Midnight Oil Overview
Midnight Oil, known also as "The Oils" to fans, is an Australian rock band from Sydney originally performing as Farm from 1972 with drummer drum kit Rob Hirst, bass guitarist Andrew James and keyboard player keyboard instrument /lead guitarist Jim Moginie. While vocalist vocals Peter Garrett was studying at Australian National University in Canberra, and by 1975 the band was touring the east coast.
Important to their development was manager Gary Morris who was able to negotiate favourable contracts with tour promoters and record companies and frustrate rock journalists.
Midnight Oil’s albums which peaked in the Australian Top Ten were 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Red Sails in the Sunset Red Sails in the Sunset (album) , Species Deceases, Diesel and Dust, Blue Sky Mining, Scream in Blue, Earth and Sun and Moon, Breathe Breathe (Midnight Oil) , 20,000 Watt R.S.L., Redneck Wonderland, The Real Thing The Real Thing (Midnight Oil album) , Capricornia Capricornia (album) and Flat Chat. Australian Top Ten singles were "Power and the Passion Power and the Passion (song) ", "The Dead Heart", "Beds Are Burning" and "Blue Sky Mine". In December 2002, Garrett announced that he would seek to further his political career and Midnight Oil disbanded. But they would reform for two warm-up shows in Canberra leading up to their performance at one of the "Sound Relief" charity concerts, in honour of the victims of the "Black Saturday" fires and the "Queensland Floods".
Midnight Oil won eleven Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards ARIA Awards during its career, including induction into the Hall of Fame ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006. At the induction, ARIA chairman Denis Handlin described Midnight Oil as true legends that always led by example in a uniquely Australian way with music that is powerful, uncompromising, inspiring, entertaining and enduring.
In 1971, drummer drum kit Rob Hirst, bass guitarist Andrew James and keyboard player keyboard instrument /lead guitarist Jim Moginie were performing together, they called themselves Farm from 1972, and played covers of Cream Cream (band) , Creedence Clearwater Revival and Led Zeppelin. They placed an advert for a band member and Peter Garrett (ex-Rock Island Line) became their new vocalist vocals and synthesiser player synthesiser , to play progressive rock elements of Focus Focus (band) , Jethro Tull Jethro Tull (band) and Yes Yes (band) as well as their own material. Garret was studying at Australian National University in Canberra, so Farm was only a part-time band, they played for the northern Sydney surfing community and by 1975 the band was touring the east coast. In late 1976, Garrett moved to Sydney to complete his Law degree, Farm then became a full-time group and so changed its name to Midnight Oil by drawing a name out of a hat leaving behind Television, Sparta and Southern Cross. Midnight Oil came from the Jimi Hendrix song "Burning of the Midnight Lamp".After changing its name to Midnight Oil, the group began to develop an aggressive, punk - hard rock sound for their pub rock Pub rock (Australia) audiences. Guitarist Martin Rotsey joined in 1977 and Midnight Oil, with Morris, established their own record label Powderworks. In June 1978 they entered the Alberts Studio Albert Productions in Sydney with producer Keith Walker, from local radio station 2JJ Triple J , to record their debut eponymous album, Midnight Oil Midnight Oil (album) , which was released by Powderworks in November 1978 and peaked at #43 on the Australian albums charts. Midnight Oil's first single "Run by Night" followed in December, but had very little chart success peaking at #100 on the singles charts. The band built a dedicated fan base, initially restricted to Sydney, which was extended to other Australian cities through constant touring – performing some 200 gigs in their first year. They became known for their furious live performances, which featured the two guitarists Moginie and Rotsey, the drumming and vocals of Hirst and the presence of the towering, bald Garrett as lead singer.
