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Fans mourn death of Paul Hester -

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Fans mourn death of Paul Hester

Reporter: Geoff Hutchison

MAXINE MCKEW : Australian music is in shock today at news of the death of Paul Hester at the age of
just 46. The musician was found dead in a Melbourne park on Saturday night and websites are talking
of suicide. As a drummer, first for Split Enz and then Crowded House, Hester was counted among the
greats of Australian popular music. And for a man who was known for his warmth and sense of humour,
the manner of Paul Hester's death has perplexed friends and fans alike. Geoff Hutchison reports on
the passing of a rare talent.

GRANT HANSEN, MUSICIAN: Apparently his mum taught him at an early age how to play the drums. When
it comes to drummers he's not just one of the best in Australia, he's one of the best in the world.
To play with Paul was like sitting in a Rolls-Royce.

IAN 'MOLLY' MELDRUM: Paul just liked life. All the things he did he made the best of it.

PAUL HESTER: We are on television aren't we? We are on-air so I can't do stuff like that!

JACK HOWARD, 'HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS' : He's Ringo Starrish. The funny man in there and kind of
unsung musical element of the band, I suppose. I mean Ringo's drumming was such a signature part of
the 'Beatles'. I think Paul's a lot the same as well. He's more known for his comedy and his antics
and all of that. He's a fantastic musician. A three-piece band like that with gun musicians like
Neil Finn and Nick Seymour - you can't afford just to be the funny guy at the back.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Paul Hester was the beating heart of Crowded House. Although he sat behind Neil
Finn and Nick Seymour, Whenever he wanted the spotlight he simply stepped up and stole it.

NEIL FINN, 'CROWDED HOUSE': Glad you could all make it tonight It's an unconventional kind of club
this isn't it?

PAUL HESTER: Yes, it cost nothing to get in and $12.30 to get out.

DROR EREZ, 'CROWDED HOUSE' He was really the subtle guy that was a front man at the back of the
stage. In some ways Crowded House were probably a band of three people that were all frontmen in
their own way. I mean, for my money, in my time in this country, 22 years, they are certainly the
best outfit I've ever seen play. So they are an incredible dynamic between them.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: News of the death of Paul Hester has absolutely rattled the Australian music
industry. His more intimate circle in Melbourne, and every fan who has ever held a cigarette
lighter aloft at a Crowded House concert. On Saturday evening he'd gone for a walk with his dogs to
Elsternwick Park. He did not return home and police recovered his body there on Sunday morning.
There were no suspicious circumstances.

GRANT HANSEN: I had a 40th birthday on Saturday night and had the PA system and the drum kit and
the drum kit was for Paul. You know, we were having a party and obviously other things were
happening elsewhere. It's a huge loss. It's a tragic loss. Paul will be sadly missed by a lot, a
lot of people.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Grant Hansen has been a friend of Paul Hester for many years.

GRANT HANSEN: I'm still in shock, really. Just coming to terms with it. I feel for his family and
his little girls and the guys from Crowded House and and all the people who ever met Paul ...and
his management just everyone in general. So many people he'd know, he'd know thousands of people.
I'm sure everyone's got a good story to tell about Paul. I'm sure there would be a funny one and
happy one.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Can you make any sense of it at all?

GRANT HANSEN: I don't think you can in these situations. People that are not well, or maybe suffer
depression, you don't know what goes through their mind.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Many industry figures were too distraught to talk about Paul Hester today, but
those who did spoke of a man universally admired, not just for the success he achieved, but the
manner in which he enjoyed it and his absolute determination to share it. Former Hunters &
Collectors band member, Jack Howard.

JACK HOWARD: We would catch up every few months for a coffee or a play. The times I caught up with
him, he was incredibly supportive. In the first solo recordings I embarked on myself were at his
studio. He was the most encouraging of everybody at the time. You - he kind of wished me well for
all of that. Other times when you're going through a lot of crap, he would be a really good person
to talk to.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Did he ever take rock'n'roll stardom too seriously?

JACK HOWARD: Never. Never. There was a time when I was having a bite to eat with him one day and he
said "Grant, I wish I could share all these things I've done with other people and wish I could
give you some and my other friend here some and let everyone get in on it. I want that for my
fans."

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Paul Hester's musical pulse came from his mother, Anne, a jazz drummer. After
hitting the tubs far harder than he ever hit the books, he left school to pursue a career in music.
In 1980 he came part of 'Deckchairs Overboard' and three years later auditioned with Split Enz.

MAL GREEN, 'SPLIT ENZ": He was a very funny guy. He was a great drummer. I thought he was a man
with a generous spirit. I had a drum kit of mine stolen a few years ago and I had a big gig and he
called me up and offered me some of his drum kit. It was touching. It made me realise - it's like a
bond - it's like we've all served in the same regiment through the years.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: Even though Split Enz would fold the following year, Paul Hester forged a musical
partnership with Neil Finn which produced Crowded House, and a decade of spectacular pop music.

DROR EREZ: I honestly think they were the Australian Beatles. It's easy to say, but I will bet my
bottom dollar there will never be another band like them. The day that Paul left the band, the band
was finished.

NEIL FINN, 'CROWDED HOUSE': Bands always seem to splinter and disintegrate in Atlanta. At least
Split Enz did. Phil Judd left in Atlanta and Paul Hester left in Atlanta. Paul waved the bus
goodbye and it was a very strange day.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: When Crowded House finished emotionally on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in
1996, Paul Hester had already thrown himself into a myriad of projects. There was Hessie's Shed on
ABC TV, bands both serious and experimental, and enormous commitment to indigenous music and always
encouragment for those with a song in their head. For many many people, it's today hard to
reconcile the sad and sudden death of a man today so widely admired.

IAN 'MOLLY' MELDRUM: I guess we all wished and hoped that maybe one day the boys would get back
together again and do one more tour or album. That won't happen now, obviously.

DROR EREZ: I remember a guy who musically was peerless. Unbelievable musician and unbelievable
drummer. I remember a guy who could stop a room with a saying or joke and was always the centre of
attention.

GRANT HANSEN: Basically he's a national treasure. He is part of Australian musical history. He made
a significant contribution.

GEOFF HUTCHISON: In a life filled with memorable music, and just as many quips, Paul Hester was
often asked about comparisons between Crowded House and the Beatles. "There's no comparison," he'd
say, "there are four of them and only three of us."