Bones Hillman has died today at the age of 62 after his battle with cancer came to a tragic end.
The Midnight Oil star – known as “the bassist with the beautiful voice” – died at home in Milwaukee in the early hours of Sunday morning.
In a statement his bandmates said: “We’re grieving the loss of our brother. 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.”
They went on: “We will deeply miss our dear friend and companion and we send our sincerest sympathies to (his wife) Denise, who has been a tower of strength for him.
“Haere rā Bonesy from Jim, Martin, Peter & Rob.”
Bones – real name Wayne Stevens – had been part of the band since replacing Peter Gifford as bass player in 1987, and sang on every record since 1990’s Blue Sky Mining.
Midnight Oil went on hiatus in 2002 when singer Peter Garrett moved into politics, but regrouped in 2018 for its reunion tour. Last year Bones rejoined his bandmates to record their mini album The Makarrata Project, featuring indigenous voices, which was released just a week before Bones’ death.
He will narrowly miss out on Midnight Oil being awarded Sydney Peace Foundation’s gold medal for human rights later this month, with foundation chair Archie Law praising the band’s “commitment to the pursuit of human rights over an extended period … with a powerful, far-reaching impact”.
“This medal is in recognition of that relentless focus, and in particular for their environmental activism, their humanity and their drive to promote justice through both their music and their actions,” he added.
Tributes have been flooding in overnight, including from Russell Crowe, who tweeted: “R.I.P Bones Hillman. What a grand chap he was. Sad sad news.”
Music writer Andrew McMillen wrote: “Mourning the death of Midnight Oil’s Bones Hillman, who described himself thus: ‘I’m a simple musician: all I want to do is play my bass, go on tour with new people, maybe get to sit up front with the driver now and again.'”
And news anchor Daniel Gibson added: “Sad to hear the passing of Bones Hillman. The band upstairs has a new member… may the ‘oil’ in your lamp burn bright. Thanks for bringing ‘you’ to the oils.”
You can leave your tributes to Bones in the comments below.