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Warumpi Band

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The Warumpi Band is an Australian band from the bush, coming from Papunya, Northern Territory, Australia.

The band was formed in 1980 by Neil Murray, a Victorian “whitefella” working in the region as a schoolteacher and labourer, George Burarrwanga, from Elcho Island, and local boys Gordon and Sammy Butcher. Over the years, many different people played in the band at various times. The only consistent elements were Murray and Burarrwanga, with Sammy Butcher generally being available so long as band commitments didn’t take him too far from home for too long.

In 1983, the band recorded “Jailanguru Pakarnu”, the first song using an aboriginal language in a rock’n’roll format. This created some mainstream media interest, and the band made a few trips to the big cities of Melbourne and Sydney for gigs and TV appearances.

In Sydney, they built up a loyal following in the Sydney northern beaches pub rock scene, and played as support to Midnight Oil. In 1985 the band released their debut album “Big Name, No Blankets”, featuring the track “Blackfella/Whitefella”.

In 1986, Midnight Oil and the Warumpi Band embarked on the “Blackfella/Whitefella Tour” which brought one of Australia’s biggest bands to some of the country’s remotest locations. The resulting Midnight Oil album, “Diesel and Dust” was an international hit and brought the issues of land rights and aboriginal reconciliation into the national spotlight.

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