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I'm almost scared of what to do by this time next week. People will have started to move on and the memorials will all be over and there will become fewer and fewer posts on this forum and I don't feel like I'm ready for that. Does anyone else feel that way?
I know exactly what you mean.

I'm not ready to just let him fade away.
I'm with you Shaani. We were saying the other day that we feel like Hessie should still be the top story on the news every night. I know that it will get easier given time, but right now that overwhelming sadness just will not quit. Six days now since I heard and still every morning when I wake up the first thing I think is 'Oh god it really happened'.

Thank you all so much, each and every one of you out there, for making me feel less alone in this.
My husband was with me Monday morning when i heard the news of Paul and i just lost it completely. He looked at me so strangely as if to say"oh is this bad news". I mentioned to him that a friend and i would like to go to Melb for a memorial when its organised and he cant understand why i would want to, as many people have said here over the last week "Even though i never knew him or met him, its as if i have known him all my life."
So i too thank everyone here for being a massive support system for myself and all those from across the globe.
Off to watch Rockwiz.
Big Grin Smiler Smiler
I also think it should be the top story every night but I just feel so lucky to be a part of what I feel to be an exclusive club. I just need to come here to realise that we are so much luckier for having been touched by him ourselves and I almost feel sorry for the people who dont know how this man impacted our lives. I, too have found myself thinking of him all week and I shake my head and think, why? but the tears have now stopped (or at least eased) Can you imagine how much CH and SE has been played this week by all of us?

I also thank you all, complete strangers, who have helped me through this time when noone else understands.

Any word on a get together in NSW. Just feel like I have to do something.
"and still every morning when I wake up the first thing I think is 'Oh god it really happened'."

Yes I think we are all feeling the same aren't we Frenz? Shaani, frozencharlotte, kattybabe, purpleams, don't worry you're not alone and won't be this time next week either. None of us are ready to leave just yet *hugs*

That JJJ show was magic, did u hear me singing by the time they got to "6 months IALB"?? My kids and I were going nuts! (btw, thanks to the Wiggles for introducing my kids to Split Enz Wink )And any tears quickly turned to laughter as my little boy broke out with "Tell me I dont know where you go-o-o!" at the dinner table! Smiler

Hoping RockWiz is on SBS Digital 1 tonight!
thanks to everyone who has responded to my earlier post about not being ready to let go...I feel better just knowing that you guys understand what I mean and I too, would like to thank absolutely everyone on this forum for being here...I truly don't know what I would have done without you all and yes, we are all part of an exclusive family...and I feel proud!
Hi guys. I'm a newbie to this site, but I have been a Split Enz/Crowded House fan for many years. I just wanted to also send my thoughts and prayers to Paul and his family and friends.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet Paul, but you could just see from the concerts and footage of him-he was such a lovely guy-and he was so funny.

I'm a big Beatles fan too, and I don't think I have been so affected by a celebrity's death since that of George Harrison in 2001. I miss George very much-and I know I'll miss Paul as well.

So, Paul, thank you for the laughter and happy times we've had watching and listening to your work. We will miss your many talents greatly, but I think, even more, we will miss you as a person-your smiling face, and the way that you made other people smile. Rest In Peace. XXX
Hi every one. I'm also a newbie to this site, although posted my first message a couple of days ago. I just keep finding myself coming back to this forum to get an update on peoples thoughts and feelings. My husband is beginning to think I'm a wee bit strange as I still haven't really let this go yet, and rightly so. Just shows you what an effect Paul had on people. His death has made me realise how easy it is to take the good things in life completely for granted inc. Paul. This forum is fantastic and makes me feel that whole bit better knowing there are soooo many people feeling exactly the same way.
yes, purpleams...I just finished watching Rockwiz, I was just starting to get teary at the bit where one of the questions had been answered and the host was just finishing off the rest of the information and Paul pressed his buzzer and said "True"...I didn't know whether to laugh or cry and then my mother rings at that exact moment to tell me to watch SBS.
I just finished watching Rockwiz, and again a great wave of sadness washed over me. It has taken me days to sit down and try to make sense of this all. To articulate how this tragedy has made me re-assess what is really important in my life. To love, and be loved. To speak and have someone listen. To listen and understand. I feel incredibly lucky that I got to see CH many times; as their music has always been entwined in my life journey. I visited Elsternwick Park last Thursday at dusk, trying to make sense of it all. Tributes lay at the site, and life goes on around it - children laughing and dogs barking. I shed a tear and vowed not to take so much for granted; to let people know they are loved and to remember how fragile life can be. I then went home and kissed my husband and children. Although I am still overwhelmed by what has happened, I need to move on and try to wake from this surreal dream. Every time I hear a CH song my heart skips. To his loved ones I offer my heartfelt sympathy - we will all miss Paul and the way he touched our lives and our hearts
Originally posted by Shaani:
[qb] did anyone notice the DJ on JJJ, at the end she was giving a run-down of the songs that were played and she said" Mean to You"...I was just quietly reflecting and all of a sudden I burst out laughing. [/qb]
I noticed that too! I listened to Live At The Wireless, lying on my sofa and was laughing so hard during the 'Sister Madly Polka' and then lost it during 'Fall At Your Feet' - luckily, I live on my own and don't after to worry about flatmates being embarrased.

