Australia today mourns the loss of a great Australian musician, Dr G. Yunupingu, who passed away yesterday in Royal Darwin Hospital at age 46 after a long battle with illness.
Dr G. Yunpingu is being remembered today as one of the most important figures in Australian music history, blind from birth and emerging from the remote Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem land to sell over half a million copies of his albums across the world, singing in his native Yolngu language.
A talented multi-instrumentalist, he played drums, keyboards, guitar and didgeridoo, but it was the clarity of his singing voice that attracted rave reviews. Although his solo career brought him wider acclaim, he was also formerly a member of Yothu Yindi, and later Saltwater Band.
His debut album cemented him as the Australian voice of a generation, hitting triple platinum in Australia, silver in the UK and charting in multiple other countries across the globe. The highest selling Indigenous artist in history, Dr G. Yunupingu released two subsequent top five studio albums Rrakala and The Gospel Album, achieved a swag of ARIA Awards, performed across the globe for audiences including Queen Elizabeth II and Barak Obama and released the first Indigenous language single to reach the top five, all the while continuing to call Elcho Island home.
Dr G. Yunupingu also gave back to his community as the driving force behind the G. Yunupingu Foundation, creating opportunities for young people across the Northern Territory. His legacy as a musician and community leader will continue as his life’s work continues its positive impact on Elcho Island, The Northern Territory, Australia and the world. Tributes have begun pouring in from Australian musicians, with Peter Garrett saying “My dear friend Dr Yunupingu – a truly great musician – is gone. Very sad news. Too young, so much left to give. Heart goes out to family.”