The Melbourne native was born to Mulga Mike Hester, a legendary bushman, and Ann Hester, a jazz drummer who taught him how to play percussion instruments at an early age. Hester’s passion for music overrode any interest in education, and he dropped out of school to pursue a career in show business.
Hester joined the New Zealand New Wave group Split Enz in 1983. Although the band dissolved less than a year later, Hester and the group’s singer/songwriter Neil Finn soon hooked up with bass player Nick Seymour and guitarist/keyboardist Craig Hooper to form the Mullanes. When Hooper left the band in 1985, the trio moved to Los Angeles, signed a record contract with Capitol Records and changed the band’s name to Crowded House.
One of Australia’s most successful bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Crowded House found international fame with the hits “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong.” Hester quit the band in 1994, citing declining motivation and the pressures of a grueling tour schedule. The band released four studio albums before breaking up in 1996.
In recent years, Hester played with several bands, including Rose Amongst Thorns, the Chris Bailey Combo, Ultrasound, Largest Living Things and Tarmac Adam. He hosted The Music Max Sessions, a series of intimate concerts featuring top-shelf music acts, for Australia’s cable music channel Music Max, and enjoyed a recurring role as Chef Paul on the children’s TV show, “The Wiggles.” Two weeks ago, he appeared on the SBS music quiz show, “RockWiz.”
Hester took his two dogs for a walk on Friday and hanged himself from a tree in Elsternwick Park near his home in Melbourne. His body was found the next day. Hester is survived by his two daughters, aged eight and 10.