No Fixed Address: The story of Australia’s trailblazing Aboriginal rock ‘n’ reggae band
No Fixed Address appeared on the Australian rock circuit in the early 1980s with a set of songs that gave voice to the truths of their own lives. While everyone grooved to their reggae beat, whites were often stunned by their power and pride while Indigenous people whispered, ‘Can they say that?’ Juggling support for the burgeoning land rights movement with the demands of the commercial music industry, they were the first Aboriginal rock band to release an album, appear on Countdown and tour overseas. No Fixed Address continues to perform and will tour in support of the book in 2023.
They came crashing into middle-class Australia. And it changed everything. Really. I think ‘tip of the spear’ is an appropriate term. –Shane Howard, Goanna
I think they were a band that was of their time. They were exactly what was required at that period, for many different reasons. –Colin Hay, Men at Work
Review: Magnificent tale from the Wrong Side of the Road https://www.i94bar.com/books/nfa-book
Radio: Listen to an hour-long broadcast on ABC DoubleJ: https://www.abc.net.au/doublej/programs/the-j-files/no-fixed-address-aboriginal-reggae-rock-south-australia/102547932
When No Fixed Address formed on Kaurna Country in the late 1970s, their fusion of rock and reggae was like nothing we’d ever heard before. They were sometimes referred to as “Australia’s most controversial band” because their lyrics fought back against racism and colonialism (especially in songs like ‘Pigs’, ‘Black Man’s Rights’ and ‘We Have Survived’), and their reggae rhythms got us dancing, and listening, to what they had to say.
No Fixed Address were the first Aboriginal band to tour overseas, and their appearance in the film Wrong Side of the Road brought issues facing First Nations musicians to national attention and helped to blaze a trail for artists and storytellers that followed.
This episode features Bart Willoughby and Ricky Harrison of No Fixed Address, along with fans of the band like Goanna’s Shane Howard, journalist and producer Russell Guy, ABC host of Island Music Rick Howe and Gumbaynggirr rapper Wire MC.
About the author: Donald Robertson is a respected Australian music writer. He started and published Roadrunner (1978-83), and edited Countdown Magazine (1983-86). His previous books include Roll Over Beethoven: Contemporary Music Education for Secondary Schools (Fairfax 1987), Rock Around the Clock: Careers in the Australian Music Industry (Ausmusic 1992) and The Big Beat: Rock Music in Australia 1978-83 (Roadrunnertwice 2019).