Retro Action, May 30, 1990: 'Midnight Oil' Takes on Exxon Valdez

Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.

Today's Video Retro Action comes from Australian punk rockers Midnight Oil, who played an impromptu concert on this day in front of Exxon's New York offices to protest their disastrous Valdez oil spill a year earlier.

Performing with a banner that read "Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick", lead singer Peter Garrett railed against the corporation for their myriad environmental atrocities.

"You can't treat the Earth like a garbage dump!" yelled the towering 6'6 singer to a cheering crowd.

Trained as a lawyer, the Australian-born singer and activist made a name for himself by tackling charged political issues, both personally or musically. For example, the band's 1987 hit, "Beds are Burning", dealt with Aboriginal land rights. 

"I don't need to wheel out a thousand scientists to sense what's happening on the planet," said Garrett in People. "I can taste the air. I can feel the wind. And I know I have to be part of the healing process."

However, after nearly twenty years of belting politically-charged hits, Garrett's musical career has been on hiatus since his 2004 election to Australia's Parliament as a member of the Labor Party.

"The band has brought a lot of pleasure and meaning to people's lives, including my own," said the singer in a statement. "But it is time for me to move on and immerse myself in those things which are of deep concern to me and which I have been unable to fully apply myself to up to now."

Garrett currently serves as the Minister of Environment Protection, Heritage, and the Arts.  


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