In Memoriam: Bones Hillman

Bones Hillman

Photo by Justin Heitman, via Midnight Oil’s Facebook Page

It’s another hard day for the bass world. Midnight Oil bassist Bones Hillman has passed away after a fight with cancer. He was 62 years old. The news was announced by the band’s Facebook page.

“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,” they wrote. “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.”

Born Wayne Stevens in New Zealand, Hillman began playing bass in the band the Masochists and several other punk bands before joining The Swingers in 1977. The group scored a Trans-Tasman hit but broke up in 1983.

In that time, the bassist moved to Australia, where he would eventually replace Peter Gifford in Midnight Oil during 1987. The personnel change came just before the release of Diesel and Dust, which proved to be their breakthrough album. It most notably scored a hit with “Beds Are Burning”.

Diesel and Dust featured Gifford on bass, but every album after was anchored by Hillman. Midnight Oil went on hiatus from 2002 to 2016, giving the bassist an opportunity to move back to New Zealand and then Nashville, Tennessee. In both locations, he kept busy recording with artists like Ann McCue, Dave Dobbyn, and Matthew Good. He rejoined Midnight Oil for their reunion and tour in 2017.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Bones Hillman.

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