MIDNIGHT Oil frontman Peter Garrett has led tributes to Doc Neeson, describing the Angels singer as a ‘‘big man with a huge heart’’.
Neeson died yesterday, aged 67.
"A mighty talent ... You showed us how," Garrett tweeted.
Angels drummer Buzz Bidstrup took to Facebook to offer condolences.
‘‘It is with deep sadness that we say goodbye to Bernard ‘‘Doc’’ Neeson today. He left this world early this morning and I join music lovers everywhere in mourning this great man,’’ he posted.
Brent Eccles, who also played drums in the band for 20 years and managed the Angels for a period, described Neeson as a ‘‘one-off’’.
‘‘I loved working with him. Anyone who ever had a chance to work with him was eager because there was never going to be another one like him. And there’s not.’’
Eccles said watching audiences react to Neeson on stage was phenomenal.
His most memorable performances included the Newcastle Earthquake Relief concert in 1990, at which he climbed the scaffolding with a Knights flag, and the Narara Music Festival at Somersby in 1983.
WATCH DOC IN ACTION AT NARARA 83 HERE:
‘‘He never gave less than 100per cent every night and we [the Angels] would often be playing six nights a week,’’ Eccles said.
‘‘He was dramatic, and he directed the traffic, and was not just a great lead singer but a great frontman, very theatrical and unique. A real one-off.’’
Screaming Jets bassist Paul Woseen, whose band toured nationally with the Angels, said he was sad to hear the news but feared the worst after last seeing Neeson about six months ago.
‘‘The last time I saw him he looked worse than the time before – it looked like the end was imminent,’’ he said.
Away from the stage, Woseen said Neeson was a different person.
‘‘He was quiet but friendly ... You do put on a different sort of suit so to speak before you hit the stage.’’
Alberts managing director David Albert described Neeson as one of the label’s ‘‘greatest and most loved creative innovators, but also a true friend’’.
‘‘Even within the last few months, Doc was in the building sharing his infectious passion with all at Alberts,’’ he said in a statement.
‘‘Long after Doc is laid to rest, his distinctive sound and contribution to the local and international music industry will resonate for generations to come.’’
Neeson is survived by his partner Annie Souter and four children, Dzintra, Daniel, Aidan and Kieran. It was his sons who confirmed his death with this Facebook post:
‘‘We love you Dad. You couldn’t have made any of your sons more proud of you if you tried.’’
Farewell to one of Australia's finest rock frontmen
By DANIELLE MCGRANE and JAMES LANE
HE was one of Australia’s great frontmen who came to embody a golden era of live music in the nation’s history.
Bernard ‘‘Doc’’ Neeson, the lead singer with Australian rock band The Angels, died in his sleep yesterday, aged 67, after battling a brain tumour for 17 months.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1947, Neeson moved to Adelaide with his family as a teenager in 1960.
He didn’t set out to be a rock star, initially pursuing a teaching career.
During his last year at teachers’ college in Adelaide he was drafted into the army and sent to Papua New Guinea to teach the Pacific Island Regiment.
After military service, he returned to Australia and studied film-making at Flinders University, where he formed the Moonshine Jug and String Band with brothers John and Rick Brewster.
The acoustic blues band attracted interest from EMI, which offered them a record contract in 1974.
However, in a recent interview, guitarist John Brewster said the band turned down the contract so they could form the rock outfit, The Keystone Angels.
But the label wasn’t interested – even after they played what would become one of their biggest hits – Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again.
In 1975 the band was brought to the attention of Albert Studios by AC/DC and it only took a week for a deal to be offered.
Within a year, the band had become the Angels and from then they staked their place in the Australian music scene with hits including Take A Long Line, Shadow Boxer, No Secrets and Dogs Are Talking.
Neeson had a setback in 1999 when, one week before he was due to perform for Australian troops in East Timor, he was hurt in a car accident.
The singer went ahead with the performance despite being in chronic pain.
On his return to Australia, Neeson continued to struggle with pain and depression after the accident and stopped performing with the Angels.
He performed on-and-off from 2003, in his band Doc Neeson’s Angels, then in 2012 was diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumour.
Rock historian Glenn A Baker said Neeson was ‘‘one of the finest Australian rock vocalists and rock stage men that we’ve ever known’’.
The Angels' Doc Neeson dies
Australian rock icon Doc Neeson has died at age 67, just 17 months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Neeson, who was lead singer of pub rock greats The Angels, passed away "peacefully" today at 7.15am according to a statement released by his friend and publicist Catherine Swinton at 11.30am on Wednesday.
"It is with deep sadness and regret that the family of Angels' singer/songwriter Bernard 'Doc' Neeson - loving father, family member and friend to so many - announce he has passed away in his sleep at 7.15am today."
'Will I ever see this face again' singer Doc Neeson has died. Photo: Deb Martin
"He has battled with a brain tumour for the last 17 months and sadly lost his fight this morning. He will be deeply missed by his family and partner Annie Souter who would all like to thank everyone for their support through this dark time."
The statement also added: "We love you Dad," and included the names "Dzintra, Daniel, Aidan and Kieran".
"You couldn't have made any of your sons more proud of you if you tried. May your beautiful soul rest in peace sweet angel, fly high."
Annie Souter movingly ended the statement with: "Good Night, Sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. With love forever, Annie - borrowed from William Shakespeare - Hamlet."
In a piece he wrote for Fairfax this year Neeson said he collapsed before Christmas Eve 2012 and after scans showed a tumour had surgery on New Year's Eve 2012.