Warumpi Band
Neil Murray

The Warumpi Band originated in the Aboriginal settlement of Papunya in the central desert region of the Northern Territory in the early eighties.

The band's name derives from the honey-ant dreaming site located near the settlement of Papunya which is 260km west of Alice Springs. Original founding members were Sammy Buthcher (deceased), Gordon Butcher, Neil Murray, George Rrurrambu (deceased) assisted by other young fellas in the community.

They toured the Northern Territory and Kimberly region playing to communities, outback stations and isolated townships developing their unique sound and writing much of their material on the road.

The Warumpi Band wrote, recorded and released the first rock song in an Aboriginal language "Jailanguru Pakarnu" (Out From Jail) in 1983. In 1984, the debut album "BIG NAME NO BLANKETS" was released with "Blackfella/Whitefella", "Breadline" and "Fitzroy Crossing" receiving national airplay.

In 1985, Warumpi Band toured Australia and overseas - Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to promote the album which was now gaining much critical acclaim.

They inspired and accompanied Midnight Oil on a month long tour of Aboriginal communities in 1986 and recorded "GO BUSH" on their return. "GO BUSH" includes the tracks "From The Bush" and the original version of the indigenous anthem "My Island Home". More touring followed to promote the album and on their return to the Northern Territory, band members took time out to pursue other goals - Sammy Butcher, Gordon Butcher and George Rrurrambu honoured family and tribal commitments.

Neil Murray launched his solo career in 1989 with the album "Calm and Crystal Clear" and has since released 3 more albums - "These Hands", "Dust" and "the Wondering Kind". In 1995, he was awarded the APRA Song of the Year for "My Island Home" after it became a national hit for Christine Anu.

That same year, the Warumpi Band was back on the road, completing a highly successful tour of Germany, France, Poland, Switzerland, Italy and the United Kingdom.

They signed with CAAMA Music and released "TOO MUCH HUMBUG". The album includes the track "Stompin Ground" which received widespread national airplay on Triple J and was inspired by the "Stompem Ground" festival in Broome.


After a 20 year commitment to indigenous rock and roll, the Warumpi Band retired on 14 October 2000. Their last appearance was at the Stompem Ground Festival at Broome in October 2000 which featured original founding member Sammy Butcher back in the line up on lead guitar. The band has not played since.

Both Neil Murray and George Rrurrambu pursued solo careers and Sammy Butcher plays with his own band out of Papunya, N.T. George Rrurrambu had a solo album 'Nerbu Message' which he released and toured with Bomba.

Over the two last decades, Neil Murray has established a successful career as a singer, songwriter, poet, author and playwright. His 4th solo album "The Wondering Kind" was a finalist in the 14th ARIA Awards "Best Blues and Roots" category.

Neil says, "Increasingly my solo career has taken precedence and it was difficult to maintain a commitment to the Warumpi Band. Since Sammy Butcher retired, for me the band didn't have the same strength. I was always happy for George Rrurrambu that he started a new career for himself. He was a great performer who's memory lives on with me. He was one of the best."


Hilary Wirrie, Denis Minor, Edgar Ellis (dancer - deceased), Amos Anderson, Ian Anderson (deceased), Andy Kiwatt, Freddie Tallis, Tjakapurra, Jim Moginie, Bart Willoughby, Buna Lawrie, Elkin Tjapaltjarri, Ernesta Mazzoni, Di Spence, Alan Murphey, Murray Cook, Peter Gifford, Bob Jones, Alvin Duffin, Stan Satour, Gene Knox, Buddy Knox, Kenny Smith (deceased), Bill Jacobi, Bill Heckenberg, Stephen Teakle, Sammy Butcher, Gordon Butcher (deceased), George Rrurrambu (deceased) and Neil Murray.

...and over the years probably about a hundred others jumped on stage to sing, clap, or humbug!
  • 23 Sep 2000 Harmony Festival, Palm Island off Townsville
  • 7 Oct 2000 Amphitheatre Botanic Gardens, Darwin
  • 13/14 Oct 2000 Stompem Ground Festival, Broome