Midnight Oil Bassist Bones Hillman Dies at 62

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Bones Hillman (Photo via Midnight Oil’s Facebook page)

Bones Hillman, the longtime bass guitarist and backing vocalist for Midnight Oil died November 7, 2020, after battling cancer. The band announced the news on their Facebook page; Hillman was 62.

Hillman, born Wayne Stevens, joined the Australian rock band in 1987 replacing Peter Gifford. The group were originally formed in 1972 in Sydney as Farm and changed their name to Midnight Oil in 1976. They issued their self-titled debut in 1978 and achieved worldwide acclaim nearly a decade later with the release of 1987’s Diesel and Dust which included the single “Beds Are Burning.” Hillman replaced Gifford after the band recorded the album.

The group’s complete statement: We’re grieving the loss of our brother Bones Hillman, who has passed away at his home in Milwaukee today after a cancer battle. He was the bassist with the beautiful voice, the band member with the wicked sense of humour, and our brilliant musical comrade.

Bones joined Midnight Oil way back in 1987 after stints in various Kiwi bands, most notably, The Swingers. He played and sang on every Midnight Oil recording since Blue Sky Mining and we did thousands of gigs together.

We will deeply miss our dear friend and companion and we send our sincerest sympathies to Denise, who has been a tower of strength for him.

Haere rā Bonesy from Jim, Martin, Peter & Rob.

Watch the band perform “Beds Are Burning” in 1989

After the band, with Hillman, toured the world behind Diesel and Dust, they returned to the studio to record 1990’s Blue Sky Mining. Led by the (sort of) title track, “Blue Sky Mine,” it sold well and at #20 actually reached one spot higher on the U.S. sales chart than its predecessor.

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2020

In 2017, the group reformed for their first World Tour in over two decades. In keeping with the band’s longstanding commitments, their carbon footprint during “The Great Circle” World Tour was fully offset and sustainability initiatives were undertaken at all shows. They continued their collaborations with environmental organizations including Greenpeace, supporting their campaigns on crucial issues like dangerous climate change and the imminent threats to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

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