The band that became Midnight Oil formed as Farm on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in 1972. Changing their name to their more famous moniker in 1976, they released their self-titled debut album two years later.
After releasing Head Injuries (1979) and Place Without A Postcard (1981), the band made their first Top Ten appearance in Australia with the release of fourth album, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, in 1982, peaking at #3. Taken from the album, ‘Power and the Passion’ became the first Midnight Oil single to hit the Top Ten when it peaked at #8 in May 1983.
Released in November 1984, Red Sails In The Sunset became Midnight Oil’s first #1 album on the ARIA Charts, spending four straight weeks in the top spot. The album included the singles ‘When The Generals Talk’ and ‘Best of Both Worlds’, neither of which charted.
A year later, the band scored their first and only #1 on the ARIA Singles Chart when the EP Species Deceases spent six weeks in the top spot between December 1985 and January 1986.
Mid-1986 also saw Midnight Oil hit the Top Ten with the single ‘The Dead Heart’ (#4 Aug. ’86). It gave the group their first ever ARIA Awards recognition, when they were nominated for Best Group at the first ARIAs, held in March 1987.
Diesel And Dust followed a year later in 1987, spending six weeks at #1 in August/September of that year. As well as ‘The Dead Heart’, the album included the singles ‘Beds Are Burning’ (#6 Sept. ’87) and ‘Put Down That Weapon’ (#32 Feb. ’88). At the 1988 ARIAs, Midnight Oil were nominated for five awards, winning Song Of The Year and Single Of The Year for ‘Beds Are Burning’ and Best Cover Art for Diesel And Dust.
In 1990, Blue Sky Mining spent two weeks at #1, becoming the band’s third consecutive chart-topper. Midnight Oil’s seventh album included the singles ‘Blue Sky Mine’ (#8 Mar. ’90), ‘Forgotten Years’ (#26 Jun. ’90), ‘King Of The Mountain’ (#25 Oct. ’90) and ‘Bedlam Bridge’ (#46 Nov. ’90). The album earned the group their largest haul of ARIA Awards, taking home six trophies at the 1991 event including Album Of The Year, Best Group and Best Cover Art.
Midnight Oil took out their fifth Top Ten album when they peaked at #3 with the live album Scream In Blue (#3 May ’92). The album included tracks recorded over a ten-year period spanning 1982 and 1992.
Earth And Sun And Moon, Midnight Oil’s eighth album, appeared in April 1993 and peaked at #2. It included their last Top Ten single, ‘Truganini’ (#10 Mar. ’93). The band were nominated for three ARIAs on the back of the album.
Breathe became the band’s sixth straight studio album to hit the Top Ten when it debuted at #3 in October 1996. The only single from Midnight Oil’s ninth studio album to hit the Top 50 was ‘Underwater’ (#22 Sept. ’96).
The compilation 20,000 Watt RSL - The Midnight Oil Collection gave the band their fourth #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart when it spent one week in the top spot in October 1997. Spanning the first 20 years of the group’s career, the album also included two tracks that would appear on their next studio album.
Midnight Oil’s tenth album Redneck Wonderland debuted at #7 in July 1998. It gave the band three ARIA nominations that year with Magoo winning Engineer Of The Year for his work on the album.
Another live album, The Real Thing, followed in July 2000, peaking at #7. The band’s cover of Russell Morris’ 1969 classic ‘The Real Thing’ gave the album its name and was also released as a single, peaking at #48; their last Top 50 entry.
One more studio album - Capricornia (#8 Mar. ’02) - followed before Midnight Oil announced their split in December 2002. Lead singer Peter Garrett served as the member for the Sydney seat of Kingsford Smith in the Australian House of Representatives between 2004 and 2013.
In the years that followed their split, the band reunited for live performances in 2005 and 2009. They won Best Music DVD at the 2004 ARIAs for Best Of Both Worlds.
In 2006, they were inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame, with Silverchair performing ‘Don't Wanna Be the One’ in their honour. At the climax of Silverchair’s performance, singer Daniel Johns spray-painted “PG 4 PM” on the set.
Midnight Oil announced their reunion in 2016. The following year, they performed 77 concerts in 16 countries on their world tour, wrapping it up with gigs right around Australia. The tour was commemorated with the live album Armistice Day: Live At The Domain, Sydney (#5 Nov. ’18).
On 7 August 2020, Midnight Oil released their first song in 18 years, ‘Gadigal Land’. The mini-album The Makarrata Project followed in October 2020 and featured collaborations with indigenous artists including Jessica Mauboy, Troy Cassar-Daley, Dan Sultan, Tasman Keith and Kev Carmody.