Just finished watching RockWiz....

Isn't it bizarre that when you know someone is no longer with us, you seem to hang on every word, every gesture.

I look away now, and know that tomorrow Paul is being returned to the Earth that spawned this genius, and I hope he is surrounded by all the beautiful things his spirit desired.



"Anybody else just finished watching RocKwiz and can't stop crying?"

Uh huh. Came straight here. Wink

And thanks to maddie1 for sharing that moment.*hugs* I think I might need something like that to move on. It will be awhile.*sighs and hugs new friends who understand*

Keeping an eye on my ABC right now though - thanks Shaani.
Wow - what a cathartic experience. Since posting a few minutes ago the tears have not stopped falling. I have read all your beautiful tributes and memories, and now that I have taken the step and tried to explain how I am feeling my heart feels a little bit lighter.

Thank you all for being here and allowing me to let go some of the pain. I remember seeing the Finn Bros and Seymour Bros. at the Continental in Prahran two nights in a row (let's face it, you can never get enough of a good thing!)and on the second night NF turned to my friend and I and said "Oh, it's like meeting old friends again" as they walked passed us to to the stage. That's how I feel about CH - old friends. Paul, may you find peace and comfort wherever you may be. God bless.
Maddie1..I too felt compelled to visit Elsternwick Park last Thursday. I took my two yr old with me and as he was playing on the equipment I had to hold back the tears. I keep feeling like the world should have stopped by now because of this tragedy, but life has to go on. I believe everything in this world happens for a reason and this is no exception. As my husband says all the time 'life's a journey not a destination'..Paul appeared to have a pretty good journey for the most part, and he's just entered the next phase of his journey..Paul I trust it's a good one...take care..we've all learnt so much from you. xxxx
Finally managed to stop crying. I'm home alone tonight (aside from the pets, how comforting to have a dog who licks the tears from your face) and found I keep coming back in here for comfort. I feel like I've made so many new friends this week and it is so comforting to have all of you out there who truly know and understand how I'm feeling.

I keep thinking how glad I am that Hessie got up on stage with Neil and Tim at the Palais in November (3 days before my 30th birthday, what a great gift) - the almost CH reunion that we've all dreamed of for the last 9 years. Bless them all, what would I do without Neil's voice to comfort me. The soundtrack to my life.

Love you all. Smiler
I wish I could visit the park too.

And I too don't want to let go.

I don't think we will ever truly let go. We'll come to terms with it and handle it better and get on with our lives, but though we will smile and laugh as we listen and watch without shedding a tear and just think, "What a good bloke," there will always be a speck of sadness sitting in the back of our minds.

But we WILL meet again. (You know, for a moment I even considered killing myself, just so I could see him again. It sounds extreme, I know, but I really thought that. Maybe cos my family and I joke about death a lot and it's not such a scary thing for me.)

I think we should have a Paul Hester day. On his birthday. Because we should celebrate his life, and the day he came into this world, not the day he left it.

And thanks for the articles, all.
I keep thinking back to the night I met Paul outside the Palais, I had my Split Enz underpants (I had made them the night before, black applique ENZ symbol on White Undies) with the intention of giving them to Tim...

Thinking back now, I should have shown them to Paul, I have no idea why I didn't take them out and give him a look, I'm sure he would have loved them Frowner Tim never came out, and the undies are sitting in my top drawer...

