The first time I saw Wayne Stevens – better known by his stage name Bones Hillman – was at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on 26 September 1987, making his debut as Midnight Oil’s new bass player. Tall and upright, he was standing to the left of the band’s even taller singer, Peter Garrett, who introduced him as “the next best thing in the stratosphere” to the man Hillman replaced, Peter Gifford.
It was true that Hillman didn’t drive the Oils quite as hard as Gifford, an ex-carpenter who wore overalls on stage and played bass like a competition woodchopper. Hillman took over as the Oils were hitting their commercial peak, for the Diesel And Dust tour, and with his pitch-perfect singing and nimble fingers, he was the man for the more melodic and mature phase of the band that followed.
Yesterday, via a tweet, the band announced Hillman’s passing from cancer at his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, aged 62: “He was the bassist with the beautiful voice, the band member with the wicked sense of humour, and our brilliant musical comrade.” Hillman had played on every Midnight Oil recording from Blue Sky Mining (1990) to their just-released The Makarrata Project, which debuted at No.… Read more..