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Encyclopedia entry for 'Neil Murray' LETTER:

StyleRock, country
 Albums: Calm and Crystal Clear (Festival/Infinity, 1989), These Hands (Aurora/Mushroom/Festival, 1993), Dust (ABC Music/EMI, 1996), The Wondering Kind (ABC Music/EMI, 1999).

History
Singer/songwriter Neil Murray was raised on a farm <%-2>at Lake Bolac, near Ararat in western Victoria. Murray's upbringing no doubt shaped his fascination for wide open spaces and a closeness to the Australian bush. In 1980, Murray travelled to the Northern Territory on a quest to discover the real Australia. He worked as a teacher, supply truck driver and outstation worker in the remote Western Desert Aboriginal communities of Papunya and Kintore. With George <%1>Rurrambu and Sammy and Gordon Butcher, Murray formed Warumpi Band. The band achieved significant success around Australia, touring with Midnight Oil on the 1986 Blackfella/Whitefella outback tour and issuing the acclaimed albums Big Name, No Blankets (1985) and Go Bush! (1987).<%0>

In 1988, Murray relocated to Sydney to record his debut solo album, Calm and Crystal Clear, with producer Mark Moffatt. With help from the likes of Midnight Oil's Peter Gifford and Andy Travers from The Happening Thang, Murray constructed an impressive debut. The music mixed rock and country in equal measure, which Murray described as `outback rock with a slab of transcontinental drivin' thrown in'. Calm and Crystal Clear (April 1989) produced three singles, `Calm and Crystal Clear'/`Too Many Love Songs' (March), `Let's Fall in Love Again'/`Wild Country' (August) and `Ocean of Re-gret', `Clever Man'/`Silver City', `Seven Days of Rain' (March 1990). Murray's songs were based around his outback experiences, and addressed the importance of Aboriginal people to Australia.

In order to tour, Murray formed The Rainmakers, which comprised James Cruikshank (keyboards, guitar; ex-Widdershins), Alex Hodgson (bass) and Bill Heckenberg (drums). The band completed 160 gigs around the country before Murray took a four-month break in the desert to take stock. Cruikshank went on to join The Cruel Sea. Neil Murray and the Rainmakers were back in action in mid-1990 as support for Midnight Oil on a national tour. Murray's second solo album, These Hands, included the singles `Far Away' (February 1993), `Holy Road' (May) and `Sing Your Destiny' (October). In 1993 Murray issued a novel, Sing for Me, Countryman, which became something of a cult classic. Former Rainmakers backing vocalist Christine Anu featured three Neil Murray songs on her debut album, Stylin' Up, including `My Island Home', which won Song of the Year at the 1995 Australian Performing Right Association (APRA) Awards ceremony.

In 1995, Murray toured Europe with the reconstituted Warumpi Band, and the band issued a new album, No More Humbug (June 1996). In May 1996, Murray issued his third solo album, Dust, as part of the ABC Music Songwriter Series. `This Bliss' was issued as a single. The album featured contributions from musicians like David Bridie (not drowning, waving), Chris Abrahams and Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil), plus backing vocalists Archie Roach, Christine Anu and Sally Dastey and Amy Saunders from Tiddas.

As well as continuing to tour with Warumpi Band, Neil Murray recorded a new, self-financed album in 1999 for release in February 2000. The Wondering Kind followed on from his other ventures, the play, King for this Place, and a new book of poetry and prose, One Man Tribe (published by Northern Territory University Press).



Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Ian McFarlane 1999
under licence from Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd

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