Now I'll never get the chance to show them to Paul... This one, tiny little 'insignificant' moment is all I can think of... It's so sad Frowner

I'll put up a photo of the undies, if anyone wants to see them Frowner
(oops! I meant to post this I said first time! Confused )
I guess I�ve finally got the courage to post today. (This will be my first post anywhere, sorry in advance for the wordiness.) I have to admit to being a lurker for the past year now. I wanted to thank all the fans who have kept this forum/site going. Thanks in part to you I realized a dream this past year, seeing the Finn Brothers, not once, but twice after 24 years of fanship! Ironic now that some of the credit must go to Paul the Cook, singing �Fruit Salad� as my son and I looked on---I remember calling my husband and relaying what I just saw and reminding him of my 10th anniversary wish---well, after he found this site, found out the guys were touring, it was off to Austin in August with our 2 year old (okay, so the New Zealand part of the anniversary wish fell to the wayside, but hey, maybe our 20th?).

I�ve been especially grateful for the forum and all of the posts this week. Being in the middle of nowhere has been frustrating at a time like this. I learned of the news Monday morning from my husband who found out on the internet. It�s been good to know I am not alone in the loss I�m feeling about a man I did not know, but admired so much. I have to admit there was some small hope in me that someday I�d see CH reunite as they were. Missed an opportunity to see CH open for a headliner I don�t even remember now in Kansas City when I was still in high school---oh the burn when my friend came back with that �Possessions Are Causing Me Suspicion� t-shirt. Managed to see Tim open for 10,000 Maniacs back then, but have always missed Neil because of distance, and on his most recent solo tour, because of being too pregnant!

I guess I just wanted to say that this music has been such a meaningful part of my life. It seems it�s been here all along (I was 10 when I saw The Enz on MTV for the 1st time), the ups and downs, the very best of times, like the birth of my son. My husband, who was sheltered from radio and TV growing up, became a fan the minute I played Woodface for him (that makes him a fan of 14 years now and a real keeper). And now my son is a fan too, every time he hears the guys he says, �Again, again!�

I suppose a lot of the sadness is in the why and how. These past few days I keep looking at my son and thinking of Paul�s two daughters. I try to remember that the darkness of that disease can lead you to believe, somehow, life would be better for the people you love, if somehow, you and the darkness were just gone. I keep thinking that somehow he thought he was doing the best thing for his girls---that the act wasn�t meant to be a selfish one. If only it wasn�t so permanent, if only he didn�t give in, if only he could see the outpouring of admiration now and find a way back�

Thanks again to all the fans and frenz here for letting us newbies share. I�ve really appreciated all the links/info and, of course, all of the great stories and sincere thoughts. It�s brought a lot of comfort to this Kansas girl to know there are so many others out in the world who feel the same admiration. The sheer quality (and quantity) of the posts is a testament to how great these guys are�and sadly, now I have to say about one, were.

Our deepest sympathies go to Paul�s children, family, band mates, friends, and fans at this difficult time. I wanted to thank Paul for the music�for contributing to the soundtrack of my life in such a humorous, exuberant, and skilled way. (And, from the stay at home mom part of me, thanks too for making kids� TV a little more tolerable.) Smiler

May you RIP Paul�

Hoping for much peace and healing to all through the music and the memories�
Isnt it a wonderful feeling...this forum...these words,thoughts,stories,tears and such.
I most of you have visited this site everyday...for comfort and support and to feel needed in some kind of way.
I got the ch cd's out yesterday...and played a select few songs...I NEEDED to hear them...does that make daughter...who is a drummer...came in and said please dont cry again...but the tears flowed even more..I go to her room and look at her drumkit and picture pauls smiling face staring back at me...a nice image i must say.
Keep the words and thoughts coming everyone...we have lost a "brother"...and we need to grieve.
I have just finished watching Rockwiz and I can't stop crying! I treasured every millisecond that Paul was on camera. It was reassuring to see that even a few weeks ago, he was still as energetic and quick witted as always.

Words cannot describe the overwhelming feeling when he got up on stage to sing.....yes, sing without playing the drums. It was almost as if he'd come full circle and was now where he always belonged, at the front of the stage. I think we all thought he belonged there but it was breathtaking to actually see him there for real....for the last time.

The thing that really got me though was just before the end where he was singing "Don't look back..." and waving goodbye to the crowd...THAT broke my heart...again and really got the tears flowing. Now...they just won't stop.

