Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson, singer-songwriter for veteran Australian rock band The Angels, has died aged 67.
Neeson, who had been suffering from a brain tumour, died in his sleep this morning.
“It is with deep sadness and regret that the family of Angels singer/songwriter Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson – loving father, family member and friend to so many – announce he has passed away in his sleep at 7.15am,” a statement from his family said.
“He has battled with a brain tumour for the last 17 months and sadly lost his fight this morning.
“He will be deeply missed by his family and partner, Annie Souter, who would all like to thank everyone for their support through this dark time.
The statement, which included the names Dzintra, Daniel, Aidan and Kieran, also said, “We love you Dad”.
“You couldn’t have made any of your sons more proud of you if you tried. May your beautiful soul rest in peace sweet angel, fly high.”
RIP Doc. You will always be one of my legends of rock.Peter of Melbourne via story comments
Neeson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and emigrated to Adelaide with his family at the age of 13.
After time in the army and at university, in 1974 he was one of the founding members of a band called The Keystone Angels, which eventually just became known as The Angels.
As lead singer of The Angels, Neeson had a big string of hits from the 1970s through to the ’90s.
The Angels’ first single, Am I Ever Going To See Your Face Again, took off slowly after its release in 1976, but later became an unofficial anthem for generations of Australian youth.
Nobody is sure how it happened, but as the years passed, audiences began chanting their own X-rated response to the chorus.
Speaking on Australian Story for an episode that aired earlier this year, Neesen said he was impressed by the uniquely Australian twist given to the famous song.
“In a way, I’m really delighted to hear that, because it’s Australian audiences making a song their own,” he told Australian Story.
“When the band had first started, we were trying to write strong songs for Australian audiences … they’ve made it their own in a way I never would have thought possible.”
He was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour just before Christmas 2012.
Neeson’s tumour was surgically removed and he began intensive rounds of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
“It was a shock of course when somebody puts a use by date on me, but I still hung on to a shred of hope that I’d get back on the stage at some point,” Neeson told Australian Story.
Fairfax music critic Bernard Zuel says Neeson’s stage presence helped make the rock band successful for decades.
“He was a performer who threw his body into every show, who made drama out of small things, and theatre out of the bigger things,” he said.