Midnight Oil (also known informally as "The Oils" to fans) originally performed as Farm from 1972 with drummer Rob Hirst, bass guitarist Andrew James and keyboard player/lead guitarist Jim Moginie. While vocalist Peter Garrett was studying at Australian National University in Canberra, he answered an advertisement for a spot in Farm,and by 1975 the band was touring the east coast. By late 1976, Garrett moved to Sydney to complete his law degree,and Farm changed its name to Midnight Oil by drawing the name out of a hat.
Important to their development was manager Gary Morris who was able to negotiate favorable contracts with tour promoters and record companies and frustrate rock journalists. Guitarist Martin Rotsey joined in 1977 and Midnight Oil, with Morris, established their own record label Powderworks, which released their debut eponymous album in November 1978, and their first single "Run by Night" followed in December. Founding bass guitarist James, forced to leave due to illness in 1980, was replaced by Peter Gifford. Gifford was himself replaced by Bones Hillman in 1987.Through a long and distinguished career, the band became known for its driving hard-rock sound, intense live performances and political activism, particularly in aid of anti-nuclear, environmentalist and indigenous causes.