Midnight Oil’s Bass Player Bones Hillman Dies at 62

Bones Hillman, longtime bass player with seminal Australian rock outfit Midnight Oil, died Saturday (Nov. 9) at his home in Milwaukee after a battle with cancer. He was 62.

“We’re grieving the loss of our brother Bones Hillman,” reads a statement from Midnight Oil. “He was the bassist with the beautiful voice, the band member with the wicked sense of humour, and our brilliant musical comrade.”

Born Wayne Stevens in Auckland, New Zealand, the rocker had a trans-Tasman hit in 1981 with The Swingers’ infectious song “Counting The Beat,” and he appeared in Gillian Armstrong’s music comedy film from 1982, Starstruck.

Later, Hillman would step onto the biggest stages of them all when he joined Midnight Oil in 1987, replacing Peter Gifford. With Hillman in the lineup, The Oils etched their name in the history books.

He took his place on stage with his bandmates in Sydney in 2006 when The Oils were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, again in 2009 when the rockers reunited for the Sound Relief fundraiser at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and in 2018, when the group was feted with the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music.

And when Peter Garrett and Co. got the band back together for The Great Circle 2017 World Tour, Hillman took his place at front of stage.

Hillman and Midnight Oil “did thousands of gigs together,” reads the band’s statement.

The Kiwi musician played on 1990’s Blue Sky Mining, which peaked at No. 1 on Australia’s albums chart, and five subsequent studio albums including the latest release The Makarrata Project.

He passed away Saturday Nov. 9, the same day the ARIA Albums Chart was published, featuring The Makarrata Project as the new No. 1.

Tributes poured in for the late artist. “An incredible loss. Just yesterday Midnight Oil topped the ARIA albums chart. Our thoughts are with his families, friends and band mates,” reads a statement from ARIA.

Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe wrote, “R.I.P Bones Hillman. What a grand chap he was. Sad sad news.”

Midnight Oil “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,” say Hillman’s surviving bandmates. “Haere rā Bonesy from Jim, Martin, Peter & Rob.”

Ariana Grande, Midnight Oil Burn Bright on Australia’s Charts

Midnight Oil lights up the Australian albums chart with The Makarrata Project and, in doing so, stops Ariana Grande from snagging a rare chart double.

The Oils, as they’re affectionately known Down Under, take out a fifth No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart with The Makarrata Project, their first new music in 18 years.

The Sydney band’s 14th Top Ten album is their first leader since the hits set 20,000 Watt R.S.L. from October 1997 and their first studio album to land at No. 1 since Blue Sky Mining, back in March 1990.

The Makarrata Project features the band collaborating with Indigenous artists and First Nations people including Jessica Mauboy, Kev Carmody, Troy Cassar-Daley, Dan Sultan and Frank Yamma, and includes the previously-released numbered, “Gadigal Land.”

It’s a bittersweet result for the politically-charged rock band. Bass player Bones Hillman, who joined the band in 1987 and has been with them ever since, died Saturday (Nov. 7) after a battle with cancer.

With Peter Garrett and Co. claiming top spot, Ariana Grande has to settle for a No. 2 bow with Positions, though its title track enters a second week at No. 1 on the ARIA Singles Chart and is one of eight tracks from the LP to impact this week’s Top 50.

The U.S. pop star previously ruled the albums survey with My Everything (September 2014), Dangerous Woman (May 2016) and Sweetener (August 2018).

In a busy week for new releases, Sam Smith’s third album Love Goes opens at No. 3, one place below its predecessor Thrill Of It All, from November 2017.  The British singer ruled the chart with their debut In The Lonely Hour, from April 2015.

Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle have reunited and returned to the Australian albums chart with The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo. A re-recording of the alternative rock outfit’s first EP from 1986, Easter Bunny bows at No. 6, easily a career-high. It’s Mr. Bungle’s first Top 50 entry since Disco Volante peaked at No. 40 in November 1995.

Also arriving in the Top 10 is Bring Me The Horizon’s Post Human: Survival Horror, new at No. 7. The British metalcore act hit No. 1 with each of their last four albums: There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let’s Keep It A Secret (from October 2010), Sempiternal (April 2013), That’s The Spirit (September 2015) and Amo (February 2019).