Born in Sydney in 1953, Peter Garret was a 20-year old law student when he joined up with three other Australian musicians as the bald, raucous, harmonica-playing lead singer of a rock band Farm that was renamed, in 1976, Midnight Oil.

This interrupted his law studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Peter Garrett in concertIn 1976, he briefly left the band for a brief return to Sydney to complete his law degree. At about the same time, a profound personal tragedy struck. He was sleeping at home when fire broke out, engulfing the house. He escaped but heard his mother's desperate screams from the second floor but the flames prevented him from rescuing her. The local daily, the Daily Mirror, wrote of Betty Garrett's death:

"Her son, Peter, rushed from his downstairs bedroom and tried twice to get up the stairs to his mother. But he was forced back both times by smoke and flames. Police said Mrs Garrett's cries for help were heard more than two blocks away."

In 1980, Midnight Oil travelled to London and broke through with an album called Bird Noises.

In 1982, they released an album with the peculiar name which seemed taken from the script of the television series Lost: 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 from which they continued to amass a following.

But it was 1986 that Midnight Oil shot to the top of the charts with the album Diesel and Dust and the aboriginal land rights anthem, Beds Are Burning. Nothing ever topped it and in the years that followed, the international standing of the band gradually faded.

From the powerful lyrics:

"Out where the river broke, the bloodwood and the desert oak
"Holden wrecks and boiling diesels steam in forty five degrees

"Four wheels scare the cockatoos, from Kintore east to Yuendemu
"The Western Desert lives and breathes in forty five degrees

"The time has come
"To say fair's fair
"To pay the rent
"The time has come
"A fact's a fact
"It belongs to them
"Let's give it back"

Peter Garrett in House of representatives, Australia

In 1989, Peter Garrett was appointed president of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), a post he held to 1993 and again from 1998 to 2004. In 1993, he joined the board of Greenpeace International.

In 2000, Garrett sung for the world as part of the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The performance was a tribute to Australia's aboriginal people and on Garret's t-shirt was emblazoned the word: SORRY.

In 2002, he quit the band to concentrate on his political ambitions. In 2004, he resigned from the ACF and ran for House of representatives, nominated as the Labor Member in the very safe Labor riding of Kingsford Smith.

In 2005 for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, and again in 2009 to help bush fire victims, Peter Garrett doffed his suit and tie and returned to stage to sing with Midnight Oil.

In 2007, when Garrett was again successful at the polls in Kingsford Smith, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd named him Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.