Do any other Melbournian's feel the need to do something to remember, celebrate and farewell Paul today (Sunday)? I do....I might go to the park but not sure if it's appropriate at the moment....I NEED to do something to deal with these feelings long until the illusive public memorial?
Hi, I'm another newbie. Something like this really brings out the need to reach out, doesn't it? My thanks too, to all of you posting such love and thoughtfulness.

Finding it hard to articulate such an emotional turmoil. Rockwiz has helped (great to see him) but made it harder too - he's gone - and his last words on the programme were "don't look" (was singing 'Don't Look Back with The Waifs' Donna Simpson). As it's been said, we cling on to everything and the significance of every glance, everything statement, every joke. What an adorable guy!

Still in a state of shock and well, I guess frightened really. Frightened because I'm trying to understand what it means when a such a great gift to our musical experience, such an incredible human being is gone.

Sorry to offend any practicisng Catholics, (I'm fully lapsed myself Smiler ) but the thing with the Pope - means nothing in my world. The tragedy we've all experienced with the loss of Paul - HUGE.

I'm really happy I got to see the Melbourne Palais concert featuring Paul last year.

Haven't gone to Elsternwick park yet, want to tomorrow with my little ones. They love CH too. My 14 month old dances to it like you wouldn't believe! I'm so proud.

I told my 3 yr old in general terms why Mummy was so sad. As his Dad is a drummer too he took the news very seriously, and went to the drumkit to play for me. So in their way the kids are helping be part of the music too.

For me, musicians like Paul, Neil etc are the warm doona around my fragile self. Giving me comfort and happiness. Nothing has ever ever moved me like their music does.

When our own generation's icons go like this, what hope for us mortals to face our daily woes? How can we be brave ourselves? I mean, I just had this unreal expectation that they'd always be around.

Sorry if this is too long, it's just I'm so thrown. The forum has been so comforting to know I'm not alone in my grief. Like life is for other other members, my partner and friends don't share my extreme sadness, so it's great to be able to log on and know we're all in this together. *sigh* Am peparing myself to hold it together to watch the Music max shows ..
Cheers & hugs
This is my first post also, although I have been a 'lurker' since last year.
I was at the Albert Hall concert on Monday... as I'd been staying with my sister, I hadn't seen my email so didn't know what had happened until the concert started... even then, although I realised something dreadful had happened, I didn't find out the details until next morning when I heard it on Radio 2. But one thing... the emotional atmosphere in the Albert Hall that night was phenomenal, and Neil, Tim and Nick performed superbly. How they did it with what they must have been feeling I just cannot imagine.
One more thing. I too have struggled with the 'black dog', I have looked into the abyss and felt something of what Paul must have been feeling. I just pray that he has found the release he so desperately needed. I hope too, that he knows now how much he meant to so many people, how we all loved him and always will.
Just found these two articles from the newspapers:
Something so wrong by Peter Ellingsen
April 3, 2005

There was a dark side to Paul Hester that had long troubled his friends, yet no one was prepared for his lonely death last weekend.

Paul Hester was in his element making Crowded House's first album in the US. Unlike Neil Finn, the early-to-bed front-man who tortured himself with worry, Hester found much to amuse himself in the weird characters and opulent recording rituals of 1980s Hollywood. There were parties, pot and personal encounters with rock legends such as Jim Keltner. The drummer, who had played with Elvis Presley and John Lennon, thought the three-piece "Crowdies" sounded a bit like the Beatles, and thanked them for letting him sit in on their record.

For a Glen Waverley boy about to hit the big time, it was about as good as it gets, and Hester, whose jokes had the same magical timing as his music - "It is stupid comparing us to the Beatles. There were four of them. There are only three of us" - drank it in without getting drunk.

He may have shared the same birthday as Elvis, but he did not have the King's liking for excess and trashy display. He did not booze, get lost in the groupie scene or fall for the old trick, money and fame. When he was eight, he wrote in his diary that he wanted to be a famous drummer, but added that he did not want to get into trouble with the police.

His favourite Beatle was Paul, but his quick mind and ironic take on pretension suggested John. Like Lennon, he had talent to burn and the kind of intelligence that cannot ignore the underdog.

It all meant that living in LA was "intense but great - like being in the Partridge Family on acid", Hester later told the band's biographer, Chris Bourke. "We were like kids, it was wonderful." Hester was "mum", the one who cooked and cleaned and did the shopping. And yet, as bassist Nick Seymour told Bourke, there was an edge to the domesticity. "I think he (Paul) has a major chemical imbalance. He's always at extremes."

