The principal members of Redgum were drawn together via their involvement with Flinders University, in Adelaide, South Australia. They were John Schumann, on vocals and guitar; Verity Truman on flute, saxophone and vocals; Michael Atkinson, vocals and guitar; and Chris Timms, on violin. The group formed in 1975.
Redgum’s first album, ‘If You Don’t Fight You Lose’, was released in 1978. In total, the band released six albums, the most successful of which was ‘Caught In The Act’, in 1983.
In 1980, Redgum was signed to record on the label, Epic, a subsidiary of CBS. This fearlessly outspoken folk-rock group was fervently nationalistic and, by 1983, had become one of Australia’s favourite live bands. It campaigned inexorably to better the lot of Aborigines, veterans of the Vietnamese War, the unemployed, and for the preservation of the environment. Redgum also opposed the influence of America on Australia’s culture.
The single, “I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Light Green)”, was released in 1983 and, in May, spent two weeks atop the Australian chart.
I once heard an interview with John Schumann, who wrote the song, in which he stated that he had been approached with a lucrative offer from America for the rights to “I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Light Green)” but he turned it down as to accept would have led to the Americanisation of its lyrics.
“I’ve Been To Bali, Too” followed, in 1984, and peaked at No.9. Those were the days when tourists to the Indonesian island mainly had to be wary of being caught out by the operators of dodgy tours. Some twenty years later the real concern was not to become the victim of terrorism and be killed en masse in an attack by bombers.
Redgum’s third and last entry into the Australian singles chart came in 1985 when “The Drover’s Dog”, a political commentary put to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan, reached No.5.
Chris Timms had left the group in 1982, when his replacement had been Hugh McDonald. John Schumann did likewise three years later, in order to embark upon a solo career. Verity Truman remained until the group, itself, disbanded in 1990.