Garrett Quits Midnight Oil

Singer fronted Australian band for more than twenty-five years

December 3, 2002 12:00 AM ET

After more than twenty-five years fronting the Australian rock ensemble Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett has left the band. The split was amicable, as the politically minded Garrett plans to turn back to environmental activism.

"The last twenty-five years have been incredibly fulfilling for me, and I leave with the greatest respect for the whole of Midnight Oil," Garrett said. "The band has brought a lot of pleasure and meaning to people's lives, including my own. But it is time for me to move on and immerse myself in those things which are of deep concern to me and which I have been unable of fully apply myself to up to now."

Garrett first joined drummer Rob Hirst and guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey, then known as the Farm, in Sydney in 1976, a year before finishing his law degree. The band took on bassist Andrew James later that year and became Midnight Oil. They recorded a self-titled, independently released debut album in 1978, and made their major-label debut with 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 five years later. The band generated a buzz from its live performances, with Garrett's striking, tall, lanky and bald figure dancing at its center. Midnight Oil broke through in the U.S. in 1987 with Diesel and Dust, a record that climbed to Number Twenty-one behind the politically charged single "Beds Are Burning" (Number Seventeen). Blue Sky Mining was released three years later and debuted at Number Twenty.

The band continued to record throughout the Nineties, though their American constituency had boiled down to a smaller, more dedicated clan. Garrett also took work as the Australian Conservation Foundation's president in the early Nineties, in addition to working with Greenpeace. Recording sessions happened less frequently, and when Midnight Oil released Capricornia earlier this year, it was their first record in four years.

The band's remaining members -- including new bassist Dwayne "Bones" Hillman, who joined in 1990 -- plan to continue "in another guise at some point," though they didn't specify in what capacity. "We've had a unique relationship and special chemistry for so many years," the band said, "one too good to lose."

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