The tearaway grin that fell from his face wasn?t showbiz, but a handshake into the heart of the crowd."Seymour was not the only one with concerns. Singer Deborah Conway, who had been Hester's partner before he left for LA in 1985, was also aware of a dark side. She and Hester had shared a rambling old five-bedroom house in Rockley Road, South Yarra. She was there the first time he streaked on stage - during a Split Enz concert - and, although she loved the playfulness, she sensed a sadness. Last week, as the world wrestled with Hester's death, Conway agreed with fellow musician Stephen Cummings that their friend evoked comedian Tony Hancock, who killed himself in Sydney in 1968. "The sad clown, not a bad comparison."

No one knows what was going on in Paul Hester's mind when he took his life last weekend. Even his family and closest friends, who were familiar with his depressive moods, thought he was OK. Conway, who saw him two weeks ago, had made firm plans to meet him, as had another Melbourne singer, Sophie Koh. Shaking her head at the event she cannot digest, Conway says she was so shocked at the news that she suspected foul play. Her reaction was complete disbelief, then rationalisation. "I suspect he might not have entirely meant to kill himself," she says. As the shock turned to anger ("How could he do such a thing?"), Conway, like so many others, most of whom never knew Hester, felt numbness, and an ocean of loss.

It is a wave that is engulfing many as the reality of Hester's passing sinks in. He was not just a drummer boy, but a quirky, brilliant communicator who touched thousands. Neil Finn may have been the Crowdies songwriter, but Hessie was its sounding-board. Fans watched for his antics as much as they listened for Finn's words. The tearaway grin that fell from his face wasn't showbiz, but a handshake into the heart of the crowd.

It grasped deep into the psyche, not just because Crowded House was as close as we got to a new Beatles but because Hester was the kind of larrikin Australians embrace. Like Ringo Starr, a drummer he admired, he stayed true to his beginnings. He took the piss, rather than drowned in it, had (just four) serious, rather than serial, relationships, drove an old Holden, and lived in an Edwardian bungalow. Hester swam and sang, and played golf, as well as the fool, and seemed to have survived rock'n'roll with his bank account, and the best years of his life, relatively intact. So why did he walk into Elsternwick Park a week ago and hang himself?

Conway shrugs: "You never know. It is a case-by-case thing." She still wonders whether it could have been a cry for help. "Paul never spoke to me about it (suicide)," she says. He did, however, discuss it with another friend, explaining that he would never go through with it because of his daughters, Sunday, 10, and Olive, 5. "We talked about it," the friend says. "Paul said, 'I love my girls too much. I would never do it.'" Clearly, Bogut was in such despair last Saturday that even this critical concern was somehow either overridden, or put aside.

Melbourne University's Professor Pat McGorry says the trouble with depression is that it can be so bad it erases memories of the good. "You lose the optimism that treatment can help," he says.

McGorry, who heads Orygen, a youth mental health service in the western suburbs, has an inclusive view of depression. He believes it is "extremely complex" and can't be reduced to a simple formula.

Fellow psychiatrist Professor David Copolov, from the Mental Health Research Council, agrees: "No one, to my knowledge, just sees depression as a biological disorder. Real social and emotional factors are involved. You can't say something is entirely psychological or biological, though you can say that the suffering is real."

McGorry says intervention does work for adolescents making the transition to adulthood. He refers to recent research suggesting that the more toxic strains of cannabis now being grown hydroponically can be a predictor for psychotic illness, even suicide, among teenagers. Not smoking dope is a protective measure against mental breakdown, the studies find. No research, however, has been done on adults, and McGorry thinks mid-life crisis is a risk factor for suicide, particularly for men aged in their 40s and 50s.

He says: "It can be a feeling of 'What do I have to live for?' It is an enigma as to why some people kill themselves. Research shows that family history is important."

Was this one of the factors, perhaps? One close friend, referring to the years of therapy Hester went through, says: "It is very personal stuff. What do you do in analysis? You talk about your childhood."

Chris Bourke's book Crowded House: Something So Strong has many references to cannabis-smoking. He records Hester saying how he "completely lost his way" for a week or so when the band first went to the US. "Like dial-a-pizza, top-quality Californian pot would be conveniently delivered by 'the rabbi'," Bourke writes. He quotes Hester's reaction to Jim Keltner: "And Jim leans over and says, 'Can I have a toke on that?' Sure, go ahead."