Midnight Oil LP long play disappointed some critics as it did not capture their powerful live performances, with undemanding playing and Garret’s vocals sounding stilted. Their second album Head Injuries, released on Powderworks in October 1979, was produced by former Supercharge Supercharge (band) member Leszek Karski. It mixed solid guitar rock with progressive flourishes and was an improvement by highlighting the group’s strengths and growth. It peaked at #36 and by mid-1980 had achieved gold status. In April 1980 founding bass guitarist Andrew James left because of ill-health and was replaced by Peter Gifford (ex-Huntress, Ross Ryan Band). Further interest in Midnight Oil was generated by the po***r Bird Noises EP extended play , also produced by Karski, which peaked at #28 on the Australian singles charts. One of its four tracks was the surf-instrumental "Wedding Cake Island" named after the rock outcrop Wedding Cake Island in the ocean off Sydney's Coogee Beach. The band's third LP Place without a Postcard, released by CBS Records in November 1981, was recorded in Sus*** with English producer Glyn Johns (The Rolling Stones, The Who). Creative tensions between the band and Johns plagued the recording and the group were not totally happy with the outcome. Johns had an arrangement with A&M Records and they asked Midnight Oil to return to the studio to record material suitable for an American single release – they refused and returned to Australia. Place without a Postcard peaked at #12 on the albums charts and related singles "Don’t Wanna be the One" and "Armistice Day" reached the Top 40 in Australia.Driven largely by commercial pressures to stay with reliable chart-toppers and teenage pop sensations, the Australian music industry in the mid-1970s cast a dismissive eye toward most bands with an alternative alternative rock outlook. Although consistently championed by Sydney alternative rock station Double Jay Triple J and its FM band successor Triple J, Midnight Oil was almost totally ignored by Australia's mainstream commercial radio stations in their early career. Manager Gary Morris developed a reputation as one of the toughest managers and became notorious for banning critics or journalists, who were usually given free admission to concerts, for writing unfavourable reviews. Writer and critic Bruce Elder, in a mid-1980s newspaper review described their music as "narrow and xenophobic", and declared Midnight Oil were:
In retaliation, Morris banned Elder from Oils shows permanently. Elder later recanted, describing them as the only Australian band to have developed a truly Australian sound.
The frostiness of Midnight Oil's relationship with the traditional music media quickly saw the band develop a strong "street cred", and a reputation for making no compromises with the music industry. In the early 1980s the band was scheduled to appear on an episode of the all-powerful Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV pop show Countdown Countdown (Australian TV series) , but on the day of the show they were "bumped" from the line-up. Countdown required artists to mime their songs during 'live' performances, Midnight Oil and Morris insisted they perform completely live and have their sound engineer supervising - neither side backed down. According to Countdown producer Michael Shrimpton, the band had arrived late for rehearsal, and due to the show's very tight schedule and budget there was a strict policy that latecomers were not allowed to appear, and as such they were told they could not perform that day. In response, the group declared that they would never appear on the show, a promise they faithfully kept. Countdown presenter Molly Meldrum Ian Meldrum shaved his head bald, imitating Garrett, for its final show on 19 July 1987 and expressed regret that Midnight Oil had never appeared on the show.
Fans of the group were drawn to the band's "us and them" mindset, and fan loyalty to the Oils' ideas and music was fierce. Two venues at which they built significant fan bases from their early live performances were the Sydney northern beaches pub The Royal Antler at Narrabeen and the Bondi Lifesaver club near Sydney's Bondi Beach. Politically oriented rock of the style produced by the band was something of a new concept for the Australian music scene, and Peter Garrett quickly earned a reputation as one of the most charismatic and outspoken musicians in the country. He recalled that there were dangers in playing the pub scene:
10 to 1
Their Australian breakthrough and first international recognition came in 1982, with the release of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, which included the singles "Power and the Passion Power and the Passion (song) " and "Read about It". The album peaked at #3 and "Power and the Passion" peaked at #8. in UK it was released on CBS. Live concert footage of "Short Memory" was used in the Australian independent anti-nuclear war movie One Night Stand One Night Stand (1984 film) . A promotional video for "Best of Both Worlds", later on Best of Both Worlds Best of Both Worlds (Midnight Oil album) , received airplay worldwide on cable music TV station MTV.
Garrett ran as a Nuclear Disarmament Party (NDP) candidate for a NSW seat in the Australian Senate during the December 1984 federal election Australian federal election, 1984 , Garrett obtained 9.6% of votes but was unable to obtain the required quota of 12.5%. In April 1985, Garrett, with some 30 other members, walked out of the national conference and resigned from the NDP claiming it had been infiltrated by a Trotskyist group. Although unsuccessful in that federal election, Garrett was now a recognised public figure.
Goat Island Triple J concert
In January 1985, Midnight Oil performed Oils on the Water, a concert on Goat Island Goat Island (Port Jackson) in Port Jackson to celebrate Triple J's tenth birthday, before a select audience of fans who had won tickets in a radio competition. The concert was filmed, simulcast on ABC-TV and Triple J, and released on video, which was remastered for their 2004 Best of Both Worlds DVD.
