Yothu Yindi front man and co-writer of the band’s best-known anthem “Treaty”, Mr. Yunupingu, died overnight at his Northern Territory home, age 56.
Yunupingu, who is the first person from Arnhem Land to earn a University degree, was named Australian of the Year for 1992.
In 2012 Yunupingu and his Yothu Yindi band mates were inducted into the ARIAs Hall Of Fame, following a moving presentation by Paul Kelly and Peter Garrett. He received the award on behalf of the band saying, “Thank you Australia, Sydney and ARIA for the great honour… Yothu Yindi has been about messages and bringing people together, teaching Australians and everyone, and bringing them together.”
This morning Arts Minister Tony Burke released a statement saying, “The passing of [Mr] Yunupingu is a sad day for Australian music and indigenous culture.”
Mr Yunupingu had been battling kidney disease for years, after a history of chronic alcoholism contributed to advanced renal failure. In 2009 his recovery from alcoholism and ongoing battle with kidney disease was chronicled in a moving episode of Australian Story, in which Australian actor Jack Thompson said, “He’s been such a light to Indigenous Australia, he’s been a light to non-Indigenous Australia, he’s been an inspiration to young musicians.”
R.I.P. Mr. Yunupingu.
Photo: Screen-grab taken from the Treaty music video.