Dope smoking, of course, is common in society, as well as in bands, and there is no evidence Hester ever got involved with hard drugs. But by the time the band was big, and touring was a chore, Hester was in trouble. He spoke about it to Peter Wilmoth, a former housemate and author of the book Glad All Over: The Countdown Years, in 1996. "The blackness was a huge factor for the boys to overcome," Hester told Wilmoth. "It was there and I was very much responsible for it . . . It is hard for the band to cope with that every day. I was like a frustrated two-year-old unable to express myself. I didn't know how to tell them my heart wasn't in it."

As well, Hester was fed up with the promotional side of performing. Sometimes - like during the 1986 US tour when he signed a poster: "F--- Ronnie (Reagan)" - it was his mischievousness; other times, he was bored with the repetition, or resentful about the huge disparity between the money he and Seymour got, compared with Finn.

"He just got sick of it," Conway says. "Playing second fiddle or whatever, though that was not the way it was. He was the strongest personality onstage. But as the songwriter, Neil got the money. That's why Neil lives in a mansion in Auckland while Paul lived in a little house in Elwood."

In his book, Bourke says that, at times, Hester and Seymour found it difficult to pay their mortgages. "Paul and I were just getting by at home, on the places we'd bought," Bourke quotes Seymour saying. "Paul was under pressure. He used to ask, 'What the f--- am I doing this for?' " Hester became paranoid about touring. He developed what he called a leaving phobia. He told Bourke: "It strung me up, the day before I left, I'd be in depression." He talked of panic attacks and freak-outs, and began to wander off stage to go to the toilet or talk during performances.

Perhaps he was distancing himself from the music, and the comic character he had created. In his book, Bourke records a 1967 school composition in which eight year-old Hester wrote: "I act rather stupid just to impress my friends. I would rather be a quiet little kid who just sat there and did a couple of funny things but not act stupid." This was when he could already play drums and entertain with his antics.

More than 20 years later, he told Bourke: "It was just at the end that I lost my way." What had seemed funny, like coming on stage in a Santa suit, only to strip naked, soon became something more serious.

Bourke records that the other band members became more perturbed by the way Hester would disappear into his hotel room for a "smoky session watching basketball videos". Bourke quotes bassist Seymour: "I thought he'd gone mad. I thought he was allowing the dark Paul to take him over."

They tried to support him. At Eindhoven, in Holland, Bourke says the crowd sang to him Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. It was ironic, because that was his speciality. But something was unravelling. He was drifting. People began to ask what was wrong with him. This was about the time Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain killed himself, an event that, Bourke says, disturbed Hester.

Australian writer Lawrie Zion, who was in the US when Hester finally quit Crowded House in 1994, has written of his friend's state. "Hester, despite his outwardly easygoing manner, had long been uncomfortable with the demands of being in a touring band, however successful," Zion wrote last week.

Afterwards, Hester told the ABC's Andrew Denton that rock'n'roll stardom was not what it was cracked up to be. "I gave up rock'n'roll so I could take up sex, drugs and rock'n'roll," he said.

Jeff Kennett, chairman of the national depression awareness organisation beyondblue, says that Hester's death highlights the need to help sufferers: "Paul's tragic death falls clearly into the category where he had everything to live for yet, internally, he was just bleeding."

While Hester was undoubtedly suffering, he was not unaware of treatment. Friends say he had taken anti-depressants for a time and found them useful, and had had lengthy periods of psychotherapy. "I recommend it to any 30-year-old man," Hester told Bourke. "Once you get to 30, you've got a bit of emotional baggage and I think you owe it to yourself to go - your mates can't help you."

He went once a week to unload his "most outrageous, deadly thoughts". "It was amazing. I had to get it off my chest with a completely independent person. He had no concept of Crowded House, hadn't really heard of us . . . It helped me work a few things out," he told Bourke.

Hester discussed depression and its causes and treatment with close friend John Clifforth. Clifforth, a doctor who met Hester in 1978, says: "It's no secret he was in therapy for a long time. He was interested in men's issues, how men neglect themselves." Clifforth remembers Hester's thoughtfulness, energy and passion for causes, including indigenous culture. "He thought about this stuff. He looked at consumerism and wondered how to make it more genuine. He could whip up people with a vision, hope one week, and the next sit at home screening calls saying he was having a bad day."

