Redgum formed in 1975 when Verity Truman, John Schumann and Michael Atkinson met to plan a Politics and Art course at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.
The trio began writings songs and were joined some months later by Chris Timms, whose family had come from Preston in Lancashire back in the 1950s.
Originally distributed on the small Larrikin label, Redgum eventually hopped to the multinational CBS, to become (to all appearances) part of the system they professed to despise.
Their 1983 #1 single I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Light Green) was an examination of the effects that the Vietnam War had on Australia’s young servicemen.
When the song was released in the UK two years later it was heavily criticised for being a blatant rip-off of producer Paul Hardcastle’s single 19 which addressed the same subject – despite the fact that Redgum had actually written and recorded their song first.
In 1984, Redgum asked their lawyers to apply to inspect their alleged ASIO file (ASIO are Australia’s national security service) under the Freedom of Information Act.
The group suspected a file had been started when they began expressing their left wing political views back in 1975 when they formed in Adelaide (many of the original members had attended Adelaide’s Flinders University).
Also in 1984, the band released the single I’ve Been To Bali Too, which related the story of customs officials going through John Schumann’s bags “like McCartney’s in Japan”.
Never a band for orthodox songs, and always socially and politically concerned, Redgum recorded a single in 1987 entitled Roll It On Robbie.
Written in response to the concern caused by the proliferation of AIDS, the song advocated safe sex via the use of condoms and reiterated the “prevention is better than a cure” catchphrase.