Aussie band Midnight Oil announced that Bones Hillman, the band’s bassist since 1987, had passed away at his Milwaukee home at the weekend. He had been battling cancer for some time.
Born in 1958 and named Wayne Stevens, the Kiwi bassist was a regular on the New Zealand music scene, after playing with the Masochists and later the Swingers. He moved with the Swingers to Australia and it was there that he joined Midnight Oil to replace Peter Gifford.
Hillman joined the Oils before the release of their sixth album ‘Diesel and Dust’ – an album which would bring the band international acclaim. The album included the song ‘Beds Are Burning’ – a rock lament for the plight of Australia’s indigenous people. And a number one hit for the band around the world.
The band went on hiatus in 2002 when lead singer Peter Garrett went to pursue a political career. Hillman took the opportunity to move to the States, settling for some years in Nashville. In 2017 Hillman was back with the band for their reunion tour and he featured on their most recent album ‘The Makarrata Project’ released just last month.
The band’s statements on Twitter read, “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/qP5EJqZowL
— Midnight Oil (@midnightoilband) November 8, 2020