Hester did not feel he could make Clifforth's recent 50th birthday. "He just wanted to be alone, recharge his batteries," Clifforth says.

Like other friends, Clifforth was shocked by Hester's suicide. "Paul was like Peter Sellers with his brilliance," he says. "He seemed to be getting very productive. He was very excited with a number of projects. He was like Michael Leunig on speed."

Peter Wilmoth says Hester may have been "the most down-to-earth famous person you could meet", but he was troubled by aspects of success. Conway says Hester had a wonderful sense of the absurd and could handle fame, which seems true, but it is remarkable how many of his close friends liken him to entertainment giants who died prematurely.

Tony Hancock, as has already been noted, killed himself and Who drummer Keith Moon (the person Clifforth says Hester evoked when he first saw him drumming) drank himself to an early grave. Maybe it is that, as Jeff Kennett suggests, creative people and artists suffer a disproportionate amount of depression. But, unlike rock burn-outs, Hester was no narcissist who wanted to live hard, die young and leave a beautiful corpse. Apart from bouts of smoking cannabis, the usual excesses of rock'n'roll simply did not apply.

Could it be, as author William Styron wrote, that we all harbour something he called "darkness visible". Pat McGorry goes back to Freud and the notion of loss as a trigger for mourning, a normal state that, if not dealt with, can fester into depression. "Perhaps there are some who fail to grieve over their mid-life loss," he says. "These are central issues in literature, for writers like Camus." Camus famously wrote that the central, perhaps only, question is, s life worth living? Like Hester, he appreciated the absurd. He argued for an acceptance of reality that includes passion, and the subversion Lawrie Zion says marked Hester's humour.

Stephen Cummings knew Hester and his moods. The two of them, along with good mate and entertainer Brian Nankervis, regularly went for a swim at the St Kilda sea baths. "It was a guys' thing," Cummings says. "We'd swim and talk. Paul could be really moody, really closed up and closed off. Mostly we talked about flip things. I'm four years older than him and he liked to talk groups like (Cummings' band) the Sports."

Cummings feels there is a disconnect between media images and reality that confuses rock stars as well as their fans. "It is an age of grand gestures," he says. "Thank God, I was not that successful, and have to keep working. It helps you integrate into the world. In some ways, Paul didn't have to do that." Cummings recalls Hester really liked one of his songs, Fell From a Great Height, which has the line "something broke inside of me".

Clifforth talks of the way Hester could "turn it on, light up a room". "It was an amazing capacity and he really enjoyed it," he says. "He made others feel it and if he had not been able to, no one would give a ****."

Hester was best man at Clifforth's wedding. They saw each other every week for 25 years. Like the others, he emphasises just how much Hester enjoyed life, and imparted it to those around him. He could laugh at the irony of coming back to Melbourne after making it in the US only to find a sign beside the stage of the Middle Park Hotel reading: "Split House". And when Neil's big brother, Tim Finn, joined the band around 1990, it was Hester who, Bourke records, had the wit to deadpan, "Now we'll have someone to blame if the record stiffs".

Sadness, as Nick Cave notes, has a bad reputation. "We can't live if we are completely impervious to sadness," he has said. American poet Anne Sexton felt "creative people must not avoid the pain they get dealt". It is an idea with a long history. Philosopher Spinoza felt that sadness recoils from desire, and it is desire (for life) that is the real anti-depressant. Nineteenth-century neuroscientist George Gray thought it was a gradual "unlearning of optimism". Now sadness is confused with depression, and thought to be a chemical imbalance in the brain.

But while most scientists have turned away from notions such as soul-loss to describe the numbness that comes with depression, British biologist Dr Lewis Wolpert thinks it is a useful term. "With such distress we are at the very heart of being human," Wolpert writes in his best-selling Malignant Sadness. No one has yet found the cerebral substratum of passion and discontent.

Hester was aware of his moods and the treatment available, as well as good ways to live. As far back as 1989, he could admire a distinctly non-rock'n'roll lifestyle. As Bourke records, he got close to the founder of '60s band the Byrds, Roger McGuinn, describing him as a "clean-living dude who ate almonds and enjoyed playing and travelling with his wife". He told Bourke: "He had this untouchable, happy thing going down."

Mensline Australia is available 24 hours a day on 1300 789 978, Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251, Lifeline on 131 114.


Home to farewell Hester
April 3, 2005
The Sun-Herald

The former Crowded House band members cancelled concerts to fly into Australia yesterday for the funeral of drummer Paul Hester.