Diesel and Dust
" single cover
In December 1985 a four-track EP Species Deceases produced with Francois Kevorkian was released by CBS/Columbia, The band was galvanised by the experiences and made these the basis of Diesel and Dust released in 1987 which was produced by Launay and Warne Livesey. "Beds Are Burning" was their biggest international hit single peaking at #6 in Australia, #6 on the UK singles charts. A fracas developed between Gary Morris, accepting awards for Midnight Oil, and former Countdown compere Ian Meldrum who was presenting: Meldrum objected to Morris making political commentary from the podium. Midnight Oil requested that all royalties from the song go to indigenous communities Indigenous Australians . In 1990 Midnight Oil played an impromptu lunchtime set in front of Exxon headquarters in New York with a banner reading, "Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick", protesting the Exxon Valdez oil spill the previous year. It peaked at #20 on the Billboard 200 #47 on Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on both their Mainstream and Modern Rock Tracks charts, The name refers to ghostwriters where famous writers wish to be anonymous. Ghostwriters' line-ups - both live and in the studio - changed considerably through the years, with only founders Hirst and Grossman being mainstays. Between successive album releases Hirst and Grossman returned to active involvement with Oils and Gurus respectively. Ghostwriters have released Ghostwriters (1991), Second Skin (1996), Fibromoon (1999) and Political Animal (2007). Gary Morris, accepting awards for Midnight Oil, was criticised for a speech lasting 20 minutes. and appeared on the Billboard 200. Top 50 on Billboard 200, They returned to #1 on the ARIA albums charts Later albums, Redneck Wonderland in 1998, The Real Thing The Real Thing (Midnight Oil album) in 2000 and Capricornia Capricornia (album) in 2002, all charted into the ARIA Top Ten. At the 2001 APRA Awards ceremony "Beds are Burning" was shown on video and introduced by Australian Democrats Senator Aden Ridgeway Aden Ridgeway as an indigenous Indigenous Australians spokesperson on Reconciliation. "Power and the Passion" was also listed in APRA's Top 30 best Australian songs APRA Top 30 Australian songs .Garrett announced his decision to quit Midnight Oil on 2 December 2002, to refocus on his political career. were false. However Ghostwriters, which was founded by drummer Hirst and Hoodoo Gurus bass guitarist Rick Grossman Richard Grossman (musician) , now included former Oils guitarist Martin Rotsey, they performed six tracks including the Oils' song "When the Generals Talk". While singer-turned politician Peter Garrett gave a speech introducing a reformed Crowded House.
Aside from Ghostwriters, Hirst has also been a member of Backsliders, performed with former Olympian Paul Greene Paul Greene (athlete) , with fellow Backsliders member Dom Turner on the The Angry Tradesmen and with Rotsey assisted on Jim Moginie's solo album Alas Folkloric in 2006.On 14 March 2009, a reformed Midnight Oil, with Garrett, headlined the Sound Relief concert in Melbourne. A concert was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on 14 March 2009 to raise money for victims of Victoria's February bushfire disaster February 2009 Victorian bushfires . The event was held simultaneously with a concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Prior to the Sound Relief concert, Midnight Oil played two "warm up" shows in Canberra on March 12 and 13, entitled "Up Close In The Capital". Both shows were sold out. Speculation about censorship of the band's setlist choices for these shows proved to be fruitless as the band played some of their most political hits, including US Forces, When The Generals Talk, The Dead Heart, Blue Sky Mine, and Read About It.
In a Channel V interview prior to the Sound Relief concert, Hirst joked that he wished Midnight Oil could reform for reasons other than a natural disaster.*Rob Hirst — drums drum kit , vocals (1976 / 2002)
*Andrew James — bass guitar (1976 / 1980)
*Jim Moginie — lead guitar, keyboards keyboard instrument (1976 / 2002)
*Peter Garrett — lead vocals, harmonica (1976 / 2002)
*Martin Rotsey — lead guitar (1976 / 2002)
*Peter Gifford — bass guitar, vocals (1980 / 1987)
*Bones Hillman — bass guitar, vocals (1987 / 2002)
*Gary Morris — manager band manager (1976 / 2002)In July 2009 Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning" came in at #97 in Triple J Hottest 100 of all time, voted by the Australian public.
* 1978: Midnight Oil Midnight Oil (album)
* 1979: Head Injuries
* 1981: Place without a Postcard
* 1982: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
* 1984: Red Sails in the Sunset Red Sails in the Sunset (album)
* 1987: Diesel and Dust
* 1990: Blue Sky Mining
* 1993: Earth and Sun and Moon
* 1996: Breathe Breathe (Midnight Oil)
* 1998: Redneck Wonderland
* 2002: Capricornia Capricornia (album)
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