, Paula’s ex-husband and the father of her three older children – it seems Tiger Lily is following a much calmer and more wholesome path.
Now based in Hutchence’s native Australia, she lives in the bohemian seaside town of Fremantle, south of Perth, where she has started a career as a musician.
Born Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, she was always known as Tiger Lily but today prefers to use the name Heavenly.
Her life is a paradise of surfing, meditation and yoga – a world away from the gritty London drugs scene that killed both her mother in 2000, and her half-sister Peaches, who also died of a heroin overdose aged 25, in 2014.
Tiger Lily was just four, and alone in the house with her mother, when she found Paula dead. She raised the alarm when a friend of Paula’s phoned, and she told her that she ‘couldn’t wake Mummy’.
The natural sanctuary for the little girl was Geldof’s home.
Tiger Lily already knew the Boomtown Rats star and charity campaigner well, having regularly stayed with him when Paula was struggling in the years after Hutchence’s death.
She was also close to her half-sisters: Fifi, now 39, Peaches, and Pixie, 32 (pictured)
She was also close to her half-sisters: Fifi, now 39, Peaches, and Pixie, 32. Tiger Lily and Fifi initially shared a bed, clinging to each other in grief. Geldof became her legal guardian and officially adopted her in 2007, determined to raise her far from the showbusiness spotlight.
At her £12,000-a-year sixth form in South West London, she was known for her bohemian spirit, the only girl unafraid to let her armpit hair grow. Efforts to entice her into the London social scene like her sister Pixie – who is best friends with DJ Nick Grimshaw and model Daisy Lowe – failed.
Having dabbled with acting and performance at a college in New York, she returned to London and studied for a degree at Goldsmiths College in South East London.
It was after graduating in 2019 that she decided to move to Australia, where she has been privately reclaiming her Hutchence lineage, reconnecting with his friends and family. It has been said that she didn’t realise Hutchence was her father until she was ten.
One source said Tiger Lily had begun getting in touch with his family earlier, and contacted Michael’s sister, Tina, in 2017 through an intermediary.
Tina, a retired make-up artist who lives in California, had a fractured relationship with Geldof, and is said to have attempted legal action – ultimately unsuccessfully – to gain access to her niece when she was an infant.
Tina did not respond when contacted this week. Tiger Lily is also thought to have contacted her father’s INXS bandmates, including guitarist Tim Farriss, and some of her Australian cousins.
The desire to leave behind the UK, and all its painful memories – particularly Peaches’ death – is understandable.
Tiger Lily and Peaches were extremely close. A video posted online shows her playing the piano with Melisande Gutierrez, the daughter of Peaches’ best friend, Lily. And on her album notes, Tiger Lily reveals that ‘most’ of the songs are about Peaches.
Pictured: As a baby with her parents Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates
‘It was really moving to create with so much freedom and understanding,’ she writes.
‘Most of the songs are about my sister Peaches who I lost as a teenager so singing them aloud felt very potent but my band always made me feel held.’
Certainly, it’s in Australia that Tiger Lily has felt brave enough to spread her wings as a performer. She was, until recently, in a relationship with Nick Allbrook, the former bassist with Australian band Tame Impala, who works as a landscape gardener. Now single, she has been enjoying the alternative-folk music scene locally, performing with friends at local bars in nearby Perth.
She observes: ‘I had always been shy to sing with others but moving across the world and my ex-boyfriend Nick had given me some bravery.
‘Something about living closer to nature meant I felt creative and open-hearted. It was as if the wide open landscape of Australia had finally given my heart enough space to open properly.’ Surprisingly, there is no fortune to sustain her new creative endeavours. She was meant to get three lump sums, each of £12 million, from Hutchence’s estate when she turned 18, 21, and 25.
In the event, sources say there was money for education and nannies, but nothing beyond that. And Geldof has always been quite clear that he expects his children to support themselves as adults. As Fifi said: ‘There is no gilded lily. Dad was brought up to earn his own money and he’s instilled that in us.’
Film-maker Richard Lowenstein, who met with Tiger Lily in 2019, said: ‘The one thing she is, I believe, quite disturbed about is that there doesn’t seem to be any legal acknowledgement or even financial acknowledgment that she is her father’s daughter. The entire estate has vanished.
‘I was saying to her, “Maybe it’s still going to come to you when you’re 25”, but she just stopped laughing and said that she’s given up on that now. It’s literally gone.’
Hutchence’s estate and his trust was controlled by his former lawyer, and Tiger Lily’s godfather, Colin Diamond, who has said that Hutchence’s wealth was ‘eaten up by partying, gifts and huge legal bills’, meaning he died penniless.
Lowenstein added: ‘She met up with [him] and he handed her an envelope with £500 (AUD $900) in it and said: “There you go, that will tide you over.” I think Bob shook his head in horror and they both just walked out.’
Lowenstein said that he was pleased to have been able to give her an acoustic guitar which had belonged to her father, which left her ‘incredibly thrilled’.
What of her remaining sisters, Fifi and Pixie? Fifi, who is the oldest of the Yates-Geldof girls is, like Tiger Lily, not one for the spotlight. Now 39, she lives quietly in the London suburbs with husband Andrew Robertson and their many dogs.
She has suffered from depression for much of her life, sparked during her parents’ vituperative divorce.
Fifi was not on good terms with Paula when she died, and hints that her mother’s drinking and drug use may have been to blame.
She once told an interviewer: ‘We had a tempestuous relationship to say the least. I don’t think I knew her that well.
‘If the situation that was going on then – I won’t elaborate on it – was going on today then the not talking would happen all over again. I don’t regret it and I still don’t.’
She had a wild period after her A-levels, following Paula’s death. ‘I absolutely lost my s*** for about a year. There was a lot of drinking and drug-taking.
‘I was a silly, hurt, stupid, reckless teenager. I do believe if I hadn’t met my ex-boyfriend at 19 or 20 then I would be dead by now.’
Sister Pixie lives in North London with her husband, the drummer George Barnett and their daughter, who was born in 2021. She’s had a long modelling career, supports marine conservation and has also worked as a DJ.
Her circle of friends includes Harry Styles and Princess Eugenie (she was a guest at Eugenie’s wedding).
A friend says: ‘I believe she’s sober. I heard that a while ago. She’s totally over the showbiz scene and hardly ever goes out.’
None, it seems, are prepared to make the same mistakes their mother and sister did.
And for Tiger Lily, who lived in the shadow of such tragedy, perhaps the ‘sad meltdown’ may never come.
That, arguably, is the best possible legacy Paula could hope for.
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