Bassist Nick Seymour and brothers Neil and Tim Finn flew in from London, still coming to terms with the suicide of their close friend.

In Melbourne today they will attend a small, private funeral for the 46-year-old drummer who hanged himself from a tree in a public park near his home in Elwood in Melbourne last weekend.

A week after his death, friends are still trying to understand what would drive him to leave behind his daughters Sunday, 10, and Olive, 8.

He had split with a girlfriend at the end of last year but remained on good terms with Mardi Sommerfield, the mother of his two daughters.

The next series of cable TV show The Max Sessions, which Hester hosted, will be dedicated to him.
Paul.....what can I say?

Depression does not discriminate.

Depression is sly and sneaky and makes you feel like you are alone in this pain and shouldn't share it with anyone, especially loved ones, as who would want to inflict any such pain or suffering on someone you love?

And the fact that you feel this bad has you thinking that you have become a burden on those around you - even though you cannot even begin to explain to them how deep down in the quagmire you find yourself sinking, trapped.....

Depression hides within you and does not like to be obvious, it is very secretive. It usually waits until you are completely alone before it surfaces, or totally suffocates your 'coping' persona.

Depression convinces you that it is going to keep coming back no matter how hard you work to defeat it, and for some, it is so convincing that you no longer feel you have the strength to fight it. What to do??

Depression defies rationale. It can alter your state of mind to the point where you are totally convinced that your loved ones are honestly going to be better off without you around. Depression blinds you to friends and loved one's attempts to show you they care. It deceives you so well...

Depression is such a personal experience and makes you feel a way that mere words cannot convey. The pain can be so overwhelming. You simply do not want to exist any longer. Depression will hide all the possible pathways out from you, because it wants to claim you once and for all...............a truly silent killer.

Paul, what you have done is to help me put this into words, and for the first time, to be honest with my loved ones as to how pointless it can all seem - and it does not for a moment mean you don't love them with all your heart.

I have never wanted to admit out aloud how bad it feels because I didn't want to hurt their feelings by thinking my love for them isn't strong enough to fight it. I hope this makes some sense.

Anyone outside my family are stunned to hear that I suffer from clinical depression and will rely on medication for the rest of my life, because I always come across as a happy, go-lucky, bubbly kind of person. (Another reason it took sooooo long to diagnose - hidden under a coping mechanism) The medication doesn't 'cure it' - just kind of takes the edge off it, and helps you have some 'normal' days - and hopefully keeps giving you the ability to keep fighting that incidious disease (and it is a disease) called Depression..

I figure you must have been in so much torment and pain, and reached that point of no return, but in doing so, I really hope you found at least a few last minutes of peace knowing that it was coming to an end.

Your legacy will not be forgotten - how could such a talented, clever, funny, special soul like you not touch so many millions (yep, think about it, millions) of lives around the world? That was a given. But in addition, your legacy now includes bringing this 'silent killer' known as Depression to light - and even though a person may not have experienced it, hopefully they will come to understand a little more, how sly and sneaky Depression can be. And for those who know that 'blackness', allow them to come out and talk about it openly, without fear of rejection, and may they know that they do not suffer alone - and in fact someone very close to them may have some insight into what they are going through as well. It affects so many more people than we ever imagined.

I figure that 'clinical depression' is simply a chemical imbalance, and that just like a diabetic who needs insulin, we need medication to correct that imbalance. No one should ever feel guilty about having to take medication if they need it.

When I found out about your decision to end your life here, I was in the middle of watching a M*A*S*H marathon - which ironically has the theme music "Suicide is Painless". I hunted down the lyrics which I found both chilling and comforting at the same time (which is un-nerving in itself).

'Suicide is Painless' by Mike Altman
Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...

that suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it's too late, and...


The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.


The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I'm beat
and to another give my seat
for that's the only painless feat.


The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows it grin, but...


A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
is it to be or not to be
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'


'Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
...and you can do the same thing if you please.

I also remember telling my husband that Neil Finn's songwriting made so much sense to me - which isn't surprising since apparently he has battled his own demons as well. You certainly don't need to understand depression to appreciate his lyrics - but I have a feeling it helps!!

Paul, along with many others who were not privileged enough to have met you in person, I still feel as though I have lost a friend. You will always be remembered and missed badly.

My heartfelt condolences to all those who knew and loved you.

RIP Black and White at last!

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