Ex-Yothu Yindi frontman Dr M Yunupingu has passed away overnight in his Yirrkala home in Eastern Arnhem Land, following a long battle with kidney disease. The musician and educator was 56.
Yunupingu founded Yothu Yindi in 1986, with the group releasing 6 albums between 1988 and 2000. He and the group experienced mainstream success with their single Treaty in 1991, the first song by a predominantly Aboriginal band to chart in Australia. Yunupingu was named Australian Of The Year in 1992 for his work in building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2012.
Yunupingu suffered from advanced renal failure and was receiving regular dialysis treatment from Darwin hospital. In December, he was taken to hospital after collapsing at home following his Aria Hall of Fame induction in Sydney.
His biographer, Robert Hillman, told ABC News Breakfast, “Music played an important part in the life of the Yolngu people all together. They are very musical people. It was part of Mandawuy’s vision that music could become a political agent in making the broad mainstream Australia more aware of the Indigenous culture of his people.”
Yunupingu was the uncle of acclaimed Yolngu singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Music Feeds sends our condolences to Dr M Yunupingu’s family, friends and fans.